Stigma Busting with Allie Brosh
I picked Hyperbole and a Half up for a second time because I’m committed to writing about mental health in the media and Allie Brosh is famous for speaking about her depression. I’ve also been a fan of her comics she published online at her website so I knew I had to read her book.
Her explanation of depression is one of the best. She talks about how as a child she loved to play with her toys, her imagination wild with bright stories. But as she grew older, it was harder to suspend disbelief and playing didn’t feel fun. Anhedonia, loss of pleasure, is a primary symptom of depression and one of the hardest to explain to most people.
The first time I read Hyperbole and a Half I was entertained. I laughed at her jokes, she is very funny after all. The second read-through I noticed her intense shame, incorporated into her self-deprecating humor, much more. A lot of people who experience deep shame often do not directly confront the core of it. She talks about confronting herself but doesn’t reveal to us what she found there. Obviously, that’s hers and I’m in no way advocating for her to disclose this. But it’s clear that her primary ways of hiding or defending against this shame involve her wonderful sense of humor, though this often leads to her being the butt of many of her jokes.
I love is that she’s willing to put herself out there, in a very public way, despite this shame. That’s amazing and very brave. And in doing so, she’s helping bust stigma about depression by talking publicly about it in a way that’s incredibly useful for those suffering from depression and those hoping to learn more.
I recommend reading Hyperbole & A Half. If you suffer from depression, you might feel relief from seeing someone articulate how it feels. You might feel hope that she recovered even though most of the time she didn’t have this hope for herself. Or maybe you have a friend who is depressed and you want to understand what they are going through. Brosh talks about how her friend would try to comfort her and common things people say that aren’t helpful. This is an excellent book and easy read if you are looking to better understand depression.