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Not the usual Allie Brosh.
October 27, 2011 2:50 PM   Subscribe

Adventures in Depression. Allie Brosh is back with a new Hyperbole and a Half post on the topic of her own depression.

I tried to force myself not to be sad.

But trying to use willpower to overcome the apathetic sort of sadness that accompanies depression is like a person with no arms trying to punch themselves until their hands grow back. A fundamental component of the plan is missing and it isn't going to work.
posted by sweetkid (320 comments total) 185 users marked this as a favorite

 
So good to hear from her again. I wonder how her book is coming along?
posted by ThePinkSuperhero at 2:53 PM on October 27, 2011 [2 favorites]


I know, I had a little thrill of happiness seeing that she'd posted again, and then I read it. Affecting and dark.
posted by sweetkid at 2:55 PM on October 27, 2011


So fucking good. As a friend of mine said, Allie Brosh is a treasure.
posted by pts at 2:57 PM on October 27, 2011 [4 favorites]


Beautiful.
posted by gottabefunky at 2:59 PM on October 27, 2011


Man, I was really expecting that to end in a bicycle crash.

I love Allie Brosh.
posted by infinitywaltz at 2:59 PM on October 27, 2011


Aw man, that made me get teary and giggle. Love.
posted by Specklet at 2:59 PM on October 27, 2011 [3 favorites]


I'm so glad to see her back.
posted by pemberkins at 2:59 PM on October 27, 2011


I see she's watching the excellent Tool.
posted by shakespeherian at 3:00 PM on October 27, 2011


I shall now call that stage the fork-grabber stage of depression.
love it.
posted by the young rope-rider at 3:01 PM on October 27, 2011 [1 favorite]


She does a good job of capturing the insidiousness of depression, how the condition itself undermines the very tools you need to fight it. It's like a virus that robs your body of nutrients and makes you feel like you're starving all the time but also makes your mouth grow shut.
posted by gottabefunky at 3:01 PM on October 27, 2011 [93 favorites]


I can't think of many other people who capture the joys of depression so well.
posted by naju at 3:02 PM on October 27, 2011


Affecting and dark, sure, but also hilarious:
"looks like somebody likes pasta! How original. When you were a child, is this what you dreamt of becoming? A sad person holding a fork? Well good job, Fork Grabber, you did it. Try not to cry on your pasta".
posted by Hoopo at 3:02 PM on October 27, 2011 [37 favorites]


trying to use willpower to overcome the apathetic sort of sadness that accompanies depression is like a person with no arms trying to punch themselves until their hands grow back.

If you haven't read the link, do.
posted by justsomebodythatyouusedtoknow at 3:03 PM on October 27, 2011 [1 favorite]


I just read this through my feed reader and though I love Hyperbole and a Half, I didn't think it worthy of yet another MeFi post about this wonderful blog. That said, I really loved the final image in this story, and that alone made the whole thing worth it. It's like the MS Paint equivalent of "I'm Back, Baby!"
posted by mysterpigg at 3:04 PM on October 27, 2011 [2 favorites]


Missed her.
posted by Splunge at 3:06 PM on October 27, 2011


"But trying to use willpower to overcome the apathetic sort of sadness that accompanies depression is like a person with no arms trying to punch themselves until their hands grow back."

I've been trying to describe this very thing for ages. It's so very true. Also, "buying the Skittles" is going to be common parlance someday soon.

I often wonder how Simple Dog is faring.
posted by Metroid Baby at 3:07 PM on October 27, 2011 [11 favorites]


oh fuck this is so timely <3 ali brosh
posted by beefetish at 3:08 PM on October 27, 2011


I can't think of many other people who capture the joys of depression so well.

That's so true. Things get so dark it's like, "Hell let's do whatever! Who cares what happens?"
posted by sweetkid at 3:08 PM on October 27, 2011 [2 favorites]


I love her when she's silly, but damn does she nail the experience of being depressed. It's a perfect description. I managed to break on through so now I'm an emotionless asshole, but definite twinges of memory.
posted by Ghostride The Whip at 3:09 PM on October 27, 2011


A lot of the commenters at HAAH are assuming that's a happy ending. I don't think that's necessarily so, but I might be misinterpreting it. That feeling of invinvibleness, for me, was just another face of my (incredibly minor, on the scale of things) depression. I did a lot of stupid stuff and I'm glad I had friends to shield me from the worst of it.
posted by muddgirl at 3:09 PM on October 27, 2011 [17 favorites]


I meant "invincibility."
posted by muddgirl at 3:09 PM on October 27, 2011 [1 favorite]


While I can relate to the vast majority of the comic I can't say I ever stopped caring about what others thought.
posted by Harpocrates at 3:11 PM on October 27, 2011 [4 favorites]


I was just idly worrying about her the other day and wondering how she's dealing with the nationwide shortage of Adderall.
posted by elizardbits at 3:15 PM on October 27, 2011


Her drawing style just kills me!
posted by rhizome at 3:20 PM on October 27, 2011


Everything about Allie Brosh is better than me, even when she gets depression. I never grew an exo-skeleton of anything or got to escape my pesky feelings :(

I do sympathize with a lot of it though, especially the "self-talk pep talk" we all get taught to do at some point. "Other people are DYING OF CANCER right now! Doesn't that make you feel better?" Uh, no, but thanks.
posted by bleep at 3:22 PM on October 27, 2011 [11 favorites]


I often wonder how Simple Dog is faring.

○△□
posted by JHarris at 3:22 PM on October 27, 2011 [87 favorites]


"Ready? YOU WIN!" LOL
posted by rhizome at 3:24 PM on October 27, 2011 [2 favorites]


While I can relate to the vast majority of the comic I can't say I ever stopped caring about what others thought.

Interesting. I've battled depression/social anxiety, and I had the same epiphany she had but (luckily) much earlier in life: it doesn't matter what people think.

"looks like somebody likes pasta! How original. When you were a child, is this what you dreamt of becoming? A sad person holding a fork? Well good job, Fork Grabber, you did it. Try not to cry on your pasta"

That part was pretty spot-on (and not funny at all to me. at all), but I honestly didn't care too much for the rest of the comic. I prefer her silly.
posted by mrgrimm at 3:24 PM on October 27, 2011


The other weird component of depression for me, besides the self-loathing, is the assumption that no one else has ever felt this way...Even though lots of us had.

I think I stopped caring what other people thought when I checked myself into the psych ward because I was sober, and trying to take care of myself, and a locked hospital ward was the best possible place for me. So I finally stopped trying to justify it or explain it. I just knew I did the right thing for myself that weekend, and now I know what to expect if it gets that bad again.
posted by thankyouforyourconsideration at 3:34 PM on October 27, 2011 [11 favorites]


My depression experience differs (apparently) because I never could call myself 'sad' because you had to have something to feel sad about, and I didn't have anything. And if you're feeling low about nothing, then there is not much that can make you feel better. It's the 'meh' that kills. When I couldn't get myself out of bed to sit at a computer, I was relieved to find a laptop I could set on my belly and see all the things MetaFilter has to GRAR about just to give me something to feel sad about. When I did have something real to feel sad about (most recently my father's death), I got a burst of adrenaline that lasted long enough to get done 51% of what I had to do then went back into non-operational mode.

My college-age efforts at self-humiliation (leading into the public humiliation job as a radio DJ's sidekick) taught me to disregard what people thought many years before the depression. Maybe that was related to my inability to finds things to feel sad about. Because it all comes back to how you feel - or don't - about yourself.

And I suddenly feel like having pasta for dinner, just to be a Fork Grabber.

Anyway, this was another Hyperbolically Good comic. I hope Allie's depression gets better, but if it does, I hope it doesn't motivate her to learn how to draw...
posted by oneswellfoop at 3:38 PM on October 27, 2011 [3 favorites]


and not funny at all to me

well, different strokes I guess. For myself it's a very familiar place, and that sort of thing usually gets me laughing about the absurdity of it all. Although it's been a long time since I was anywhere near that bad, and I don't think I ever got to anything like "crawling around on the floor" phase.
posted by Hoopo at 3:38 PM on October 27, 2011 [2 favorites]


Yeah, great post. Reads like an advertisement for medication though: everything she describes is the stuff that, at least for me, has only improved with meds.

God bless you if you can recover from anhedonia (inability to feel pleasure) and self hate with therapy but I've never found anything that shuts down those voices and allows me to believe that people actually love me and I'm not a horrible person and I don't need to dread going outside other than heroin or antidepressants (which are conveniently legal).


"But trying to use willpower to overcome the apathetic sort of sadness that accompanies depression is like a person with no arms trying to punch themselves until their hands grow back."


This captures it for me: if you can no longer enjoy the things that used to give you pleasure (a symptom of depression), how will doing pleasurable things help? So all the advice people give about doing more exercise, making sure you hang out with friends, being nice to yourself is good advice if you're not anhedonic and have other aspect of depression. When you're anhedonic, however, you dread those things because they STILL DON'T FUCKING WORK and that makes it all even worse. So, I hope she gets on meds that work for her or finds something else that helps.
posted by Maias at 3:40 PM on October 27, 2011 [47 favorites]


I checked myself into the psych ward because I was sober, and trying to take care of myself, and a locked hospital ward was the best possible place for me.

Excuse the built-in-irony, but that sounds like one of the things I felt that "no one else has ever felt".
posted by oneswellfoop at 3:41 PM on October 27, 2011 [1 favorite]


It took me somewhere around 8 years to get to this:
Judge me all you want, stupid face - I don't have feelings anymore. I can do anything.
I can relate the hell out of this.
posted by Mister Fabulous at 3:43 PM on October 27, 2011 [4 favorites]


Weep all the things!
posted by sourwookie at 3:45 PM on October 27, 2011 [18 favorites]


She has a gift for describing how sad and pathetic she felt without sounding sad and pathetic to the reader. A lot of "woe is me" blog posts get ripped to shreds here for their self-pitying tone, but she's able to convey the overwhelming difficulty of everything without sounding spoiled and self-indulgent.

I'm guessing she's only able to do this after the worst of the depressive episode has passed and her usual sense of humor is back - maybe that's her secret? Waiting until she feels at least slightly funny again? When I'm at the Fork Grabber stage myself it's TOTALLY NOT FUNNY AND I AM THE SADDEST PERSON IN THE WHOLE WORLD AND IF YOU COULD SEE ME NOW YOU'D BE CRYING TOO EXCEPT YOU'D BE MOCKING ME INSTEAD BECAUSE EVERYBODY HATES ME, which is only kinda funny after it's over because when you're in the throes of it, that's your reality. Embarrassing as it is.

Anyway, this is probably a good thing to show to people who don't "get" depression, how draining it is, how pervasive. They can read it without being put off by self-pity, and still get some idea what it's like.
posted by Quietgal at 3:46 PM on October 27, 2011 [29 favorites]


(seriously--love her work and had no idea she was going through this)
posted by sourwookie at 3:47 PM on October 27, 2011


Anyway, this is probably a good thing to show to people who don't "get" depression, how draining it is, how pervasive. They can read it without being put off by self-pity, and still get some idea what it's like.

Exactly. I feel like it would be good to send to people who WANT to know, but don't really understand why you can't just go for a bike ride and then be fine. I had friends like that. They wanted to understand but just couldn't. Lucky them in my opinion but I did try to send them things that might explain.
posted by sweetkid at 3:48 PM on October 27, 2011


"While crying helplessly into my pillow for no good reason, I would often fantasize that maybe someday I could be one of those stoic badasses whose emotions are mostly comprised of rock music and not being afraid of things.

So it's not just me? Yay! But what if that is already your facade?
posted by loriginedumonde at 3:50 PM on October 27, 2011 [1 favorite]


So all the advice people give about doing more exercise, making sure you hang out with friends, being nice to yourself is good advice if you're not anhedonic and have other aspect of depression.

For me, it was only exercise that allowed me to feel anything at all again. A number of different therapists and so many different medications that I lost count never did. Maybe it was pushing my body well past where it wanted to go (which early on was not even out of bed) that made some sort of break through. It's now one of the few things that keeps me (sometimes barely) from careening back down again.

And sometimes it's good enough that I really could maybe touch a spider later...
posted by BigHeartedGuy at 3:50 PM on October 27, 2011 [2 favorites]


Every single word of this is true. Hugs and good thoughts to Allie.
posted by Faint of Butt at 3:51 PM on October 27, 2011 [1 favorite]


One of the comments said "Don't be depressed because...." and I just cringed and think of all the lovely and well meaning people who just. do. not. understand.

There was a nursing student in the pysch ward who kept asking me if I was feeling better. Finally he said, "I mean, how can you be depressed you look like a cheerleader?" and then my best friend had to stop me from hurting him.
posted by thankyouforyourconsideration at 3:51 PM on October 27, 2011 [24 favorites]


I just hope she has the resources to treat it.
posted by spiderskull at 3:51 PM on October 27, 2011 [2 favorites]


Oh god - this hits so close to home. Back when the Amazing Project I spent 3 Years Researching got canned basically by accident I entered into a very long, very deep funk of basically not leaving the house and slowly turning into Howard Hughes. At one point, I was lying on the couch, half-hardheartedly playing video games and basically running out the clock until it was socially acceptable to fall alseep again when I had something like this happen in my brain.

"Hey. You should eat something. You look like shit."

"Eating will make me fat you're not the boss of me, body."

