Hyperbole and a half depression (A depiction of depression)

In this article, we will discuss ‘Hyperbole and a half depression’. Hyperbole and a half was a popular webcomic series and blog created by Allie Brosh. As we proceed, we will look at the creator’s story about how she influenced people with her art by helping her own self too. We will also dwell on the benefits of art-making in healing from depression.  

What is Hyperbole and a half?

Hyperbole and a half, launched in the year 2009, was a popular webcomic and blog created by Allie Brosh as a teenager. Her comics were observational and absurdly humorous. She made art of the nuances in her life, things she found peculiar, or just about anything. Though her blog was meant to be funny, it dealt with stories from her personal life, her childhood, her flaws, her pet peeves, her coping methods used in various life situations. 

Her style is simple, figures were drawn using MS Paint, she would sometimes spend a lot of time perfecting the facial expressions of the characters. Many of her works were turned into internet memes which attracted a lot of viewers too. Her most popular comics were the ones where she depicted her struggle with depression.  

On October 29, 2013, Brosh’s Hyperbole and a Half: Unfortunate Situations, Flawed Coping Mechanisms, Mayhem, and Other Things That Happened was released. The book included some material from her website, like “Adventures in Depression,” and new content. Brosh comments on her website that she included “ten and a half” new stories.

About the creator and her mental health crisis

In 2011, Brosh revealed on the internet that she was battling depression and that it kept her online presence inactive. In 2013, she spoke at length about her struggle with the illness and having suicidal thoughts. She revealed how lonely the experience of depression felt like because the person going through it almost feels like nobody else in the world is experiencing the level of misery they are going through. In the years she had to deal with the grief of having to lose her younger sister to suicide, a failed marriage and serious health issues. Her revelations surged an outpour of love and support from the followers of her work which boosted Brosh’s confidence in overcoming the challenges in her life. 

In an interview when asked how people have reacted to her talking about the difficult sides of life, Allie said “Sometimes I feel scared to be vulnerable, but I don’t think I’ve ever regretted it. I think it’s good to be vulnerable; it shows people that it’s safe to be vulnerable too. And, for the most part, I think people appreciate that. Actually, one of the comments I have saved in my special folder is somebody who said, “Thank you for going first.” I’ve probably read that one a hundred times. It helps me remember that I don’t need to feel scared.”

The approach towards mental health education

Education need not always come from schools and professors. Life experiences teach people much more than what books offer. Brosh used her experiences to talk about her struggles as a method of catharsis. She felt good by creating her content and sharing her stories. Her method of educating people about the illness was not exactly intentional, she was talking about her own life with such honesty that people could learn so much from her work. Flaring her creative spark and at the same time emoting was  

Brosh was credited as “The most influential and creative thinkers and doers”. She gained a lot of popularity among people with depression who related so well with her work. Not just that, people who have never experienced the illness stated that they understood it much better having followed her comics closely. She was praised by critics and psychologists worldwide. 

Psychology professors from universities stated that her depiction of depression was as true it could get and gut-wrenchingly funny at the same time.  

Art-making: an outlet of thoughts and emotions for the person with depression

The book, Hyperbole and a half came in 2013. Seven years after that, in 2020, Allie announced her book titled ‘Solutions and Other Problems’ where she talks again about depression and the struggle of grieving the loss of a loved one, compassion and kindness, and how to be your own friend. 

She explains that the process of creating the book was so therapeutic for her because it felt like reliving the moments with her deceased sister, it was painful yet lead to a lot of self-reflection and recentering in life. 

What Allie says is not hogwash. Researcher Glaister said that therapeutic art-making can actually provide a nonthreatening medium for expressing complex ideas and feelings that may be too complicated to identify in words. Gathering one’s thoughts together and defining the experience in a collectively comprehensible language proves to be a difficult task, where words may fall short and provide more separation than integration. In times and situations like these, it is crucial for a new language to be developed in order to express the magnitude the variety of situations can have on people. Therapeutic art-making is a modality for creating this new language. 

Research state, therapeutic art can include the following criteria: providing a glimpse into the world of the artist; providing non-threatening media for exposing content too complicated to fit into words; gaining a sense of accomplishment and empowerment; providing a medium for discussion, teaching, and understanding; a basic stable setup; selection and organization of content; transformation of material; contribution to social narratives; and a personal catharsis. 

This is however different from Art therapy. The process of art therapy is conducted by a trained art therapist and matches the therapeutic process to specific art media, the creative process, and the resulting artwork.

What can be done if you are struggling with depression: tips inspired by Allie’s life story.

