CONTENT WARNING: this comic depicts medical abuse and psychiatric institutionalization.


26th Mar 2021, 12:32 PM
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Author Notes:

Nobody 26th Mar 2021, 12:32 PM


mallory 26th Mar 2021, 12:53 PM
love how the telephone wire is pulled tight in the first panel as kim talks to her family, then the tension releases as she hangs up! this is one of my favorite pages so far... there is so much information to parse and i imagine the rest of this conversation will feel the same. such as sugar hesitating and likely holding back how she actually feels... very heavy. the art and expressions are fantastic.
EveryCaptain 26th Mar 2021, 1:08 PM
The expressions here are doing so much. I love sugars tired lil face in the third and fourth panels but the expressions on Kim here are so great. Theres so much tired weight.
Zuzi 26th Mar 2021, 1:10 PM
This scene makes me really sad somehow, like nothing sad or tragic is happening but Sugar and Kim both look so tired and this feels like one of those Honest Conversations™ you really only have with people who've gone through similar experiences
I want them to be happy and to be able to thrive and not just survive, but knowing what happens to Sugar from now to Drop Out just reminds me of how our current healthcare systems (among other things) just utterly fail so many people
Zuzi 26th Mar 2021, 1:12 PM
Also, I just noticed that the doctor is playing candy crush with a fucking stylus
Mr.S 26th Mar 2021, 1:23 PM
Oh dang it's about to finish this webcomic? Feelsbadman
Lutzbug 26th Mar 2021, 1:23 PM
When Kim asks Sugar what she’s going to do if her ECT treatment fails, and Sugar can tell she’s withholding information that she doesn’t want to tell Kim. This moment holds special weight if you’ve read Drop-Out.

That lynx nurse is doing some highly important work on his phone...lmao
gay 26th Mar 2021, 1:39 PM
wowee those shots down the corridor are so cool. and the stretched out yet curly phone cord + becoming curlier as its put away is a great, tangible detail.

god, poor kim. her despondency...i've said this before, but i hope this experience can bolster her resolve rather than reaffirm life's futility. i like how kim boldly brings up stuff she sees under the surface into the conversation. i think that can be a good skill to have, and certainly not something everyone can or will do, but of course it can lead to trouble too. man. shes had so much fight in her this whole time, i hope she can use that to her advantage going forward in life. yet she seems so beaten down here :( i hope she can find more support and companionship outside of the hospital.

and sugar....this scene especially adds so much meaning to me wrt her thinking of kim towards the end of drop out. and kims emotional scene with seems all of these people have really had a profound effect on each other. im thinking this is the next morning, and im thinking about if she was sleeping next to tabitha again, and their fraught yet emotional, short-lived relationship. i really hope tabitha can go on to be ok as well.

i think it hits really solidly in this comic, how this is simply a window into a time and place, and how everyone has expansive lives, relationships, experiences etc outside of this as well. feels fleshed out, despite not being able to see outside of this window. and i think that kind of mirrors the experiences people have in the hospital: seeing & sharing an intense and intimate, yet ultimately small experience with another, with lots of holes in their stories, yet strong memories nonetheless.

also the "arent you even happy to be going home??" reflected certainly has learned a lot. im glad shes been able to have positive influences here, as well. cool to exhibit how the other people one is stuck in a bad situation with can be so important to your survival, in the moment and going forward.

also just let me catch this candy crush mullet lynx bitch in the street, i swear.
Guest of Wind 26th Mar 2021, 1:48 PM
Oh.... Kim's face in that last panel.... I think she knows what Sugar actually wanted to say...

I feel a little bad when I keep relating things that happen in Fresh Meat to Sugar's story in Drop-Out because, like, Fresh Meat is Kim's story mainly. But also anybody who's read Drop-Out knows what the answer is, and Sugar's whole run in this comic shines a light on SO MUCH of what shaped her worldview at the point she was in during Drop-Out.

Wish I had more to say but Fresh Meat's content has been hitting close to home a lot recently which means it's a little emotionally tiring to think about too deeply -- not that that's a bad thing! Suicide and psychiatry in general is just kinda like that for me, and I imagine for you as the author it can be heavy sometimes too. You're put a lot of effort in and it shows, can't wait for this comic to be done so I can read it all in one sitting.
Guest 26th Mar 2021, 1:59 PM
sugars restraint.....we all know what she wanted to say :(
Guest 26th Mar 2021, 2:21 PM
Oh Sugar… I feel you there.
MyGardenBird 26th Mar 2021, 3:02 PM
I did a little bit of translating. She called her grandmother. Lǎolao means grandmother in Chinese. In return, her grandmother called her Yúyùn? I can't get a good translation of that one so, I'm assuming it's an affectionate term? Maybe?

