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Submitted Literature

Depresso or: How I Learned to Stop Worrying And Embrace Being Bonkers

By Brick aka John Stuart Clark


Graphic novels are by no means my speciality, and when I received the press release for this text I was a little sceptical as to how depression could be faithfully and usefully portrayed in graphic format. I needn't have worried. This book, by writer and illustrator Brick (aka John Stuart Clark) contains wit and sensitivity in equal measures as we follow Tom Freeman through his descent in to depression and journeys (literal and metaphorical) through the illness's murky depths.

Beginning with humorously depicted health related anxiety - testicular cancer in this case - through to the first mention of depression (at the first trip to the doctors) and beginning SSRI antidepressants, the reader follows Tom and his partner Judy to China where he experiences temporary relief and looks at alternative formulations of depression. But on his return, the descent occurs once again. Tom follows, like many experiencing this potentially crippling illness, a path that takes him not only through the irony of waiting month upon month for talking therapy through the NHS and the frustration of trying many different drugs (and accompanying side effects), but also through the search for explanation and meaning to the all-consuming black hole of depressive illness. The sometimes-friendly dragon / guardian angel that accompanies him is also something I suspect many have gone through as thoughts - bleak, negative and self-destroying - become more tangible, made manifest through the hold of self-absorption and the difficulty of finding anything to communicate to others that many experience.

One thing that particularly struck me was the manner in which the author portrays the interminability of depression. It is rarely a quickly fixed illness, nor one that responds to a one-size-fits-all approach. The graphics used are integral to the telling of this tale, and I found myself to be thoroughly absorbed in them - in particular, those with a satiric edge.

A novel approach to the writing of depression, both moving and comic at points.



Key Themes:

  • Depression

Significant Quotes / Pages

86 - "One thing I learned from my earlier encounter with the Big D., if you are feeling depressed, chances are you ain't depressed. The real McCoy defies expression. It hurls your every emotion into an industrial mixer that reduces all feeling to an indescribable glob. The best you can say is that being depressed is shit, unless you like being entombed in wet, shrinking concrete."

Reference: Brick, aka John Stuart Clark. 2010. Depresso or: How I Learned to Stop Worrying And Embrace Being Bonkers. Knockabout, 2010


- Charley Baker
Date Review Submitted: Saturday 11th December 2010