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Did Anyone Read "Asylum Squad" .......


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Guest GingerSnap

Did anyone else read "Asylum Squad" on the front page article area? If so, what am I missing? Is it supposed to be informative or amusing? If so, I did not find that. There seemed to be an implication that spirituality and such were linked to psychosis?:confused: Can anyone explain what that is about to me?

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I did go see it. I had read the earlier ones, but hadn't seen this one until you pointed it out. The author's plan, apparently, is to explore their own experiences with schizophrenia using four separate characters in a comic strip format. Her introduction is here.

I think it's pretty clear that the character in the current strip is delusional, and has what the author's commentary calls a 'messiah complex'. It's not uncommon for psychotic people to conclude that they are in touch with gods. It doesn't imply the converse, that feeling in touch with the gods, however one experiences that, is the same as psychosis.

Not everything that's written is either amusing or has a point. I assume the author is enjoying writing, someone here who has editorial power (that's definitely not me, I can assure you) has given them space, and maybe some people who read it are enjoying it. I haven't found it 'great' so far, but I'm willing to let the author speak and see what she has to say ...

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Thank you, malign. The only thing it reminds me of was once we were standing talking to our neighbors in my husband's hometown and a scruffy younger man came down the alley and joined in the conversation. After awhile he looked at my husband and said "Do you know who I am?" to which my husband responded "I'm not sure I remember you.", to which the man replied "I am Jesus Christ" - this guy was definitely convinced and everyone moved back onto their porch near the door and he wandered away.:eek:

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Sarafin - the author of Asylum Squad - contacted me and showed me her strip, and I decided that it was an interesting angle on a complex and misunderstood illness and that I'd like to publish it. So that is what we're doing. I don't think it is for everyone. It is actually somewhat difficult to read at times, but I think that is not dissimilar to what it is like to be in a psychotic delusional state - at least how it has seemed to me from the outside. Agitated, too many thoughts at once, very intimate contact with odd forces larger than yourself, etc. It's not a comfortable experience. What I like about the comic is that in reading it, you get a bit of that uncomfortable flavor. At least one person wrote in today to say that they did not like it (was that you, Ginger?), and even took offense with it. But I think that Malign has explained it well - people in the midst of a psychotic episode can feel intimately connected to or merged with God(s) but that does not mean anything in particular about the relationship between people who are not psychotic and their relationship with God.

Mark

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Sarafin is here, perhaps we could ask her? How about it, Sarafin? :(

I suspect I may be source of malign's word "great" in his post. *wink @ malign* What I was going to say has just been said by Mark D. (You may protest your innocence Mark, but I know that you are really reading my mind - can't even have privacy in one's own mind anymore, what is the world coming to, tut tut mutter mutter. *wink, grin*)

I'd suggest the meaning is not always immediately apparent, but that it very much illustrates psychosis and "what it is like".

With my bipolar, I've been psychotic a (mercifully, few) times, mostly, but not exclusively, from psychiatric meds (eg, lithium toxicity) and as Mark says, it is uncomfortable (at best and terrifying at worst). Eg. I firmly believed I was busy dying during the lith. tox. Everyone was ignoring me of course, even as I begged to see my children to say goodbye and experienced my liver shutting down.

It is also bizarre when you are presented with incontrovertible proof that what you just heard, saw and believed does not exist. I was chatting with my daughter when I was told I was alone. How can you trust your judgement when phrases like "I saw it with my own eyes" get that distorted? How do I even know I am "with it" right now? (I think I am, could someone give me a reality check? *wink*)

Much more often, I get 'flight of ideas' when my thoughts jump very rapidly from one thing to the next to the next to the next. The connections make perfect sense to me, but to others (they say) they are tenuous at best. I think tangentially.

I don't know if this gives you an idea, but this what that is like: You're surfing the web really fast and following link after link from a website on birds to a blog by a birder who also like cars to one of their friends on their blog roll who likes trains to a site he likes about tigers in Africa (which only exist in zoos) to a blog on myths and mythology. Remember you're going fast, but doesn't it still make sense to you? (You won't believe how much of the Web you can cover in an hour! *laughing* It's how I came across your cartoon in the first place, Sarafin!) Pity I can't concentrate to remember anything I've read, though, had you not appeared on MentalHelp, Sarafin, I'm not sure I would have found you again as I can't remember how I got there! But it feels very strange that others can't see the connections and seem to think much slower.

It does make for great ideas for art, which I think is what Sarafin experiences (?) - I know it is so, for my own art! :) What do you think of this Sarafin: if you wish, you could consider adding a commenting little birdie or something that chirps "That's what it's like, folks" or "There they go again" or some such phrase at the end, every now and then?

My point is: I relate.

