I Don’t Know How to Help You is a zine about depression and how we keep each other afloat in the middle of it. Edited by Pioneers Press owner Jessie Duke and featuring writing by Duke, Trace Ramsey, Elizabeth Thompson, Jazz McGinnis, Kelly Bastow, Jonas, Alyssa Bicoy, and Adam Gnade, the zine is both honest in its desperation and encouraging in its hope. These short essays talk about the hollow despair of depression, but focus more on the importance of friends and family to a person struggling with depression. Some are from the perspectives of individuals who have loved those with this illness, trying everything they can to help their loved one, desperate to find the secret that will make everything okay.
My wife and I have both dealt with mental health issues, including depression, and my ex-wife dealt with it too. I know how helpless it can feel to be on either side of this. I Don’t Know How to Help You isn’t any sort of guidebook for getting out of the hole. Instead, it’s a hand on the shoulder saying Me too. It’s the song that says what you’re feeling and doesn’t take it away but at least helps you feel like someone else has lived it.
It was easier in the beginning when I still thought I could help. There was still fear, but more hope. The hope isn’t gone in the sense that I’ve given up on you, because I never will. But I’ve lost faith in myself, in my ability to take care of the people I love the most. (Duke)
This zine is a testament to friendship as much as it is anything else. Broken people seem to love the hardest. The writers in this zine know what it is to be beaten and burned by life like an animal hide stretched in the sun, and they know the only thing worth holding onto most of the time is love and the people who give and receive it. As Adam Gnade wrote in The Do-It-Yourself Guide to Fighting the Big Motherfuckin’ Sad, “Your friends will carry you through.” The silent subtext to this zine’s title of I Don’t Know How to Help You should be but I’m still not going anywhere.
The pieces here by Jessie Duke and Trace Ramsey are the strongest, but every essay offers an important angle from which to peer in on a world that can feel so isolating. If you’ve ever dealt with depression, or loved someone who has, pick this one up. You can buy it from Pioneers Press.