Last month, I went to Wizard World Columbus and dragged my little sister to all of the panels I wanted to see. I agreed to cosplay with her, so she was pretty much willing to do whatever.
Barbara Slate, a graphic novelist and one of the few women to have written for both DC and Marvel Comics, was giving a talk on different ways to overcome creative slumps. During her career, she also wrote over 100 Betty and Veronica stories for Archie Comics. After struggling with my writing over the past few months, I thought that she would be an inspirational person to see.
My sister and I shuffled into the room and took a seat a few minutes before she started, and were two of like, fifteen people total. The group was intimate, so I felt a little nervous, but also obligated to stay since we were now all in this together.
Barbara introduced herself and started going through her presentation, calling out 20 different things that keep creative people from working. She was very open to questions and dialogue since the group was smaller, so I hesitantly raised my hand to say:
"Okay, so life is hard, right? Bad things, and even traumatic things happen, and there is nothing we can do to prevent them. How have you dealt with bad situations when it is all you can think about? Do you write through them, or do you try to concentrate on other work?"
She looked at me, intrigued and answered:
"I definitely write through them. Writing about them and incorporating them into my stories helps me."
To which I, vulnerable and probably too desperate, responded:
"And if that isn't enough? If you have written about it and it doesn't go away? What do you do then? Do you ignore it? Do you keep writing about it until you can finally stop?"
Barbara looked alarmed, and rightfully so, because she was dealing with a randomly emotional audience member holding a wooden stake (I was dressed as Faith, a vampire slayer from Buffy). Then, she looked amused and interested.
"Oh, now I really want to know what you're going through!" she said back. "But if you need help, you should get it. I have seen therapists on and off for years, and if that's what you need, then there is nothing wrong with that."
I nodded, wide-eyed, and suddenly mortified. There were two things happening here. 1. Thanks Barbara Slate for normalizing therapy and encouraging a complete stranger to get help. That was cool of you. But 2. OH MY GOD THE AUTHOR OF BETTY AND VERONICA COMICS JUST PUBLICLY TOLD ME THAT I NEED TO SEE A THERAPIST
I wanted to laugh and cry at the same time. The Poison Ivys and Mr. Poopybuttholes in the room said nothing.
Full disclosure: I am currently working to find a therapist, and I am very scared. Not sure if Barbara Slate has anything to do with that, but I will forever laugh and cringe remembering this moment, when I literally thought I was going to break down crying and maniacally giggling in front of a group of strangers because a popular comic book artist told me she thought I needed mental help.