"You haven't eaten anything in three days, have an apple! I need energy!"

"Apples have carbs asshole are you trying to kill me?"

"You read one fucking book- gah just put something in your mouth and SWALLOW. You'll feel better."

"I don't want to feel better, in fact, you know what I'm going to do? I'm going to do something really awful you're going to regret Mr. bossy physical shell. I'm going to eat 20 Mcnuggets and a large fries in a single sitting!"

What can I say. I'm a rebel.

So after a fit fits and false starts I manage to get some...some kind of clothes and storm out, marching to the nearest McDonald's, totally committed to newest and therefor MOST IMPORTANT goal of shoving 20 Mcnuggets into my mouth.

But I get there and there's a line. A huge line, school just let out the place is over-run with grade school kids and nannies. That would mean I would have to stand there, in line, for a long time, around screaming snot noses just so I could do something I DIDN'T REALLY WANT TO DO IN THE FIRST PLACE.

I got so angry that I wasn't allowed to debase myself with chicken slurry product in a timely fashion. How dare they obstruct me! They can't even make it quick? It's supposed to be fast fod, not wait in line food what is this government cheese gah grargrargrar- and then I noticed I was angry. I was actually angry. And that made me so happy cause I was actually feeling something other then a dull numbness punctuated by loathing for the first time in weeks. MONTHS. I rage-joyed out of the place and went and DID THINGS and SHOPPED FOR FOOD and WENT TO THE BANK and SHOWERED cause I am not a robot! I have feelings! Desires! Wants!

It was amazing.

And then I played like an hour of Desktop Dungeons, but because I wanted to.
posted by The Whelk at 3:54 PM on October 27, 2011 [158 favorites]


Squee!
posted by TangerineGurl at 4:03 PM on October 27, 2011


Hahahahaha, she is so right about the "not giving a fuck" part. For me that was the start of me actually taking control of my depression though. I realized I did not care about anyone or anything and nothing could possibly get worse. At that point the only thing I liked was weightlifting. So I quit my job, quit my failed attempts at school, and with $800 in the bank moved across states near to a lifting gym and found a job stocking auto parts. Long story short my life is now completely turned around and depression is mostly managed. It wouldn't have happened without that mental break and subsequent move.
posted by schroedinger at 4:08 PM on October 27, 2011 [1 favorite]


I find that the worst part is when it comes back. Sure, there's that month or two of feeling like a normal person, or at least the most normal person you know how to be, but there's that voice in the back of your head that whispers: "Hey, khaibit, remember when we used to hang out and be all depressed. Good times." And no matter how much you know that voice to be a liar, it starts again, and eventually it's all, "Fork grabber."
posted by khaibit at 4:09 PM on October 27, 2011 [29 favorites]


Part of the insidiousness is how the two states seem so alien from each other "Wow I can't believe I was ever so depressed and listless" vs. "Wow, I don't think I will ever feel anything ever again, I have forgotten what emotions feel like."
posted by The Whelk at 4:13 PM on October 27, 2011 [43 favorites]


I've been watching this video kind of obsessively over the last few days. It's a lecture by Robert Sapolsky on the biology of depression, and it's incredibly useful for explaining why "just get it together" doesn't make sense. If you have an hour, I recommend it.
posted by Errant at 4:15 PM on October 27, 2011 [84 favorites]


"Hey, khaibit, remember when we used to hang out and be all depressed. Good times." And no matter how much you know that voice to be a liar, it starts again, and eventually it's all, "Fork grabber."
posted by khaibit at 7:09 PM on October 27 [+] [!]


That is where the medication has done wonders for me. It doesn't make me happy, but it allows me to be happy by keeping the irrational sadness away.
posted by schroedinger at 4:16 PM on October 27, 2011 [3 favorites]


I didn't grow an exoskeleton, I just grew sweat pants.
posted by madcaptenor at 4:17 PM on October 27, 2011 [2 favorites]


schroedinger, very similar for me. The "I don't give a fuck" phase was empowering. My move was to another continent and a place where I couldn't speak the language. Much easier to get to "I don't care what you think about me" when you're focused on questions like "what combination of words gets me dinner? How do you use this trench on the floor of the bathroom? How do I get money from an ATM when I can't read?"
posted by Hoopo at 4:21 PM on October 27, 2011 [1 favorite]


The exoskeleton phase scares me. Now you hate yourself, and no longer care about what others think? That sounds like grounds for hurting yourself or others.
posted by Popular Ethics at 4:25 PM on October 27, 2011 [2 favorites]


I read this earlier and had such a happy/awful sense of recognition. I saw that it's gotten over 6,000 likes on facebook and there was such a moment of Oh My God, It's Not Just Me - until it sunk in.

ohmygoditsnotjustme.

Now I don't know how to feel, beyond gratitude that she's talking about it and hope that we all find a way to deal. Soon. Really fucking soon.
posted by Space Kitty at 4:26 PM on October 27, 2011 [7 favorites]


This comes off as pretty much accurate as far as how depression hits me. And also, the picture of the bag of chips - totally says SHOVEL CHIPS which is extra funny-making to me.
posted by fluffy battle kitten at 4:36 PM on October 27, 2011 [1 favorite]


Now you hate yourself, and no longer care about what others think? That sounds like grounds for hurting yourself or others.

Yeah if you're not lucky you end up drunk for like 3 months like, uh ..some people I know...
posted by The Whelk at 4:36 PM on October 27, 2011 [2 favorites]


dear sweet jesus i love her even more. that whole hands growing back thing...wow.

also - just THINKING of simple dog too much will cause me to start snorking and giggling and then if if i'm in company i might try to explain but usually just say "nothing" when asked what's going on.
posted by sio42 at 4:37 PM on October 27, 2011 [5 favorites]


I thought she had a boyfriend/fiance? Where was he? :(
posted by jinjo at 4:38 PM on October 27, 2011 [4 favorites]


She's pretty great. Hurray for exoskeletons.
posted by Sticherbeast at 4:39 PM on October 27, 2011


Now you hate yourself, and no longer care about what others think?

I can't speak for anyone else, but I kinda forgot about the self-doubt when I got to that point so it wasn't a "hate yourself" thing anymore. There was a lot of "I'm going to do this now, because I want to, just try to stop me."

Yeah if you're not lucky you end up drunk for like 3 months like, uh ..some people I know...

I think I know that guy.
posted by Hoopo at 4:40 PM on October 27, 2011


jinjo - that's what i was wondering too. i remember a whole big thing about them moving to a new place together involving simple dog.

maybe he was away or something?
posted by sio42 at 4:41 PM on October 27, 2011


Popular Ethics, not sure how other people deal with it but I know in my case when I'm in the place where I just don't give a fuck and am not particularly feeling loving towards myself - I just don't have the time, energy or thought process to hurt myself or anyone else.
posted by fluffy battle kitten at 4:41 PM on October 27, 2011


I thought she had a boyfriend/fiance? Where was he? :(

Being ineffectual or unnoticed, most likely, and through no fault of his own.
posted by Errant at 4:42 PM on October 27, 2011 [14 favorites]


Anyway, this is probably a good thing to show to people who don't "get" depression, how draining it is, how pervasive. They can read it without being put off by self-pity, and still get some idea what it's like.

Hello. I am one of those people. This post was immensely helpful to me, because I've been fortunate enough not to get hit with anything like depression - and now I feel like I have the slightest glimmer of what it's really like, and can relate to those going through it that much better. In short, to add to the many people above, I also love Allie Brosh.
posted by ZsigE at 4:44 PM on October 27, 2011 [4 favorites]


My Now-Husband was around and for me all the time, it's really hard to actually hear advice or encouragement or comfort in that state. it's like being at the bottom of a pool.

The GlaDos voice in the back your head saying it's all fake doesn't help either.
posted by The Whelk at 4:44 PM on October 27, 2011 [33 favorites]


Yeah if you're not lucky you end up drunk for like 3 months like, uh ..some people I know...

If only it had been over in 3 short months....
posted by thankyouforyourconsideration at 4:47 PM on October 27, 2011


FEEL BAD ABOUT
ALL THE THINGS!
posted by uosuaq at 4:48 PM on October 27, 2011 [8 favorites]


This was wonderful, but I think I still like Styron's (in Darkness Visible) explanation a little better, in that he describes a type of mental pain that accompanies the worst experiences. The bout that I had last year had me curled up in my bed for hours on end, wondering how I could be in such pain without any injury. The breakthrough to get out of a period of depression is always random and odd. I think for the episode last year it was wanting mac and cheese. The real stuff, not boxed. And needing to get cheese to make it.

I don't think I've ever hit the total emotionless state that she describes. I'm not sure if that's good or bad.

My strategy this year: whenever I start to feel sad at all, make sure I'm hanging out with friends for the next two nights. Hit the pleasure centers with fun before they stop working. So far, so good.

That line about having no arms and punching yourself in the face is so perfect.
posted by Hactar at 4:55 PM on October 27, 2011 [2 favorites]


I'm worried the end of her entry wasn't the end of her depression, but the beginning of mania.

:(
posted by subbes at 4:56 PM on October 27, 2011 [16 favorites]


I've been in therapy lately, trying to deal with issues related to depression.

There are some expressions of depression that I totally identify with. The lecture by Sapolsky really clarified for me what I feel (or, rather, don't feel). But there are other expressions of depression, like this one, that feel a little foreign to me. A lot of you in this thread, describing our experiences with depression, sound a little foreign. When people talk about depression "hitting" them, or different stages to their depression, or coming out of it or getting into it... That's not something I know. Even just describing feeling sad, as opposed to just generally numb or deadened, doesn't quite fit for me. It makes me feel a little confused about how to classify what I experience, given that it's different.

Even though not all of this "spoke" to my depression, I still really appreciated it. I hope she's doing okay.
posted by meese at 4:56 PM on October 27, 2011 [1 favorite]


I thought she had a boyfriend/fiance? Where was he? :(

She was renting movies from a video store, so I just assumed this happened years ago.
posted by joannemerriam at 4:58 PM on October 27, 2011 [19 favorites]


For me, the exoskeleton's never lasted. I'll touch that spider, and for a little while I'm invincible, but just as I'm gaining strength, so does that mean voice.

Also, I'm really glad she wrote about it, because she has an enormous audience. Those who don't instantly see themselves in this post might get a better idea of how it feels.

And:

I thought she had a boyfriend/fiance? Where was he?

Friends and family and partners often can't help with depression, even when they do everything right. Hopefully he's doing okay too.
posted by Metroid Baby at 4:58 PM on October 27, 2011 [6 favorites]


This is really. Really. Good.

Thanks.
posted by odinsdream at 4:59 PM on October 27, 2011


This is sad but great. Her work is one of the few massively-linked things online that deserves all the hype it gets and more.

My favorite is still the one where she has decided to jump over a gate and is imagining how great it will be. Then she trips on the way over and the next panel shows her lying face-down in a mud puddle thinking, "No. I wanted the opposite of this." I say that all the time now.
posted by drjimmy11 at 5:00 PM on October 27, 2011 [25 favorites]


She was renting movies from a video store, so I just assumed this happened years ago.
posted by joannemerriam at 4:58 PM on October 27 [+] [!]

Her FB post announcing her new blog entry said that this explains one of the reasons she's been gone for so long.
posted by jenny76 at 5:01 PM on October 27, 2011


I don't know - I find it to be kind of harsh.
posted by newdaddy at 5:03 PM on October 27, 2011


Like some of you, I found the ending more ominous than inspirational.

She's such a talent. I hope the optimists are right.

As far as her boyfriend/fiance -- when someone's sunk into depression, loved ones can't really help them. I hope her boyfriend is okay. It's so damned hard to love someone with depression -- to feel so helpless, and frustrated and angry and full of pity and helpless and scared to death.
posted by artemisia at 5:03 PM on October 27, 2011 [7 favorites]


This was good.

One of the weird things about my experiences with anxiety and depression is that I really don't remember a lot about being depressed. Because by all accounts, about two and a half years ago, there was a period of time where I was just completely obviously not doing very well, brain-wise. Enough so that when I started taking pills that summer and went back to school in the fall, people commented "you're doing so much better!"

And I had no idea how they could know.

But apparently I had been so depressed a few months earlier I didn't really seem like I had a personality.

So I'm glad that there are people who have been depressed that can write things like this, because I have trouble reconstructing just what it's like at this point. (Which of course makes me anxious that I should stop talking about mental illness like I'm part of the club, because I'm in treatment and doing well and…)
posted by silby at 5:06 PM on October 27, 2011 [3 favorites]


meese, you may experience dysthymia, which is more of a lower-intensity but longer-lasting chronic depression. Major depression typically shows up in "short" (they don't actually feel that short) episodes, usually measured in weeks to months, hence the "hitting" and the "stages" and so on. Dysthymia tends to be more of an overall lowering of the mood level, and its incidence is measured in years. If you're not familiar with it, it might be worth asking your therapist about that.
posted by Errant at 5:08 PM on October 27, 2011 [4 favorites]


muddgirl: A lot of the commenters at HAAH are assuming that's a happy ending. I don't think that's necessarily so, but I might be misinterpreting it.

I don't think you're misinterpreting it; I think they are. You can tell who among the commenters suffers from (or, if not suffers from, then truly understands) depression, and who doesn't. The "Don't be sad, we love you!" kinds of comments on posts from depressed people trying to explain depression make me glad that I don't know where those commenters live (or have access to firearms).


