I was thinking about what I would say to accompany this image, which belongs to both my DreamWorld and Eternal Storms series, and pondering how to explain what long-term clinical depression feels like to those who haven't experienced it. It's not the same as just being sad or upset, it's a stain on your soul which you can't ever blot out. A stain which not only looks ugly, but spreads like a cancer and does you actual harm, emotionally, physically and mentally.

Depression, especially when it gets really bad, feels like your brain is beating and gang-raping your soul every day while the rest of the world goes about their business, either not noticing, or at best stopping to take cell phone videos of your torment, but offering no help. And much like the unjustified stigma and shame victims of abuse feel, people who have trouble with depression and who don't feel excited about being alive are often subject to the same kinds of judgements. We must enjoy wallowing in our own emotional filth, or else we'd just get up, dust ourselves off and go be happy, right? Or, ok, maybe it's really a chemical imbalance thing; so just take an anti-depressant and let's all get on with our lives, all right? And she was wearing a short skirt, so she was asking for it. I wish it worked like that; I wish it was that easy.

Unicorns represent a lot of things to me, but innocence and purity are two big ones. If a human is sad, well, that's... sad, but normal. If a unicorn is sad, it's tragic. That there could be anything their magic couldn't overcome underscores the power of whatever is causing them pain. To me at least, that emphasized the magnitude of the power depression can hold over you.

This is a very special crossover piece between DreamWorld and the world of my Enchanted Sleep series, which dramatizes living with myalgic encephalomyelitis, a neurologic disease which I have.

Here we see a Sleeping Beauty-type character, forced into an eternal slumber by the poisoned smoke which constantly billows forth from the bottle she clutches. The bottle which was supposed to be filled with a healing potion.

Nature is starting to claim her, covering her with a fine lace of cobwebs. If she wakens, she will see what a fragile net they make and that they cannot contain her. But what will wake her? What hero will provide the kiss to break the spell? Will she sleep forever, forgotten by everyone? Each day that passes makes her revival less and less likely.

One of the Apprentice's jobs is to gather herbs, plants and other ingredients for her mistress to use in her potions and concoctions. Who does the Apprentice serve? We will have to wait and see for now!

Besieged by dragons and evil creatures, the good, though heavily outnumbered, will not let the evil win.

The Pink Mother has the most heavy of tasks before her; she must journey to find the perfect environment for her eggs to be born into. She knows it is a one-way trip, but she joyfully enters into it, full of only love for her brood.

She sacrificed everything she had for her eggs. She loved them, cared for them, caressed them. She journeyed over countless miles to find a safe, green place for them to be born. Though it cost her everything, she never hesitated. And, it seems, her journey was worth it. The cracks in the eggs prove her right. They were brought forth from the deepest love there is, and that can only be the best start to these new beings.

Not everything in DreamWorld is benevolent. There is a great deal in the gray area between pure good and pure evil, such as the unseen maker of this potion. How long will this human girl suffer the effects of the magic drink?

The Last Lion had a vast kingdom once where his people thrived. During the Yellow King's grab for power, his people and land suffered greatly when they stood up against the Yellow King and refused to submit to him. They are fighters. And though the Yellow King is now banished, he did real harm to the land and its people before he left.

They are fighters. They have been greatly wounded and they could vanish forever and be a mere memory in DreamWorld as the lions could be in our world... but I think they'll prevail. They have not been beaten yet.

Lady Death is, as her name suggests, the personification of death within DreamWorld.

I didn’t want her to be the common, dark, grim-reaper version of death we see portrayed frequently. Instead, she should be warm, inviting, welcoming, maternal. She should not be frightening, but soothing. She should be connected with nature, because death is a natural part of life. Her clothing would be dark, but there would be no black allowed anywhere in her costume.

And most importantly, when you look into her eyes, you need to know that all is well, all was well, and all would forever be well.

A human girl has been given a sleeping draught which sent her into a deep, silent slumber… who gave it to her and for what purpose are a mystery. The billowing blue smoke seems to indicate something important is about to happen!

The Fallow Folk are a quiet people; deer-like in their appearance and demeanor. Though they often prefer to keep to themselves, they are very wise and are sought for council in important matters. And on those rare occasions when they can't bring about a peaceful solution, they are a deadly foe.

A counterpoint to the Wind Goddess, she brings, without malice, vital storms to the world. Though some would prefer sunnier weather, the rain is just as important as the sunshine.

The Oracle brings precognitive dreams; visions of things yet to come. Many pilgrims journey to her hidden forest temple, where dreams float like so many bubbles, hoping for a glimpse into their future.

A powerful goddess in charge of the weather and sky, she travels on a chariot of clouds.

She has also been known to sweep up mortals in her clouds, cleansing them, leaving them renewed and reborn.

Sensing her special love for them, the small creatures of the forest flock to her benevolence and protection. She ensures harmony reigns in her wood.

Trauma and sadness cause a soul to fracture, shedding pieces of itself as it lives day to day. The Soul Retriever brings these bits together, making the soul whole again.

The fae are responsible for much of the magic and mystery of DreamWorld. What part their dust plays exactly, no one yet knows.

Dare you take a sip?

This spring spirit embodies life and renewal; flowers grow from her every step and drip from her hands. Indeed, she is part flower herself.

Carrying her own light, no lamb will be lost with the Shepherdess.

While making a pact with other dark creatures to take the throne of DreamWorld, the Yellow King was thwarted and exiled by forces of light. Not one to let go of a plan so easily, he bides his time for now and consolidates his power.

Living in a world of eternal spring, the sprite Katie lives in a meadow and revels in the vibrant, colorful beauty around her.

Some of the fae carry orbs of light with which they can illuminate the night.

Beginning any journey can be daunting, but true heroes don't let that stop them.

Full of love for all he watches over, DreamWorld's King is flanked by his two maids carrying his magic book and pen. He holds court with even the most unfortunate of his subjects, using his book and pen to write new realities for them.

A pilgrim on her way to the Snow Tree Fae, awed by the delicate beauty around her.

Ruler of the Snow Tree Forest, where trees grow snow instead of leaves to create an eternal winter.

Her passage through you will not be painless, but it will cleanse you, leaving you free of any illness or despair. Her fire is highly sought after because of, and in spite of, its burning.

Protecting you like the eggs in his nest, he watches over your sleep and keeps you safe from nightmares.

Every now and then, someone succeeds in crossing over from our world to DreamWorld, or the other way around.

Every baby bird needs to learn how to fly. And some fae do too. She stretches her wings and longs for her first flight.

In a symbiotic relationship, she and the flowers have grown into each other. Sheltering her wherever she travels, she brings her own hope with her, in the form of the flowers, and shares them with all she encounters.

There are few better places to sleep as the flowering plants will pillow themselves under those who slumber, giving them a most restful and comfortable nap.

The Lilac Wood is covered in flowers, which grow on every tree, bush or rock they can climb on. Little is known of the white-haired creature occasionally glimpsed there, except that she is a good omen.

Flying with the stars and carrying them in her wings, lucky travelers may receive a visit from her in their sleep, leaving them renewed..

The enemy of all that is evil...which would spread like a cancer if not kept in check.

A rarely-seen creature, she makes her home burrowing deep under the trees and foliage in winter. With her cloak and heavy hood, she will stay warm for her brief trips up to the frigid surface.

She keeps the dark memories buried deep in your psyche, holding them at bay until you are strong enough to face them.

A hopeful dawn breaks, witnessed by a girl in need of the renewal it brings