… so eloquently and so perfectly that describes something so personal and so destructive, it’s worth a share. I follow a blog called Hyperbole and a Half and the lady who writes it hadn’t posted in a while. A long while. But when she posted this blog about depression, it was like she had written down every single thought and feeling I ever had when depressed. In every single technicolour (or omni-grey) detail.
This cartoon of hers so perfectly captures my anomie and existential angst (yes, I gave it a posh name for wallowing around contemplating the pointlessness of everything…) Sadly, I spent most of my time in Japan feeling like this, and it completely ruined what should have been an epic adventure.
It’s funny as hell because I recognise myself, right down to the slump and the dirty hoodie and the facial expression.
It made me sad reading it, especially the bits about not wanting to live any more. But it reminded me that her experience is just exactly what mine was – like some kind of uncanny process by which a thought travels like a virus, with the exact same qualities in infection. And it made me laugh when she told other people because they ended up upset and she ended up comforting them.
It also made me laugh because when you decide to get treatment, you do feel like it’s kind of pointless as well.
I also laughed the hardest at this face (below) because that was my EXACT face…
And it’s also good to know that sometimes, it feels like this:
It’s hard to tell people that suffer from depression that what they’re feeling is practically an identikit model of thinking, that millions of other people feel the exact same thing. And, if they do, doesn’t that make it all the more pointless and dumb? But it’s good when people share. If everyone shared their experiences like this, well, just maybe it wouldn’t be such a powerful, isolating and crippling experience and we could all laugh each other out of it.
I could tell you whatever you want to hear about antedotes and what helps manage it. I could tell you it’s changing the stresses in your life, or that it’s drugs, or that it’s talking therapies. I could tell you it’s diet or exercise or sleep.
I’m pretty sure, though, that a lot of it is laughter. Especially if you can laugh at the pointlessness of stuff and you find someone else who will help you laugh at it too. It is true that it becomes impossible to look sympathetic people in the eye and the only thing that makes it any better is having a friend to laugh it off with. Lucky for me, I had my sister for that bit. She is very good at not letting me wallow in my hoodie and very good at pulling faces and making me smile. Laughter is not the cure for depression, but it sure makes all the other stuff more bearable.
And if there is to be another part of it that makes it liveable, well, that’s reading about someone else’s experiences and how they are just like your own. That way, you kind of see that it’s not just you against the world, or against this condition, but that it is just a cloud that rains on people in exactly the same ways. It makes it less personal so you don’t have to beat yourself up about it along the way.
If I had one wish, it’s that everyone in the whole world would read Hyperbole and a Half. If you haven’t suffered from depression, it’s very likely you know someone who has – and this is just about the best description I ever read about what it’s really like.
Plus, it’s funny. That’s a bonus.
Kay Redfield Jamison, author, psychiatrist and bipolar to boot, says that you have to make a beast beautiful in order to conquer it. I’m not sure how you make depression beautiful, since it is so very, very ugly, but you sure can laugh about it with a little help.