The Best Zines to Help you Understand Trauma and PTSD
Kim Rounsefell·April 22, 2021
How wonderful it would be if we lived in a bubble of rainbows, flowers, mutual love, admiration, and never-ending good times.
How do you begin a feature about trauma and post-traumatic stress disorder (PTSD) zines knowing they're such a painful and all-around crappy experience? Life would be more pleasant— fairer —without it. Right? Period! Sadly, the world can be messy, complicated— sometimes dark —and often deals a rough blow.
We'll all likely experience a trauma somewhere along the line.
Depending on its nature, time of life, and the plethora of other individual circumstances, the impact will differ for everyone. How the brain and body respond to trauma is fascinating, although not invariably helpful long-term. It can be tough to know what's going on with your body, especially when it feels like you're no longer in the driver's seat!
Zine culture has paved a way to learn more about trauma— experiences, insights, education — authentically and organically.
Here we share three favorites with you.
This is Your Brain on PTSD: Trauma Recovery Using Brain Science
by Dr. Faith G Harper
For an honest look at trauma and PTSD and how it impacts you, This is Your Brain on PTSD— part of Dr. Faith's Five Minute Therapy zine series —is a go-to.
Dr. Faith candidly guides you through what trauma and PTSD are and how they impact one's life over and above the formal definition of these. I learned a lot from this zine, how trauma extends deeper than we often associate it with, the difference between trauma and PTSD, what trauma response might look like on a typical day. What struck me is how much trauma can take hold and intrude on minor acts of daily life, as well as physical health.
This zine is undoubtedly one of them. I never tire of reading the lively descriptions. It's refreshing to have a health professional write so freely. In under an hour, you'll have a better grasp of the complicated phenomenon of trauma and PTSD with action steps to starting the path to recovery or helping to understand what a friend or loved one might be experiencing.
Out of the Fog: PTSD, CPTSD, Acute Stress Disorder, Depression, Codependency, A Radical Guide
by Jenn Autry
Comic-zines like Out of the Fog, do so well at helping to get your head around heavy topics like trauma and PTSD in a down-to-earth way.
Jenn takes the approach of an older, wiser person educating a younger person all about codependence, PTSD, and complex PTSD (cPTSD). The language throughout this zine is so natural it feels like a conversation, and it's packed with helpful information among the 26 pages with poetry, comics, and handy resources. I found Out of the Fog entertaining while being educational.
As I read through, I find myself looking back among the pages and finding new tidbits of interesting detail on flashbacks, dissociation, hyperarousal, and more.
As Jenn says, "knowledge is power," which this trauma zine helps to impart.
"Whatever path you choose, remember that you are not alone. The world is a traumatizing place to be, and it's not your fault. It's important we all recognize this and be there for each other"— Jenn Autry
Trauma is Really Strange is another comic-zine that does a superb job of giving you a good picture of what trauma feels like from a physical point of view.
It's an ideal read if you're looking to learn more about the science of how trauma affects your brain and body in a fun and not too bogged down kind of way. The most powerful thing about this zine is how well the comics and their accompanying descriptions combine to explain complex brain science. Steve includes a lot of helpful metaphors throughout the zine. If you're not into reading big blocks of text and more of a visual learner, this is a great zine.
By understanding how the body is dealing with trauma, you can then take steps to reconnect and regulate the body's response to the trauma to which this mental health zine gives some great ideas.