Cartoonist Gemma Correll Takes On The Funny Side Of Depression, Anxiety

By David Konow 06/06/17

Correll hopes that her humorous illustrations will give people without mental illness a better idea of what it's like.

Cartoon of a girl chasing a balloon that says normal.
Correll contributed this image to the Mental HealthAmerica campaign, #MentalIllnessFeelslike Photo via Twitter

Although anxiety is hard to combat, a great way to attack it is with a healthy sense of humor. Gemma Correll is a 30-year-old comic illustrator from England who has created a hilarious and sharply observed series of cartoons dealing with anxiety and depression: The Worrier’s Guide to Life.

Anxiety and depression aren't things that Correll studied from a distance. She has struggled firsthand, and uses cartoon art to express herself and to help others. One funny cartoon from Correll explains how mental illness feels by illustrating a woman lying on the ground with the word "nope" scrawled above her.

In another cartoon, Correll creates a worrying cup of “anxietea,” constantly fretting, “What if I taste weird? What if I’m too cold? What if I’m too hot?”

As Correll told NPR in 2015, at first she did comical illustrations about anxiety for herself, and when she posted them online she received a lot of positive feedback. “I think people are really glad to find somebody who’s had the same kind of experience,” she says. “Anxiety and depression can make you feel quite isolated.”

For those who don’t suffer from anxiety, Correll hopes her work will give a better idea of what it’s like through her humorous illustrations. “There are a couple of comics in the book that I hope will explain the condition to them a little bit more and help them understand,” she adds. “I also have things about student debt and body image and all these everyday things—and I hope everyone finds it funny just on a general level.”

Through her art and her sense of humor, Correll found a healthy way to deal with her neuroses. “I always find that laughing helps put things in perspective. I did always find solace in drawing…Just making comics in any form helped me deal with my mental health problems.”

Correll continues, “For people who have issues with anxiety, the good thing is, we probably have better support systems these days. Even if you’re not able to talk about your issues with a therapist, there are so many places you can go online, where you can find people who’re going through similar things as you. That’s something I really wish I’d had as a teenager.” 

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In addition to contributing for The Fix, David Konow has also written for Esquire, Deadline, LA Weekly, Village Voice, The Wrap, and many other publications and websites. He is also the author of the three decade history of heavy metal, Bang Your Head (Three Rivers Press), and the horror film history Reel Terror (St Martins Press). Find David on LinkedIn and Facebook.