There’s never an easy way to tackle your mental health problems. Especially when you’re doing it alone. Artur Studans, aka Art Studans, has been dealing with his problems in a variety of ways, one of which is art. In an attempt to figure things out, he’s created a series of illustrations about spirit animals and they’re so down to earth, you probably have at least one of them.
“I used the series as a way to help me cope during a difficult time,” Art Studans told Bored Panda. “I had to keep myself busy so I wanted to have a little project where I could do a drawing a day, an emotional outlet. The Existential Despair Bear was the first one and it came from a comment my sister made about a meme months ago.”
“Her words stayed with me, and I wanted to illustrate the Existential Despair Bear at some point. The day I started doing the series was just a low point for me where I really needed something to focus on.”
Studans was born in Latvia but moved to Austria with his dad after his parents divorced. And ever since he was 10 years old (currently, he’s 22), he’s been living there. “I’ve been struggling a lot with my mental health throughout my teenage years and I still do. I don’t want to self-diagnose but I’ve never been professionally diagnosed either.”
“I have been avoiding therapy for many years (which I don’t recommend, seriously). At this point, I have accepted that I need therapy if I want to live a fulfilling life that I dream of. That and I don’t want my mental health to be a burden to others as well.”
“I would’ve probably started going to therapy, but I’m in a situation in my life where I can’t afford paying for that. I definitely would if it wasn’t another burden on my father who has supported me so much throughout all these years.”
But I have been working hard on my own mental health myself. Any way I could. Especially recently. I’ve managed to distance myself from substance abuse which had plagued me for many years. I’ve managed to limit my social anxiety and have worked hard on realizing and accepting my own faults and unhealthy coping mechanisms.”
“I am long done with feeling sorry for myself and self-loathing which only make things worse. I’ve worked hard at developing a worldview through optimistic Nihilism to numb down suicidal thoughts. Now, they only show up during very dark moments. Which is a lot better than living with them on a daily basis. I hope that anyone who struggles with these kinds of thoughts on a day to day basis and has a really hard time coping with the world and their self-worth seeks help instead of getting stuck for years like I did.”
“I thought about what kind of conditions I wanted to represent in the series (I made a list after doing the Social Anxiety Snake),” the artist said. “I first thought about how to visualize them in a simple way so I picked out animals with fitting starting letters.”
“After that, I had to figure out how to combine those conditions with the animals, which was hard for some of them. Sometimes I spent more time thinking about the little text next to them than actually drawing the illustrations.”
“I also tried to at least do some minor research,” he added. “But I know that, for instance, I misrepresented OCD. For that one, I was more focused on figuring out a funny way to illustrate it in a single image and I regret not trying to find a better way. Also, the Manic Depression Duck is not named correctly since now the correct term for this condition is bipolar disorder and I knew that while drawing, but I did not want to give up on the idea of the self-reflecting depression duck and thought that it would still be OK. I do realize, however, that it should not be called that way anymore and that it is really important for some people.”
“[Coming back to my emotional well-being,] I had to make a decision. Either give up completely and give in to suicidal temptation or focus on my work, not let myself fall back down again. I made the decision to not give up on myself and that was also when I started my spirit animal project.”
Here’s what people said about the series
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