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Graphic Medicine Novels: Big Mushy Happy Lump

 Big Mushy Happy Lump: A Sarah's Scribbles Collection



Bibliographic Record

 Title  Big Mushy Happy Lump: A Sarah's Scribbles Collection
 Author  Andersen, Sarah
 Illustrator  Andersen, Sarah
 Mental Illness  Anxiety Disorder
 Publication Date  2017
 Publisher  Andrews McMeel
 ISBN  978-1449479619
 # Pages  128
 Color Profile  Black & White
 Worldcat Link
 Amazon Link
 Annotator  Tina L. Hefty


In Big Mush Happy Lump, Sarah Andersen presents a collection of comics and illustrated essays on life in general. Short 1-2 page comics cover themes like body positivity, procrastination, motivation, and dating. Illustrated essays touch on topics including anxiety, learning to like cats, and a compulsion to steal other people’s sweaters.


More than half of Big Mushy Happy Lump is dedicated to a selection of short-form comics on a variety of topics. The second half, composed mostly of illustrated essays, features sections of prose followed by Sarah’s illustrations. As is suggested by the “Sarah’s Scribbles” subtitle, the artwork is pretty simplistic, featuring generalized portraits, simple line work, and solid black fill. On more than one occasion, Sarah takes advantage of the comics medium to illustrate relatable topics, such as drawing herself literally bottling up her emotions.

Mental Illness Narrative

In the book, Sarah acknowledges that she experiences ongoing anxiety on several occasions, but especially in the section called "I Don’t Know How to Be a Person". In this chapter, she refers to her anxiety as “OverThinking”. She illustrates her inability to set aside worries, excessively focusing on seemingly insignificant events that occurred a long time ago. She explains that she has “…trouble taking things at face value, and often jump dramatically to conclusions that usually aren’t true” (p. 79). To provide evidence, she illustrates a time her boyfriend told her he was sick so they couldn’t get together—she immediately suspected it was due to him falling out of love with her. Sarah also discusses how social anxiety causes her to self-isolate, which has negative consequences of its own.

Humanistic Revelations

In the chapter “I Don’t Know How to Be a Person”, Sarah describes how social anxiety and depression can be interrelated. Due to her anxiety, she often isolates herself from other people. Realizing that isolating herself can lead to depression, she wonders how to attain balance. Sarah goes on to illustrate that one of her goals is to find a happy medium between what she calls “social overload hell” and “utter isolation hell” (p. 83).


Big Mushy Happy Lump was almost excluded from the collection due to the fact that much of the book is focused topics other than mental illness. However, the insights related to anxiety are extremely relatable. Additionally, Sarah Andersen has released a number of other publications that contain mental health narratives, which curious readers may be interested in exploring.

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