My Opinion of Online Self Care Discourse

I have not done this kind of post in a while. This is not a post about what's going on with me, but a post about problematic discourse in the online mental health community.

The above comic is from the artist Margaret of last.place.champ.comics on Instagram. It is literally the only comic about self care that I've ever seen that I actually like.

I will not post images here, but the majority of self care comics really rub me the wrong way. For those of you unfamiliar, "self care," is a term that is popular in the mental health community that essentially means doing actions that take care of yourself which will ultimately aid in your mental health. It is a topic that is popularly portrayed in comics, and I have been irritated by every iteration I've seen on the topic.

 My issue with the discourse on self care is that virtually all of it is about taking a time out from the stressful aspects of one's life and is talked about in a universal way. Common examples of this are taking a bubble bath (see above), eating comfort food, staying in bed for the day, relaxing by watching television, etc. These acts of self care are not problematic in themselves. Sometimes you need to disengage, take a break, and chill for a day. The problem is that these are all the kinds of examples I have seen portrayed online. Because these are practically the universal forms of self care discussed, the aspect of doing these things in moderation is lost, and seeing them consistently over and over reads to me as people forming habits of avoiding one's issues. This compounds stress because you are not dealing with it and makes your problems worse in the long run.

The reason I love the comic above is because it is shows a combination of both taking a moment to decompress, but also shows the author actively combatting their problems (I am not sure of their gender so I am using gender neutral pronouns). If you follow Margaret on Instagram you know that the source of their stress is their job. You see them addressing the problem by trying to find a better job. It also shows them taking the night off to relax by listening to a Harry Potter podcast. It is a mix of self care methods, and both are important. It also specifically applies to Margaret, which is also important. I think that doing work that is specific to the author for issues on mental health are far more productive and relatable to the larger discussion in mental health that the bullshit, "everybody experiences this," comics that are EVERYWHERE (to be fair I may be biased).

But, tldr: Margaret is actively working towards solving the cause of their stress, which is vital to ultimately solving it. The culture of avoidance I see on social media drives me NUTS, especially since the majority of the audience is teens and people in their early twenties  dealing with anxiety that can be led astray by these messages.

I'm not sure how to end this besides saying a major way to improve yourmental health is to confront and deal with issues that are hurting you (assuming it's in within your control). Another way to practice self care is to do basic maintenance like going to therapy, exercising regularly, eating well (one of my major issues), taking meds if needed (and you have access), etc.

Okay, rant over. I might do a comic on this for my Everything's Fine book that I hope to make one day, maybe. 

Thanks for reading!

 

I Will Be Doing A Reading This Friday for Paper Cuts Live

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I will be doing a reading of two of my comics, one fiction and one non fiction, along with a bunch of unpublished Everything's Fine strips this Friday at 7:30 pm at the Washington Projects for the Arts. I will have comics for sale, and I can take credit cards.

I will be reading along with Athena Naylor (whose work I love), Adam Griffiths (who's connected to my grad school), and Kendra and Kat. This event is curated by Christopher Kardambikis (who also curated my first reading back in November of last year. And I'm an old pro with this being my third reading ever).

More info about the event can be found here. You can also find more information in my calendar section of my website.

REALLY Quick Post

I won 3rd place at the Juried Member Exhibition at the Pyramid Atlantic. My original blog post about it can be found here. 250+ pieces were entered so it was a huge honor. I can't wait to take the beautiful ribbon made by Elle Friedberg, and that sweet, sweet prize money (which God knows I need after paying for framing; by the way both of my pieces are for sale).

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 ^^^Criteria for getting into the art show: I feel like my “practice,” is a bit haphazard as opposed to meticulous. As for having a “social justice bend,” I said in my artist statement that I drew these women to "show the joy of having a larger body and highlight the importance of representation." This is technically true, but I said it because I needed a fancy way to say, “I like drawing fat girls”. 

^^^Criteria for getting into the art show: I feel like my “practice,” is a bit haphazard as opposed to meticulous. As for having a “social justice bend,” I said in my artist statement that I drew these women to "show the joy of having a larger body and highlight the importance of representation." This is technically true, but I said it because I needed a fancy way to say, “I like drawing fat girls”. 

