I have a bit of a thing for Julia Eff‘s writing, and for good reason, because Julia Eff’s writing is awesome. If you aren’t reading their zines, you’re missing out. When I heard Julia was going to make a zine about depression, I could hardly wait.
In the midst of being awesome, Julia is also broken and bruised. They’ve dealt with a variety of shitty life experiences and mental health issues, with depression sitting like a weight on their shoulders much of the time threatening to crush them. It hasn’t happened yet and, if You Better Watch Where You Spit is any indication, it’s not going to kick their ass any time soon, as miserable at is might get.
“I don’t need to waste the paper telling you what depression feels like. We’ve all been there–the varsity cheer captain, the soldier, the weird dirty kid from the back of art class that everyone ganged up on & said would never be whole or happy or successful or loved who miraculously managed to escape & catch their second wind, your mom–and we all have at least tasted the bleak ugliness of that state of being.”
Julia writes about that misery, sparing none of the blood and spit and mud of depression, but also about the ways they cope, and the ways they refuse to give in. In one interesting passage, they write about self-harm, and how if they pay a tattoo artist to scar them and make them bleed, society finds that acceptable, but if they do the same to themselves, they are unhealthy. It’s not advocating for self-harm, but it is an interesting point, the way a capitalist culture will baptize anything as acceptable as long as money changes hands.
In the zine’s final page, Julia issues something of a rallying cry. It’s okay to be miserable and not pretend otherwise, but don’t give up.
“Sadness can count as fighting.
Heartbreak counts as fighting.
We’re too good to just lay here.
You’ll get through this, kid.”
If you’ve ever dealt with depression, or love someone who does, You Better Watch Where You Spit is well-worth reading.