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The Best Book on Depression Isn’t What You’d Expect

Megan Cronin

Posted on September 14, 2017 14:41

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How Allie Brosh’s "Hyperbole and a Half" examines depression, and how it helped me.

My first encounter with Allie Brosh's blog, Hyperbole and a Half, came about due to our mutual love of grammar. One of Allie’s posts, "The Alot is Better Than You at Everything," outlines what she calls a “coping mechanism” for dealing with poor grammar on the internet. In this case, “a lot” versus “alot.”

In Allie’s mind, this is an Alot:

Source: hyperboleandahalf.blogspot.com

 

And here's what happens when someone writes, “I care about this alot."

Source: hyperboleandahalf.blogspot.com

 

I loved the Alot a lot.

When Allie published a book of comics, new and old, I'd always meant to pick it up. Yet, as things sometimes go in life, I didn’t meet the book until the universe seemingly deemed it appropriate. I was in an airport fleeing a tumultuous year and a half in California, a place I'd never quite felt at home, and heading out to a fresh start in England for graduate school.

As I was meandering through LAX, I spotted the book on a rack outside of one of those airport convenience stores, alongside the neck pillows and headphones. A book of funny comics for the long flight? I'll take it.

When I started reading it at my gate, I traveled back to my first adventures in Allie's life. Her anecdotal stories about her dogs, her childhood and the struggles of adult life were touching, funny and innately human. Her way of writing and her simplistic drawings gave a unique charm to each story.

It was after boarding the plane that I hit "Adventures in Depression" and "Depression Part Two."

The stories were still entertaining, but painfully reflective of the deep sadness and loneliness I'd felt when I first moved to the West coast. I wouldn't say I was completely depressed, but there was something comforting in how human and relatable she made sadness and depression.

Source: hyperboleandahalf.blogspot.com

 

She discussed her cycle of depression, from the crying and self-loathing, to feeling nothing, to seeking therapy and medication, to starting to rediscover feelings in unexpected ways. Allie's drawings showed the process in a way that was easy to understand without belittling or making light of the illness.

I read the part that hit me most not long after takeoff. It was a few of the final lines in "Depression Part Two":

"Nobody can guarantee that it’s going to be okay… But when you're concerned that the miserable, boring wasteland in front of you might stretch all the way into forever, not knowing feels strangely hope-like."

That, along with this picture ...

(Censored by me.) Source: hyperboleandahalf.blogspot.com

 

... made me start uncontrollably laughing and crying. I looked down on California and thought about everything that got me there, everything that happened while there, and everything that drove me to leave. Yet, despite it all, I'd made a couple good friends, and I was on my way to graduate school in a place I loved.

I realized that, indeed, maybe everything wasn’t hopeless bull**** after all.

Megan Cronin

Posted on September 14, 2017 14:41

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