JHarris: I often wonder how Simple Dog is faring.

○△□


That is the best thing I have seen all day, and perfectly timed.
posted by tzikeh at 5:10 PM on October 27, 2011 [3 favorites]


I was wondering about simple dog too just because a lot of my clients with psychiatric disabilities are helped so much by their pets. Dogs give you unconditional love, make you feel needed, have to be walked and fed, and generally help with a lot of symptoms of depression.
posted by Mavri at 5:12 PM on October 27, 2011


The "Don't be sad, we love you!" kinds of comments on posts from depressed people

Ugh - poorly phrased. I don't mean that depressed people leave those kinds of comments. (No. I wanted the opposite of that.)

"The people who leave "Don't be sad, we love you!" comments on posts written by depressed people trying to explain...."
posted by tzikeh at 5:13 PM on October 27, 2011


This is very, very sad. I have never had depression, but I grew up with a mother who acted very much like Allie describes herself acting. It was tough, and I had no tools with which to understand her. Thank goodness for electroshock therapy and meds.

I hope Allie is ok.
posted by arcticwoman at 5:16 PM on October 27, 2011


The last panel - oh, man I have bad news for her there. It's just the other side of the depression - mania. Her "CLEAN ALL THE THINGS!" - "Clean all the things?" dichotomy at play. It should be "Clean all the things," even if the mania lets you feel really good and be really productive - it's just an indication that the other side of the coin, depression, is waiting around to undo all of that work.

And I had a moment myself where careful self-analysis indicated what I was feeling was out of sync with reality - it's like I took a sad'n'angry pill, as there was no other way to explain it.

Depression also seems like it's fairly common, like allergies or high blood pressure. I believe it's just the social stigma and a primal terror of being out of our own minds that keeps more people from getting diagnosed and treated.
posted by Slap*Happy at 5:16 PM on October 27, 2011 [13 favorites]


[several thoughtful comments about loved ones and depression]

True. I was just worried he was actually gone. Although now that I think about it, she probably would have counted that as a reason to be sad. (Or maybe not.) Anyway, still. Wonder if adding another "virtual hug" to the pile would help her any.
posted by jinjo at 5:18 PM on October 27, 2011


Thanks, Errant.
posted by meese at 5:19 PM on October 27, 2011 [1 favorite]


The whole thing was very poignant and was making me feel all melancholy until I got to the end with the defiant "nope... load me up". Which got a melevolent little grin and chuckle out of me.

I don't know if it was a happy ending, but it's one I recognized and related with.
posted by quin at 5:25 PM on October 27, 2011


For those struggling to understand more about depression, and especially about its biochemical apsect, spend an hour with Robert Sapolsky's excellent overview, available here. So damn good. Accessible, informed, compassionate and helpful.
posted by MonkeyToes at 5:26 PM on October 27, 2011 [12 favorites]


I've been watching this video kind of obsessively over the last few days. It's a lecture by Robert Sapolsky on the biology of depression, and it's incredibly useful for explaining why "just get it together" doesn't make sense. If you have an hour, I recommend it.

Yeah, redundant, I know... but just take that hour.
posted by ovvl at 5:30 PM on October 27, 2011 [6 favorites]


I've been going through a lot lately, and seeing Allie posting again, even if it was dark, made me feel like there was someone else out there going through some shit and getting to the other side of it.

And then I called my best friend and cried for about 45 minutes, and now I'm going to get through another few days.

Thank you Allie.
posted by Medieval Maven at 5:38 PM on October 27, 2011 [5 favorites]


Now I'm picturing depression as turning your brain into Simple Dog, unable to find its way out from under the blanket.
posted by Mr. Bad Example at 5:41 PM on October 27, 2011 [30 favorites]


Those were my thoughts as well, Slap*Happy. I hope she feels better soon.
posted by infinitewindow at 5:42 PM on October 27, 2011


Oh internet. For fucks' sake, I cannot tell you how good it feels to have permission to cry about this right now. I am in this place and it is so ugly. I have not admitted to any of the people who can help me that I need it.


"While crying helplessly into my pillow for no good reason, I would often fantasize that maybe someday I could be one of those stoic badasses whose emotions are mostly comprised of rock music and not being afraid of things." This is my facade, and everybody believes it. Maintaining this for a few hours a day is so consuming that when I get by myself I can't....I just can't.


Except, last week I called my psychiatrist and made an appointment. The soonest he can see me is Monday.

I hope I'm catching this soon enough that I can recover this semester. I hope I go.
posted by bilabial at 5:42 PM on October 27, 2011 [36 favorites]


Sugar really does wonders for my depressed moods.
posted by LogicalDash at 5:45 PM on October 27, 2011


This is what I'll send to my grandma or mom the next time one of them tells me I don't need Prozac, I just need to get my spiritual life back on track.
posted by persephone's rant at 5:50 PM on October 27, 2011 [9 favorites]


I call that place of having no feelings the basement under depression. Because, it almost feels better, in that the absence of agony seems better than agony itself, but it's actually worse. You're going to have to claw your way up through the sub-flooring, and when you do, the feelings that come back are the last ones you had before they went away. No way out but through.
posted by looli at 6:04 PM on October 27, 2011 [9 favorites]


The real helper dog and simple dog

Quite accurate.

But yeah, powerful and touching post.
posted by namesarehard at 6:07 PM on October 27, 2011 [10 favorites]


I know I am lucky that when I face these feelings they don't last too long, but they're also always lurking there. It's really only been in this past year that I've told those voices to shut up, that sometimes I just have bad days for not specific reason at all and that sucks a lot but it's just how it is. I just have to feel that way until I don't. Sometimes it's just a day. Sometimes it's longer.

But I really like this because it comes the closest of anything to capturing how it does feel -- that mystery of "Why am I sad when I don't really have a reason to be?" This is brave and beautiful and funny. I'm glad she made it.
posted by darksong at 6:19 PM on October 27, 2011


If you get depressed enough that you need to be checked into the nut hut, then you get to be a Spork Grabber!
posted by Jacqueline at 6:29 PM on October 27, 2011 [3 favorites]


I never realized HAAH was so derivative of 4chan and rage comics. Thanks. Christine, for showing us the light.

I'd welcome you to mefi, but... you know.
posted by item at 6:30 PM on October 27, 2011


I thought she purposely left out the dogs and her boyfriend ( fiance?) to emphasize how isolating the illness is. Yeah, others are there, but they're not in it with you -- you're there on your own screaming at yourself, and that's what she illustrates. And yeah, it sounds like the post is pretty recent given that she said that this was why she was gone so long. I can see her being the video rental type.

I know I've posted a few times in my own thread, and it's yet another Hyperbole and a Half post, but I thought this was so powerful and I'm finding this discussion and everyone's stories so interesting, compassionate, and thoughtful. It's amazing that she shared this story, because now everyone knows that funny miss MS Paint with the crazy dogs and the boyfriend and the crazy imagination can also suffer from this. It can strike anyone, and this helps illustrate that.

One of the accusations that's levied at people who've faced depression, anxiety, suicidal behavior, etc, is that they're selfish, dark, negative people who want to hurt themselves and everyone around them and "hate life." In fact, I've heard that sometimes -- " I could never be depressed, I just love life."

When I was really depressed, all I wanted was help, because I loved lifeand all I wanted was to be back in it but I just couldn't do it. Sorry for a Mad Men reference, but at one point Don Draper says, " I have been watching my life. It’s right there. I keep scratching at it, trying to get into it. I can’t." It's so frustrating.

All I've ever seen from depressed people is help and care for each other, and that's what I try to do as well. I see it in high profile people like Allie sharing their stories, and I see it in threads like this one and I'm grateful. If I have to keep talking about it so that people who don't understand it can understand it or so people who have it can get help, I'm happy to do that.
posted by sweetkid at 6:31 PM on October 27, 2011 [18 favorites]


Christine/Cheradine/it really doesn't matter
posted by item at 6:31 PM on October 27, 2011


oh whoops, while I was posting I missed that Charadine thing. WTH.
posted by sweetkid at 6:33 PM on October 27, 2011


Someone spent 5 bucks just to make that post.

I would have used the money for 2 Red Bulls, myself.
posted by Windigo at 6:35 PM on October 27, 2011 [2 favorites]


I thought this was all about her/his anguish?

But sure, we can all share in the ennui and negation that is modernity.



Wait... Christine is telling me that I should read Nietzche / Satre / Camus and get some fucking perspective.



3k responses that amount to "Gosh, I feel crappy sometimes as well" points to a dire lack of perspective. If you want to cheer yourself up, hey... there's an entire protest movement and life out there demanding some answers and action at the moment.


And yes.. her/his "artistic" stye is "Rage comic 101".
posted by Cheradine Zakalwe at 6:36 PM on October 27, 2011


Mavri: "I was wondering about simple dog too just because a lot of my clients with psychiatric disabilities are helped so much by their pets. Dogs give you unconditional love, make you feel needed, have to be walked and fed, and generally help with a lot of symptoms of depression."

I deal with powerful depression issues myself, and I will unequivocally say that if it weren't for my cat, Mr. J, and my (rest in peace) hairless dumbo rat Alfred, I would not be here to post this today.

All I had been doing day after day was playing computer games and occasionally poking around online, unshowered and unfed for days. I remember sitting there, half my brain watching the two of them (Mr. J just staring at the cage, and Alfred doing his best to look like a miniature prize fighter), and the other half of my brain telling me I just didn't matter anyway, anyhow. All of a sudden, it struck me that they would possibly starve (or I'm sure Alfie would have, being cage bound - Mr. J I am sure would have made shift with the soft parts of my face) and no one would be there to take care of them. And then I thought how that wasn't fair to them, as they didn't ask to belong to me. And just when I was ready to reach a cusp of (negative) action, Mr. J noticed me watching and jumped down from the server he was perched on and jumped up in my lap.

And that was enough of a string, not even a lifeline, for me to make it another day. Now, when things start looking bad, I just look at him and remember, and there's another day.

(Should anyone be interested in seeing the feline Oliver Twist, just look at my Flickr stream in my profile. Only one dorky yellow cat in the stream, and that would be the heathen beggar himself.)
posted by Samizdata at 6:37 PM on October 27, 2011 [6 favorites]


Secondly, s/he is able to do nothing (!)) during her/his depression. This isn't a usual case.

You should look up the term "psychomotor retardation". It's a classic symptom of moderate to severe major depressive disorder. It is vastly more common than you realize.

Lastly, a great percentage of her/his comments are "well done".. "great comic"... "yay you posted".
Not, you know... "here's a great therapist" or "if you need help getting help without insurance, there's this group at X that does talking groups for free". Instead, it is entirely "OH, WE CAN SHARE THE MISERY!"


She didn't ask for help getting therapy or paying for it. She shared a story. The comments are thus oriented towards commiseration and solidarity. One of the strongest indicators for depression remission is a solid and vocal support network. The comments you see are reinforcing the presence of such a network, both for the artist and for other members of her fanbase who talk to each other.

Talk about /firstworldproblems

In a way, you're actually sort of right about this. Mental health and specifically depression diagnoses and treatment are far more common and recognized in "developed" nations than in "developing" ones. Mental health resources are far more scarce in nations where immediate physical health concerns are pressing. That's not to say that depressed people don't exist in those countries, of course, just that they're frequently not diagnosed or treated for it. Medications for mental health treatment are similarly scarce, so even with diagnoses of severe depression help is often not forthcoming. So, yes, identifying and treating mental health issues is frequently a "first world problem", or more accurately a "first world privilege".

If you want to cheer yourself up,

I and others linked a video above by Professor Robert Sapolsky of Stanford. You should really watch it.
posted by Errant at 6:39 PM on October 27, 2011 [23 favorites]


Excellent impression of the internal critical voice of depression, Cheradine. Dead on.
posted by Uniformitarianism Now! at 6:39 PM on October 27, 2011 [7 favorites]


bilabial, check your MeMail.
posted by tzikeh at 6:40 PM on October 27, 2011


Next time my depression gets really bad, I expect to be conveniently housed in prison, because I will, mind you, slice the next asshole without a clue that opens their mouth to me about why I am depressed into lunch meat. Deli style lunchmeat...
posted by Samizdata at 6:41 PM on October 27, 2011 [3 favorites]


Secondly, s/he is able to do nothing (!)) during her/his depression. This isn't a usual case.

Yes, it is.

If you want to cheer yourself up,

Too bad, because you can't.
posted by tzikeh at 6:43 PM on October 27, 2011 [5 favorites]


Cheradine, there are some basic problems with what you're saying. This isn't your fault -- it just sounds like you do not know this topic as well as you really should, as a member of the conversation in this thread.

First, to really understand what's going on in the link, here, it would be a good idea for you to read a fair amount of the archives at Hyperbole and a Half. You don't seem to understand that this isn't a blog about depression. It's about a woman, who's funny and cheerful and has a hilarious outlook on life. This is just a particular post that has struck many of us as poignant because: A) we like the woman who wrote it; B) we think she is funny and hilarious regularly; C) it is terrifying, humanizing, and informative to realize even funny, cheerful, hilarious people can be depressed.