Kim not calling her mom makes me think she believes her mom will pick her up. Especially after that conversation she had with her. I'm not sure what her relationship with her dad is like but it can't be much better since it doesn't seem like she even thought about calling him. Even her grandmother seems a bit short with Kim? At least she's got someone to pick her up.

Kim and Sugar's conversation is very haunting. As other's said before, Sugar's hesitation speaks more if you have read Drop-Out. Excited to see how this finishes out!! Babies need sleep and some hugs.
Nobody 26th Mar 2021, 4:06 PM
hi there. you're right that kim was talking to her grandmother. yǔyún (or yǔ yún) is a nickname her grandmother calls her. it's common to use nicknames in a lot of Chinese culture with friends and family, as her grandmother does. this particular nickname means raincloud.
Guest 3rd Apr 2021, 12:33 PM
maaan, Kim's mom or dad isn't even going to be the one to pick her up.
jay 26th Mar 2021, 3:57 PM
aw man sugar's pause there...
carmilla gang prez 26th Mar 2021, 4:10 PM
ouughhh my heart is aching knowing this comic is coming to a close :( of course it had 2 happen eventually but its like watching a show you really love and knowing youre near the end. especially since it started in a year i look back on very fondly!!

that aside i love kim and sugars faces on this page especially 6, 7 and 10. and as per usual, Poor Sugar. god the Pause after kim asks what shes going to do... :[ !!!
the backgrounds r incredible as usual and very creative!
Cameron 26th Mar 2021, 4:22 PM
One of the things I've noticed throughout the comic is with Kim's needing and wanting to go home, it's her needing to go back to some familiarity, to where she can wear the clothes she wants, use the bathroom when she needs, eat what she wants. Basically she wants to be treated like a human being with rights and freedoms. Her family life isn't great, but just being given freedoms to be a human is worth fighting for.

But when she meets these characters, who have shaped her and helped her in ways she needs, she starts to realize she could be happier and better. Going back home to people who dont make an effort to understand won't help anything, and she might stagnate. If the facility did any good for the people it claims to serve, a therapist would help her work through the issues at hand. But no, it fails her, and everyone unfortunate enough to be there. :( I feel for Kim, and it's so awful to see how she was failed in every possible way.
Guest 26th Mar 2021, 4:27 PM
I like the way the phone cord kinda looks like the shadow of the dialogue bubbles in the first panel
kibo 26th Mar 2021, 7:13 PM
i love the shot composition on this one, the way you posed kim against sugar on panels 6 and 7 looks really good.
also the way you captured the mood on this scene i feel is really on point.
both excited and a little sad fresh meat is coming to an end, i guess just as kim is feeling? bittersweet? or just bitter, i dunno. either way its been amazing following this comic since the start and im eager to see how to end shapes up.
thank you so much for working so hard on it and sharing it with us.

i hope this comment isnt bad. ive been having tremendous difficulty with words lately, reason why i rarely comment, but as ive said ive been following since the start.
Rojurou 26th Mar 2021, 8:42 PM
I’ve been following this comic for a while now, after I got completely hooked on Drop Out and was excited to see a new comic from you, even more excited when Sugar appeared in this for the first time!

Remembering Drop Out and it made me think that Kim really did make somewhat of an impact on Sugar, thinking of that panel at the Canyon where they’re remembering people who I’m assuming were important to them, and seeing Kim there not knowing who she was at the time I was reading it 😭 I love how their stories are somewhat intertwined and that they were in each other’s lives for a short while. I really hope Kim will be okay.
TheLycus 26th Mar 2021, 10:08 PM
honestly this scene hits harder in a much more sadder or somber way knowing where sugar is gonna be and what her situation is gonna end up like by the end of her story too. I was hoping Kim would be in a much better spot then before even though i knew what the comic was about but still.
cinna 27th Mar 2021, 8:12 AM
i've really been reflecting on how transient and temporary mental health "services" are even in the best case scenario. like, even if somebody benefits from their experience, even if they learn something, they're thrown back out to wonder why they can't heal in the same environment that hurt them. even if you were to ignore historical bias and stigma and capitalism, the whole system is designed around an incredibly specific scenario, and if your needs lie outside that narrow scope, you're the designated problem. kind of wild that better services for people with specific disabilities only exist if they're somehow magically able to afford it, despite the reasons they need help and the reasons they can't afford it being so inextricable

otherwise, it amounts to giving a plant that doesn't get enough sunlight a drawing of a cartoon sun with sunglasses and expecting it to learn to simply just photosynthesize better
mata 27th Mar 2021, 10:26 AM
i know i'm like, a page early to be saying this stuff, but i just want to mention while i'm here, that throughout the same time this comic was running i was going through a lot and got very close to killing myself twice, was hospitalized once voluntarily. it was awful and they wouldn't let me leave. having read a majority of this comic, it helped me a lot to get through that. it's very accurate, and so genuine to the excess that only someone who has gone through it themself could write. instead of getting really angry and upset when a doctor brushed me off/mistreated me, it was just, "ah, the true Kim Experience." which overall helped me handle it better and be more mindful even if it wasn't in the most orthodox way

