Original story submitted for the Webtoon Short Story Contest 2020. “My Pet Wolf Stole My Voice” is a web comic inspired by the author’s journey with Social Anxiety Disorder.
Social anxiety is a type of anxiety that causes the person to fear social situations and therefore avoid them. This mental condition manifests itself not only in the thought patterns that the person has, but also physical symptoms such as blushing, shaking, avoiding eye-contact, rapid heart-beat, feeling as if one is about to faint or even fainting, nausea etc, but also more long term effects like being tired and having difficulties with concentration, as well as having very low confidence and self-esteem and low social skills. My aim with this narrative was to create a relatable and uplifting (but still realistic) image of the daily life of a person struggling with this disorder.
I have chosen the image of a wolf to be the personification of social anxiety. The wolf isn’t too defined because the character does not understand it. When the anxiety gets more intense, more wolves appear (this will be more apparent in later episodes), overwhelming the character. Wolves are actually one of the most social animals, the way they operate in packs and their communication is very advanced. I also like the fact the wolf has been portrayed as the “evil” in many folktales over the decades, but ultimately it is often misunderstood and its image has been slightly turning to the positive in recent years. It really shows that the more familiar we are with these animals, the less scary they appear to us – and it’s the same with anxiety and any mental health condition in general.