Join us in celebrating the publication of SIDE DEFECTS by Jen Leach!
SIDE DEFECTS, by artist and Word Up volunteer Jen Leach, is a series of comic illustrations of the ridiculous side effects of the medicines we take. After receiving a diagnosis of bipolar disorder at the age of 20, Jen experienced enough stigma to learn to keep her illness a secret for two decades. This changed when she began to post doodles mocking her medicines’ side effects (whether or not she experienced them) to Instagram under the name @furtivedoodles. In doing so, she began to reclaim her previously silenced voice.
Jen easily compiled over 100 such doodles. These include “black stool” (an actual black chair) and “hysteria” (a Victorian woman searches for her uterus). She embraces the dark humor in antidepressants that cause suicidal thoughts and antipsychotics that induce hallucinations. Her illustrations seek to destigmatize mental illness through the universal experience of medical treatment--suffering side effects, and our hopefully universal appreciation of humor. She invites her readers to consider how being open about our “side defects” might be helpful to all of us as patients, caregivers, and clinicians.