Second, you do not seem to understand the nature of depression. What you have said in this thread is actually very callous. Again, that's okay -- a lot of people can say very callous things in response to expressions of depression, just out of basic misunderstanding. If you want to understand more, follow Errant's advice and watch the lecture by Sapolsky.

If you're not interested in doing either of those things, all you can really contribute are hurtful and dismissive comments about something that is important and painful for others. Please don't.
posted by meese at 6:44 PM on October 27, 2011 [32 favorites]


+1 to Uniformitarianism Now! for getting it.

Specifically - getting 3k "awwws, honey-buns" isn't solving the issue.

And no, I still don't believe that monetising you depression is the cure - as Errant has pointed out, there are far more sophisticated methods out there, and s/he be far better seeking some of them out.

That includes just getting stuck into something and forgetting her audience, which in her state she'll no doubt fail to impress and get more depressed.
posted by Cheradine Zakalwe at 6:44 PM on October 27, 2011


Secondly, s/he is able to do nothing (!)) during her/his depression. This isn't a usual case.

Yes, it is.


Sorry, let me elaborate.

There is no such thing as a "usual" case of depression. HOWEVER, it is very common that one of the many symptoms of a depressive episode is the inability to engage in even the most mundane of daily activities.

I think your empathy tank is on empty. Maybe look for a way to fill it up before telling other people that you know better than they do what it is that they're experiencing.
posted by tzikeh at 6:46 PM on October 27, 2011 [2 favorites]


I still don't believe that monetising you depression is the cure

That's ok, nobody else here or the artist herself believes that either. So we all agree.
posted by Errant at 6:46 PM on October 27, 2011


Actually, monetising you (sic) depression is EXACTLY The Cure.
posted by Joey Michaels at 6:50 PM on October 27, 2011 [21 favorites]


Goddamn, I know this. I'm living this, and have for far too long, and I don't know when the hell I am going to get out of it. It goes away sometimes, but it keeps fucking coming back and there is nothing I can do during the okay times to shore myself up against the bad times.

Friends help. My dog helps, probably more than any other thing in my life - she is an agent of unadulterated silliness and refuses to leave me the fuck alone when I want to be left the fuck alone, which is so very very good. It's like she knows what I need better than I do. When it's really bad, she'll curl up in bed with me. The rest of the time, she'll try to get me to play, and that giant tongue flapping around -- it is hard not to laugh at that. And then it's a little better, because I may still feel like misery, but at least I can laugh at my silly dog, and that's something to throw in Depression's stupid fucking face.

(I am going to skip right over the part where MY PETS DESERVE A SANE PERSON because down that road lies only badness, and while the hamster wouldn't care the dog would pine)

I needed to read this today... the post here and then the comments from all you lovely people who are a little bit fractured but still keeping on, because if you can I can too. Tomorrow I see my therapist for the first time in a month. I'm going to admit I've been faking okay for months and bring that nose-spray decongestant, because by the end of session I'm sure I'll want it.

*hugs* to all of you. There's got to be a goddamn way.
posted by cmyk at 6:50 PM on October 27, 2011 [27 favorites]


monetising you depression

You seem very angry that a comic artist experiencing depression chose to express herself by drawing a comic about her depression.
posted by We had a deal, Kyle at 6:53 PM on October 27, 2011 [21 favorites]


Allie Brosh is still my hero.
posted by jburka at 6:54 PM on October 27, 2011 [1 favorite]


Cheradine,

I just. If you could spend an hour with what I'm sitting here feeling, I have an inkling that getting up for a bon bon would be the most difficult ... I just.

Formulating thoughts right now is really tough for me (have a gander at my posting history, notice that I've been incredibly quiet here for a few weeks.

What you're saying is you think I'm lazy? You think I (and others) aren't "utilizing other resources"?

You think I don't want to feel better?

I'd offer you a verb to apply to yourself. That (the offer, not the verb) is frowned upon in these parts, and it wouldn't make you understand this soup of humanity any better. Instead I will wish you the continued good fortune of never (never ever ever, not of as long as you live) becoming acquainted with this feeling of deep hopelessness.

See. I'm incredibly lucky to still be in a place where I can make jokes, and get deeply offended by some insensitive internet person. I'm in a place where I want to help you understand that you are wrong. That I want something is a small miracle. But getting out and getting that something is just. Such a distant and agonizing list of hurdles.
posted by bilabial at 6:57 PM on October 27, 2011 [33 favorites]


oh god im sorry guys that mean voice in my head got loose someone grab a net
posted by The Whelk at 6:57 PM on October 27, 2011 [19 favorites]


Specifically - getting 3k "awwws, honey-buns" isn't solving the issue.

Well, actually, it IS, if the issue is an apparently blocked cartoonist getting started again. This is clearly the issue that is first and foremost on her mind. Not wanting to talk about it is certainly a formula for not creating anything, particularly if your work -- like her work -- seems to be largely autobiographical.

If the issue is her depression itself, what of it? You don't actually know that she isn't seeking professional help. If there were no point in ever discussing something, if the only point were in taking immediate action, most of the internet wouldn't exist, for good or ill. Your contributions to this thread wouldn't exist, because what issue do they resolve?
posted by kittens for breakfast at 6:58 PM on October 27, 2011


[hey folks, you know the rules, MeTa is where you call people trolls if you need to not here. Cheradine, you are new here. Welcome. Please understand we have ways we usually talk about things and do things here and coming on so strong in your first comment may make your reception here bumpier than it needs to be.]
posted by jessamyn at 6:58 PM on October 27, 2011


The last panel - oh, man I have bad news for her there. It's just the other side of the depression - mania. Her "CLEAN ALL THE THINGS!" - "Clean all the things?" dichotomy at play. It should be "Clean all the things," even if the mania lets you feel really good and be really productive - it's just an indication that the other side of the coin, depression, is waiting around to undo all of that work.

I had the same feeling. I can't claim to know much about her actual situation from afar, but my wife is bipolar and can have manic episodes that look like that. As the husband of someone with mental illness, the depression can be really frustrating, both selfishly because it impacts my life and unselfishly because someone I love is in pain. The mania, though, is just scary. Thank God my wife hasn't had any serious problems with mania in a few years, because it's horrible to watch someone go through that.
posted by Bulgaroktonos at 7:02 PM on October 27, 2011 [3 favorites]


I have had what you might call "walking depression" (like walking pneumonia, no fun), as in GET UP AND GO TO WORK. DO MINDLESS WORK FOR EIGHT HOURS. WORRY ENDLESSLY THAT YOU WILL BE SHITCANNED BECAUSE YOU ARE A FAILURE AND A FRAUD. YOU WILL BE REPLACED BY SOMEONE WHO ACTUALLY LOVES THEIR JOB. COME HOME AND WEB SURF AIMLESSLY TRYING TO FORGET HOW HORRIBLE DAY WAS.

(sorry for the caps, that is what it is like, dominant thoughts that crowd out everything else)

Of course, this is what work is like for many people. I've tried to find a better job, more "fulfilling," a dream job, no luck in the present economy (have I also mentioned that I have a disability?) The only "dream job" that I'm actually good at is one where it's very, very difficult to make a living (writing).

The worst of walking depression is that you're still interested in stuff, but only in a sick way, stuff that your depression gloms onto and that confirms it. Such as anything about THE ECONOMY. or the CLIMATE CRISIS. Preferably both. Nightfall.

The last time I had a depression serious enough to be hospitalized (which was partly the fault of the university I was attending, desperate to avoid liability), I had been reading mostly Martin Amis and J. G. Ballard.
posted by bad grammar at 7:02 PM on October 27, 2011 [40 favorites]


I'm at the low end of the bipolar roller-coaster right now, myself.

That last frame scares the hell out of me for Allie because I've been there many times. Nothing good ever happens to me when I feel invincible.

HAAH has made me laugh when nothing else could. I've felt numb and dead inside so many times, but never so much that I couldn't appreciate simple dog. Even if it was just for a brief moment before the numbness returned like a dark blanket to smother the tiny light.
posted by double block and bleed at 7:05 PM on October 27, 2011 [3 favorites]


I've read enough of this thread to know to skip it.

I'm glad you're back, Ms. Brosh. This is the best one yet, and for way different reasons than the previous best-ones-yet. I can't pretend to know what's happening with you, but I certainly identify with this and lots that you've written. I hope you can/want to write more.
posted by cmoj at 7:08 PM on October 27, 2011


Ok, we'll do this.

I'm a person, like all of you - and I've lurked enough to see what is, and what is not ok. However, in this case, I'm coming on strong for a specific [non-trolling reason]. It might become apparent (it has to at least one poster).

This is her?

Please link to her art. I've not seen anything barring some /b/ style comics.

Or am I missing it? Is Bilabial the artist in question (if so, I shall address myself to her).

If so - then, yes. Of course I've swum in the clinging abyss of the soul, the part of you that makes everything you do pitiful, self-excruciating and leads to another bottle of wine. Of course I've looked over a skyline full of petro-chemical fueled fires, the windows long shot out and bullet holes ruining the deco, with streets full of trash, water and cowed looking dogs, and wondered what the fuck was the point.

And yes, I've sat wondering at the potential of who I should be rather than what I am...


But this is the dark tea time of all our souls. Not just one. Art is not /rage comics or youtube videos. Art is sublime reckoning that moves the soul. Nor is depression a purely individual process, it is the currency of our times.

So, let's get a little perspective.


On the plus side, none of you seem to know about the economy, which is probably a good thing - not to mention the fish.
posted by Cheradine Zakalwe at 7:12 PM on October 27, 2011


"walking depression"

oh god

That is a great description and one that causes me a physical shudder, because I know just what you mean.
posted by subbes at 7:14 PM on October 27, 2011 [16 favorites]


On the plus side, none of you seem to know about the economy

If you believe that, you really haven't been lurking here as long as you claim.

What is it about Hyperbole and a Half that has you so mad? Why not just come out with what you're trying to get at? If you yourself have fought depression, why are you acting out in a manner that appears to show little understanding or empathy for the woman who is trying to explore it through her comic?
posted by Windigo at 7:16 PM on October 27, 2011 [16 favorites]


HEY DEPRESSED PEOPLE DIDN'T YOU KNOW SOME PEOPLE HAVE REAL PROBLEMS?

Must. Restrain. Fist. Of. Death.
posted by murphy slaw at 7:16 PM on October 27, 2011 [25 favorites]


I really don't get what you're saying, Cheradine.

"Art is sublime reckoning that moves the soul"? This thread is full of people whose souls have been moved. There are 3k+ people on her blog that have been moved. All in less than a day. I'd say that's art.

Also, if your point is art criticism, or specious debates about "what is art?", maybe you're missing the point.
posted by forza at 7:16 PM on October 27, 2011 [8 favorites]


(READS CHERADINE'S POST.)

I just.... just... no. No.

Please read through the archives of Hyperbole and a Half. I'll wait. Whoops! It's not bilabial.


Okay, now read through some of the threads here on MeFi that are about the economy. I have a feeling you might prefer those to this thread - you seem to be rather irritated by this whole topic, and that's not really very constructive.
posted by subbes at 7:17 PM on October 27, 2011


Anyone have any links about "walking depression"? I would like to know more about this term. (Is it another term for dysthymia?) Google's bringing up information about walking to relieve depression.
posted by meese at 7:18 PM on October 27, 2011


Also:

Please link to her art. I've not seen anything barring some /b/ style comics.

Follow the link at the top of this thread to her blog, Hyperbole and a Half. That is her art. Go back, read through it, follow her history. Maybe you'll understand her better and why people feel such a strong connection to her.

Her lack of "traditional" drawing skills is seen as a bonus, not a hindrance. Her ability to catch a emotion with such utter perfection with nothing more than MS Paint is a skill many artists schooled "traditionally" (such as myself, for one) couldn't hope to match.
posted by Windigo at 7:20 PM on October 27, 2011 [7 favorites]


I, too, had the same thoughts about how her depression might be part of the same phenomenon as her manic episodes, but I couldn't think of a diplomatic way to phrase it beyond "I am diagnosing a stranger over the internet" which isn't cool.
posted by muddgirl at 7:22 PM on October 27, 2011 [2 favorites]


oOh, and her "traditional" drawing skills are fine. Look at her drawings of dogs. She chooses not to draw in traditional modes in this webcomic context for good reason. That's called being an artist.

Shit, I've got to get out of here.
posted by cmoj at 7:23 PM on October 27, 2011 [1 favorite]


cheradine - you asked for a link to her art. the link in the post takes you to her blog where you can see all sorts of funny stories she she has written and illustrated.

one of my favorites is the one about when she had to have dental surgery done as a kid and was all medicated and novacained afterward and talked her mom into taking her to jackinthebox or somewhere for fast food. oh my god so funny i cried.

there is a high level of support for mental illnesses here on mefi and i, like many others here, are extremely grateful for that. allie's blog has made many of us laugh when nothing else could and to hear she has been dealing with something that affects many of us, well...it was kinda heartwarming to see her illustrate so wonderfully what we feel. kinship, i guess is the word.
posted by sio42 at 7:24 PM on October 27, 2011 [4 favorites]


Cheradine :I'm coming on strong for a specific [non-trolling reason]. It might become apparent

One of the useful things about 'communication skills' is that you don't have to just sit around hoping people figure out what you want them to know, you can actually say it straight out. If your point can only be made by trolling then either it's a bad point, or you aren't a good person to be making it.