ig what i'm trying to say is Thank You for writing about your experience in such a straightforward and honest way.
8bitmelanie 27th Mar 2021, 1:20 PM
Sugar's really restraining herself from saying what she wants to say, and this scene really does hit different since I read Drop-Out... Thank you for your excellent storytelling, gray - I can't wait to see what you do in the future!
s 28th Mar 2021, 11:09 AM
OH i love those kims in panels 8/9, her expressions are so good... and i hurt so much for sugar! whoof!!!

also yǔyún is such a cute nickname for kim!!!!!!!

seconding a lot of the thoughts of other commenters that this comic has--as designed!--evoked a lot of frustration over the huge gap between what psychiatry in america is right now and what it NEEDS to be in order for mentally ill people to get the help & support we deserve & depend on for our own hecken survival. something's very wrong with a system that forces you to play russian roulette when trying to obtain medication or counseling you need to help wrangle your brain. something's very wrong with a system that traumatizes a lot of people who go through it to the point where they're too afraid of suffering more harm to try to get meds or counseling that could significantly improve their quality of life.

but it's hard to know what to do about how shit garbage this system is when you're just one guy with symptoms syndrome, aside from learning how to handle bad hospitals/doctors just in case you're unlucky... It Sucks Butts

(additionally: happy pesach!!)
ray 28th Mar 2021, 11:42 AM
thank you for this wonderful comic, it's been wonderful to read, and taught me a good amount. i hope we see more of kim in the future, even if it's small bits!
CaskofArmadillo 28th Mar 2021, 3:30 PM
aw hell 93 is the last time we're seeing lupe and carmilla isn't it? i mean i guess that's pretty realistic all things considered
Drew 28th Mar 2021, 5:59 PM
gosh the background and expression work in the Sugar nd Kim interaction this page... Sugar's words particularly resonate with me. wonderful.
mata 29th Mar 2021, 2:16 AM
im slightly troubled by something in the comments so i just wanna say it real quick.

although drop-out is an *amazing* comic and everyone here should read it, it's not a requirement to understand what sugar was about to say. i think it can be assumed pretty accurately just from the context of the comic
jamie 30th Mar 2021, 11:58 AM
I'm not great at literary analysis, so I never comment, but I did just want to say that I really love this comic and all of your work. It hits in a certain way that nothing else I've seen has before. Thank you so much for putting your work out here for people to see, it means a lot.
Guest x 31st Mar 2021, 2:17 PM
Fresh Meat is ending right around the time that one of my friends got forcibly institutionalized. I don't know why but I find this comic really comforting right now, as she's not been calling us - only her flatmate was involved in the detainment (she was there during the crisis and couldn't fix it, from what I understand - medical intervention sounds like it was needed) and the rest of us have been trying to see her in the aftermath, but Covid and whatever restrictions she's under means we're completely in the dark. We can't even call her hospital. Her family seems to be contributing to the lack of info we have.

We're all waiting to welcome her back and support her as much as she can. With the lack of any ability to contact her, Fresh Meat has been a reminder that life at least... Exists, in these institutions, even if it often does more harm than good.

I can't know what the future will look like for her. I hope she will come back to us so we can remind her she's loved and give her the support she sorely needs. I know there's gonna be a lot of guilt and exhaustion involved.

I guess the words are ... Thanks for a glimpse of what it's like in these institutions - I narrowly avoided being sent to one as a kid by lying my ass off. It seems like an utter black box from the outside. It really is like a holding cell. I'm reminded of Sparklecare and how the institutions seem to be dressed up like a nice hotel when from accounts from the inside they're like prisons or poorly run schools.
Nobody 31st Mar 2021, 4:56 PM
i've thought a lot about how covid must be affecting the psych ward experience since it started. i hope that she comes out on the other side of it as well-off as she can.
emm 31st Mar 2021, 7:29 PM
i love the backgrounds during kim and sugar's conversation, especially the fisheye'd hallway towards the beginning and the static behind sugar later on.

i have no experience with electrotherapy, which i'm guessing is having a big impact on sugar's mental state during this scene, and may be part of what's being represented w/ that static, but i feel like that panel is also a good depiction of that feeling of interference when you're trying to delicately answer a tough question
prettypinkpansy 1st Apr 2021, 11:50 PM
this comment was too fucking long so i had to sign up for an account lol. sorry for the words

thinking about the last couple panels relevant to drop-out, and thinking about how sugar keeps saying "something has to fix this" and it's like... asking the wrong question. the moral of drop-out (one of them, at least), at least what i got out of it, was that sometimes you *can't* fix it, but that doesn't mean "it" isn't worth living anyway. like i'll never un-make the trauma that happened to me, i'll never stop being mentally fucking ill, i can reduce it and cope but it won't go away. but it doesn't mean my life isn't worth living.

