Author and artist Grace Miceli is promoting compassion for mental health on social media.

By Madeline Brik.

When abstract ideas, thoughts, and emotions are too big for words, art often becomes an outlet for expression. Artist and author Grace Miceli takes to illustration to convey her inner dialogue, which can take her places far and wide. Her recently published adult picture book, How to Deal, showcases her own mental health journey through a collection of comics, diary entries, and lists.

Mental health awareness has grown in recent years, thanks in part to social media bringing the conversation to new formats. Many users, including celebrities, have turned to social media to express doubts, worries, and troublesome emotions. There is a sense of community and solace with relatability, especially during extended periods of social distancing. Miceli, and other Instagram artists, navigate uncomfortable conversations on social media to bring a new element to the space beyond a highlight reel.

Prior to launching her book, Miceli started her career by posting her coping hobby to Instagram. “I think initially I found it very calming to enter another state while creating and it felt really incredible to communicate things, I couldn’t easily say with words but could say through art,” Miceli said to Mission over email.

Her work focuses on simplistic doodles rendered in bright inks, with drawings of recognizable snack brands, from cereal to frozen pizza, whose labels are rewritten to send a message on mental health. “I just can’t today,” and “I have social anxiety” are colored across the likes of Frosted Flakes and frozen Celeste pizza renditions. “Art is how I communicate with others and how I go deeper with myself. It was really scary at first, to be vulnerable like that, but I think creating personal work really allowed me to find the confidence to speak about my feelings openly,” explained Miceli. Through her comic-esque drawings, her struggles are blended with humor, providing a sense of ease to the topic.

Our comfort zones, sometimes in the form of binge-worthy snacks, can quilt us from taking the necessary steps of getting to a better place. “I think it’s comforting to see that someone else shares the same anxieties or thoughts or fears as you. So often we create these stories in our heads that just aren’t true, so it’s nice to temporarily have relief from that,” said Miceli.

Through her doodles, Miceli creates a space for compassion and understanding on social media. “I’m still figuring it out-and maybe always will be, but my aim is to share my experiences in a way that hopefully makes life less painful for someone else, whether that is by helping them to feel less alone in what they are going through or by making them smile or laugh for a moment when they come across my work,” stated Miceli.

Image credit: Grace Miceli