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Story Setup

Choose a Title about Your Mental Health Challenges
Depression and Anxiety

Depression and Anxiety

Here's an example for inspiration

Make a visual story about how you deal with Depression or Anxiety in your life, or other mental health challenges. It might be helpful to share the BioGraff you make with your mental health professional. Below, you'll find some ideas for titles of your story. You can use one of these, or be inspired to make your own. You can substitute "depression" or "anxiety" with whatever you call your particular mental health challenge.

Title Ideas:

    How Depression Feels

    How Anxiety Feels

    The Triggers: How it Begins

    Self-Soothing Techniques

    The Cycle of My Depression

    The Cycle of My Anxiety

    A Day in the Life of Me, Depressed

    What I Do When It's Happening

    My Mind on Depression

    My Mind on Anxiety

    A Day in My Life Free From My Mental Health Challenge

    Depression Start to Finish

    Anxiety Start to Finish

    How My People See My Illness

    How My Mental Health Challenge Helps Me

    Making the Anxiety Go Away

    Anxiety Over the Course of a Day

    Anxiety Over a Long Period of Time

    Life Impacts of My Depression

    What I Would Be Without My Mental Health Challenge

    Things That Get In the Way

    My Depression in My Body

    My Anxiety in My Body

    My Depression in a Particular Context

    My Anxiety in a Particular Context

    My Medication Side Effects and Me

    My Internal Critic

    What It's Like in My Head

If you are ready to make your BioGraff, you can return to the guide book, or continue reading instructions here on your phone.


Story Setup and Structure

Each person needs some plain paper and a pen


Your story deserves a sturdy support. Consider putting a hardcover book

or cutting board behind it, in case you want to move it around,

which you might.

Write the title you chose at the top. Draw a frame around the edge of your paper. 

This is the canvas for your visual story.


Now, think of the parts of this story and list them somewhere under the title. These parts can be thoughts, feelings, events, actions, objects, desires, circumstances... anything you need them to be. You don't need to use a lot of words - just enough so that you know what you mean. Think of it as a placeholder for a big concept.


It's natural to want to write the whole story on the page. Challenge yourself to stay with the visual. And don't worry: you can tell more of what each cube means when you tell your BioGraff story later.


Assign each one a color. 

It might look something like this:



Your Story Style

Now you are ready to tell your visual story. Look through the BioGraff Storyboard Style cards for examples of how to do that.


Every story has a structure - think about how a movie sometimes shows you one scene, then goes back in time to tell how the protagonist got into that mess. Or a story is from one particular person's point of view, and then switches to another point of view. 

A visual story has a structure too. Even a single image. 

BioGraffs started out as an interactive art installation. Over the course of two years, we asked over a thousand people to tell a visual story using cubes to stand for parts of the story. Common strategies emerged. These eight cards represent the strategies we observed people using, and might help you think through how you want to represent your own story.

One of these styles might work for the story you want to tell, or you might have a style of your own in mind. 

Read more about what the Storyboard Styles card mean

10 style cards .png

Build your BioGraff however makes the most sense to you. Once you've decided what the colors mean, you are done with words. Let your instinct guide how you lay out the cubes. Let metaphor take over and express meaning in the cubes' relationships to one another.

As you become more experience building these visual stories, you will begin to see new ways to express your internal stories in a visual way.

Read more about what the Storyboard Styles mean


Sharing Your Story

You'll want your camera once again to take a picture of your BioGraff.


You might want to share your BioGraff story with a significant person, or your therapist. Your creation now becomes a visual aid that anchors your story. Tell the story it represents; say more about what each cube means, and why you laid them out the way you did. 

The visual gives you a way to zero in on details, but easily return to the big picture. It invites curiosity from the person you are sharing 

your story with.

It gives you a way to tell the whole story.

You might want to make another BioGraff, or even another one with the same title and a different Style Card. See what else can be revealed.

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