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Graphic Medicine Novels: When Anxiety Attacks

 When Anxiety Attacks

When Anxiety Attacks


When Anxiety Attacks


Bibliographic Record

 Title  When Anxiety Attacks
 Author  Koscik, Terian
 Illustrator  Koscik, Terian
 Mental Illness  Anxiety Disorder
 Publication Date  2015
 Publisher  Singing Dragon
 ISBN  978-1848192843
 # Pages  32
 Color Profile  Color
 Worldcat Link
 Amazon Link
 Annotator  Jen A. Fisher


When Anxiety Attacks is a 32-page comic from Terian Koscik that attempts to give readers a tour of anxiety through her own retrospection, reason, and humor. Koscik relates her experience starting therapy and the compulsive behaviors that led her there. Koscik shows that by practicing mindfulness and having an objective audience, she was able to reduce her guilt and begin successfully managing the disorder.


Anxiety is an illogical condition. In a series of panels representing her first therapy session, Koscik explains that key to her particular experience with anxiety was her need to be “reasonable” when she felt she was being ridiculous. Koscik’s strength as a writer is seen in how she constantly mixes whimsy in with sad observations, and by doing so, paints a very realistic picture of the mind of an anxious person and the self-perpetuation of their symptoms.

When Anxiety Attacks is presented in a cartoonlike artistic style with a clear use of color to display emotion. Most of the time, the panels are black and white, but when her character is feeling anxious, she makes obvious use of erratic bubbles of red alongside neat blocks of blue, which emphasizes how she is feeling. While this technique rather simplifies the condition, it also demonstrates the discrepancy between what is going on in a person’s mind and what they are able to express verbally and with their body language.

Mental Illness Narrative

One of the most difficult symptoms of having an anxiety disorder is guilt. Additionally, many individuals with anxiety disorder claim that over-analyzing everything eventually renders events meaningless. By constantly comparing themselves to others, anxiety sufferers can be left feeling as though their struggles aren’t real. The nature of these unseen afflictions plays further into the person’s feelings by making them feel isolated, even when surrounded by loved ones. Koscik manages to portray these very real experiences of anxiety sufferers through relatable examples, while still managing to incorporate humor.

Humanistic Revelations

When Anxiety Attacks is a powerful display of one person’s continuous daily struggles against anxiety. The methods that Koscik has found helpful won’t work for everyone, but even without detailing the multitude of other available treatment options, the book leaves us feeling hopeful. It also drives home the fact that therapy does not need to be stigmatized, and while there is no cure, anxiety can be managed with practice and determination.


Recommended ages 10+

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