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Law student confronts her Anxiety Fairy, one comic frame at a time

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AmandaPanda Comics

I lead a very busy and stressful life. I have a full-time desk job, I attend law school at Georgia State in the evenings, and I have a three-year-old daughter. I also struggle with anxiety.

I began making comics recently as a way to blow off steam. Art is my outlet, and I often find myself doodling during lectures or meetings. Some of my comics are just silly or nerdy, but all of them reflect in some way a topic or issue that is close to my heart, whether it be academics, a thing that made my daughter laugh, a favorite book series, or – paramount among these – mental health.

In the Anxiety Fairy comics, I’ve tried to personify the voice of my anxiety and find some humor in it. I thought that by putting it on paper and giving it bug-eyes, an awkward grimace, and a cheeky attitude, it might help me see the humor in this part of myself that I have always considered “broken.” Though I would never suggest that mental illness is a laughing matter, I do think that laughter can sometimes be good medicine for those who struggle with it. I also think that both humor and art can be powerful communication tools when wielded responsibly.

I was initially very nervous to put my comics into the world. The stigma attached to mental illness is something I always carry in the back of my mind. It kept me from seeking treatment when I was first diagnosed as an undergrad, and for many years, it kept me from sharing my condition with friends, coworkers, and even my family.

My mission with my art is to help reduce some of the stigma surrounding anxiety and mental illness. An estimated one in five American adults suffer from clinical anxiety, but only about a third ever seek treatment. In the legal community especially, anxiety, depression, and mental illness have contributed to an epidemic of substance abuse and suicide. Mental health professionals consistently point to the stigma as one of the key factors preventing people from seeking treatment. My deepest desire is to use my ability to make people laugh to help chip away at this stigma, and maybe help those who may be battling their own Anxiety Fairies feel a little less alone and a little more comfortable reaching out for help and support.

AmandaPanda has given Before the Bar permission to periodically run some of her law school comics – some of which include appearances from The Anxiety Fairy. Here is the first:

AmandaPanda Comics