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Bibliophile | Eyes Too Dry explores depression through conversation

Eyes Too Dry: A Graphic Memoir About Heavy Feelings
by Alice Chipkin and Jessica Tavassoli
Echo Publishing
 
Tava is a twenty-four year old medical student who is trying to find words for the overwhelming feelings of depression that are disassociating her from her body. Co-author Jessica Tavassoli was actually a final year medical student at the time of creating the graphic memoir. She has also worked as a youth leader in urban and remote areas and with Hands on Health and IMMUNITY programs at Monash University.
 
Alice is her supportive friend and housemate who admits that she doesn’t know what depression feels like and doubts her ability to do the right things. Co-author Alice Chipkin’s thesis at Melbourne University was on comics and forms of queer autobiography and she is passionate about the medium of visual storytelling as a tool for expressing challenging emotions.
 
Eyes Too Dry started as a series of private conversations and drawings between the two women. As the conversation went back and forth, they documented the loss of control, increasingly negative emotions and suicidal thoughts as depression took hold, as well as the efforts and doubts of the primary support person. The comic drawings are simple but the account of being held in the grip of depression is startlingly real.
 
Their decision to make their candid accounts that expose their vulnerabilities public was fuelled by their struggle to find stories and artwork that spoke of their experiences. Their combined memoir also reflects a queer point of view which is refreshing and long overdue.
 
This is an excellent, easy to read book that sheds light on one person’s journey into depression. It acknowledges the frustrations, not only of the caregivers but of the person struggling with mental illness. Tava is ‘doing all the right things’ to ‘cure’ her depression but still not getting anywhere. The book is both informing and affirming.
 
Lezly Herbert

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