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.