by Dan Hawksworth
If you don’t already know, I do a cartoon called Dee Dragon. Dee has been a true lifeline for me in the past year that has been full of challenges including dealing with an acute anxiety disorder. Somehow, sublimating my fears, observations and even bad jokes into my dragon guy is a form of therapy for me. How? It’s simple, it gets it out of my head.
Of course, there are challenges to doing something this personal. For one, some people that know me do get concerned about some of the darker ones. Honestly, the world I set up for Dee is a little darker, more corporate, and so on than ours. In 2016 though, I almost got a mental hernia moving the goal posts, as our world seems to be moving towards the somewhat bleaker tone I had in his. Maybe his ability to survive is me preparing myself to survive in a slightly harsher world with less tolerance and more bullying under the guise of normalized behaviors/examples.
The best advice I can give anyone coping with stress is to get it out of your head. Journal it, make a doodle or a persona that can take that voice and stop the thought rattling around in your head. As I’ve done these comics almost every weekday for a year now I find that my wit is somewhat quicker and that it’s helped me filter the world through a more critical set of lenses. I don’t mean that you need to be hostile, but there’s an added level of seeing past the obvious that can be almost a reflex as you imagine how, in my case, Dee would perceive something that strikes me as odd. Is it normal in his Universe? Is it something that he or his world is struggling with?
You might not be able to control what’s going on around you, but it never ceases to amaze me how many people seem to like Dee or relate to him. It has been a real eye-opener when I do hear from people or see comments about how relatable they can be to them. The feeling is that I am giving something back from my potentially skewed perception of the world and my place in it. I’m helping others find a voice, or at least a moment of connection on an idea level that maybe they aren’t alone in the world. I’ve known that feeling throughout my life. I mean I have really really felt that way. So I can appreciate when I get a moment of connection, and even better that maybe, someone younger than me can also find it and have fewer years of feeling alone.
Where do I/Dee go from here? Hard to say really other than we will both go on. Look at the world the way it is, and occasionally dream of how we like it to be. Try to make someone smile, or even laugh. Maybe even make them think, reflect, or more important maybe feel like they aren’t alone in the Universe.
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