Try drawing a comic and see if anyone gets it, maybe?
posted by jacalata at 7:24 PM on October 27, 2011 [15 favorites]


Toss a goat over the side and move on.
posted by seanmpuckett at 7:25 PM on October 27, 2011 [4 favorites]


"Walking depression" is probably the reason why Zombies are such a dominant meme of our times.. but I digress. You know, that entire "human as cog in the machine" ethos that has been a dominant force for change for so long.

I've read the archives... and yes, I understand it. It isn't unique, however. MS paint is a way to get Reddit votes, not enter the real world of gallery space.

I'm not trolling - I am however, attempting to get into why a single person's depths of depression is resonating so strongly with you all. This is the important facet of any person's struggle, surely - and the fact that most of those 3k posts are attempting to hit something close to the lack of... what? (she's blond, good looking, partner, life, pets, house.. hardly the bottom of the 99%). This is the key.



I suspect it is to do with an underlying crawling uncomfortable truth about your culture, but hey... apparently I'm a troll.
posted by Cheradine Zakalwe at 7:27 PM on October 27, 2011


It's some kind of ironic performance art about the pernicious self-defeating self-talk that prevents people with depression from being able to do anything because they're always questioning their own motives, skills, etc. It's like if someone came into a thread pretending to be cancer and we all engaged with it like an immune system trying to defeat something it can't defeat.
posted by bleep at 7:28 PM on October 27, 2011 [13 favorites]


meese, I think "walking depression" is bad grammar's term for what their depression feels like to them. It's not a clinical term, but it is striking, at least to me.
posted by Errant at 7:28 PM on October 27, 2011 [1 favorite]


Oh.

Oh God.

You think you're deep.

I'm so, so sorry. Is there anyone we can call?
posted by Mr. Bad Example at 7:29 PM on October 27, 2011 [26 favorites]


I can't believe there's someone trying to make this about the style of the drawings. And so many WORDS to say so!

I also don't like some things but you can subscribe to my newsletter if you'd like to hear more about them.
posted by padraigin at 7:29 PM on October 27, 2011 [1 favorite]


Walking depression is a term I made up, though you're right that it ought to be distinguished from the non-walking and major kind.
posted by bad grammar at 7:31 PM on October 27, 2011


Just adding my voice to all the others here who are and/or have been down in that hole. It's fucking horrible. Good luck, all of you.

Christ, Cheradine Zakalwe, a lot of people see something in this comic that reminds them of how they've felt. Do you really think all these people here are nodding in agreement with the comic because we're all trying to take part in some fucking internet meme?
posted by DLWM at 7:31 PM on October 27, 2011 [9 favorites]


I'm not trolling - I am however, attempting to get into why a single person's depths of depression is resonating so strongly with you all. This is the important facet of any person's struggle, surely - and the fact that most of those 3k posts are attempting to hit something close to the lack of... what? (she's blond, good looking, partner, life, pets, house.. hardly the bottom of the 99%). This is the key.


This really doesn't make any sense to me.
posted by sweetkid at 7:32 PM on October 27, 2011 [6 favorites]


Actually, monetising you (sic) depression is EXACTLY The Cure.

I really need to get this album again.
posted by curious nu at 7:32 PM on October 27, 2011


real world of gallery space.

lool
posted by cmoj at 7:32 PM on October 27, 2011 [12 favorites]


If I'm not mistaken, some of Allie's posts predate all but the earliest /b/ rage comics.

not enter the real world of gallery space.

why does art have to be in a gallery? some people just like to draw, you know.
posted by ArgentCorvid at 7:32 PM on October 27, 2011 [5 favorites]


Two get it.


The rest of you are still trying to make it matter.
posted by Cheradine Zakalwe at 7:33 PM on October 27, 2011


Cheradine, the fact that you list "blond" as a separate, favorable attribute tells me that you don't really know what you're talking about.

People are responding to it because it resonated with them, and also because Allie Brosh has cultivated a familiar relationship with her audience such that they respond to her like they might any friend who said they'd been feeling bad. It's not much more complicated than that.
posted by Errant at 7:34 PM on October 27, 2011 [14 favorites]


But I have seen the term, "walking depression," before! Like, over a year ago. And not on Metafilter. I remember this clearly because I remember thinking, "Wow, that sounds so exactly right."

Weird.
posted by meese at 7:34 PM on October 27, 2011


Oh shit guys I think this is a teach-in.
posted by murphy slaw at 7:35 PM on October 27, 2011 [7 favorites]


Oh, negative self talk. How I haven't missed you.

Great post. I can't wait to show someone who doesn't want to care or understand. I don't think there's any getting through to people who haven't been there.
posted by sunshinesky at 7:35 PM on October 27, 2011 [1 favorite]


I'm glad Cheradine finally got here so we can all finally find out whether we're smart or not. Cheradine, how am I doing? Can I be smart too please??
posted by facetious at 7:35 PM on October 27, 2011 [6 favorites]


Teach-ins are old meme.

OCCUPY ALL THE THREADS
posted by subbes at 7:35 PM on October 27, 2011 [8 favorites]


Oh god people please stop trying to reason with Cheradine Zakalwe -- their comment would be downvoted to oblivion already even on Reddit. There is a bar below which it is not worth engaging, and
"the author is using the usual Reddit / 4Chan artistic expression. S/he hasn't invested anything new into the form. I spy with my little eye too much time reading /rage comics."
in reference to Allie fucking Brosh is already below that bar, as is anyone who would speak with that much contempt for other people.
posted by catchingsignals at 7:35 PM on October 27, 2011 [5 favorites]


All those moments will be lost in time,
like the God of Cake in rain.
posted by subbes at 7:38 PM on October 27, 2011 [2 favorites]


Yeah, the Sapolsky talk was great. I've bookmarked it for the next time I think that I'm personally and solely responsible for global warming and not just suffering from a maladaptive stress response.
posted by murphy slaw at 7:39 PM on October 27, 2011


catchingsignals, I don't especially care about Cheradine, who will not be swayed from their high, lonely tower. But responding allows me to address common misconceptions about the nature of depression, and I'll happily take that opportunity on the off-chance that someone may be reading and hear something they hadn't considered before.
posted by Errant at 7:39 PM on October 27, 2011


Um. Y'all don't think Cheradine is actually... Nah. Right?
posted by likeso at 7:40 PM on October 27, 2011 [2 favorites]


Ok. Errant, here's a question:

Without the emotional (on the intarweb, that's an entire section of total psychological dubiousness) connection, do you still care? I mentioned her physical traits merely as a short-hand for "person you think you know on the internet". Same goes for XKCD shared 'empathy' for girlfriends with cancer. Chances are, if you live in a city, of the closest 100 people living next to you, 4 have cancer. But you don't know them, and of course, they're not cool on the intarweb.

If you're in a major city, and step over tramps, drunk people and so on... Here's a thought: there does exist societies which don't step over these people, and instead contact other people to look after them. The disassociation you feel towards others is determined by your cultural norms - and if those norms are "fuck it, they lost the race" then of course, empathy is an abnormative emotion.


And please, subbes - this is a bit deeper than /b/.
posted by Cheradine Zakalwe at 7:40 PM on October 27, 2011


[Cheradine we are at the part of the thread where if you are not trolling you need to make a good faith effort to make it look like you are not trolling. Other folks, please go to MetaTalk or just talk about something else please.]
posted by jessamyn at 7:40 PM on October 27, 2011 [15 favorites]


this is a bit deeper than /b/

Interesting you protest, since you're turning this thread into some kind of IAMAScientologistPleaseAskMeAboutMentalHealth abomination. I'd happily take /b/ over that.


Honestly. There are many other threads about things that you'd probably prefer, like the economy or OWS or Richard Garriot's mansion. Perhaps you would be happier commenting in one of those.
posted by subbes at 7:43 PM on October 27, 2011 [1 favorite]


not the tiny robot thread, please. i will throw down.
posted by elizardbits at 7:44 PM on October 27, 2011 [3 favorites]


I've read the archives... and yes, I understand it. It isn't unique, however. MS paint is a way to get Reddit votes, not enter the real world of gallery space.

I don't recall anyone indicating that she's aspiring to some kind of acclaim in the serious art world. She draws comics, and many of us happen to find them hilariously amusing. Nobody is calling her the next Picasso.

I'm not trolling - I am however, attempting to get into why a single person's depths of depression is resonating so strongly with you all. This is the important facet of any person's struggle, surely - and the fact that most of those 3k posts are attempting to hit something close to the lack of... what? (she's blond, good looking, partner, life, pets, house.. hardly the bottom of the 99%). This is the key.

She's a storyteller who has told us a bunch of funny and interesting stories. We've enjoyed her work over the years, and because much of her work is so personal, readers get the sense that we'd enjoy hanging out with Allie too. She's revealed that she's been going through a really shitty time. Many of us here have gone through shitty times of varying similarity, and so when we read Allie's post, we get a spark of "hey, that's a really great way of describing how I feel/felt." As Mefites, we discuss those experiences with each other, because that's sort of the point of the Blue.

I suspect it is to do with an underlying crawling uncomfortable truth about your culture, but hey... apparently I'm a troll.

I do not know what this means. If you want to make a point, it would really be a lot easier if you came right out and said what you want to say, instead of insisting that we somehow guess.
posted by zachlipton at 7:45 PM on October 27, 2011 [8 favorites]


Whoops! Sorry jessamyn. I owe you a drink or two for my horrible part in this (GESTURES AT MESS UPTHREAD).
posted by subbes at 7:45 PM on October 27, 2011


This is precious stuff. I am crying tears of joy at the redonkulous wankery to be found.

Use of Weapons is actually a fantastic book, and Banks is a great sci-fi writer.
posted by His thoughts were red thoughts at 7:46 PM on October 27, 2011 [4 favorites]


this was all getting to be a bit much in here, so i just went and ran through The God of Cake

I've read it a bunch, but the pictures still make me crack up. i always try to not laugh out loud, but it just bubbles out. heh heh. i love how sad she looks playing with the dinosaur and horse. for some reason, that is making me LOL. oh my.

CAAAAAKE!
posted by sio42 at 7:46 PM on October 27, 2011 [3 favorites]


Bad Grammar: GET UP AND GO TO WORK. DO MINDLESS WORK FOR EIGHT HOURS. WORRY ENDLESSLY THAT YOU WILL BE SHITCANNED BECAUSE YOU ARE A FAILURE AND A FRAUD. YOU WILL BE REPLACED BY SOMEONE WHO ACTUALLY LOVES THEIR JOB. COME HOME AND WEB SURF AIMLESSLY TRYING TO FORGET HOW HORRIBLE DAY WAS.

Holy shit.

This has been my life for about eighteen months now. Exactly, precisely my life. Before then, I loved my job, but one day I just started feeling it was sort of pointless and nobody cared about what I did and it sort of spiraled into nobody cares about what I do. This has led to a situation where I think about suicide several times a day while I'm at work. When I leave the office, I imagine where I might hang myself.

I'm better at home, but that's largely because I can escape onto the Internet or play with the cats or hang out with the wife. I dread going to work every single day (and I often work seven days a week) but the job pays well and the benefits are good. I spend a bunch of time asking myself if its better to be alive and uninsured or insured but dead.

Writing about it helps - reading about other people going through the same thing helps, too. I think it might be time to contact our EAP and talk to somebody.
posted by Joey Michaels at 7:46 PM on October 27, 2011 [26 favorites]


Item, I KISS YOU!

murphy slaw and his thoughts... - recommendation on Banks noted, I'll have to check him out. That's a summary straight out of MST, though. Sorry for derailing.
posted by HopperFan at 7:47 PM on October 27, 2011


I appreciate that Errant, just not sure Cheradine's engaging anywhere near the level of common misconceptions, or intended to.
posted by catchingsignals at 7:48 PM on October 27, 2011


I had never read HAAH before and am so glad I checked out this post. The blog/comic was very funny and it really hit home. I second the idea that the ending made me wonder if she/the character wasn't becoming manic (that's a lot of Skittles)--Thanks, sweetkid.
posted by marimeko at 7:49 PM on October 27, 2011 [1 favorite]


Hopperfan makes it #3, and as such, I have to stop.

@jessamyn I apologise, if I could find the meta part of metafilter, I'd be there.



The point is - the absurd can make you giggle even when life is shit. I hope the artist in question can still read through 'the importance of being Ernest' posts and get a giggle.


Good luck n have faith in human beans person who does MS paint ;)
posted by Cheradine Zakalwe at 7:51 PM on October 27, 2011


Yeah, Joey Michaels, that's pretty much "use those benefits" time. Do you know offhand if your provider limits mental health treatment? If not, there's no real reason not to go find a therapist. You're ideating suicide multiple times a day, therapy is unlikely to be worse.
posted by Errant at 7:52 PM on October 27, 2011 [12 favorites]


Apologies, Jessamyn (and everyone), for engaging.

Almost 4 years ago now I ended up in a pretty bad depression. By the time I realized what was happening, it was like I was separated from everything I loved doing by being smothered under a stack of thick, itchy woolen blankets. I didn't see it until I was halfway down the hole.

I never, EVER, want to feel that way again. It was utterly hopeless, and I am so glad to have made it out mostly intact.

Reading this was like looking back to then.
posted by bibliogrrl at 7:52 PM on October 27, 2011 [1 favorite]


"Hopperfan makes it #3, and as such, I have to stop."

