As part of LIS Mental Health Week, the Zine Librarians listserv crowdsourced a list of zines related to mental health that we love.
zines with personal narratives of mental health/illness
April Fools Day, by Kathleen Hanna
Kathleen Hanna, lead singer of riot grrrl band Bikini Kill, writes about her struggle with alcoholism and its effect on her life in this personal zine. Also included are non-destructive ways to get high, things that are better when sober, and a conversation about addiction with Brian Starhawk of Fitz of Depression. Read it in a library.
Clark 8, by Megan Gendell
A college student documents her stay in a mental health ward. Read it in a library.
Collide: on physical and mental health, edited by JC Parker
This compilation zine put together by JC presents personal essays from people living with physical disabilities and some form of mental illness including debilitating migraines, PTSD, suicidal ideation, brain injury, chronic pain, rheumatoid arthritis, depression, seizures, deafness and anxiety. Many of the contributors, including one who is genderqueer, have a family history of alcoholism and/or have their own issues with addiction. Contributors include Maranda Elizabeth, Kerri Radley and Sara Bear. There are also photographs, illustrations and recommended resources. Read it in a library, or buy from Stranger Danger Distro.
Doll Hospital, by Bethany Lamont
“It’s an art and literature mental health journal which encourages an intersectional focus. Rooted in self-advocacy, it centres the voices of those who are largely unheard in the mainstream narrative of mental health. It aims to be an alternative and does an excellent job of it. It takes submission from anyone who has experienced mental health illness firsthand and wants to talk about it in their own words and on their own terms.” (Quoted from this interview with the creator.) Buy from their website.
Filling the Void: Interviews about quitting drinking and using, edited by Cindy and Caty Crabb
A collection of interviews with people who have quit drinking or using drugs, about why they quit, the process, and their experiences.
Buy from Doris Zine Distro.
Functionally Ill (multiple issues) by Laura-Marie
In this zine, subtitled “Adventures with Mental Health” and “becoming bipolar”, Laura-Marie discusses what depression and mania feel like for her and describes her voices. Read in a library, or buy from the author.
Get a grip: travels through my mental health by Sarah Tea-Rex
Subjects: Sexual consent, Adult child sexual abuse victims. Download the pdf from the author.
Pathologize this!: a zine about mental health, edited by Sarah Tea-Rex, Rachel and Iris E.
Pathologize This! shares people’s mostly autobiographical stories of their experiences with mental illness. Issue 1 chronicles life with obsessive-compulsive disorder, eating disorders, alcoholism, chronic pain, depression, anxiety disorders, and as a sexual abuse survivor. There is also an essay about Elliott Smith and how many people use music to cope with illness. Issue 2 features writings on Attention Deficit Disorder, Attention Deficit Hyperactivity Disorder, manic depression, unnecessarily prescribed medications, suicide attempts, and the story of an artist turning their an anxiety disorder into a project. Download issue 1 and issue 2 from the authors.
Srviv 1-3, edited by Jonas
Some of the world’s best zine writers answer the question “Why I get out of bed every morning.” The results are beautiful, challenging, and inspiring. Buy from Antiquated Future distro or others.
Think About the Bubbles (multiple issues) by Joyce Hatton
“#8 A illustrated zine about my breast cancer journey, getting sober, depression, my suicide attempt, homelessness, and how breast cancer ended up making my life really awesome. #9 I went on the POC Zine Project Race Riot Tour. I learned a lot about racism, internalized racism, and how living my life in North and South Dakota has affected me. #11 A story about my lifelong BFF named Anxiety, and our destructive relationship. Lots of illustrations. #13 Mental health things, my relationship with my mother, purse-clutching, and birds. Also cancer, the Simpsons, and videogames. #14 A short comic about mental illness and isolation. Contains surreal and potentially disturbing imagery.” Read in a library or buy from the author.
“Unhealthy” : on coping with pain in socially inappropriate ways by Mika
Mika, a childhood sexual abuse survivor, challenges the recommended compulsory positivity approach to coping with personal and external (e.g., massive earthquake in Japan) trauma and instead argues that there is no “healthy” or “unhealthy” way to cope. She outlines her personal, albeit controversial, strategies, including lowering her expectations, thinking about her own irrelevance in the world, pondering the practicality of suicide after her own failed attempt, and affiliating with Buddhism. This zine is issued with a trigger-warning.
Wax and Feathers, by members of The Icarus Project
“In expressing our feelings, insights, and ideas about madness and the world around us we hope to inform and inspire others. The stories told by the psychiatric establishment, pharmaceutical industry, and the mainstream media all to often overshadow our own. By sharing our stories with others we can reclaim the right to define ourselves and our experiences. We choose to honor our uniqueness and complexity by letting our voices be heard.” Download from the Icarus Project.
The bad day book by LB Lee
“Made to be folded up and put in your wallet, this is a little pocket zine intended for general mental health crisis situations–dissociative episodes, psychotic episodes, suicidality, stuff like that. Obviously, this is not a replacement for a thorough crisis plan, just a quick and dirty resource for when you’re not thinking clearly.” Buy from the author.
Ease your mind: herbs for mental health, by Janet Kent
This zine serves as “a primer on the use of medicinal herbs to support mental health.” Arranged by symptom rather than by plant, each entry includes the plant’s common and Latin name, and a description of what kinds of symptoms or emotional states they are best suited to address, including anxiety, depression, grief, and insomnia. Includes a section on dosage and contraindications, a glossary, bibliography, and a brief overview of how to make teas, decoctions, and tinctures. Read in a library, or buy from the author.
Eat this sandwich by LB Lee
“Made to be folded up and put in your wallet, this is a little pocket zine intended to fight restriction urges–the psychological compulsion not to eat. Obviously, this is not a replacement for a thorough treatment plan, just a quick and dirty resource for when you’re having trouble getting food into your face. Methods true and tested!” Buy from the author.
Feeling worthless? by LB Lee
“Made to be folded up and put in your wallet, this is a tiny little pocket zine intended to help deal with… well, feelings of worthlessness.” Read in a library, or buy from the author.
The worth of water: a compzine about self-care, edited by Sarah Rose
This compzine provides articles on stress relief activities and self-care. Contributors in their 20s and 30s talk about their love for John Waters films, making films, activist burnout coping techniques, and overcoming addiction. Contributors include Sage Adderly (Tattooed Memoirs), Sarah Arr! (Tazewell’s Favorite Eccentric), Laura-Marie (Functionally Ill), JC (Tributaries), and others. The zine also includes recipes, illustrations and a list of resources. Read in a library.
Other fantastic lists of mental health zines available at: https://bitchmedia.org/article/cut-paste-zines-about-mental-health-and-self-care AND http://www.soularbliss.com/2012/07/31/radical-self-care-and-community-care-zine-resources/