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Guest GingerSnap

Mark: Yes, that was me. I try to read several of the articles on the front page unless they seem long or I keep asking myself, "What?" and then just move on. You got to admit that "God", obviously not my God because to know him you wouldn't be slamming him, seems to get a bad wrap in the mental health arena. I know that I have seen a lot of people searching for "Christian" counselors of which there seems to not be that many so, here comes that article which, in my opinion (and I always have one:D), it just fuels the anti-God, anti-spiritual fires that appear to burn too brightly these days. I am just really into the God and spiritual world and I sure would not want to see such an article maybe turn someone less strong than myself away from the spiritual world fearing that the association was psychotic.:( Cathy

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I've actually had a couple of experiences that I believe involved direct assistance from a divine source. One was when I was in a hospital for seven weeks, and I decided to take the advice my mother gave me when I was a child, and pray to St. Jude for help. I had suffered for well over a year, and never thought to pray, just because I assumed it wouldn't work. So I did, and immediately after, I saw an angel enter my room with a trumpet, sound it, and then disappear. I mush have fallen asleep shortly thereafter. When I awoke, I was greeted with mercy - everything that had tormented me up to that point was tamed. Within a week, I was able to concentrate (I had lost my ability to read and write for a while). Some symptoms remained, but overall I felt a strong sense of peace, and all the disturbing things I had been exposed to had turned around and were just phrases like "don't worry, you're going to be fine".

I also prayed to remove my marijuana and cigarette addictions, asking that I feel great sickness if ever I tried to continue either (I knew they were keeping me ill). This was a general prayer. Sure enough, the next morning, a roomie smoked her morning cigarette in front of me, and I felt really queasy - it was like metaphysical Zyban. That was over 2 years ago, and I haven't smoked either substance since.

I plan on incorporating these kinds of experiences into the comics - actually, one of my pet peeves is that psychiatrists I have dealt with treat these experiences like symptoms of illness, rather than anything mystical. The comics are presented this way: it's up to the reader to decide what the character's predicament is.

(My point is that I do believe in divine experiences, and I'm frustrated that the ones I had were not taken seriously because of my diagnostic label.)

I also want to note: the first 44 comic strips of the series were created while I was in a hospital, coming out of psychosis, which explains their rawness. The early ones, in particular, are a bit wordy, and may come across as strange/confusing. (There are a couple in particular that I might redraw entirely, because their layouts are too strange.)

-Sarafin

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Hi Sarafin,

I guess if I realized you might actually read my "review", I'd have been gentler. It's hard enough being creative without enduring all the critics ...

I spent some time in a hospital, myself, though not psychotic. When I was younger, I probably would have viewed things as fairly black and white, delusional or not delusional. I think I'm more likely to accept other people's experiences at face value, now. Or at least, to leave open the possibility that their experiences have a deeper meaning, for them.

I don't see it as vital for the rest of us to "know" whether what you experienced was spiritual or symptomatic. They were your experiences, for you to incorporate into your life in whatever way works for you.

I had always intended to keep an open mind, in reading your strips, and now I'll try even harder. {And is there really a degree in sequential arts? I find that amusing.} :-)

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Guest GingerSnap

Sarafin: Thank you for giving an explanation although it doesn't make it any more clear to me since I don't understand dealing with psychosis but know that you are most sincere in trying to express what it is like which I am sure helps many especially those that can identify with it or are studying this. :) Cathy

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  • 2 weeks later...

Just wanted to say Sarafin that I found the strip on my first visit to this site and ended up spending the day on the Asylum Squad site reading all of the episodes thus far. I really like your graphic and written style (and I actually like "wordy strips" once in a while) and I feel like I've learned a good bit about what it feels like to be dealing with psychosis. I'm still checking regularly for new episodes and will enjoy reading more.

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  • 2 weeks later...
Just wanted to say Sarafin that I found the strip on my first visit to this site and ended up spending the day on the Asylum Squad site reading all of the episodes thus far. I really like your graphic and written style (and I actually like "wordy strips" once in a while) and I feel like I've learned a good bit about what it feels like to be dealing with psychosis. I'm still checking regularly for new episodes and will enjoy reading more.

Thanks for the encouragement!

I just posted a new strip the other day on my main site. Tonight I began tidying up some of the older strips, to make them easier to read/more attractive. I do this every once in a while when I have time and see some things that could use improvement. (One strip in particular, I would like to redraw entirely.)

The stories unfolding right now are all part of an intro "chapter" to a larger story (a prologue book). Since I am taking graphic novel illustration and storytelling in art college, I want to start the main story once I have more skills under my belt. I think the rawness works for these strips, but when I tackle the rest, I want to have a slicker format and execution. I intend to have some books published one day, but at present I haven't pursued a publisher/printer, since it won't be for a while.

-Sarafin

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