Embrace the fact that it is okay to not feel okay

Many people suffering from depression put a lot of pressure on themselves to feel okay when they are far from it. This pressure puts the person in even more trouble. If you are one of those or know someone who feels this way, realize that it’s okay to not feel okay. Feeling okay might a lot of time and a whole lot of effort.  

Be present in your sadness 

Overcome a crisis by being present in the experience. Pushing away sadness, anger, grief just because they are considered as wrong emotions to feel is actually the wrong thing to do. The best way to growing through the crisis is to go through it. Feel vulnerable, feel sad, feel powerless, and reflect. Seek support and professional help to feel better.  

Appreciate progress

Often with depression, in spite of taking efforts, progress may be slow or unnoticeable. Or after feeling good for a while the feelings may reemerge again intensely making one feel like they did not make any progress at all. But, value the little signs of progress as those are the ones most important in the road to recovery.  

Try self-help techniques but if it does not seem to be helping much seek professional help

Trying to help your own self is great. But often in severe cases of depression, it seems very unrealistic to read tricks out of a self-help book and apply it to your life. When nothing on your own seems to be working it is important to seek professional help. 

Seek social support by joining a support group 

Allie spoke a lot about how feeling understood meant a lot to her when she was in a deep pit of depression, anxiety, and loneliness. Support groups exist for a number of causes like depression, anxiety, PTSD, etc. support groups are beneficial for people because the feeling of belongingness and oneness in suffering boosts confidence in recovery. People seek inspiration from other survivors and people in the same boat. 

Consult a psychiatrist 

A psychiatrist can prescribe medication, for example, antidepressants based on the severity of the condition of the person. Antidepressants are an important part of recovery and going to a professional should not be delayed. 

Seek mental health therapy 

Consulting a counselor/ psychotherapist is essential in mental health issues. This, most often, goes hand in hand with medication based on the severity of depression. 

A counselor can bring in newer ways of perception, help the person to emote better while engaging in healthy boundary-making. The counselor can also help the person eradicate irrational thoughts and beliefs that inhibit the person’s well-being. The counselor and the client, together, also work on and construct healthier coping mechanisms against stressors for the client. 

Improve lifestyle choices and work towards good health

Health is a concept with many interlinkages and it is also all-encompassing. One can’t expect to have good mental health if their physical health is deteriorating and vice-versa. Exercising, healthy eating habits, good sound sleep, and practicing mindfulness, along with any medication/therapy if need be, can help attain victory over any condition, including depression. 

Side Note: I have tried and tested various products and services to help with my anxiety and depression. See my top recommendations here, as well as a full list of all products and services our team has tested for various mental health conditions and general wellness.

Conclusion

In this article, we discussed ‘Hyperbole and a half depression’. Hyperbole and a half was a popular webcomic series and blog created by Allie Brosh. We looked at the creator’s story about how she influenced people with her art by helping her own self too. We also dwelled on the benefits of art-making in healing from depression and other tips to deal with depression. 

Frequently asked questions: Hyperbole and a half depression

What is Allie Brosh doing now?

By 2014, Brosh was famous for her wildly popular blog, a published book, and a devoted fanbase for her writing and cartoons, often layering humor over topics of mental health. She disappeared from the public eye for six to seven years post that only to make a come-back with a book in 2020 titled ‘Solutions and Other Problems’. Now, she’s filling her readers in on her mysterious hiatus.

How many books did Allie Brosh write?

Two. First one titled ‘Hyperbole and a Half: Unfortunate Situations, Flawed Coping Mechanisms, Mayhem, and Other Things That Happened’ and the second one titled ‘Solutions and Other Problems’.

What are Hyperbole and a half characters?

 The most frequently drawn characters is a stick-figure representation of Allie herself with huge froggy eyes, wearing a pink dress and yellow ponytail which Brosh refers to as a shark’s fin. Side characters are dogs and other human stick figures. 

What happened to Allie Brosh’s sister?

Kaitlin Brosh battled bipolar disorder for some years. At the age of 25, on New Year’s Eve, she died by suicide by driving her car in front of a train. Recalling this difficult period in her life, Allie says “You know that death can happen and that it’s horrible and everybody’s scared of it, but this is the time in my life that it had been closest”.

What we recommend for depression

Professional counselling

If you are suffering from depression then ongoing professional counselling may be your ideal first point of call. Counselling will utilize theories such as Cognitive behavioural therapy which will help you live a more fulfilling life.

References 

https://time.com/5920946/allie-brosh-on-solutions-and-other-problems/

https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Hyperbole_and_a_Half

https://core.ac.uk/download/pdf/46960356.pdf

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