Page 45 Review by Jonathan
"Hi, I'm Tieran.
"I live in Portland, Oregon with my best friend.
"I'm a software engineer.
"I make comics.
"I also regularly visit a therapist to talk about anxiety.
"But it wasn't an easy decision to start going."
From the publishers of the excellent PAIN IS REALLY STRANGE comes another medical missive, again on a subject we can I'm sure all relate to. For whilst not all of us might have been gripped by anxious thoughts and feelings to the degree that we are unable to function normally, whatever that is, being crippled by doubts and insecurities we simply cannot shake, we've all undoubtedly had the odd moment where our blood pressure shoots up and tension grips us in a vice-like state. I certainly observe the symptoms in Stephen every month as the PREVIEWS deadline approaches with all the inevitability of the tide rolling in towards a man stranded on the beach wearing only a pair of concrete wellingtons...
So, I thought this might be an exploration of what causes anxiety and which techniques can be applied to ameliorate or even extinguish the symptoms entirely. And it is to a degree. But whereas PAIN IS REALLY STRANGE is presented from an objective, entirely empirical perspective of cause and effect, this is most definitely Terian's subjective experience of both anxiety and her attempts to obtain relief from it through therapy. So a personal memoir then, rather than a scientific analysis. With a topic as amorphous as anxiety though, talking about one's own experiences anecdotally is probably as an empirical based approach as it gets.
Terian's art style is definitely inspired by Scott McCloud in his UNDERSTANDING COMICS mode, albeit somewhat looser, adopting that talking head, breaking the fourth wall style which Darryl Cunningham uses to such great effect in his PSYCHIATRIC TALES (and also SCIENCE TALES and SUPERCRASH).
This is an extremely well intentioned comic, in which Tieran wants to impress upon people that engaging in therapy really doesn't have to be something to be so... anxious about. And whilst sufferers might always experience relapses and recurrences and crushing cul-de-sacs of doubt and despair, there is almost certainly no such thing as being 'fixed'. In fact, thinking of mental matters in those terms is probably not particularly helpful.
I don't see this comic breaking any new ground in the presentation and exploration of mental wellbeing, or the lack of it, but it's always nice to have positive affirming stories for those going through the maelstrom to understand that they are most definitely not alone.