The Anatomy of Depression

By Mel Bender

“So often, I’ve felt words fail me when I’ve tried to convey what it feels like to struggle with depression, and I’ve wished that I could just draw a diagram of my mind to show where it hurts or what isn’t working when I’m unwell.”

–Mel Bender when asked what prompted her to create The Anatomy of Depression.

I met Mel Bender in a course where I taught Zine Making, and she was the most talented artist in the class. Mel’s work is unique because she is willing to be vulnerable and share that vulnerability through her creations. As an artist, writer, blogger, mental health advocate, and self-proclaimed cougar, Mel has embraced her journey as a mature woman, channeling all her energy to produce beautifully illustrated zines.

One of her zines is The Anatomy of Depression, which aims to articulate her depression and how it manifests in her body and brain. Mel used diagrams of human anatomy as a metaphor for the many thoughts and sensations she has suffered in silence. The zine tackles a seemingly dark subject but creates a safe space where others can consider what depression means to her.

“You can’t draw an invisible illness directly, I decided to make a zine in which I depict the symptoms of depression using diagrams of the human anatomy as a metaphor for the many thoughts and sensations I’ve suffered in silence.”

–Mel Bender

Mel’s zine not only provides a raw glimpse into her experience, but it also circumvents Western ideologies of how mental health manifests by providing a witty, poignant, and brutally honest account of her experience. Her words will undoubtedly resonate with anyone who has experienced mental health issues.

Mel’s body of zine work is both entertaining and educational. By sharing her experience, she provides her readers with a sense of appreciation for her journey while also teaching them about themselves. Through her work, I learned some things about myself, most notably my need to put into words what I feel when I’m going through a period of depression.

Finally, Mel is currently taking some time away to work on her first novel, you can find more about Mel here.

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