Hyberbole and a Half: Unfortunate Situations, Flawed Coping Mechanisms, and Other Things That Happened
by: Allie Brosh
If you’ve never read the side-splittingly funny blog that is Hyperbole and a Half, you should stop reading my blog and head on over there pronto. Allie Brosh’s deliberately crude drawings and hilarious tales of childhood and life’s misadventures are not to be missed.
Her posts on depression are some of the best takes on the disease that I’ve ever read. My mom suffers from pretty severe depression and it took me a long time to understand it; I wish Brosh’s comics had been around back then to help. I think the way she writes about it makes the disease really accessible for people who have never been depressed. The comics are so important: for people suffering from depression – solidarity; for people who are affected by others’ depression – understanding and compassion; and for helping the general public understand depression – de-stigmatizing. (There is nothing more infuriating than someone without any experience with mental illnesses proselytizing that “sad people only need to think happy thoughts!” when the subject of depression comes up. Don’t do that.) She manages to treat the subject with a kind of gallows humor – you laugh in the middle of these painful posts, but it’s a good laugh. The kind of laugh that adds to your understanding instead of masking it.
Onto brighter things – the rest of her blog and book deal with rather more lighthearted things. Childhood exploits, like eating an entire cake in one sitting, or quandaries of adulthood – being an adult is hard, y’all! – are all painted with the same brightly colored, achingly comedic brush. The book contains probably 50-75% new material. (Some of it is best of posts from the blog, though.) I liked reading the old posts in book form – I got the e-book – and if I ever get the chance, I’ll buy the hardback and get a signed copy. Sadly, she’s not heading to my part of the U.S.A. anytime soon.
Some of the others stories made me put my Nook down and just laugh really hard, even the ones I had read before! I was having a really bad night last night – the family dog got accidentally poisoned – and I so desperately needed the laugh. I was surprised that I laughed as hard as I did, honestly.
The last and biggest part of the book was a story on how she has impostor syndrome as a “good person.” It was a little long for my tastes and I didn’t really relate all that much, but I suppose many other people will. It was the only part of the book I didn’t absolutely love – but I still liked it. That is literally my only criticism for the book – so yes, it is that good.
My suggestion is pop on over to her blog and see if you like it. If you do, buy the book! It’s fantastic! Even though some of the stories are in the blog, it’s nice to have your own copy that you can mark up and access and share anytime, with anybody who reads English. And if you know someone whose life is being affected by depression, consider sending them a copy of the book or a link to the blog posts. Like I said, it’s a really important work on depression.
(NPR’s Fresh Air did a great interview with Brosh here.)