When Coping with Mental Illness Turns into Awareness Driving Artwork + Gratitude

When coping with his own anxiety, UK-based illustrator, Toby Allen, found that drawing his worries and fears as little monsters would help him think about them differently and make his anxiety feel more manageable. Allen imagined that his anxiety could be overcome by giving it a physical from, giving it a visible weakness that he could learn to exploit.

From his creatively ideated coping mechanism, Real Monsters was born, creating a series of drawings that aim to raise mental health awareness – by depicting different disorders and conditions as monsters.

Toby Allen, Real Monsters Series

DepressionAllen’s Real Monsters series is a collection of 16 illustrations (with another eight in the pipeline) that tackle everything from depression and anxiety to schizophrenia and post-traumatic stress disorder.

PTSD Anxiety

After receiving a positive response on his Tumblr-shared illustrations, Allen decided to tackle a variety of other conditions as part of a larger project. “I also wanted to try and educate people about mental illness and maybe even reduce the stigma surrounding it, through helping viewers to understand what it’s like to have one of these conditions,” he explained.

“I begin each monster design by researching the condition or disorder extensively, often relying on real life case studies or first person stories to get a better understanding of the illness I intend to draw,” continued Allen. “Of course each person’s experience with a mental illness will differ, so I try to create something that many people will find familiar.”

Allen said he regularly receives emails from people who thank him for creating the work.

“I have received so many wonderful messages from people who live with one or many of the disorders I have drawn, each telling me how much the work means to them and how it has helped them to think about their condition in a different or more positive way,” he said. “Of course, due to the sensitive subject matter, I have also received some negative feedback but that’s to be expected and I respect people’s opinions on the work.”

lightWhy It’s HOT: The destigmatization of mental illness has reached a much deserved tipping point, in which, discussing mental health has overcome countless cultural, gender, and age barriers due largely in part to raising awareness through social media. Today the sharing of one’s mental health condition often feels philanthropic in nature giving the person sharing and their journey through coping and living through managing their own challenges great meaning when used to help others.

Toby Allen’s Real Monsters series exemplifies the power of social to share one’s personal coping mechanism to help others while letting others know that are not alone.

You can see more of Real Monsters, as well as examples of Allen’s other work, on his Tumblr account: zestydoesthings.tumblr.com.

 

Source: Mashable