Comic Artist Allie Brosh: The 'Responsibility Of Being Alive'
Allie Brosh’s artistic style on her popular illustrated blog, Hyperbole and a Half, is, as she described it, purposefully crude.
“I feel it’s a more accurate representation of me then I am,” she told The Record’s Arwen Nicks. “It’s a better way to convey what I’m trying to say and to get my sense of humor across then say a more realistic drawing.”
The stories she tells are like her art – simple, straight forward, not necessarily pretty. Nestled in anecdotes of youthful mischief are starkly honest portrayals of deep depression. And soon she will release her latest installment, titled “Depression: Part III,” in which she discusses the daily fear that depression and suicidal thoughts might return.
Brosh has used her blog as an outlet to talk about her personal struggle. She said she found it most difficult to explain that nothing triggered her depression; it just existed.
“There wasn’t anything,” Brosh said. “My life is great. I enjoy everything about it, when I have the capacity for enjoyment. But at this point in my life I didn’t really have the capacity to enjoy any of the things.”
Nothing could get through, she said. “It was sort of weird to be trying to explain it to people in terms of there being an issue that I’m upset about, or something that was actually wrong, other than being depressed.”
In October 2011, Brosh took to her blog to express herself with “Adventures in Depression.”
“It was my way of owning it – a reflection of my own coping mechanism, which is humor,” she said. “I take this horrible thing, the worst thing that’s ever happened to me, and flip it over and sort of laugh at it. To me that feels therapeutic.”
She didn’t write again for a year and a half and instead surfed the Internet to fill her time.
“The worst part of my depression was the boredom that accompanies the total detachment from everything,” Brosh said. “When you can’t interact with things, when you can’t attach yourself enough to them to give them meaning or to give any of your actions real meaning or a point, things sort of cease to be entertaining.”
Her next piece, “Depression: Part II,” was even darker than the first. Brosh had contemplated suicide and was scared. “There was a moment where I just found myself fantasizing about not being burdened with the responsibility of being alive,” she said.
Telling her husband about her suicidal thoughts was one of the first steps Brosh took to confront her depression. Though still an ever-present struggle, Brosh has found her way back to writing and drawing, including posts about other subjects like her childhood, her manic dogs and her husband.