Allie Brosh, author of the blog ‘Hyperbole and a Half‘, has done something which is rarely seen; she explains depression with humour. While this is more than likely not the first time this has happened (I’m sure that many comedians have explained depression in comedic ways), it is the first time that I have seen such a serious topic illustrated in such a silly and amusing way.
Here’re the links to part one and two of her story:
Most people who have a good grasp on understanding depression would treat the subject as sensitively and seriously as possible, in order to fully convey just how terrible and debillitating it can be, but not Brosh. I am blown away by just how irreverant but also effectively she discusses it. The personal stories of how it affected her help me to identify and empathise with her, her writing makes me laugh even as I realise just how sad and serious the situation was. The explanations of depression are well thought out, allowing me to understand more about what exactly depression is. It offers no solutions, no advice on how to cope, it merely gives an insight into the life of a depressive.
Finally, let’s talk about the artwork. It’s amazing. If I’d heard about this article and someone had told me that the artwork looks like it was all done in a hurry on MS Paint then I doubt I’d have been that interested, but looking at the quality of the work I’m just amazed. The drawings are, on a technical level, not very good. They’re very simple, crude and basically using stickmen who’re characterised mostly by the change in hairstyles. However, the characters feel animated and the pacing with the text is excellent. Unlike some illustrated books or articles, the illustrations don’t simply parrot the text, they are as essential to the story as the text is; they both serve the same purpose of furthering the story.
I’ll end this with my favourite extract from the articles where Brosh uses an excellent metaphor to explain what it’s like talking to people about depression when they don’t fully understand what depression is:
“It would be like having a bunch of dead fish, but no one around you will acknowledge that the fish are dead. Instead, they offer to help you look for the fish or try to help you figure out why they disappeared.
The problem might not even have a solution. But you aren’t necessarily looking for solutions. You’re maybe just looking for someone to say “sorry about how dead your fish are” or “wow, those are super dead. I still like you, though.””