Sometimes it’s just a matter of sorting out your feelings.
There isn’t one cure-all for depression.
It’s a difficult mental disorder that affects over 15 million people in the U.S., and there’s no manual on navigating or beating it because it affects everyone differently.
But there are some things we can all relate to, especially if we’ve experienced depression ourselves. Visual “guides” to dealing with depression and understanding our emotions are all too common. But sometimes that advice can be a little bit … dull and unhelpful.
That’s why the artist in charge of Owl Turd Comix decided to call out some of his favorite depression advice mishaps.
These “cleaning” comics showcase the weird advice depressed people often get — advice that can be pretty much the opposite of what science says we should do with our emotions if we want to move forward. The comics poke fun of just how unhelpful this kind of advice can be.
Check them out below:
1. How easy would it be to just take a cloth to all those negative thoughts swimming around in your brain and wipe them away? Yeah, if only…
I’m sure we all wish we could just consciously ignore the negative thoughts in our minds, replacing them with positive ones. But unfortunately, that usually doesn’t work. The emotions are there, and they’re there to stay. And they can actually help us sometimes.
Instead of ignoring tough emotions, endurance coach Christopher Bergland suggests practicing mindfulness by simply acknowledging that you’re having thoughts that are unpleasant and then gently redirecting your brain, so you can move forward.
2. Storing up your anger? Again, that’s a no.
Shelving your anger seems like it might help things. But research from places like the Mayo Clinic shows that holding grudges (and not processing your anger) can be detrimental to your mental health. Instead, if you can work to forgive someone who made you angry, that can be one of the best types of learning experiences.
These tips on anger management also suggest doing things like taking a time out instead to regroup your thoughts (yeah, it’s not just for kids). You can even go take a run to calm down or come up with some possible solutions to what’s making you mad.
3. Envy and regret be gone? Not so fast.
OK, maybe you can’t physically grab all the envy and regret that lives inside you and throw it all away in a trash can. But it’s an awesome metaphor, and this idea isn’t so far off.
So what can we do if we’re having these feelings of jealousy? We may not be able to simply toss them away, but we can acknowledge that we’re having these emotions, then watch them pass like waves. When we become aware that they are harmful feelings, we can choose to redirect our thoughts to more positive ones.
4. Hide from your weird emotions? Again, no thanks.
Nope. Nope. Nope. As Owl Turd illustrates, this kind of advice is totally unhelpful. Running away from our emotions can feel empowering, but can hurt us in the long run. When you’re choosing to ignore your feelings or run from your problems, you’re essentially running from yourself. Plus, it can make us feel guilty when those feelings come sneaking back in.
Instead, most research suggests coming face-to-face with these perplexing feelings we can’t make sense of and saying, “What’s Up?” to find out what they want from us.
5. This is the most hilarious, albeit terrifying, metaphor ever.
Yeah, this illustration alone should be incentive enough for us to handle our emotions instead of throwing them somewhere where they’re guaranteed to stare, haunt, and creep on us until we’re forced to do something about them.
Don’t let it get to that point.
It’s important to remember that what works for one person may not necessarily work for the next person.
That’s why Owl Turd‘s comics aren’t a how-to guide to heal yourself of the mental disorder; they’re a satirical commentary on the fact that people often suggest one-size-fits-all solutions that don’t work.
The best way forward? According to research, it’s all about practicing compassion, patience, and lots of self-love. Because you (and you, and you, and you) are worth it.
Check out more of Shen’s work at Owl Turd Comix.
Let me be clear: Even though this is a funny comic about depression, I in no way mean to imply that anything about depression is funny. It’s a serious disease that should not be taken lightly.