I was born in 1980 into a family that had a long history of mental illness and disability, most notably severe Bi-Polar Disorders, clinical depression, and GAD. Two relatives committed suicide in the last 80 years, one to a self-inflicted gunshot wound, the other by throwing himself under a train (my grandmother has been in and out of psychiatric wards for much of her life). I have suffered from anxiety since young childhood, even to the point of producing psychosomatic symptoms (fevers, stomach ailments, heart palpitations, etc.). Ended up in the doctor’s office more than once fearing for my heart.
At age 13 I sank into severe depression and attempted suicide, and yet again at 16. I would go for days without speaking, or with extremely delayed speech and thought processes. I would bite myself in self-hatred, and sink into violent crying jags. Through intense and caring one-on-one talk therapy, I coped and made it through my teens. I lived with my longtime partner/husband for 15 years. The year we married I developed a debilitating anxiety disorder triggered by a traumatic experience, and as a result was put on psychotropic drugs for the first time. I remain on these drugs to this day, now in larger doses.
During a divorce in 2013 I relied heavily on cigarettes, painkillers, and anti-depressants to get through the emotional minefield I was swamped in. I was prescribed Ativan for panic attacks. Around this same time I began experiencing severe reproductive problems, including debilitating pelvic pain and hormonal imbalances. Surgery for this condition was performed in August 2014, removing several of my reproductive organs and leaving me infertile. The subsequent hormone crash that resulted sent me into a downward spiral of panic attacks, severe depression, and suicidal tendencies. Through the help of medication and my family, I got through the worst part of it.
I am a professional comic book artist with several bestselling fantasy/paranormal projects under my belt. I have a healthy fan base worldwide that continues to grow, and a recent film option for one of my comics series. I absolutely love my job. But I still struggle daily with debilitating mental illness, and it impacts my work, my art, my part as a mother, and being a member of a family on a regular basis. I have no interest in hiding what makes me ME…and part of that is dealing with mental illness every day. It shatters me to see others with my condition stigmatized within society, and I refuse to let it happen to me. I want to see mental illness viewed with the same seriousness as cancer, heart disease, and diabetes. It is no less valid. It is no less real.
DANI SMITH is a bestselling “indie” comic book artist/creator, paranormal/horror storyteller, and character designer/illustrator running her own one-woman show through Quick Draw Studios. Art and writing are in her blood; creativity is her addiction, with no hope of rehabilitation. She is a tattooed tomboy who loves the occasional corset, is proudly bisexual, and is a strong supporter of women who don’t “fit the norm” and who are still discovering who they are. She adores old cemeteries, roses, tattoos, motorcycles and muscle cars, abandoned places/ghost towns, handmade bar soap, and combat boots. She is the mother of a beautiful little son, Ryker, who has inspired her to be fearless, both for him and for herself. You can find Dani online at: https://www.facebook.com/danismithcomicscreator and on Twitter @DaniQuickDraw
Thanks for sharing Dani. And never forget – we spec fiction heads rule! 🙂