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

95

4th Apr 2021, 1:43 PM
95
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Comments:

Ben 4th Apr 2021, 1:48 PM
I have been following your art since I first found Dropout when you were on page ten or so? It got me through a very hard time in my life, And...Sugar means so much to me, I admire how you write and have evolved the story and just-- Thank you for sharing this story with us all.
EveryCaptain 4th Apr 2021, 1:56 PM
I really like the panic in Sugar's face, and the shot of the fidgety hands. It feels really relatable. This page is definitely conjuring a lot of mixed feelings. There's a real emotional hit to Kim talking so plainly about her reality.
ghrian 4th Apr 2021, 1:56 PM
god seeing the faith and hope sugar has in treatment here then looking at drop out and "why do meds help her and not me" specifically is just [closed mouth screaming]
Guest 4th Apr 2021, 1:57 PM
Oh Sugar is such a blessing to this world. gray, you've created some of my favourite characters ever, these two are at the top of the list. Thank you for the work you do!
junie 4th Apr 2021, 2:04 PM
taking into account sugar's reactions here and how this progresses into her mindset in drop-out, it's like.. really painfully obvious that this is some self-soothing shit that doesnt actually change anything but she tells herself it does to make herself feel better. which is tragic, really. and i think a big part of their conversation here is that what kim's talking about is, as far as i understand, not something sugar herself really.. gets? as far as i know sugar is big on the self-blame "im the problem / my depression is the problem" mindset rather than "the world is making me depressed"
anyway, taking into account this is the last scene, i think it's interesting and definitely spurring on some deeper thought that this is the concept that the story's gonna be left on, i like it a lot even if im not completely sure what to make of it yet. i think seeing the way kim has changed over the course of the story as well (especially the moment where she goes "i didnt mean you specifically-" and then cuts herself off, i feel like that's not something kim earlier wouldve done?) is really cool even if this growth is... not exactly for the better.

either way, sugar's expressions in panel 12/13 . <3 i love the different look of the pupils in those panels so much. thank you for the updates as always!!
Guest 4th Apr 2021, 2:09 PM
oh i really love where you have panel 4, with kim's tail so close to sugar and almost touching her, but no one's expression is shown, vs panel 8 where they are so far apart. i don't have the words to frame what i love about the symbolism there and the way it flows with the other panels and the direction the conversation is going wrt kim especially, but it is excellent. i also really really love sugar's expression on her face and with her hands in panels 12-14, and the way the background is on panel 13 as sugar is panicking.

and god kim. i absolutely do not blame her way of thinking here because i know i would come to the same conclusion if i was in her place going through the same things she did, and i can relate to it pretty strongly right now. honestly though i'm very glad you're gonna put her in a cameo somewhere in a future comic! I know you mentioned it on twitter, but i wanted to comment about it here too. also as someone who has never really had my depression ever improve but has managed it better as i've gotten older, i'm probably one of the minority demographic that is actually comforted by that sort of trajectory for her after this haha.
kendall 4th Apr 2021, 2:22 PM
this page is really good. i love seeing sugar fumble with the ball she's handed, and then work to bring it back. i hope she can get her point across well. i have so many hopes for Kim.
anan 4th Apr 2021, 2:28 PM
oh my god this page is so so good the moment i saw it i leapt to tell my friend about it THANK you
anan 4th Apr 2021, 10:49 PM
i CANT stop thinking about the first 3 panels!!!!!!!!!! my god the COMPOSITION and FEELING
prettypinkpansy 4th Apr 2021, 2:56 PM
yeah i had a feeling this was leading up to kim either attempting again or strongly considering attempting again. she hasn't really been given any kind of resources to adequately address her problems in the long term - even the "short term stabilization" these clinics are supposed to offer didn't do much to stabilize her rather than, you know, traumatizing her and aggravating everything she was already feeling. she has had some growth but it feels like it's mostly incidental and through her experiences with her peers rather than anything the medical staff is doing

i'd like to think this conversation will give her some hope, but kim sort of seems at that period of growth in your teenhood where you feel like you're finally seeing the world for what it really is, warts and all, and it's hard to feel like there's any hope to glean from that. it's a common thing which i think is why a lot of even well-off, neurotypical kids turn cynical and/or to various subcultures that emphasize emotional misery such as the oft-mocked emo. if you hadn't picked up on it earlier in your life for whatever reason, then you kind of get hit in the face with a reality check of things being shit, realizing the adults in your life are shitty and manipulative and fallible, etc.

