Out of the Woods depicts the journey out of depression and anxiety of New Zealand author Brent Williams, beautifully illustrated by Turkish-born Korkut Oztekin. It’s a novel concept to have a graphic novel depict depression, but where words often fall so short, illustration has proved an incredible ally. Opening the book for the first time you are confronted by the sheer blackness that was Brent’s depression, which compels you to read along to discover what happened.
What Brent’s story does so well is shine a light on depression and how it can take hold of someone and refuse to let go. The story references the “signs” of depression and what to look for, but Brent is also careful to acknowledge that there is no “one size fits all” version of depression or treatment.
The realistic account of struggling to discover the way forward and all the little but mounting let-downs in recovery he faced acknowledges one of the most frustrating parts of recovery – persistence. Persisting in recovery is difficult and demoralising, but Brent highlights the need to discover the right combination of little changes that can help you move forward. Brent simultaneously tells his and everyone’s story.
Out of the Woods is a journey of growth and hope. It is a story that could be an invaluable piece of support for those struggling to understand their own feelings, for loved ones trying to support someone they love and care about or anyone who wants an honest depiction of what the journey through depression can look like.
Reviewed by Helena Loy, Publications Specialist, Mental Health Foundation