Emo Bunny: Social Sensory Overload

By Amaranthia Sepia for Boston Compass (#128)

October 13, 2020

"Social Sensory Overload" is a comic art piece showcasing Sarah, the main character from my in-progress mental health comic, "Emo Bunny."

"Emo Bunny" is about a bunny girl who suffers from anxiety/panic attacks, reflecting my experiences with generalized anxiety disorder (GAD) and issues around being a disabled minority. Sarah (Emo Bunny) experiences her anxiety disorder in crowded social settings. The artwork illustrates Sarah going to an art gallery she was invited to through connections made during her growing modeling career. There's a large crowd of people all around her, triggering her anxiety. It doesn't help that everyone she's surrounded by are well-off people with wealthy families, which makes her feel inadequate and out of place. Her social anxiety kicks in, making Sarah isolate herself on the couch. Sarah's social anxiety is personified by looming monsters with gaping mouths and huge, crying eyes staring right at her. The eyes represent the feeling/fear of being judged by the people around you for being awkward, strange, and out of place. The tears personify the overwhelming feeling social anxiety causes, while the gaping mouths and sharp teeth represent the abundant condescending, aggressive thoughts anxiety disorders put through your head.

The second panel shows Sarah's anxiety building and caving in on her. The social anxiety monsters become increasingly aggressive—their eyes intensify, and their sharp teeth grow bigger. The venue-goers' presence and the voices from their conversations, represented by black and white silhouettes surrounding her, make her feel claustrophobic. The colored heads outside of the panel symbolize the reality of the situation around her. The intensity of this panel portrays the symptoms of sensory overload. Sensory overload occurs when multiple senses are over-stimulated, triggered by conditions or issues such as crowds, excessive noises, messy surroundings, overload of information or traumatic content/experiences, and multitasking. The anxiety caused by a sensory overload causes you to feel helpless, scared, overwhelmed and even depressed. This is something I've experienced with my GAD in crowded, unfamiliar, or claustrophobic situations. Since this is a significant part of my anxiety experience, I wanted to develop a piece interpreting my experiences using Sarah.

—Amaranthia Sepia @emobunnycomic

See an interview with Fresno Black Girl Magic about “Emo Bunny”, and view my mental health advocacy works here: www.linktr.ee/cutiehipsterart

Check out all the art and columns of October's Boston Compass at www.issuu.com/bostoncccompass