Strange and Mysterious Creatures #3
Perzine, EA Douglas, 36 pgs, eadouglas.space, $12
Destigmatizing mental illness involves those with lived experience having a means of discussing their experiences openly. Ridding mental illness from its stigma is only imaginable if we open and use channels.
If we are to abolish mental health stigma, it will require us all to listen to people with lived experience, and to keep those channels open. EA Douglas takes things into her own hands and offers us an opportunity to do just that. In the third issue of this per-zine (the blue issue, if you’re following the serial colours), the author discusses her experience with institutionalization, anti-depressants, suicidal ideation, masking mental illness, and trauma.
Each of the six essays covers one facet of the author’s life, revealing a voice that is as self-aware as it is complex.
There is something about this zine that resonates with me deeply, a credit to the quality of the writing. The third essay is a reflection on an especially painful high school experience, one which the author uses to compare the ways her teenage self response to tense moments versus the way she responds as a self-actualized adult: “I think it says a lot about how I’ve grown as a person, because reflecting on this memory makes me roll my eyes and want to snap at her. I was not yet this person, the one who is willing to stand up for myself.” This section concludes with the author reflecting on how different her high school experience would have been had she known about her mental illness and sought treatment.
One note, given the seriousness of the subject matter, the location of the content warning in this zine is not ideal. I feel strongly that people should discuss their mental illness in ways which are meaningful to them, but this zine’s content warning, although its placement beneath the ‘special thanks’ in the epigraph is a bit cavalier. Content warnings should be prominent — even a bold font would help mitigate this.
“I surrender to be sad and crazy and still living my best life,” writes Douglas. Well said.