not to say "kim is an emo kid", more like "i think there's a point in a lot of teenagers' lives where they understandably realize the world around them is kind of shit but haven't yet developed strategies to reconcile or cope with that, and pouring depression + familial abuse on that is a good way to cause suicidality". especially when she feels like she's not being allowed to have any kind of agency over her own thoughts or actions, because people around her keep treating her as young and naive in one way or another, in addition to the more physical restrictions in the ward and at home.

also big oof with sugar's "i didn't mean to make it about me", truly spoken like someone who's been told they're making it about them a lot!!!!!!! love the physicality of her wringing her hands to try and calm herself down and not jump straight to self-loathing :)
s 6th Apr 2021, 4:23 PM
^^^ this is a good ass comment so im seconding it! damn i hope kim manages to stick around, even though the frustration of so much being wrong with the world that you're too powerless to change as an individual is a really hard emotion to cope with.
nova 4th Apr 2021, 3:16 PM
Man Kim really touched on something I struggled with. At her age, I very much saw the problem as myself- that there was something wrong with me. I felt that way for years, and the world felt like something wonderful i was terrified to interact with and not allowed to enjoy. When I started pushing myself to leave my house (agoraphobia sucks) i enjoyed the world but realized i only struggled so much because the world is a really hard place for people built like me. Its almost never a world willing to accommodate you, and almost always focused on telling people to be work machines and the ‘best version of themselves’ and that assigns value to human beings based on how much you can give back to society, usually with labor or money. After accessing my triggers, I realized most of them came from evils in the world that had effected my my own life and that I can’t change anything about. When you’re a minority, you just have to suffer, and you have to watch people exactly like you suffer too. It’s the most powerless feeling ever.

But Kim is young and age definitely changed my world view and my ability to cope, a lot. I hope it changes things for Kim too.
Rory Moth 4th Apr 2021, 3:20 PM
Please somebody give Kim an introduction to communism!!

I joke a bit, but in all seriousness, it’s refreshing but also saddening to see someone so clearly lay out “a major source of depression is society just being fucked up and structured antithetically to happiness”. The pressures of academia and the school system are possibly a stressor for Kim and we know is one on Sugar from Drop-Out and the side comics. Add financial stress, lesbophobia and biphobia, and misogyny, and racism (all except the first being things Sugar and/or Kim deal with), and yeah, depression is understandable. The world is hostile to people like them.

And then there’s hierarchy and power structures in general, and how much the ward really drove home for Kim that abuse and alienation happen literally everywhere... it’s really rough and really resonates. The idea that nowhere is safe because it’s all structured that way. Sugar’s reassurance being about trying to undo abusive structures from the inside and dismantle them as a solution, instead of “it gets better” about depression, really cements this.

Beautiful page as always. The facial expressions are also great. Fantastic work!
Nobody 4th Apr 2021, 8:28 PM
Nobody
unfortunately, i think that as a chinese american, she probably has a more complicated, less-than-positive relationship with communism, conceptually. she has quite a lot to untangle for some comfort in the way the world is.

i think she probably does feel the pressure about school that everyone does, but in more of a subdued, "learned helplessness" way. it definitely felt like ambient stress she'd inherently be dealing with at least subconsciously, but i tried to avoid focusing on it as much as possible for her because it would draw on "tiger mom" and model minority stereotypes for her. i instead chose to imagine her as a depressed student with average grades, who would go to an average college, if she went to college, and that would be "good enough."
mata 5th Apr 2021, 2:11 PM
i can't imagine the pressure sugar must face being suicidal when her parents had to go through so much to have her
carmilla gang prez 4th Apr 2021, 3:20 PM
god the fucking "well if its bad in here too, and the rest of the world is this bad, then whats the point" hits so fucking hard. sugar's panic at the beginning of this page feels so familiar too that i can practically feel it myself. christ
also, i love the empty shot of kim and sugar sitting down. VERY good
Guest 4th Apr 2021, 4:45 PM
I can see why Kim stayed in Sugar’s mind. :(
Andrea Nolastname 4th Apr 2021, 6:31 PM
This page hits me really hard, especially with how much I have been relating to both these characters over the course of the comic. Especially since you've captured the feeling of being 17 and struggling with suicidal desires and severe depression as well as you have. I remember these feelings from when I was in this position at her age a little over two decades ago. This feels like a big gut punch of a reminder of that. And the times since when I've come close and found my worldview to be the thing changing to justify my own suicidal feelings when I stopped feeling guilty about "being the problem" and started feeling cynical to the point of misanthropy and nihilism instead. I feel deeply for Kim at this point. Thanks you.

