Float Comic Anxiety Art

We start Float with ‘How the World Ends.’ But to truly understand the ending, one must understand the beginning. Since Float is a graphic memoir, I knew the subject matter would be extremely personal and difficult to share with my readers. There are things in the book that I’ve hidden from family members and my close friends. I made a vow to be as honest about my experiences with anxiety as I can possibly be.

And yes, that is Baby Howie that I’ve illustrated above.

From what I can gather, I’ve suffered from anxiety since grade school. I would get sharp, stabbing pains down my spine during testing or just in social situations where my nerves would take control. By sixth grade, I now believe I can pinpoint my first anxiety attack. A rush of panic that caused me to pace uncontrollably and sink into a deep abyss flooded by nonsensical fears. As I often do now, I talked to myself and blurted out these fears. A moment that shouldn’t be dedicated to a memory book: Baby’s First Panic Attack.

I’d never given much thought to that outburst until I started working on Float. I just assumed everyone handled embarrassment, shame and irrational fear just like me. In that instance, I simultaneously envisioned an endless future of pain and fear. I paced back and forth. I reasoned with myself, and it tuns out, I reasoned with anxiety. That’s the inner voice raising all this hell. It’s anxiety that feeds on my fears and worries. He wants me to panic because it gives him life. Anxiety’s been growing along with me since childhood. In some ways, he far more advanced since he can gain control over me and outsmart me still.

This book is my stand against anxiety’s strength. I’m calling him out. Float is the main event fight.

  • Heather Dee

    Nice and so open and honest. I can totally relate to the whole situation Howie.

  • Allison Walker Payne

    In grade school, my pediatrician wanted to put me on tranquilizers, which my mom threw out (which today I’m grateful for). My anxiety centered in my gut and school seemed to be the monster that was the catalyst. I was assumed to be just an very sensitive child. Who turned into a very sensitive adult. Now that I’m nearly (gulp) 60, I’m finally starting to look at these things and make sense of them, but it’s going to be a long journey. You’ve been a catalyst, in a very good way for that. One thing, I believe the racing heart, feelings of dread, doom and fear just might not be due to hormones. Yay me! And thanks.

    • Starting my creative process on Float helped me realize the things I did when I was younger (and into adulthood) could be attributed to anxiety. I definitely suffered from it as a child and it grew into a monster. I wish I couldn’t known then what I know now.
      I’m humbled that Float has helped you start to look at your own life with a new lens. It has done the same for me. It made me feel so much better about my embarrassment.

      • Allison Walker Payne

        You’re like the guy breaking a trail through the deep snow so the others can make their way. I’m really excited about this journey you’ve started on, thus helping me (and others) start their own.

        • Wow! That’s a great description. I have a ton of things planned for this site and the main goal is helping others. Everyone needs to know they’re not alone with these type of battles. I’m already so overwhelmed by the amazing Breakthrough Moments we’ve received. The readers have already shared such personal stories and wonderful advice. And we’re only in the first week of the site’s launch.