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Graphic Medicine Novels: At War with Yourself

 At War with Yourself: A Comic about Post-Traumatic Stress and the Military

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Bibliographic Record

 Title  At War with Yourself: A Comic about Post-Traumatic Stress and the Military
 Author  Williams, Samuel
 Illustrator  Williams, Samuel
 Mental Illness  PTSD
 Publication Date  2016
 Publisher  Singing Dragon
 ISBN  978-1848192959
 # Pages  32
 Color Profile  Solid color, mostly light blue and sepia tones
 Worldcat Link  http://www.worldcat.org/oclc/919481088
 Amazon Link  https://www.amazon.com/At-War-Yourself-Post-Traumatic-Military/dp/1848192959
 Annotator  Tina L. Hefty

Summary

This short book features a conversation between the author and his friend Matt, who is on leave from the army for PTSD treatment. Matt describes his symptoms and shares coping mechanisms that have helped him heal. At the beginning of the book, Williams discusses PTSD generally, stating “there is still more to be learnt and more to be done to raise awareness of the condition” (p. 1). As such, some of the text is also devoted to commentary on PTSD as a misunderstood mental illness.

Presentation

Williams employs a fairly traditional comics grid, featuring wispy line-work and muted coloring. The text is evenly split between running text and dialogue.

Mental Illness Narrative

Matt describes many symptoms of PTSD that he experienced. He explains how paranoia often led him to believe people were following him in his car. Vivid dreams and nightmares resulted in him punching the headboard and flailing his arms in his sleep—a very scary experience for his wife! He describes his confusion over unexplained breakdowns, such as crying when hearing the rain: “The sound of heavy rain…those big, fat monsoon raindrops. I couldn’t handle it. I would just break down. I’d be crying and I wouldn’t know why” (p. 16).

Humanistic Revelations

At one point in At War with Yourself, Matt describes how difficult it is to determine who will develop PTSD out of a group of individuals who all experience the same trauma. This sheds light on why many individuals who need treatment don’t ever get it.

Recommendations

This is a very short book—short enough that we long debated whether or not to include it in this collection. However, the directness with which Williams addresses the topic of PTSD allows for many lessons to be contained within its few pages. This is a very insightful read for those wishing to further understand PTSD.

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