Hooray! Not only did I pass the Foreign Service Exam today, my prowess has extended to other areas! [trumpet fanfare]
posted by HopperFan at 7:53 PM on October 27, 2011 [11 favorites]


Do you know offhand if your provider limits mental health treatment?

I get five sessions for free, though I used one of those up after witnessing a death a year or two back. They don't give me time off to go talk to a therapist, and the therapist that we can talk to for free is only available during work hours. Catch 22.
posted by Joey Michaels at 7:54 PM on October 27, 2011


Writing about it helps - reading about other people going through the same thing helps, too.

Right? That's why something like this comic matters, to me anyways. I'd love to see a high profile "It Gets Better" type thing for mental illness. After a few years I lost the energy to respond to the "first world problems," everyone gets blue sometimes, you've got all your limbs what are you complaining about type comments. A short piece like this gets right to the heart of what depression feels like (for me anyways,) and that is useful.
posted by Lorin at 7:55 PM on October 27, 2011 [9 favorites]


I'm going to advance a serious theory about Cheradine's posts here that gives him/her the benefit of the doubt. We can take this to metatalk if need be (I don't really want to and probably wouldn't post over there), but maybe (?) there's something non-trollish in what he/she is trying to say.

Cheradine's comments point to the fact that two of us seem to understand what the heck his/her point is: "+1 to Uniformitarianism Now! for getting it." and "Two get it. The rest of you are still trying to make it matter."

Let's look at Uniformitarianism Now's comment: "Excellent impression of the internal critical voice of depression, Cheradine. Dead on."

To put it in the direct terms Cheradine won't use, Cheradine is trying to mimic that awful internal monologue of despair, doom, and uselessness that comes with depression. An interesting literary experiment perhaps, but probably not the most elegant way to participate in a discussion about a topic that is frequently the subject of such serious ignorance and dismissal.
posted by zachlipton at 7:57 PM on October 27, 2011 [6 favorites]


Oh, gosh, in regards to my last comment. Yes, its a Catch 22. Yes, I'm going to take time off and go see the therapist. Bad Grammar's comment sort of opened my eyes to something I already sort of knew was going on, but didn't really believe until now.
posted by Joey Michaels at 7:59 PM on October 27, 2011 [13 favorites]


Awesome, Joey Michaels. Good luck to you.
posted by sweetkid at 8:01 PM on October 27, 2011 [4 favorites]


Joey, are you sure that's five free sessions lifetime and not five per year?

There are therapists who will a) work weekends, and b) work with you to find a billing solution or a sliding scale payment. Some people bill as something other than mental health to get around those restrictions.
posted by Errant at 8:02 PM on October 27, 2011 [3 favorites]


@ zach (nice game btw!) That was the point, and the style.

Having been seriously depressed, the things that got me through it were the (sometimes unintentional) total hilarity / [p/b]athos of life, and how the well meaning psycho-analytical style of thought was presented. As I stated - you have to giggle sometimes. And sometimes total absurdity helps [Camus // Myth of Sisyphus]


Hugs win. They won't solve it, but they're all good (if you're into them).
posted by Cheradine Zakalwe at 8:02 PM on October 27, 2011


All derailing aside (sorry, Jessamyn, I'm a little over-excited from my test results success today) - I spent a couple of hours just listening to a co-worker today who's been struggling with depression for quite a long time. I know it's hard for us who aren't in that state to understand, but we're willing to try. In my case, the flood of info was prompted by an attack of generosity on my part - I brought back iced pumpkin cookies from the local independent bakery for my co-workers.
posted by HopperFan at 8:02 PM on October 27, 2011


Cheradine , why dance around that point, then?
posted by the man of twists and turns at 8:04 PM on October 27, 2011


To put it in the direct terms Cheradine won't use, Cheradine is trying to mimic that awful internal monologue of despair, doom, and uselessness that comes with depression.

Well, yes, that's what he/she was doing.

But they were doing so in a way that was borderline hurtful and dismissive to people who connect to the comic, or have/are currently dealing with depression themselves. Whatever 'lesson' he/she was trying to depart wasn't needed and actually derailed the conversation as it was moving forward, with people sharing their own experiences with depression. It seemed like a "look how clever I am!" game. I don't think anyone was amused.

I would like for him/her to come back and discuss the topic in good faith, without lashing out or dismissing people's experiences with depression, or being snide about the comic purposely to rile people up. I know we are not supposed to use the term here, but isn't that trolling of a sort?
posted by Windigo at 8:04 PM on October 27, 2011 [10 favorites]


Well, now that we've seen troll-as-depression we can look at depression as chronic internal troll syndrome. *flags self as derail*
posted by bleep at 8:06 PM on October 27, 2011 [14 favorites]


Having been seriously depressed, the things that got me through it were fucking prescription drugs. The things that don't get me through it, and don't make life any better even when I'm not completely fucked up, are asshole twits with an inflated opinion of themselves who dance around their wannabe point like a stupid little five year old trying not to technically tell on her brother for getting more cookies than her. Grow up and/or start a blog. Your point and style sucked.
posted by jacalata at 8:07 PM on October 27, 2011 [28 favorites]


errant: Joey, are you sure that's five free sessions lifetime and not five per year?

Spoke to my HR person between posting my "Holy shit" comment and my "Catch 22" comment and, yeah, its five per lifetime. I'm making it sound like my employers are monsters, but they're really not.

Well, maybe a little, but not entirely.
posted by Joey Michaels at 8:08 PM on October 27, 2011


I've heard (and repeated) the idea of persons with depression being as self-centred as a gyroscope.

And yes, there's that - when in the depths of my depression, all I can think about is me. But it's all about how awful a thing me is, and how this "me" thing is ruining things for everyone. From now on, these shall be referred to as "Fork Grabber" incidents.
posted by subbes at 8:09 PM on October 27, 2011 [5 favorites]


I don't know, Joey, that's pretty monstrous. Or maybe just monstrously insulting.
I'm seeing a therapist now who works with a sliding-scale clinic and does night appointments. There may be more out there?
posted by bleep at 8:10 PM on October 27, 2011 [1 favorite]


Allie Brosh talks about her comics a lot on Reddit and has addressed some of the things we've been wondering here. Her username is Tubemonster. She mentions that the boyfriend and dogs are still around and happy, and she's been feeling better for about a month or so. Sorry if someone's linked to it already; I didn't see it when I went through the thread.

bilabial and Joey Michaels: Thanks for speaking up. Take care of yourselves, please.
posted by lilac girl at 8:12 PM on October 27, 2011 [10 favorites]


Joey Michaels - just wanted to say I hope you get the support you need. There's a lot of BS roadblocks out there, and they come at a time when you're least equipped to deal with them (if you're too depressed to get off the couch, you're sure as hell too depressed to fight with an insurance company), but there is help out there and you can seek it one step at a time.

For self-study in the meantime, a lot of people love to recommend the book Feeling Good.
posted by zachlipton at 8:14 PM on October 27, 2011 [1 favorite]


Joey - are you sure you're talking about medical insurance therapy and not the Employee Assistance Program? they are different things. EAPs definitely have a limit like that. i have never seen a health insurance program with a lifetime limit on visits to any provider, mental or medical.

when i worked in HR any actual medical insurance questions were directed to the insurance company. we were not to discuss anything about coverage, only about the premiums, since that was the part the company was involved in.

i'd double check with your actual insurance provider. the number should be on your card.

best to you - you're taking a good step.
posted by sio42 at 8:15 PM on October 27, 2011 [3 favorites]


Well, Joey, that is a giant pile of shit nonsense. I second looking up a sliding scale clinic. There are also therapists who don't work with insurers as much but conversely don't charge as much and have more flexible hours. I was seeing an interpersonal therapist like that for a while. If you're not going to get covered anyway, no reason to limit yourself to looking in-network.
posted by Errant at 8:15 PM on October 27, 2011 [1 favorite]


[Seriously, MetaTalk. ]
posted by restless_nomad at 8:17 PM on October 27, 2011 [1 favorite]


I'm unable to find more than one pair of socks in my room, and that pair doesn't even fucking match

Three weeks before my new anti-depressants kicked in, I was late to work because I had a 45 minute crying jag over not being able to find a pair of socks that didn't clash with my shirt. This non-matching sock thing was somehow entirely because I, as a person, did not deserve to live.


(CUE "HURRR DURRRR" COMMENTS.)

posted by subbes at 8:17 PM on October 27, 2011 [12 favorites]


On non-preview: yes, what sio42 said. Make sure you're looking at your actual medical insurance.
posted by Errant at 8:18 PM on October 27, 2011


Reading the reddit thread, this stands out and echos what lots of other people have been saying (from the artist herself):

I definitely got a lot of "why are you sad? You have a totally awesome life!" and "It's easy! Just choose to be happy!" I always knew the person saying it meant well, but it usually made me feel kind of bad, like I wasn't allowed to be sad because I didn't meet the qualifications.

It's hard to know exactly what to say because everyone is different, but probably just being able to talk about it would have helped. I would never be offended that someone didn't understand what I was going through and wanted to ask questions to understand better (even if the questions were stupid. It would make me feel good to know that they cared.)

The only time it's uncomfortable to talk about is when people spend more time giving advice than listening. There's no amount of advice as effective as simply listening and trying to understand.

posted by Windigo at 8:20 PM on October 27, 2011 [9 favorites]


Yes, its a Catch 22. Yes, I'm going to take time off and go see the therapist.

I wish you much luck, Joey Michaels. My company offered a similar option and when I pointed out to the therapist that I couldn't really take time off work, she made me an appointment for the day of the week that she stays late. And then, for an entire hour, I talked to someone and told her everything that I'd been feeling. I told her I'd imagined how much better it would be to drive really fast into a tree and hope I died. I cried. I gushed. I just bared everything. And all to a person who didn't once interrupt and try to solve anything. That first time, she just listened and listened and listened. And it was one of better parts of my down time. It was incredible. No one judged me or told me a had a great life and to buck up.

I hope that you can find something as comforting and helpful. Good luck!
posted by persephone's rant at 8:21 PM on October 27, 2011 [5 favorites]


The part of this that we might disagree on is that the worst part of ever sharing a disability / problem is someone jumping in and saying "Yeah, you know what.. I totally feel like that."

No. The worst part about sharing a disability / problem is someone jumping in and saying "It's all in your head. What a load of nonsense. You just need to try harder/quit whining/get over it because there's nothing wrong with you."

There's an enormous stigma and discrimination attached to depression and mental health around our society. Simply validating someone else's problems and acknowledging that you've been there before is a step toward doing something about that.

Or, in more sappy terms:
"This guy's walking down the street when he falls in a hole. The walls are so steep he can't get out.
"A doctor passes by and the guy shouts up, 'Hey you. Can you help me out?' The doctor writes a prescription, throws it down in the hole and moves on.
"Then a priest comes along and the guy shouts up, 'Father, I'm down in this hole can you help me out?' The priest writes out a prayer, throws it down in the hole and moves on
"Then a friend walks by, 'Hey, Joe, it's me can you help me out?' And the friend jumps in the hole. Our guy says, 'Are you stupid? Now we're both down here.' The friend says, 'Yeah, but I've been down here before and I know the way out.'"
posted by zachlipton at 8:21 PM on October 27, 2011 [39 favorites]


[Improperly fleshed-out MeTa]
posted by subbes at 8:22 PM on October 27, 2011 [1 favorite]


Well, in case this helps, I make a point of not matching my socks. It's a freeing sort of thought, though they have to be the same in material and size, because that would drive me up the wall.
posted by annsunny at 8:27 PM on October 27, 2011 [2 favorites]


I find the art really touching. I hadn't seen this person's work before, but the way she divided the figures into persecutor and the confusedly innocent victim actually kind of allowed me to identify with the ways I've been both of those to myself, and feel extra protective and supportive of the confused one, and extra skeptical of the persecuting one.
posted by Miko at 8:27 PM on October 27, 2011 [2 favorites]


[Cheradine, further conversation from you can go in the MeTa, this thread needs to not be all about you. ]
posted by restless_nomad at 8:30 PM on October 27, 2011 [1 favorite]


Ooooookay, pulling this back to Allie Brosh:

Miko, I highly recommend reading some of her other posts (the most popular ones are linked in the column on the right). I'm particularly fond of This is Why I'll Never Be an Adult. But for gut-busting humor, I'd hit up Dog and The Year Kenny Loggins Ruined Christmas.
posted by tzikeh at 8:48 PM on October 27, 2011 [3 favorites]


I adore Allie's work. It is wild and purposefully loose in a way that underlines the narratives she tells. She is an excellent artist, and anyone not lacking an aesthetic sense can read her pieces like the one about simple dog getting lost and see that in her work the form perfectly suits content.

I'm sorry to read that she's been having a tough time.
posted by winna at 8:50 PM on October 27, 2011 [3 favorites]


That was pretty much me, a year ago. I stayed in my house for months, stopped answering the phone, didn't shower, let the voicemail fill up so people couldn't leave new messages, slammed the door in my friends' faces when they came to check on me, till eventually they gave up. Fun times.