I also deeply relate to Sugar here, having been in her position here more often than I would like to have been. It's an experience that has only reinforced my need to hide my own suicidal ideations, knowing that feeling like you're suddenly walking into a minefield. It's a Camus-esque absurd situation, if you want help with suicidal ideation, you sometimes can't go to others you know and trust knowing that if you share what you're feeling that you're going to potentially traumatize them in turn with that panic about potentially saying the wrong thing in response.

Also I love how you depicted Sugar and Kim basically mirroring each other between panels 2 and 7
pin 4th Apr 2021, 7:42 PM
is her mom intersex too?
Sparaxis 4th Apr 2021, 8:17 PM
Woah does that mean sugar is intersex?
Nobody 4th Apr 2021, 8:17 PM
Nobody
hi, pin. yes, sugar's mom is intersex; the variation is heritable.
both parents have to carry the gene for sugar's particular variation, and sugar's other mother only carries the gene recessively -- meaning, basically, that not all intersex people have intersex parents, but if an intersex person becomes a genetic parent to someone, it raises the chances of the child being intersex substantially, as in the case of sugar. while they had to pay quite a lot of money to have children, i had explicitly figured jack would be adamant about not intentionally "ruling out" or otherwise eugenicizing a potential child with the same variation during embryo selections after they learned this, due to her political views on intersex rights. the embryo that took just happened to be an intersex one.
Sparaxis 4th Apr 2021, 7:49 PM
I’m really confused on what Kim is referring to when she says “you’ll still be here,” does anyone know what she meant if it wasn’t about sugar? I want to know why she got frustrated after sugar responded but I can’t come up with another interpretation..
Guest 4th Apr 2021, 7:58 PM
from what I got she was using sugar as an example of how what is making her miserable is that even if she is free from institutionalization, institutionalization is still happening, still abusing people, still oppressing people, and still full of awful people with power over others they should not have. she brings up "life out there too" so i'm sure a lot of what is causing her grief is the lack of compassion in so many of these social structures around her, especially now experiencing it here and witnessing it used against the other patients. at least that is my very general reading of that.
Nobody 4th Apr 2021, 8:10 PM
Nobody
hi there, sparaxis.
kim was using sugar as an example, but she could be talking about anyone. sugar saying "i only have 3 sessions left" does not alleviate the concern about others besides her left in the ward. as another common sample of this pattern of speech, let's say person A sees person b hurting a small animal that is much weaker than them. person a says, "you wouldn't like that if someone did that to you." if person b said "actually, i wouldn't care if someone did this to me, life is unfair." it would be frustrating. even though person a's sentence literally focused on person b's hypothetical feelings, the ideal response would be about person b's actions.
person b already knows information pertaining to their self, so if person a had meant the statement literally, there would be no point in saying it. instead, what person a is saying is that "most people would not like to be treated that way, therefore, you shouldn't." similarly, kim means "even if i leave, most of the people will still be here, including you, which feels bad."

while this is the correct interpretation, another interpretation could have been that kim did mean it literally, but she didn't like how it sounded when sugar interpreted it.

in both situations, it's easy to become frustrated when you are being vulnerable and you are misinterpreted, even if it's unintentional, because vulnerable things take a lot of energy and preparing to say.
i hope this helps.
Guest 4th Apr 2021, 8:16 PM
I think she was getting at the structural levels of it. She meant, like, "How can I be happy that I'm getting out when so many others will still be locked in or will be locked up in the future? How can I be happy, thinking of their sadness?" and since Kim stated that in a personal "you" sort of way, Sugar took Kim's words directly at face value naturally, both actions being as one is wont to do in casual conversation.
beeep 4th Apr 2021, 7:57 PM
im guessing the comic ends when kim leaves? so sad, i want more :(
28 4th Apr 2021, 9:32 PM
I can strongly identify with Kim's mindset, it was how I felt back in my late teens/early 20's when I assumed that my abusive environment at the time was the whole world and there could be no escaping it.

