We all feel like a sad ghost sometimes. This comic series captures that perfectly.

Lize Meddings knows what it’s like to deal with mental health issues in your 20s.

After graduating university, Lize — a Bristol, U.K. artist — said she felt sad, lost, and adrift. But she used those feelings to draw the first comic of what would be The Sad Ghost Club.

“[They] were about being in this 'sad ghost club' and how it felt to be a part of it,” Lize wrote in an email.


The Sad Ghost Club. All images via Lize Meddings, used with permission.

Eventually, that one comic turned into a series of comics about sadness.

Lize's first comic, published in March 2014, was a wordless comic about feeling left out. It had a resounding response on the internet.  

Social media pages were made for The Sad Ghost Club, and it took off from there.

She followed that up with the “Guide to Not Being Sad,” about which she told us, “I tried hard to make sure none of the rules were preachy, none of them were offering some trick to 'not be sad any more' and it was all things most people would be able to achieve no matter their circumstance.”

Lize met with her future business partner Laura Cox and they bonded over their shared struggles with mental illness.

“When me and Laura met to discuss her joining me, we got onto me struggling with trichotillomania and her struggling with dermatillomania (hair pulling and skin scratching, to sum it up) and being able to talk about it openly, with someone who understood, was so positive,” Lize told us. “Suddenly the shame was gone, it was this thing that we both did, and that was ok.”

Laura reaffirmed The Sad Ghost Club's mission and gave it new life and direction. For the two, it became a sort of open letter to their younger selves.

After Laura joined The Sad Ghost Club team in 2015, she suggested they meet with local charity Off the Record.

The Bristol-based charity offers free mental health services to people aged 11-25, and Laura wanted to contribute to their cause.

“They were so supportive of what we were doing and encouraged us to continue,” Lize said. And it gave them motivation for the new direction of the club. Most recently, Lize and Laura started a "Sketchbook Club" with Off the Record, an event for teens to be creative in a positive environment.

Not all of the Sad Ghost comics have happy endings, and some don’t even have words.

But these comics have built a shame-free community online, and that's super important. The artists even offer workshops in the Bristol area, as well as online workshops for their international fans. They have continued to publish comics online and sell comic zines through their site too.

Art therapy like these comics has been proven to help people with mental health issues.

And according to the National Alliance on Mental Illness, about 1 in 5 adults in the U.S. experiences issues with mental health in a given year.

“Some days are ok, some are awful, and I like to think we're honest about it. All the comics are based on things we've felt and experienced, so sometimes it doesn't end on a light note, and hey, that's ok,” Lize wrote.

These creative, funny, and thoughtful comics aren't just patronizing self-help listicles either.

They're a real way of sharing, learning, and connecting with others about mental health.

Lize said she thinks part of the appeal of the club is that, “maybe the guide to not being sad doesn't make you any less sad, but you've got something to hold, and read, and look at, and be reminded that it is not just you.”

True

When Sue Hoppin was in college, she met the man she was going to marry. "I was attending the University of Denver, and he was at the Air Force Academy," she says. "My dad had also attended the University of Denver and warned me not to date those flyboys from the Springs."

"He didn't say anything about marrying one of them," she says. And so began her life as a military spouse.

The life brings some real advantages, like opportunities to live abroad — her family got to live all around the US, Japan, and Germany — but it also comes with some downsides, like having to put your spouse's career over your own goals.

"Though we choose to marry someone in the military, we had career goals before we got married, and those didn't just disappear."

Career aspirations become more difficult to achieve, and progress comes with lots of starts and stops. After experiencing these unique challenges firsthand, Sue founded an organization to help other military spouses in similar situations.

Sue had gotten a degree in international relations because she wanted to pursue a career in diplomacy, but for fourteen years she wasn't able to make any headway — not until they moved back to the DC area. "Eighteen months later, many rejections later, it became apparent that this was going to be more challenging than I could ever imagine," she says.

Eighteen months is halfway through a typical assignment, and by then, most spouses are looking for their next assignment. "If I couldn't find a job in my own 'hometown' with multiple degrees and a great network, this didn't bode well for other military spouses," she says.

