Emo Bunny: Using Comic Art to Thrive Amidst the Chaos of Living with an Anxiety Disorder

Amaranthia Sepia
July, 2019

My name is Amaranthia Sepia (meaning Eternal Brown Flower). I’m a 19-year-old comic artist of African American and Caribbean descent. At age eight, two years after I returned from Tokyo, I declared my purpose to become a successful comic artist. My comic series featuring my character “Emo Bunny” is art therapy. It expresses the struggles of living with Generalized Anxiety Disorder and my experiences with bullying. Pieces related to the first comic in the series, titled “Emo Bunny: Anxiety Monster” are featured in my mental health art show with SquidInk Art Gallery. 

After living in Tokyo, I returned stateside to attend elementary school. As an African American who spent my early childhood in Asia attending a racially diverse international school, it was difficult to return to a life in the mostly white suburbs. I entered a community where I was an alien due to my race, growing up Buddhist, and my childhood years spent in Japan; those were my last carefree days. Struggling with severe bullying and developing a chronic health problem, I was homeschooled online in 7th grade. After, I was afraid to interact with kids in my community. It’s still difficult to socialize since the trauma was so severe. I didn’t trust anything or anyone, becoming despondent about life. However, I hyper-focused on drawing comics to relieve anxiety. Wanting to be a professional artist didn’t help either; my peers either didn’t take me seriously or tried steal my work. These experiences only added to my GAD symptoms, which wasn’t diagnosed until 2017.

I had an anti-bullying art show titled “I’m Proud of Who I Am” when I left middle school. With my Mom’s and a local artist’s help, I had multiple solo shows in this series and participated in my first group show at age 13-14 while attending VLACS. Exhibiting art allowed me to slowly reconnect with the community after the bullying. 

Transitioning to homeschool was difficult at first. Accustomed to having teachers around to chaperon students through the curriculum, it took a while to figure things out. This made the initial days of homeschool tremendously taxing; I had to communicate via phone and chats with teachers and students, triggering my anxiety. Fortunately, with support from my mother, we had meetings with teachers during 8th and 9th grade explaining my health situation; she created space for me to function. In addition, my Mom made sure I had an endocrinologist and helped me find a therapist I can finally trust. 

The hindrances of the past six years allowed me to create my comic series, “Emo Bunny. "Anxiety Monster" is a comic draft about a bunny girl named Sarah with anxiety. Sarah struggles with her anxiety, which is based upon my struggles with having GAD. I learned some sufferers feel like me when experiencing a panic attack- as if a monster is in your head harassing you. Her cat, Serenity, her emotional support animal, eases her symptoms. Read more about the story of “Emo Bunny” on SquidInk’s page. 

I’m selling t-shirt designs featuring “Emo Bunny” on Teespring, where 25% of each shirt profit goes to ADAA. I want to work with ADAA to spread the message of fighting stigma through art, especially comic art and storytelling.

Currently I’m looking to find an agent and/or publisher so I can spread awareness/fight stigma around anxiety disorders. Presently, I’m working on finding a physical art gallery in New England and funding for printing new pieces and the pieces shown on SquidInk Art Gallery. The goal is to have a show in Boston, New York, and beyond. Since the show’s opening, people told me how it helped them see a visual of their debilitating disorders. Others said they realized by looking at my artwork how difficult it is to live with an anxiety disorder. “Emo Bunny” is part of a larger WIP project called “The Healing Arts: Thriving Amidst the Chaos” about helping artistic women fighting various struggles get funding for their art. We’re seeking funding and resources for this project. My end-goal with my story and artwork is to make young people comfortable with sharing their daily battles with mental health, so to see it can have such a positive impact makes my heart smile. 

Read Amaranthia's June 2020 ADAA blog post






"This Is A Movement, Not a Moment" is a gallery show by ARTivism Initiative (insta @artivisminitiative) which seeks to continue the conversation around the Black Lives Matter movement by amplifying artists/art that speak to historical and contemporary issues of racial injustice. The show invites artists of various mediums to engage in a conversation around racial justice through their art. “One good conversation can shift the direction of change forever.” - Linda Lambert⁣. 

See the link for more details on the show and guidelines for submissions: https://www.artivisminitiative.org/submit

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