And with that, I'm going to go ahead and self-link to what I wrote in the wake of the Bill Zeller thread on the experience of trying to manage my depression. It's proven to be a useful analogy to use in real-life discussions with people about what I've had to deal with.
posted by Gator at 8:55 PM on October 27, 2011 [3 favorites]


Oh, wow, I had no idea the EAP and my insurance policy were different things, but I asked a fellow employee who confirmed that they are. This is new ground for me. Thank you to all of you who are helping me cover it.
posted by Joey Michaels at 9:00 PM on October 27, 2011 [21 favorites]


That walking depression thing is totally where I was for most of this year before my psychiatrist suggested partial hospitalization. Which really really helped (though I'm still not back at work just yet.) It turns out that passive suicidalness and not being able to get anything at all done is actually a really big deal and has more or less nothing to do with me being a bad person. Heh.

I totally felt this comic lots (and had the same "are you sure that's not hypomania" reaction to the last few panels.) I've been sharing it with the DBSA folks and with my friends/family already.
posted by Fee Phi Faux Phumb I Smell t'Socks o' a Puppetman! at 9:01 PM on October 27, 2011 [3 favorites]


GET UP AND GO TO WORK. DO MINDLESS WORK FOR EIGHT HOURS. WORRY ENDLESSLY THAT YOU WILL BE SHITCANNED BECAUSE YOU ARE A FAILURE AND A FRAUD. YOU WILL BE REPLACED BY SOMEONE WHO ACTUALLY LOVES THEIR JOB. COME HOME AND WEB SURF AIMLESSLY TRYING TO FORGET HOW HORRIBLE DAY WAS

I guess I should thank you, bad grammar. Of course, the realization that what I consider my 'normal' is something you sought help for has the curious quality of making me feel worse, not better.

I've been trying to think of something to say for the last ten minutes, but I just feel like someone put one of the lead blankets they give you for dental xrays over my shoulders. So damn heavy. Don't want to move. Fuck. But, yeah, thanks. Maybe what you wrote will finally get me off my ass and in search of some way to deal with this.
posted by Ghidorah at 9:07 PM on October 27, 2011 [8 favorites]


I'm really, really not loving this. Really and seriously. I was on the fence and now I'm firmly anti.

I have experienced several Major Depressive Episodes. I suffer from recurrent Major Depressive Disorder. That exoskeleton? Will NEVER grow. I will never be able to get over depression on my own. In a world without anti-depressants, the episode wouldn't end when the video store ran out of Jumanji. It would end when my life ended.

My problem isn't with this post itself, which is incredibly well done and really powerful. It's with every human I know sharing it with as "ZOMG YES DEPRESSION FEELS EXACTLY LIKE THIS!"

Yeah, except, for some of us - it doesn't have a happy ending without intervention a hell of a lot stronger than a bag of Skittles.
posted by sonika at 9:16 PM on October 27, 2011 [4 favorites]


You and me both, Ghidorah.
posted by Joey Michaels at 9:17 PM on October 27, 2011


Ghidorah - This doesn't mean you gots tha' depression. If the only thing that's making you miserable is your job - and the rest of your life is spent trying to recover from your job - then that means you hate your job. IMHO anyway.
posted by Kloryne at 9:17 PM on October 27, 2011


Ghidorah - I think you might benefit from reading this brief but to-the-point essay.
posted by tzikeh at 9:17 PM on October 27, 2011 [1 favorite]


I could only share the blog post with the caveat that "It's exactly like this, except while I'm coasting home on my bike with a backpack full of skittles and movies, a bus hits me and breaks my leg and then the video store sends debt collectors after me to recoup the cost of motherfucking Jumanji and it turns out that the exoskeleton was just dissociation and I lose my job and spend months unemployed and limping and oh, are those snickerdoodles? Could I have one? Oooh. Mmmm. They're delicious, thanks."
posted by subbes at 9:19 PM on October 27, 2011 [1 favorite]


I really don't think that the end of that story is a happy ending.

I know whenever I get that exoskeleton feeling I usually end up doing something absurdly self destructive that has years-long ramifications.
posted by winna at 9:19 PM on October 27, 2011 [5 favorites]


sonika - is "it feels exactly like this" mutually exclusive to the fact that not everyone gets The Skittle Solution? I have Major Depressive Disorder, and I've never developed that exoskeleton either. Without medication, I'd be lost too. But I still feel like Allie's post is a great way to explain depression to people who don't understand it, and to offer some comfort to those of us who, from time to time, need reminding that it's prevalent, and we don't fail at being human for experiencing it.
posted by tzikeh at 9:20 PM on October 27, 2011 [6 favorites]


Errant, this was great. That person is a terrific lecturer and very sympathetic.
posted by Miko at 9:21 PM on October 27, 2011 [3 favorites]


All of my depressive episodes (I could just say most of my life because it's quicker than counting the "good years" out) I was never able to pinpoint just one thing that was the cause of the problem. I'm not saying that doesn't mean your depressed. I mean, hell - who really knows what this shit is? Really.. but I'm HOPING for you that it means you just need to find a new, bitchin' job. (And in this bitchin' economy - yeah, I know.) BTW - Ghidorah is my favorite monster.
posted by Kloryne at 9:21 PM on October 27, 2011


I find it oddly comforting and also a little weird that I’m not the only one who has on more than one occasion clicked onto mefi when I was depressed to cast about desperately for something to feel anything about. Even if I felt outrage or disgust or exasperation or typical mefi GRAR it was far, far preferable to actually feel something, anything -- rather than the endless enveloping fog of grinding apathy and flatlining nothing mindlessness.

When depression “hits” me, it doesn’t hit. It shows up insidiously and unannounced. It grows gradually, like a cancer, until it’s enveloped my entire existence without my having realized it. I almost never realize that I’ve been depressed until the depression has ended and gone off into the background for however long it decides to stay back there this time. It’s like having been drunk and not realizing you’ve been drunk until someone you love points out to you that yes, you fucking fuckhead, you were drunk out of your everloving mind last night.

Dogs give you unconditional love, make you feel needed, have to be walked and fed, and generally help with a lot of symptoms of depression.

Dogs have held me back from serious self-harm just by being their loving, beautiful, unconditional selves. They are a gift from the universe. I'm not saying something as trite as OMG PUPPIES CURE DEPRESSION HAPPY! They don't. Nothing really does. But they help. Or, they've helped me, anyway.
posted by blucevalo at 9:23 PM on October 27, 2011 [6 favorites]


(I just realized that I unintentionally made a simile equating depression and alcoholism and I deeply apologize for that. I didn't think that one through.)
posted by blucevalo at 9:26 PM on October 27, 2011


I understand what you're saying, sonika, but like others I don't really think that the video store incident was the "end" of her depression. I think it was just the start of another phase. I was reading her comments on Reddit and it seems like she's been going through this stuff for a long time, in recurrent phases as well, and I don't think she meant the end of the post to be "And then I was fine and got the Skittles and all so." The Allie character still had that screamy manic face in the last frame that all her comics have when things aren't so good.

A lot of what the comic is about resonates with me, but everyone experiences depression differently and I don't think Allie meant it as an explanation of how depression is for all people at all times. That would be really frustrating.
posted by sweetkid at 9:27 PM on October 27, 2011 [3 favorites]


If it helps, sonika - I had a 'wow it's totally like this' reaction, but that's mostly because I pretty much brushed off the bit at the end. In my case it also ends[d] with pharmaceuticals. I wouldn't be surprised if a lot of people could also say 'well it wasn't EXACTLY like that, it was just ALOT like that'.
posted by jacalata at 9:27 PM on October 27, 2011 [2 favorites]


I just got out of the hospital after a suicide attempt. I'm thinking about getting a dog just for those reasons. Though I worry that I won't be able to bond and the animal will be stuck with this depressed person. I guess that's the evil thoughts though.

Anyway, I'm sending this around to a few people. It doesn't exactly describe my depression. I've never really come through the other side. Just been mired in for 20+ years. And I certainly never developed an exoskeleton. Those first few panels though sum it well enough.
posted by kanata at 9:29 PM on October 27, 2011 [1 favorite]


I'd love to think that this is just work, but it's most definitely not, and extends pretty much into nigh-everything (I dearly love cooking for others, and try to have people over for a bbq once a month or so, and recently, there's been at least an hour or so in the general prep/lead-up time, either the day before, or morning of, where I just sit and stare at things and wonder why the fuck I'm doing this again).

Luckily, I have an amazing cat.
posted by Ghidorah at 9:29 PM on October 27, 2011 [2 favorites]


tzikeh: I guess what bothers me is that while the post itself is great, the constant re-sharing seems to drive home the message that what depression feels like is this linear path that includes getting over it.

For me, it doesn't. For me it's an ouroborous of weeping, screaming, and lying in the fetal position. Lather, rinse, repeat. It will never end in a moment of epiphany about late fees or anything else. And so, telling people who have never experienced it that it feels like something that gets better on its own...

Maybe I'm just mad that it never will for me.
posted by sonika at 9:31 PM on October 27, 2011 [4 favorites]


Like several others here the ending of that cartoon bothers me. I've never been through truly major depression, a fact for which I'm profoundly grateful, but on the other hand what I have been diagnosed with, chronic dysthymia, has been with me pretty much all of my life that I can remember. And I try not to project my own experience too much on other people's experience of major depression because these are separate things and major depression is just plain worse, full stop. But... I feel like what I was witnessing there was a person who does not yet really understand her depression, however effectively she might present it in action, and who thinks she has "gotten through" it when she's really experiencing a particular spoke in the cycle that is inevitably going to revolve into the dark darkness again.

In particular I'm struck by the way she identifies the judgmental, angry, self-loathing inner voice as a reaction to her depression, an attempt (if one that is recognized as misguided and counterproductive) to fix herself. But my experience is that this particular inner voice is very much a part and parcel of the depressive mindset. Indeed I think in many ways it is the more important and difficult part than the inner numbness and turning within, which in the end is mainly a natural reaction to persistent mental pain.

Which seems to me all very much a part of the problem I have with the ending. Turning that numb core inside out into a sort of defensive shell that gives you the mobility to bull through the seeming meaningless and worthlessness of everything is a reaction I'm far too familiar with and man, it is not the answer to depression. Because the beast isn't out there, it's always right inside, with you, and it will find a way to stick the knife in despite your momentary feelings of having risen to an invincible height above ordinary feelings. And that shell in the meantime may get you by but boy it cuts you off from a lot of life.

I carried my staggering shell through so many years, convinced that it was as good as it gets and that the main task of life was simply dealing with the fact that this was as good as it got, until I came within a hairsbreadth of losing the only things I had left that really mattered to me, and finally accepted that maybe, just maybe this feeling so much of the time that life is a worthless and meaningless mockery and that I am the most worthless mocker floating in its filthy pot is not, actually, the basic condition of existence but might be, possibly, a problem with the way things work inside my head, and got some help, and managed to hold on. The pills never did much for me, a lot of slow progress in therapy did quite a bit more, it's still something of a struggle most days.

But I feel like I progressively deal with it better and the thing is that what has worked, for me, is pretty much the opposite of what she describes. It is about going all the way inside of the terrible feelings the mere contemplation of which make you feel like your head has floated off like a balloon on a mile long string, trying to get away from this awful thing that is being you, a remote body of inert lead whose robot hands there at the long, long ends of your arms pass insensibly through vague motions you can't relate to a bit... It is about getting softer and softer inside, until you can pull a last layer of callous off your heart and actually feel sorry for yourself, not pity but real compassion, for that inner child that is such a cliché and joke now, that child you were and lost, for all the things you lost in that maze you never made or asked for or chose. It's a sad, tough, long and winding path and it probably wouldn't make for very winsome cartoons. But I hate to think about, for example, trying to be a father without having done all the work I did on that path so many years ago. The kind of depression that leaves you helpless on a pile of laundry for weeks doesn't come from nowhere and it doesn't just go away. I hope she is getting real help.
posted by nanojath at 9:32 PM on October 27, 2011 [9 favorites]


I don't think Allie meant it as an explanation of how depression is for all people at all times. That would be really frustrating.

Right, I don't think Allie meant it that way. But every human I know on various social media is sharing it with exactly that sentiment - which has gotten seriously old and this post hasn't even been live for a full 24hrs.
posted by sonika at 9:33 PM on October 27, 2011


I'm sorry to hear that sonika, that's not cool at all. I haven't seen that.
posted by sweetkid at 9:34 PM on October 27, 2011


Oh, I'd also like to take this opportunity to again express my sheer impotent rage that the idea of MeFites reaching out a listening ear to other MeFites went down in flames thanks to colossal behind-the-scenes overthinking, poor framing when presented, and mass paranoia about "Internet Medical Malpractice." GAAAAAAAAAAAH, I am still SO ANGRY about that.
posted by Gator at 9:34 PM on October 27, 2011 [4 favorites]


ALOT like that!

Not to make you feel self-conscious about the typo, just that I, like Allie, have now become gleeful to see this spelling and imagine the Alot...
posted by EmilyClimbs at 9:39 PM on October 27, 2011 [3 favorites]


sonika - I hear you (tragically bullshit phrase, but it conveys what I mean).

Maybe I'm just mad that it will never end for me.

Yeah; nor me. I try always to point out, in discussions about depression, that nobody's experience of depression is exactly the same. But there are many common factors, and I definitely recognized much of her story as relatable to much of mine. I'm envious of her Skittle Solution, to a point (like many others here, I don't think it means "yay it's over now"); I understand what you're saying, and I feel it too. It's a shitty, shitty disease, for so many more reasons than just its symptoms and effects.