She's not wrong. Military spouses spend most of their lives moving with their partners, which means they're often far from family and other support networks. When they do find a job, they often make less than their civilian counterparts — and they're more likely to experience underemployment or unemployment. In fact, on some deployments, spouses are not even allowed to work.

Before the pandemic, military spouse unemployment was 22%. Since the pandemic, it's expected to rise to 35%.

Sue eventually found a job working at a military-focused nonprofit, and it helped her get the experience she needed to create her own dedicated military spouse program. She wrote a book and started saving up enough money to start the National Military Spouse Network (NMSN), which she founded in 2010 as the first organization of its kind.

"I founded the NMSN to help professional military spouses develop flexible careers they could perform from any location."

"Over the years, the program has expanded to include a free digital magazine, professional development events, drafting annual White Papers and organizing national and local advocacy to address the issues of most concern to the professional military spouse community," she says.

Not only was NMSN's mission important to Sue on a personal level she also saw it as part of something bigger than herself.

"Gone are the days when families can thrive on one salary. Like everyone else, most military families rely on two salaries to make ends meet. If a military spouse wants or needs to work, they should be able to," she says.

"When less than one percent of our population serves in the military," she continues, "we need to be able to not only recruit the best and the brightest but also retain them."

"We lose out as a nation when service members leave the force because their spouse is unable to find employment. We see it as a national security issue."

"The NMSN team has worked tirelessly to jumpstart the discussion and keep the challenges affecting military spouses top of mind. We have elevated the conversation to Congress and the White House," she continues. "I'm so proud of the fact that corporations, the government, and the general public are increasingly interested in the issues affecting military spouses and recognizing the employment roadblocks they unfairly have faced."

"We have collectively made other people care, and in doing so, we elevated the issues of military spouse unemployment to a national and global level," she adds. "In the process, we've also empowered military spouses to advocate for themselves and our community so that military spouse employment issues can continue to remain at the forefront."

Not only has NMSN become a sought-after leader in the military spouse employment space, but Sue has also seen the career she dreamed of materializing for herself. She was recently invited to participate in the public re-launch of Joining Forces, a White House initiative supporting military and veteran families, with First Lady Dr. Jill Biden.

She has also had two of her recommendations for practical solutions introduced into legislation just this year. She was the first in the Air Force community to show leadership the power of social media to reach both their airmen and their military families.

That is why Sue is one of Tory Burch's "Empowered Women" this year. The $5,000 donation will be going to The Madeira School, a school that Sue herself attended when she was in high school because, she says, "the lessons I learned there as a student pretty much set the tone for my personal and professional life. It's so meaningful to know that the donation will go towards making a Madeira education more accessible to those who may not otherwise be able to afford it and providing them with a life-changing opportunity."

Most military children will move one to three times during high school so having a continuous four-year experience at one high school can be an important gift. After traveling for much of her formative years, Sue attended Madeira and found herself "in an environment that fostered confidence and empowerment. As young women, we were expected to have a voice and advocate not just for ourselves, but for those around us."

To learn more about Tory Burch and Upworthy's Empowered Women program visit https://www.toryburch.com/empoweredwomen/. Nominate an inspiring woman in your community today!

Vanna White appeared on "The Price Is Right" in 1980.

Vanna White has been a household name in the United States for decades, which is kind of hilarious when you consider how she gained her fame and fortune. Since 1982, the former model and actress has made millions walking back and forth turning letters (and later simply touching them—yay technology) on the game show "Wheel of Fortune."

That's it. Walking back and forth in a pretty evening gown, flipping letters and clapping for contestants. More on that job in a minute…

As a member of Gen X, television game shows like "Wheel of Fortune" and "The Price is Right" send me straight back to my childhood. Watching this clip from 1980 of Vanna White competing on "The Price is Right" two years before she started turning letters on "Wheel of Fortune" is like stepping into a time machine. Bob Barker's voice, the theme music, the sound effects—I swear I'm home from school sick, lying on the ugly flowered couch with my mom checking my forehead and bringing me Tang.

This video has it all: the early '80s hairstyles, a fresh-faced Vanna White and Bob Barker's casual sexism that would never in a million years fly today.

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