Since 2009, Allie Brosh’s blog and web comic mash-up, Hyperbole and a Half, has been a hilarious source of bizarre childhood reflections, ridiculous dog humor, and esoteric yet apt observations on life and culture. Both the witty written material and silly illustrations are created by Brosh, whose cartoons are crudely crafted in MS Paintbrush for their signature rough effect. (You might recognize her art as the “All The Things!” meme, from its agonizingly spot-on post, “This is Why I’ll Never Be an Adult”.)
Honored as one of PC World magazine’s funniest sites, Hyperbole boasts a Facebook audience of over 353,000 fans and a devoted readership that earned Allie a publishing deal two years ago. (Amazon currently lists the book as “Hyperbole and a Half: Unfortunate Situations, Flawed Coping Mechanisms, Mayhem, and Other Things That Happened”, scheduled for release October 29, 2013. ) Fans eagerly anticipated the artist’s next move after the announcement, but have been met with overall radio silence from her blog except a single post to confess the crippling depression that’s overshadowed her success.
Last week, Allie emerged once again to talk about her illness, approaching the topic with the same candor that made her mark on the web. On May 8, she first reached out with a preface to a pending post she was working on, published the next day as “Depression Part Two.” “The beginning of my depression had been nothing but feelings,” she wrote, “so the emotional deadening that followed was a welcome relief. I viewed feelings as a weakness — annoying obstacles on my quest for total power over myself. And I finally didn’t have to feel them anymore.”
“But my experiences slowly flattened and blended together… Cognitively, you might know that different things are happening to you, but they don’t feel very different.” The blog might say it’s hyperbole, but Allie details her struggle without self-pity or overt sentimentality. Her straightforward style delivers an intense and unexpected emotional impact.
She goes on to tell a tale that must be read to be be fully appreciated, but essentially she found some random salvation in the most unexpected place, laughing until she cried at a dehydrated piece of corn from under her fridge. “Nobody can guarantee that it’s going to be okay,” she closed, “but — and I don’t know if this will be comforting to anyone else — the possibility exists that there’s a piece of corn on a floor somewhere that will make you just as confused about why you are laughing as you have ever been about why you are depressed.” Her audience has applauded her depiction of depression as refreshingly relatable and accurate, and thanked Allie for her frank approach. Here’s hoping this bright spot is the first of many for her. — Casandra Armour