it's about ... finding ways to live with that regardless. sugar, here, is fixated on reaching an existence closer to neurotypicality, without realizing that there are things "wrong" with her that go deeper than just treatment-resistant depression. i think she's very logical in the way she thinks, and paradoxically kind of optimistic, with how she's trying not to focus on what happens if this doesn't work (for kim's benefit obviously but i think also her own), just that it WILL work, or something else will, because there logically *has* to be something that will fix it. she sees it as a problem to be fixed. something to be solved. an easy fallacy if you believe in the power of science

you can see the flipside of this in drop-out: when she sees all conventional treatment has failed to solve "the problem" (that she believed needed to be fixed in order to continue function) and that the problem itself was deeper and more incurable than she'd even realized, she believes the only logical way forward is to eliminate the problem (herself), because that's kind of what society tells you. you go through these avenues to attempt to fix the problem, and once you run out of avenues, it's sort of like, guess I'll die? the moral there, of course, is that living outside of society's ideas of a functional life following what you're "supposed" to be doing is a life worth living.

fresh meat feels like it's been about a similar theme in that it's sort of all about going through society's avenues but finding out they're like an ill-fitting suit that was never made to fit you and the people tailoring it don't actually care if it does. that the protocols set up that are supposed to help you and stop you from hurting yourself can actively make things worse and result in trauma, misdiagnosis, medical bills... if fresh meat is the question, drop-out is the answer. some of what kim got here - peers, classes - may help her, but is it worth the cost? is this the only means that society gives you to get better if you're saying it's bad enough you can't take it anymore?

to theorize about the ending, i don't feel like it's going to be a hopeful one. not a purposely depressing ending because that doesn't seem like gray's style, but i have a strong feeling we're going to foreshadow that this will not be kim's last suicide attempt. we already have some of that with her saying "why would you give me another face" to tabitha, which directly implies there will be another. she did not gain the skills or development to fully stop the cycle of depression and self-hatred in her brain - in fact, nobody ever really addressed that. partly because it's her family that caused those pressures, from the sound of it, which isn't something that can be fixed with generic dbt handouts and art therapy. all of this is short-term stabilization by uncaring professionals.

real, actual change could've potentially been actualized if they'd caught any of the red flags with her saying her home life is fine, then later saying it's not great, or the crying on the phone with her mother, instead of treating it as the lies of some BPD caricature. she reads to me as if she thinks everything in her home life is fine or at least other people have it worse and so it's not worth complaining about, that anything her parents say to damage her self-esteem is justified, that the pressures are normal and have nothing to do with her depression. which, hits close to home given that's exactly how i felt growing up. my parents are fine, i'm so glad they're not abusive, i'm glad i have a supportive family! *grows up* what do you mean none of that was normal

i'm guessing her current therapy isn't really helping with that because, to project a little, i reassured my therapist my home life was fine when it WAS NOT FINE because i genuinely believed that and they didn't think to pry any further. it was actually a massive problem!!! i was seeing mental health professionals but nobody read between the lines to understand WHY i was having these problems. depression just fucking spawned from the ether i guess. it's just another failure of the entire system...

anyway, on the other hand kim has shown that the one thing she hates is, well, this entire fucking experience, so it's possible that would be enough of a deterrent (ironically) to keep her from another attempt on her life. but i can't say it's a particularly positive experience to stay alive just because the alternative is worse. it's something, at least.
Juke 2nd Apr 2021, 8:36 PM
what is sugar getting electrotherapy for?
prettypinkpansy 3rd Apr 2021, 4:59 PM
i could be wrong but i think at this point sugar has only been diagnosed (as far as she knows, at least) with adhd and treatment-resistant depression (and probably anxiety because that tends to be a fun bonus diagnosis if you have depression), so she is getting ECT for treatment-resistant depression (which is to say, depression that hasn't responded well to traditional methods such as medication or therapy).

it's definitely not unheard of but it is surprising to me personally that they would do it on a 19 year old (i'm not doubting the accuracy, just makes me sad)
Nobody 3rd Apr 2021, 6:28 PM
yeah it's for depression
x 10th Apr 2021, 10:21 PM
!!!!!!!!! kim saying laolao got me - i use that term and this is my first time seeing it in anything. always love steel-hearted asian grandma energy. especially feel for kim’s little tired face in panel 9 - just wanna give her some soup and blankets and tell her it will be okay ;___;