Excuse the period of blog silence; blame a series of physical ailments, technical problems and depression-based writer’s block (actually I wrote a lot at one point but the hypercritical self-editor in me rejected it all). I don’t even know if I should use the term “depression” although it is part of the multiple-condition diagnosis which makes me ‘officially disabled’, but it was usually ‘high functioning depression’ much of the time the physical ailments didn’t get in the way. And when I’m not in mid-depressive-episode, I consider myself pretty lucky, compared to… but I’m getting ahead of myself.
One thing you have to get used to when following Webcomics is having them end suddenly, or even worse, go on ‘hiatus’ never to return. It’s the Independent Web Creator equivalent of having a favorite TV series end a season with a cliffhanger and then get cancelled, never to find resolution. In this case, you don’t have Evil Network Executives to blame (a practice HiJinks Ensue’s Joel Watson totally mastered), but I’m not going to argue that the webcomicker who does it for love (and often zero moneys) even after they have over-shared in the blog entries attached to their comics – it’s not their fault; blame Phil “Frumph” Hofer, creator of Comic Press for the format.
Anyway, one of the most personal sites out there is the blog/webcomic hybrid “Hyperbole and a Half” by Allie Brosh, she of the incredibly rough MSPaint-ish illustrations and totally unbecoming self-portraits (that pointy yellow thing on her head? She explains it as “It started out as hair originally, and it still sort of represents that when I need it to, but in my mind, it has become almost a shark fin or something. But it’s more decorative than anything.”), who turned a grammatical pet peeve into one of the most awesome imaginary creatures ever, The Alot, who wrote/drew other brilliant pieces on topics as diverse as bricks, cake, dogs, fishing and Texas, and who, in a toss-off line in a piece about maturity (and her lack thereof), coined an immensely popular meme with the rallying cry “CLEAN ALL THE THINGS!” (also, an all-purpose snowclone – I LOVE that term – in the format of “verb ALL THE nounS!”). Yet, almost totally ignored is the less-enthusiastic but equally valid “Clean ALL the things?”
After all that, and the announcement of a deal to publish her words of wisdom and pictures of weird-dom in a genuine Dead Tree Book, in October of 2011 she posted “Adventures in Depression” about a depressive period that saw her turning intensely sad and then self-judgmental.
It ended with “my depression got so horrible that it actually broke through to the other side and became a sort of fear-proof exoskeleton.”
Not exactly a happy ending.
And after that, silence for over a year and a half while the entire Internet got worried about her. Finally, she re-emerged on May 9th, 2013 with “Depression Part Two”. Like the previous post, it provided valuable insights into the experience of the condition, starting with how, after so many conflicting feelings, “the emotional deadening that followed was a welcome relief.”
She covered the way other people just don’t – or can’t – understand what you are really experiencing.
And she demonstrated just how nonsensical a trigger for the return of emotions can be… in her case, finding a lone kernal of corn on the kitchen floor under the refrigerator.
I predict “Floor Corn” (or her awkward portmanteau, “Cloorn”) will become another meme. Because anyone who has been in and out of a depressive state has their own Cloorn. I know I have (and having had multiple short periods of depression, I’ve known several things just as nonsensical as Cloorn).
There’s a lot more in “Depression Part Two” of value (so many wrong ways that people deal with other people with depression), so just read it.
For other reading, there are some great stories in MetaFilter’s comment thread about this comic (as there so often are about so many things). And Clay, the cartoonist behind the late lamented naughty comic Sexy Losers (NSFW!!) not only has been doing a series of heartfelt and meaningful “Depression Comix” on Tumblr (not NSFW, but some depictions of suicide) since just before HaaH went on hiatus but he has also collected some links to other comics that have handled the issue well. I couldn’t do better.
Now hurry up and get happy.