Fighting depression with animation

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Edwin Del Cid still struggles with anxiety and depression, but has found comfort in his artwork and the friendships he has made through Hermanos Unidos. (Nereida Moreno / Daily Titan)

When Edwin Del Cid first told his family that he wanted to become a professional video game animator, his mother broke down in tears.

She wasn’t necessarily against animation. Del Cid was the family’s great hope. In her mind, he was going to become a doctor or a lawyer.

“It was kind of a disillusionment for her,” Del Cid said. “After she recovered from the initial shock, she was like, ‘you know what, I believe that you can succeed in whatever direction you want to go to. So if this is something that you really want, then I support you fully.’”

Del Cid was a good student with good grades. He went the extra mile to participate in his school’s advanced learning and athletic programs. But during class time, Del Cid found himself doodling on the borders of his notebooks, dreaming up cartoon characters and story lines.

While he wanted to make his family proud, Del Cid knew he didn’t want to work in the medical field. He was a passionate storyteller and artist who dreamt of creating video games like Skyrim and Oblivion, but after being bullied in school for his art, Del Cid gave up drawing altogether.

“Back then everything that was popular was Pokemon and Yugioh … the stuff that you saw on TV. If you didn’t know how to draw that, you were lame,” Del Cid said. “It was like, ‘Why are you even trying? You don’t know how to draw. You suck at drawing, stop drawing.’ So, I stopped.”

Art had always been Del Cid’s way of escaping from the world. Without that outlet, he started having a hard time in school.

“I found that I was tired every day. I found that I would start crying in the middle of the day for no reason,” Del Cid said. “And there was one day in particular when I got home and I passed out in my room. I got really light headed and started breathing heavy and eventually I woke up and I was on the floor.”

After researching his symptoms on the internet, Del Cid decided to speak up about his condition.

“I told my mom, ‘I think I’m depressed.’ So the first thing she asked me was, ‘Have you thought about killing yourself.?’ And at that point, I told her no,” he said. “I was lying to her.”

Del Cid’s mother took him to a psychologist, who immediately diagnosed him with anxiety and depression. Despite medication and psychological treatment, he began to practice self harm.

“I would unfold wire hangers and stab them into my legs so I wouldn’t have noticeable scars. Eventually, that wasn’t helping. It didn’t (help) me, so I stopped doing that altogether. And I went through high school like that,” he said.

While he continues to battle anxiety and depression, Del Cid said he finds comfort in his artwork and friendships on campus.

During his third year at Cal State Fullerton, Del Cid joined Hermanos Unidos, a non-profit organization that works to improve the graduation rate among Latino males on campus. With over 100 members, the club has provided an on-campus home for Del Cid, who spends most of his time at CSUF.

“Hermanos Unidos is the thing that pulled me out,” he said. “I do connect with the mission but overall, I have a personal connection with the organization and the people in it. It’s something that I think everybody needs and something that everybody deserves to have.”

Eddy Giron, a management major at CSUF, met Del Cid last fall during an Hermanos Unidos meeting. A fellow Guatemalan, Giron said Del Cid brings a positive energy to the group.

“He’s always smiling,” Giron said. “But if he’s not studying or working on homework, he’s sketching in his notebooks.”

Del Cid has lost track of the number of sketchbooks he has owned over the years. And while he loves the idea of unfinished sketchbooks, Del Cid said digital animation has allowed him to discover advanced skills to express his creativity.

“Stories, TV, video games, cartoons were always the things that I used to, get away from stress, get away from everything else,” Del Cid said. “I figured I have right now the opportunity to where even if I don’t do very well in animation, I have the chance to do something else afterwards, but why not pursue my dreams?”

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