I've really admired how... behaviorally observant and empathetic Sugar tries to be even when she is struggling with so many of her own problems. She seems to be trying so hard to be a good and kind person and to catch potentially harmful behavior patterns she might be displaying. It's heartbreaking to see it go too far into self deprecation and self doubt because it seems to come from such an altruistic place. She really is trying every method she can.

(Spoilers) Especially sad to see her putting in so much effort to correct misinterpretations and come to understandings during the course of this comic, only for other comics to have her talk about how she never felt understood by anyone. She tried her best.
A Shark 4th Apr 2021, 11:14 PM
A comment from a stream about tying Kim to Angel was such an interesting insight that I heard. I'm looking forward to re-reading the comic as a whole after the ending is posted.
8bitmelanie 5th Apr 2021, 8:33 AM
I love your focus on the little gestures like the hand movements and swallowing, it really adds a lot of meaning to an already meaningful page! And the tangled background showing Kim's frustration at trying to explain herself!!
Mae 5th Apr 2021, 11:49 AM
This page is breaking my heart. I can't even believe how relatable this is on both sides.
Guest 5th Apr 2021, 11:55 AM
I’ve always seen myself so much in Sugar since finding Drop-Out while it was being written. She struggles how I do, copes how I do, even has the same issues I do and fears that come from it and the stigmas.

Seeing how she was and how she changed really mirrors my own self struggle with meaning and losing it with age/self loathing, so she’s been a very wonderful creation you’ve brought to the world and I thank you for that. She’s helped me through a lot these few years!!
Crumpleham 5th Apr 2021, 12:40 PM
aaaaaa!
mata 5th Apr 2021, 2:08 PM
i want to give both of them a hug so bad
gay 5th Apr 2021, 3:47 PM
that increased risk of suicidal ideation for teens and young adults taking or changing antidepressants though...idk what meds she was prescribed, but im thinking thats playing a part in her apathy and suicidality at this time, along with all the other oppressive forces at work here. good job, doctor. im reminded of kims crying pills drawing about being unable/not allowed to feel or show emotions. thats the same at the hospital, at home, in life in general. doesnt matter if youre suffering, as long as you do so quietly, & do as youre told :(
Guest 5th Apr 2021, 9:16 PM
as an intersex woman, this dialogue means so much to me. thank you...
Guest 6th Apr 2021, 6:56 AM
the way sugar talks here reminds me of how she spoke to frankie during cross check when frankie asked if meds actually worked. just saying what she thinks the other person needs to hear to feel like life is worth living ): even if she doesn't truly believe it herself. poor sugar
Guest 6th Apr 2021, 11:04 AM
I’ve always seen myself so much in Sugar since finding Drop-Out while it was being written. She struggles how I do, copes how I do, even has the same issues I do and fears that come from it and the stigmas.

Seeing how she was and how she changed really mirrors my own self struggle with meaning and losing it with age/self loathing, so she’s been a very wonderful creation you’ve brought to the world and I thank you for that. She’s helped me through a lot these few years!!
seed 8th Apr 2021, 7:12 PM
i'm not really sure if i'm ready for the end of this comic augh. i can't articulate how your stories have made me feel but thanks for making stories that are just the characters living through weird and difficult shit, it all feels very sincere, it's gotten me through a lot without forcing myself to always look up. Thanks So Much
mata 9th Apr 2021, 4:22 PM
it amazes me how you can keep your stories so genuine while also paying so much attention and respect to how it might affect readers and their individual situations.

i always see you talk in comments about why and how you do things and it amazes me how you can be so careful of the feelings and struggles of your readers *without* making things feel censored at all.
stinky 10th Apr 2021, 4:49 PM
through out this story i havent related to heavily to kim, mostly because im to much of a baby to defy authority, but her thoughts here hit pretty hard. even on the good days, its hard to look past how bad things can be. if wanting to die is my default mood no matter what i do, why try?
anyways, i also really love the 2nd and 3rd panel, and the close up of sugars hands. her body language is very good
someone sometimes 11th Apr 2021, 6:49 AM
adhd / non-neurotypical response of commiserate to relate and then realizing one was included by the statement and going into apologetics as an overcorrection.
Sugar, Kim, and the rest of the cast are very well-written characters. thank you for putting this comic out into the world.
pin 11th Apr 2021, 6:21 PM
hey sorry to bug again - is the next update going to be the last? i saw some of it on twitch
Nobody 11th Apr 2021, 8:06 PM
Nobody
hi, no, the next update is not the last. the comic is 98 pages total.