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The Characters of Mental Health

When you’re dealing with depression and anxiety, you’re often handling conflicting emotions and thoughts. Your brain cycles between caring about nothing and caring too much about everything.

It’s an emotional rollercoaster. A ride that’s exhausting and seems endless. There are many ways to explain it, but there’s really no way to completely understand unless you’ve been diagnosed with the illness.

Many people think they get it. They can comprehend depression because everyone has down days, and sometimes people get anxious. The official medical diagnosis of depression and anxiety disorder is much more than just feeling blue.

It’s different than dipping your toe into a pool of tears. Depression is like being hit by a tsunami of blackness. You’re pinned down by a weight. Trying to pull yourself out of its depths is a tremendous struggle.

Many times, depression doesn’t want you to fight against the current. It wants you to stay submerged in the dark weight of nothing. That ugly monster gobbling color and light feeds on the darkness and demands you remain.

Your loss of motivation and energy is its success. Depression wants you to stay in bed. The lack of caring and feeling of futility strengthens its grasp. Meanwhile, the other “bad guy,” anxiety, shows up to make sure that you feel bad about not feeling bad.

It has lovely little phrases it likes to throw at you – “you’re a loser,” “you’ll always be an idiot,” “why are you so stupid,” “no one cares about you,” “you’re a waste of space,” “people think you are ugly,” and “everyone thinks you’re lazy.”

Anxiety keeps the thoughts running on a continuous non-stop loop. If you forget any of those thoughtful acknowledgements don’t worry, you’ll hear them again. Your depression beats down the walls of resistance so anxiety can deliver a volley of stomach churning messages.

You worry about how you are perceived by others, how you appear, will you sound intelligent if you speak, will others laugh at you, do others even notice you? Anxiety makes you worry and fret over everything. You are locked in a room with a loudspeaker constantly berating you.

So, with the combination of depression and anxiety, you find it hard to concentrate, stay motivated and most of all, feel happy and content.

Does it all sound too dramatic? Are you left thinking it is just a weak person who enjoys the pity party. Well, it’s not and it isn’t. We have to ask what is going on inside the brain with depression? A better understanding can be garnered in this video “The Science of Depression” by AsapSCIENCE. (View The Video)

There’s no weakness of character. In fact, people dealing with this complex medical condition show great strength in dealing with the symptoms.  Most effective treatment is a combination of medication and therapy. Also, there should be a focus on nutrition, exercise and other wellness practices.

There is great importance in dealing with the chemical reactions that are misfiring in the brain, and the cognitive behavioral aspects of the disease in one comprehensive treatment plan.

During a recent therapy session with my counselor, she had an insightful idea about creating a character to represent how anxiety impacts me. As a writer, I can use my skills and shape a physical form that is anxiety.

I can give it a name and a personality. I can even create a conversation with this character (in my head of course, I don’t think a crowd in an elevator would appreciate my verbal sparring.)

I’ve named my anxiety Axel. He’s loud, annoying and constantly wants to create worry, fear and panic. By realizing Axel is stalking me, I’m aware of the thoughts he brings and can work on practices to shut him up.

I wish a muzzle would suffice, but it’s not working yet. In this simple act of being able to identify Axel’s presence I’m already controlling my reaction to him. I’ve decided to do the same thing with depression.

Dorian Depression is a slow, gloomy recluse who has many ugly faces. He sleeps under the bed and is often covered in dust, since he spends a lot of time immobile.

I hope this creative process will help me recognize symptoms and behaviors that become ingrained in our psyche over time. Being able to identify them lessens the impact.

There are different types of therapy and a large array of medications used in the treatment of mental health conditions. It is brave to be open to all forms of medical help. The brain is the most complex organ in the body.

Research continues and what can show positive results for one patient doesn’t work for another. Perhaps, there can be Axels and Dorians for other individuals dealing with depression and anxiety.

I’ll keep you posted on my two characters. I believe Axel is calling me right now.  


  1. Love this character idea. I think its the next animated movie as follow up to Inside Out.

  2. Love it! So easily relatable!! Great work as always, Vince!!!

  3. Information many can benefit from. Good luck with writing the characters.


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