It was unexpected and nice. I got waitlisted at all of the conventions I applied to this year, so this was a much needed boost. "Two steps forward, one step back," seems to apply to both my life and career.

I Forgot To Post Drawings From My Last Sketchbook

I used to doodle in sketchbooks obsessively. Once I started attending the Center For Cartoon Studies and began to take comics more seriously, I fell out of the practice. I started it up again last fall, and decided to motivate myself to sketch more often by giving completed sketchbooks out as gifts. The first one I completed was a gift to my boyfriend for his birthday. My last completed sketchbook was given to my mother for her birthday back in April. I am almost done with my third sketchbook, which will be a gift for my friend Christine. I plan to release some of the highlights of these for pay as you want in my Gumroad store. I'll update the blog when that happens.

Here are some photos of my fave pages from my mother's sketchbook.

 This is how I draw my mom in my  Everything's Fine  series.

This is how I draw my mom in my Everything's Fine series.

 New Years Day sketch.

New Years Day sketch.

 I want to do a more polished version of this at some point.

I want to do a more polished version of this at some point.

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My Art Was Selected for the Juried Member Show At the Pyramid Atlantic

I am very excited to announce that my work was selected for the Juried Member Exhibition Show which will be happening in June and July. The Pyramid Atlantic Art Center is the gallery where I had my last show. Besides it being a gallery, it is also a studio space where you can take classes and use their equipment to make art. To become a member you need to pay $50 a year, but one of the cool things about being in the not too high not too low exhibition was that I got a free year long membership. There were over 240 submissions to this show and only 46 pieces were selected, including the two I submitted. I swear to God, if I start going in a fine art direction as opposed to making comics I will be 1) shocked and 2) irritated- I paid a lot of money for my fancy comics degree, and I thought I said goodbye to the fine art scene back in college. To be fair, at the not too high not too low exhibition my work pieces were all technically comics, they were just kind of "high-art," versions of comics (I might do a post on why I chose comics vs. fine art and why the terms, "high-art" vs "low-art," are obnoxious and offensive). 

Below are some pics of the pieces I submitted.

  Dancing Ladies , April 2018. This photo was taken in the sun so it washes out the top right corner a bit.

Dancing Ladies, April 2018. This photo was taken in the sun so it washes out the top right corner a bit.

 Detail of  Dancing Ladies .

Detail of Dancing Ladies.

  Posing Ladies,  April 2018.

Posing Ladies, April 2018.

I really did not expect to get into this show. I did these pieces in three weeks specifically to apply and only did so because the curator of my last show said I ought to. I don't apply to every opportunity I'm given, but if I'm interested in something, it's worth a shot to giving it a try. 

I'm writing this post the day after I was wait listed from a con that I got a grant from last year,   on top of a horrendous day of applying to jobs all over DC, getting rejected from the job I was most interested in, and then spending 5.5 hours in the car to drive back to DE (which usually takes 3.5 hours). So, I was a wreck yesterday. My job hunt is currently bleeding into the rest of my life, there's just so much rejection involved. But I cried it out, vented to a friend, and got a few hours of sleep, and got up at 4 AM to send out resumes and now update my website. Life (or at least my life anyway) is roller coaster of ups and downs and giant meltdowns and then picking up the pieces. I've also gotten into a new anthology that I'll plug once the Kickstarter is live. So yeah, a lot of ups and downs.

Today is Chris' and My One Year Anniversary

I have been dating my boyfriend for one year as of today. We met at Square City Comics and hit it off right away. We really bonded over comics and my comics specifically. I have drawn a bunch of scribble comics for him over this relationship, which started right away (it was my form of flirting). However, it took me months to start drawing him in my more finished autobio comics. Neither of us thought this relationship would last and I was worried that if we broke up they would be too painful to use (and comics take a lot of freakin' work!). We're still going strong a year later, much to our surprise! Below are some comics I've done involving him:

 I now realize that a lot of my meltdowns are anxiety based. Both my freak outs and metdoeare intense for both me and the people around me. I'm really thankful that Chris helps me through them.

