The swiftly told Bipolar Girl Tales insert themselves between the longer first-person narratives of the other characters: Hei-Yesh Broom, elin o’Hara slavick, Dr. Zenglo Chen, and Iona Pearl Reid Eaton.
Though neither I nor any of my cartoon representatives make an appearance in their animated stories, I am very close to Hei-Yesh, Zenglo, and Iona Pearl, and I recorded their interviews in the spirit of a conversation not only between people who care about each other, but also with a shared awareness of our individual struggles with mental illness.
A mutual psychiatrist suggested I contact elin (with elin’s permission), and our first meeting/three-hour visit/conversation/interview was its own intense experience.
The characters’ words emerge from a spectrum of gender, age, culture, income, education, professions, and diagnoses:
The depression for me feels like...I feel small, you know like a teeny-tiny in the corner small. I’ve been known to stay in the house for like a month. I get very confused in the head and I’ll listen to music but I’ll cry. The depression is like me feeling intimidated by someone.
It's a constant struggle to do what you want to do in this world and to figure out a way to feel okay about those decisions. I think that's really at the heart and core of depression. I don't even know if that made sense, but that's, for me, I think, what it really is about.
I start my depression when I was close to 4 years old. I grew up during the Chinese Culture Revolution. It was a massive movement launched by the Communist Party. My parents were prosecuted and they'd been taken away by the Chinese authority. We were living in Beijing with relatively primitive conditions, back to late 60s, mid-60s. My younger sister who was 12 years old then took care of me, daily life. She even had hard time to take care herself. I felt tremendous fear: hopeless, helpless, and paralyzed.
In the sixth grade, I was bullied. I was hit a few times. I was called some really bad things. That just made me feel more isolated. I wasn’t really worthy of being loved or being liked or just having good things happen.... We wrote letters to ourselves on the third day of freshman year that we would then open at the end of the year. I said something like, “Congratulations. If you’re reading this, you must have gotten all As on your report cards because if you hadn’t, you should have killed yourself by now.”