May 102013

My parts of the internet are all talking a lot about [this post], which if you haven’t read, please do so. It is required reading for the rest of this post.

Not that you have to read my post.

Thousands of people are having “I cried” and “I so identify with that” reactions to her wonderful, insightful, honest post. That’s awesome. Being depressed feels alone, and knowing we’re not is good. I mostly laughed when I read it yesterday (today I cried a little). Like when you watch a movie and some tragedy is presented in a quasi-humorous fashion, laughing is an acknowledgement of your discomfort with the events even though it is inappropriate/incorrect from the standpoint of “what normal human empathy requires.”

I am justifying my reactions, explaining why I had them. That is how I interact with you, reader. That’s what normal people do, right? Smile in the right places. 😀

Two things stood out the most to me in the post. First, the lying on the floor of a room crying. God, lying on a floor, my old frenemy. When one finds oneself sitting on a floor weeping uncontrollably because everything is empty, and horribly clean, and the only thing one can feel or remember feeling or picture feeling ever again is vague-grey-bad, then it means there is something very wrong.

DSC03018Last time I had that, I was on a cruise in Alaska with family. I couldn’t stop crying. I sat there for an unknowable amount of time, weeping, scaring my husband. I didn’t want to die, but I did want to be erased and not be there and not hurt anyone anymore with my stupid existing. Other than that, the cruise was lots of fun, but my memory of shouting at myself inside my head to shut up and put clothes on and go eat dinner without a blotchy face and for fuck’s sake act normal is just as vivid as my memory of biking to a glacier and taking chilly pictures of it.

I don’t tell that story about the Alaska cruise very often because I am deeply ashamed of it. I was ashamed when it was happening, that I wasn’t properly enjoying the vacation, and I still feel ashamed of it now, because it feels raw and gross, and writing about it feels like attention-seeking and is self-indulgent.*

Okay, here’s the second thing that stood out to me: the self-portraits. Oh. My. God. I’ve recently been interested in [Frida Kahlo], and her [gruesome depictions] of [self-perception] are what I was reminded of when I looked at the curled, cringing pink narrator. Where Frida is serenely bloody, Allie Brosh is dead-eyed and grumpy. I love them both.

They show me what it looks like to feel like they do, and that makes me feel like I can face looking at myself.



* Note for commenters: I know. Please don’t tell me not to feel ashamed, or that I don’t have to, or whatever. I’m just sharing, okay? Roll with it.

  10 Responses to “Reactions to Hyperbole’s Depression Part Two”

  1. I do so love being told what I don’t need to and/or should feel.

    Thank you for sharing. I laughed, too, even at the parts that really weren’t funny. Or shouldn’t have been, or something.

  2. Love you Jen

  3. You, and Jenny and Allie are heroes. I’ve only had brief fits of depressive episode, generally for actually solid reasons to be depressed. and I’ve managed to work out of them, which on my part, just means I’ve been lucky. However, just knowing that you and Allie and Jenny are showing how it is possible to deal with these kinds of situations makes you all unspeakably awesome to me.

  4. It took years, years, for me to realize I had returned to the hole that depression is for me. You’d think I’d have recognized it, but somehow plodding through my life I just let things deaden out more and more and took years. I chose medication to jump start things and it kind of works for me and my bran chemistry but it isn’t a fix and I’m still me, which means its hard to parse what I really feel with what I project because it’s what people expect/need. Her blog entry kind of reminded me of that.

    I will say that my own struggles with this stuff gives me the ability to respect my son’s struggles with depression. We both have the same dark and rather dry humor that horrifies most others.

    She totally nailed the feeling of not being suicidal in an active sense so much as wishing one just wasn’t there. There’s no way to accurately describe that to those who haven’t struggled with this stuff. I’m glad to see the whole inanity of the cheerleader model of fixing depression ( however well meaning) addressed. I mean being a depressive doesn’t mean you can’t see that great things may be happening like awesome sunsets, personal achievements etc-you just don’t care or can’t.

    Thanks for sharing this and your own experiences.

    • You’d think recognizing it would get easier over time, right? But it doesn’t. There’s that slow creep, and the glossing over, and “this is a just a bad day” and in tiny little bits and drains suddenly all the feelings are gone. The good feelings have been going away and the bad feelings are suppressed.

      Yay brains.

      Thank you for coming by and sharing 🙂

  5. Funny how things come together.

    I was just reading your post on harassment and had recently suggested to a friend that we find some way to educate young people on how to recognize harassment. Since it’s not always physical, it can be hard to identify if you don’t have experience with it. I was harassed early on in my career (in IT), but I didn’t know what it was, only that it made me extremely uncomfortable. It never occurred to me to tell anyone about it.

    Then I read this post, and remembered a vacation to Florida in my teenage years where all I did was cry. And I realize now how depressed I was, but at the time I had no idea. Just now, just reading this post, did I realize that. How strange.

    I love Hyperbole and a Half’s comics because they often ring so true to me, but I never realized that I too had a very depressive episode in my life. Maybe after all these years I just chose to forget it, or maybe I never was able to recognize it for myself.

    Perhaps we need some education for younger people on this topic as well.

    • Both excellent topics for education. I was lucky with depression, because my parents knew quite a bit about it, and even then it was a lot of years before we figured anything out.

      Me being me, I think education on these topics in the form of searingly-well-characterized SF/F novels would be perfect.

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