The term “mental illness” carries a lot of weight in today’s world. Anxiety, depression, PTSD, and body dysmorphic disorder are among the most widely experienced of these illnesses, and it seems that no age group, children included, are immune to experiencing them.
For people on the other side, understanding mental illness can be a complex forum to navigate. And for those suffering, making an intangible experience such as anxiety tangible often fails to capture the true breadth of what they are going through.
But of all the ways of expressing the complexities of mental illness, perhaps there is no medium better suited than art.
In his illustrative series titled “Real Monsters Vol.1 & 2,” U.K-based artist Toby Allen has taken the subject of mental illness and created a collection of anthropomorphic creatures to represent the common mental illnesses that plague the world today.
“The project originated from imagining my own anxieties as monsters and finding it to be a cathartic and healing process to draw them,” Allen told The Huffington Post. “It made them feel weaker and I was able to look at my own anxiety in a comical way. I wanted to expand upon this idea and draw other representations of mental illnesses that could help people in the same way it helped me.”
“I hoped to draw attention to mental illnesses that often get ignored or aren’t taken seriously,” he said. “I want to make people aware of how damaging these illnesses are and how much of a burden they can be to those who suffer from them. The project also highlights conditions that some people may have never even heard of, so the work aims to raise awareness for these. I hope that people can relate to the work and that it helps them to see their illness in a different light, make it appear more manageable.”
Allen said the response to his work has been incredible.
“I have received so many wonderful messages from people who live with one or many of the disorders I have drawn,” he said, “each telling me how much the work means to them and how it has helped them to think about their condition in a different or more positive way.”
Be sure to check out Allen’s Tumblr page, Zesty Does Things, to see more of his unique art.