Hyperbole and a Half – An Accessible Introduction to Depression

Hyperbole and a Half

Let me start by asking when is the last time you laughed? I mean really laughed?

A friend of mine recently passed on a book recommendation to me. She said it was both hilarious and reminded her of me, so I looked into snagging a copy at my local library. I quickly found myself eighty fifth in line to check a copy of that book out which immediately confirmed – this sheezy must be good!

Hyperbole and a Half: Unfortunate Situations, Flawed Coping Mechanisms, Mayhem, and Other Things That Happened is a book by Allie Brosh inspired by her already (rather popular) blog Hyperbole and a Half.

The book itself seems to act as something as a (very loose) memoir with several hilarious stories about her own childhood, the behavior of her eccentric dogs (something any dog owner can associate with) and her desire to learn more about herself and what makes her tick.

Let me just say, the dialogue itself is funny, but the real clincher here is the series of illustrations that go with it, creating something akin to a book with an identity crisis (am I a book or a web comic?).

While funny enough to make me cry from laughing so hard, I wouldn’t suggest this book to you for that simple reason alone.

Allie Brosh’s book takes an interesting turn when she spends a chapter describing  her experience with depression. While I find this chapter extremely relatable (knowing very well what depression feels like myself) I was both intrigued by her continued usage of funny illustrations to help her descriptions and analogies hit home and the way she actually describes depression and how the people around her reacted to her situation.

I would say this book is about 80% light and hilarious, with 20% (maybe even less) focus on serious topics (like depression). Because of this I was immediately struck by how this book makes a great introduction for people who aren’t familiar with depression, coming at the topic initially from a comedic standpoint and then really digging deep to convey what depression feels like and how difficult it can be to convey to others.

While this book is in and of itself great (I will definitely buy a copy, I loved it) I think it would make a wonderful tool for anyone who is trying to reach out to someone either with depressive symptoms who wont address them, or to help gently explain to others what living with depression is like before having a more serious conversation about the subject.

I feel like people are always asking, “how can I bring up the subject of [depression/mental illness] in a positive way with the people around me? how do I know how my [co-worker/family member/friend] will react?”

Well, one answer might be to give this book a read and share it with the people around you. After they’ve read it, you could ask what they thought about the portion about depression, and I can see this really helping to create a dialogue between people (especially young adults, teens) on the topic.

Depression can feel like a very heavy, intense topic, so being able to approach it in a smart, fun way (sandwiched between two hearty portions of comedy) makes a discussion about it more accessible to a wider audience.

As I mentioned, this book has a lot to offer and I was very impressed by how something seemingly silly could offer up something profound.

You can check out Allie Brosh’s blog Hyperbole and a Half here, and you can find her book at your local library or at amazon.com (where the image in this post came from) here!


One response to “Hyperbole and a Half – An Accessible Introduction to Depression

  1. my.world.inside.out

    Such a great read!

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