Do you feel anxious or upset all the time? Have others around you suggested therapy, but you feel uncertain about it? In When Anxiety Attacks, Terian Koscik describes her decision to get therapy and the aftermath. From unraveling the reason she walks three miles to Walgreens for just a roll of toilet paper, to her fears regarding her friend’s unwillingness to hang out, Koscik shows how therapy helps her come to terms with herself and manage her anxiety.
The quirky title When Anxiety Attacks got my attention, and, because I have enjoyed mental health comics in the past, I was excited to read it. When Anxiety Attacks does not follow a traditional story arc, rather it offers a collection of episodes that show Koscik’s experiences in and out of therapy. Most of the book focuses on short snippets of her experiences in therapy and her experiences applying what she learned in her day-to-day life. Throughout the book, she frequently pokes fun at her own perceptions, which gives When Anxiety Attacks a lighthearted tone.
Koscik’s art also contributes to the book’s lighthearted tone. Her panels of entertaining graphs and short hypothetical scenarios poke fun at her anxiety rather than letting the stressful aspects overwhelm the narrative. Koscik’s expressive faces are especially good at conveying entertaining reactions to events. Color is used sparingly and is often used to add some interest or to convey extreme emotion, to great effect.
Despite its good humor, however, the book did not come together for me. The lack of a narrative arc weakens its message. I found myself wanting more details of her experiences with therapy and thought the book needed a better trajectory. The book jumps too quickly from therapy experience to her self-acceptance, and there are no real details or points to show how Koscik got there. These lack of details lessens the impact of the final message. When Anxiety Attacks could have been an engrossing portrayal of anxiety and the impact of therapy, but it sadly falls short.
When Anxiety Attacks: Seeking Out Therapy Even When Your Problems Seem Weird or Silly
by Terian Koscik
Singing Dragon, 2015