I now realize that a lot of my meltdowns are anxiety based. Both my freak outs and metdoeare intense for both me and the people around me. I'm really thankful that Chris helps me through them.

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 Chris and I are in a long distance relationship. It takes me about 3 hours to get to his place. The drives are very intense emotionally (even though they've gotten significantly better over time), but seeing Chris is usually the highlight of my week.

Chris and I are in a long distance relationship. It takes me about 3 hours to get to his place. The drives are very intense emotionally (even though they've gotten significantly better over time), but seeing Chris is usually the highlight of my week.

 I can be a bit dramatic.

I can be a bit dramatic.

 I have a very large and strong support network of friends and family, but Chris is one of the few people I really open up to. 

I have a very large and strong support network of friends and family, but Chris is one of the few people I really open up to. 

 The real crux of it.

The real crux of it.

Here is some art that Chris has done of me over the course of our relationship:

 Me at my first comic reading.

Me at my first comic reading.

 Me tabling at DC Art Book Fair.

Me tabling at DC Art Book Fair.

 My winter look- a dress with leggings, green Doc Martens, and a coat with a hood so big I can't see in it. Chris dubbed me as, "Parka Gnome".

My winter look- a dress with leggings, green Doc Martens, and a coat with a hood so big I can't see in it. Chris dubbed me as, "Parka Gnome".

 Mini Parka Gnomes accompanied by winter Chris.

Mini Parka Gnomes accompanied by winter Chris.

 The best drawing of me ever made, drawn after our first meeting.

The best drawing of me ever made, drawn after our first meeting.

 

I am really lucky to have him, I think we're good for each other. I am excited to see where this relationship goes.

A Quick Round Up of What's Going On With Me

Hello! Here's some stuff that's going on with me!

1) The talk for the not too high not too low exhibit went well! I forgot to record it, but we did a very cool thing (apparently thought up by fellow exhibitor Lenora Yerkes ) at the end of the talk where we all wrote down cool comic and art related resources for people in the DC/MD/VA area. 

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2) I am an organizer for the DC area comic collective Square City Comics. You can find more about them here. We hold meetings at the Bier Baron (right off P Street, a few blocks from the Dupont Metro station) on the second Saturday of every month. The next one is coming up this Saturday (April 14th) from 4-6pm. You should drop by Fantom Comics  (right around the corner form the meet up) then join us at the Bier Baron!

3) I wrote this comic last Friday about feeling under appreciated in comics:

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And then that night I get a text from my buddy Jarad Greene that Everything's Fine: And On And On received honorable mention for a Best Floppy DINKY Award. So I wasn't nominated out right, but it's still really, really cool. DINK is a Denver independent comics convention that is a few years old but from what I hear it's getting better and better! Maybe one day I'll be able to go to it and see my buddy Emily R Gillis (who is also the founder of Square City Comics).

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So the moral of this story is "Shut up Anna, you're comics are getting better and you are making progress!"

4) Finally, unrelated to comics, I was a guest on Let's Talk About Zechs, a Gundam Wing recap podcast. It was a lot of fun, and I interrupt everyone all of the time.

Listen to it on Soundcloud (which can be found here), Itunes, of Spotify.

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I Will Be On A Panel on Saturday

Hello! I will be on a panel this Saturday from 2-4pm at the Pyramid Atlantic. 

From the Pyramid Atlantic website:

"Engage and learn more from the women behind not too high, not too low! Curator Amy Lokoff is joined by artists Jessica Agüero, Toni Lane, Anna Sellheim, and Lenora Yerkes from not too high, not too low for an intimate conversation about their work in the show, artistic influences, diversity in comics, and DC's zine scene. Bring your questions and curiosity!"

Info can be found here. The Facebook event page can be found here. 

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You can hear the curator of the show, Amy Lokoff, talk about the panel on the Direct Message podcast here.

If you are near Hyattsville I hope to see you there!