HyperboleandaHalf: Adventures in Depression

Meet Allie.  Meet Allie’s awesome BlogSpot (which you may already be a complete fan of):


I thought Allie was only kidding around, but the content of her blog reflects her struggles with depression (as she keeps reminding her readers that it is merely depression.  Merely? Really?) Something has to be said about how Allie has used the blogosphere to narrate her life and what goes on in her head and her heart.

But, of course, it can be.  Depression is definitely more than the humour she presents – in every sense.


Allie wins most of her readership by presenting them with a contradiction: she blogs about depression using humour.  A goofy, senseless, The Oatmeal-type of humour.  Yet, it somehow makes sense.  Depression isn’t funny, but you can either laugh or cry – or do a little both to get some tragi-comedy out of this senseless thing called life.


Hiding from life or facing it appropriately?

After two years of a successful blog, Allie disappeared.  Her fanbase rode with it until they got a little unnerved: could the depression jokes actually mean she has depression? You know, the real thing.  The down-and-out, sick-and-sad depression?  Allie was these things, but, as the blog shows, life moves on.  The daily, casual, bullshity things we all have to deal with must go on.  Eating, sleeping, talking to strangers we don’t really need and/or want to know (or vice-versa), working, eating, sleeping…

Life.  And Allie amplifies it with her cartoonish style and bathetic, slightly ironic, yet self-depreciating humour.  She kinda said what had to be said.  Over the past twenty years mental illness has become far more visible.  Celebrities to regular people, mental illness hits approximately 1 in 5, according to CAMH.  That is about 1 person in every family, so there is no excuse – we all know someone with a mental illness.  Maybe we are that one.

The stat for those who admit to mental illness is much lower, approximately only 10% of people who have a mental illness will readily admit it.  Admitting to having a mental illness can result in the loss of job, friends, and even family.  These are large costs.

Allie is also weird, which I’ve always appreciated.  Weirdness isn’t always negative. Sometimes it is downright refreshing.  Conventionality, propriety, proper sentences, neat artwork . . . sometimes this is depressing.  It places one in a box of conventions.  Allie’s work is accessible because it doesn’t follow those standards.  It’s somewhat completely serious in its cartoonish, wild style.

Something should also be said about the blogosphere.  Why does it work for this?  Perhaps because it rolls along, post after post – some posts being sectioned off into chapters of her life, livened up in their own style through artistic narration.  She also has a store (glee! glee!):


And, of course, she also has her own narrative style: blunt and unromantic.  This blogger is not trying to convince you (like this blogger sometimes).  Maybe that is why she is convincing.

What about the conversations people have regarding these post – questions and suggestions.  Epiphanies and thank yous.  Admonitions and advice.

She recently addressed letters from fans on Reddit:

Allie’s letter

Allie's Patronus

Allie’s Patronus

Allie was being serious all along, but sometimes the most serious things are best contextualized with humour.  And so, yet again, blogs can do another thing: participate in how we see illness, our place in life, and develop a sense of selfhood through all that stuff.  Digital media has allowed this to happen – perhaps HyperboleandaHalf would have been a stack of diary entries that were mistaken for teenage rubbish or growing pains.

Depression is conversation and vice versa.  Let’s consider that.

Anyways, so, if you have the time and consideration, send Allie a letter or mail her blog.  Tell her that the cyber world simply isn’t the same without her and her wild humour.

About dontpanictrent

DON'T PANIC: A Trent Graduate Student Blog

One Response to “HyperboleandaHalf: Adventures in Depression”

  1. I still miss Allie. We all do. She’s impacted the entire online world with her work, and the fact that such a fast-moving thing as the internet community still looks back over two years (an eternity in internet time) and remembers Allie’s contribution is a testament to the impact she had.

    Right in the feels.

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