This may sound Pollyanna-ish, especially from one MDD sufferer to another, but I try to hold out hope that modern chemistry continues to make progress into ways to significantly ameliorate the condition, even as they become increasingly aware that they understand almost none of how it works. Even in my lifetime experience of depression (Prozac came out in 1987, I was put on it in 1995, I changed up to different meds in 2004, and have been playing the mix-and-match balancing game ever since), shit has gotten so much better. I don't know if meds help you, and I *do* know how hard it is to be patient with titration while in a death spiral of darkness, but I have experienced real improvement in medication efficacy in the past sixteen years.

I'm engaged in a few MeMail conversations right now with several participants in this thread, each for its own reason. If you--or anyone here--wants or needs to hit me up in MeMail, whether to commiserate, to ask questions about my experience with depression therapies and meds over the years, or anything else, my mailbox is open.
posted by tzikeh at 9:41 PM on October 27, 2011 [1 favorite]


Gator - we can make a grass-roots style version of that. I'm up for it.
posted by tzikeh at 9:43 PM on October 27, 2011


Aaaaaand one more thing:

I think we all could do with Alot of cake right now.
posted by tzikeh at 9:44 PM on October 27, 2011 [14 favorites]


Empress: totally deliberate :)
posted by jacalata at 9:45 PM on October 27, 2011


"It's with every human I know sharing it with as "ZOMG YES DEPRESSION FEELS EXACTLY LIKE THIS!" "

I would suggest that the people sharing it with that ZOMG are the ones for whom depression DOES feel like that, so it's very striking and meaningful for them to see their feelings expressed so vividly. Not that that kind of constant sharing wouldn't get annoying.

I did not identify overmuch with her account -- it's quite different for me -- but I appreciate the vivid way she was able to express her reality, one that many others apparently share. I popped over to read the reddit thread and she said something about how she thought her exoskeleton was because a lot of her depression is anxiety-driven and she went so far into having no emotions that anxiety went by the wayside too, which I thought was an interesting insight ... and would suggest that exoskeletons might not be on offer for folks with other underlying causes.

The part that made me laugh was the resentful bike ride. Possibly everyone who has either been a) a two year old or b) a teenager has seen that in action. I liked that alot.
posted by Eyebrows McGee at 9:52 PM on October 27, 2011 [4 favorites]


Yeah, meds help me. They're the only reason I'm on this side of sane right now.

And to anyone who's thinking of trying them? I'm not only on this side of sane, my life is fucking awesome. I mean that. I couldn't be happier with my life. It's amazing. I'm doing what I want to do. I know great people. I live where I want to live.

And to anyone who doesn't understand what depression feels like - all of that, that I just said? If I stopped taking my meds - despite having the exact life I want to live, I would be so miserable that I wouldn't be able to eat or get out of bed. At all. I would be abusive towards my partner and I can't even imagine what life would be like for my son. I would want to die and perhaps even dream up ways to go about doing so.

I tried to go off of meds entirely before getting pregnant, but found that within a week - I was starting fights about nothing, breaking down at work, and when I tried to do yoga to make myself "feel better," I ended up just bawling while lying in child's pose being told by the soothing voice to just feel what I was feeling. What I was feeling was a black hole.

Thankfully, I've seen that hole before. I know the way out. I'm perhaps lucky that my own mother suffered from depression in her 20s so that when I started manifesting my first Episode Capital E at the precocious age of 18 (turns out most of high school was one long episode, and not just "teenagers are assholes," but having to move home from what should have been a year abroad was really the kicker to getting actual HELP) that I needed to get to a doctor post haste. She got me on meds the first time. And the time after that.

And after that, the next time I knew that meds would help. I just had to get them. Which is easier said than done. I had to be physically dragged out of my apartment, but I got them. And then they got too expensive... so I tried to go off and ended up "running away from home" in a blizzard. It was decided that perhaps the cost was a decent investment.

Anyhow, if I had a point, I suppose it's just trying to get across that if your depression manifests itself the way mine does - there's no turning point. There's no point where it's going to get better on its own. But thank Gourd, if you have the type of depression that I do, there are some seriously amazing drugs out there.
posted by sonika at 9:58 PM on October 27, 2011 [6 favorites]


This simple comic does an amazing job demonstrating one particular aspect of depression that took me a long time to understand: the swing from feeling sadness and despair over "nothing" to feeling nothing over "anything". On the one hand, when I am so sad that I can't stop feeling down and emotional around every little bad thing about myself, of course then I wish I could just STOP.

But I feel my depression is at its worst when all emotions are, well, depressed, and I can't feel much of anything except perhaps a bitterness. Then I'd give anything to be able to cry again, to feel SOMETHING. It feels like there is a short-circuit whenever you try to have an anti-depressive thought.

The thing is, I had often heard depression described as "feeling sad/down for no reason or for long periods of time" and while there is certainly that aspect of negative emotionality, the other side, the feeling of nothing, has not been so well addressed. And that part of depression is actually what I would feel most guilty about because I thought I wasn't depressed if I wasn't feeling sad, so why am I still doing nothing? I'm not angry so why can't I move? I guess it's true that all I want out of life is to play games and sleep because I'm not even depressed and I'm still doing nothing...and so on and so forth. I finally recognized this as part of depression when the 2004 tsunami hit and I didn't care at all. I recognized that as not really being like me. I didn't even make it a reason to feel bad about myself like I usually do, the tragedy just couldn't register at all and this clued me into the fact that something was really broken and I was still depressed.
posted by Danila at 9:59 PM on October 27, 2011


I've been fighting depression all my life, spent much of last year in one of the worst depressions of my adult life and considered off-and-on for three months even getting ECT. Right now, I'm pretty deep into about a six-week depressive phase, brought on by some really difficult recent life events (like, I'm living in a state of constant anxiety that I'm going to be homeless sometime in the next couple of months), and I'm sleeping 12-20 hours a day, not eating one day in three, not answering most phone calls and emails, barely leaving the house ever, and mostly just wanting everything to just go away. On the other hand, unlike parts of last year, I'm not feeling such a deep and intense despair such that I can't even think coherent thoughts and sob in bed for hours just wanting to die—yeah, not feeling that bad. Which, in a really screwed up way, makes me feel not that bad in contrast. My few comments to MeFi represent about 80% of my social interactions in the last six weeks.

But now that I've mentioned that—why, I'm not sure—I really have absolutely no desire whatsoever to talk about this depression with anyone, for any reason. I wish that knowing other people were going through this crap made me feel better, but I already knew that. I do wish I could help others, though, it somehow makes me feel worse to think of other people this miserable than it does to think of myself this miserable. I guess because I figure it's just a part of my life. But I hate that anyone else ever has to deal with this stuff. But I have no magic answers except that it is true that people care. Of course, oftentimes for me that just makes me feel bad because I'm really tired of how the people who care about me worry about me and that's most of the reason I don't communicate with anyone anymore when I'm depressed—it doesn't seem fair to make them feel bad. My mom, though, knows me too well and pretty much can figure out when I'm depressed so not talking to her just makes her worry more, though I still can't quite bring myself to talk with her. Her pain on my behalf and love for me kind of hurts, in a way.

I'll muddle through. I always do. Except possibly when it's really, really bad, like last year.
posted by Ivan Fyodorovich at 10:11 PM on October 27, 2011 [1 favorite]


But trying to use willpower to overcome the apathetic sort of sadness that accompanies depression is like a person with no arms trying to punch themselves until their hands grow back. A fundamental component of the plan is missing and it isn't going to work.
describes it well. But I keep trying to look for that "fundamental component of the plan that is missing".

My reservation about using this piece to explain to people who don't get it is that they might look at Allie Brosh's attitude change and say well, yeah, why don't you do that? Why don't you stop giving a fuck about what other people think and realise you can do anything you want etc. etc.? Thing is, as with The Whelk's IMPORTANT goal of shoving 20 Mcnuggets into his mouth, the attitude change is the recovery, rather than the attitude change leading to the recovery. It's like a car or something that won't start, and with no other available solutions you just keep trying, again and again... and one time out of a hundred or a thousand or more it just sparks into life, and you don't know why. Something in the brain just clicked for these moments of recovery, and you can't reproduce them for other people. The Whelk can't just tell another person who has depression to give themselves an important goal of shoving 20 Mcnuggets into their mouth, and hope it would solve their depression.

With my own brain, it's been clicking on and off and on and off, daily or every couple of days. I have been working on trying to find "the fundamental component of the plan that is missing" as Allie Brosh puts it, and am one of the many, many people these days looking in psychology and game mechanics for ways to motivate -- trying to fix myself, and hopefully help others. But I haven't even fixed myself yet.

I keep testing different approaches on myself. Occasionally one would click, and I would think, Yes! I am in flow. I am on a high. I've got this! (I don't have mania, so that's more the healthy modest kind of high, which I think and hope is also what Allie Brosh is describing in the ending to the piece.) Now all I have to do, is remember this next time I sink! And then the next time I sink -- it does not even occur to me, or I talk myself out of it somehow, until I come out. And then it's the same place of "What the fuck happened?", I thought I had this, I thought I wasn't going to go through this again.

What I'm trying to say is, there is a limitation to free will, in that unless you believe in a supernatural human soul, our free will is brain chemistry, which we don't currently have much understanding of. And assuming people can pull themselves out of it is like the literal image of asking someone to pull themselves up by their own bootstraps -- expecting brain chemistry to change brain chemistry when brain chemistry knows little about how brain chemistry works.

So all we have is trial and error, whether therapy or change in lifestyle or medication or technology, we look for that click, and if it comes we hope that it is one that lasts, and is reproducible, and can work for other people too.

I have to write a letter this month to my parents, who are of the people who don't get it and have never seem particularly interested to. I've been putting off that letter for a long time, but I always intended to write the url for the Robert Sapolsky lecture (when they see the name Stanford, they'll respect that surely!?) in there (writing a url in a letter because it feels more personal!) And they can type it in, and then... but, if they haven't got it in about 15 years, would they now? I remember I had reservations too about the Sapolsky lecture when I watched it a while ago. He was describing a fairly specific kind of depression it seemed, that wasn't quite my experience (there's a wide spectrum of course, but he didn't really mention this). And I was uneasy about him talking about it being the worst kind of suffering there was. (I can see why he says that, but still...) I also remember him presenting his explanations for why people have depression in a way that felt to me very definitive, when it was my (of course much less informed) impression that there is new research and new theories coming out all the time, there is much we are unsure about, and that understanding is still being developed. But it was still by far the best thing I have ever found that understood, and attempted to defend us with authority, authority that coming from just a mental health charity or from one of us may not be and are often not taken seriously. It's the best we've got, as far as I have seen.

Anyway, thanks very much for the post sweetkid, it's wonderful of course (I love her art!), and sometimes I don't understand why it feels like there is so much stigma in the offline world (stigma that's much harder to deal with than the depression itself), when so many people online supposedly know what it's like, and more and more people that are well-liked and well-respected (like Allie Brosh), who clearly are awesome and not lazy and have added much to other people's lives, are opening up about it. It should be known by now. But then, I guess we can say that about a lot of things.
posted by catchingsignals at 10:18 PM on October 27, 2011 [4 favorites]


GET UP AND GO TO WORK... COME HOME AND WEB SURF AIMLESSLY... GET UP AND GO TO WORK... COME HOME AND WEB SURF AIMLESSLY... GET UP AND GO TO WORK... COME HOME AND WEB SURF AIMLESSLY...

For four years or so I've been telling myself this is a first-world problem on my part and that I should just "man up" and deal.

Bullshit.

I finally found myself a councillor and it has made a difference. Joey Michaels, Ghidorah, anyone else who reads that and thinks, "fuck, that's me," find a councillor, a medical health professional, anything. Life doesn't have to suck, and it's taken me years to realize that.

Life doesn't have to suck.
posted by lekvar at 10:19 PM on October 27, 2011 [14 favorites]


The worst of walking depression is that you're still interested in stuff, but only in a sick way, stuff that your depression gloms onto and that confirms it. Such as anything about THE ECONOMY. or the CLIMATE CRISIS. Preferably both. Nightfall.

Damn, bad grammar. That struck way too close for comfort..
posted by c13 at 10:25 PM on October 27, 2011


I hate pretty much everything, and I freakin' love Allie Brosh.
posted by jess at 10:27 PM on October 27, 2011


Ghidorah: I've been trying to think of something to say for the last ten minutes, but I just feel like someone put one of the lead blankets they give you for dental xrays over my shoulders. So damn heavy. Don't want to move. Fuck. But, yeah, thanks. Maybe what you wrote will finally get me off my ass and in search of some way to deal with this.

May I introduce you to my old nemesis, leaden paralysis?
posted by katemonster at 10:33 PM on October 27, 2011 [3 favorites]


"people with atypical depression can be briefly cheered up by positive events, but they overreact to negative events"

...

Wow, that's exactly me. Only I think I've run out of positive things that can outweigh everything negative.

Though Allie Brosh's cartoon expressions as always come very close.
posted by Kaleidolia at 10:42 PM on October 27, 2011


Wow, I have just read a few entries, and like it very much. It's like Exploding Dog with context!
posted by not_on_display at 10:43 PM on October 27, 2011


Of course, oftentimes for me that just makes me feel bad because I'm really tired of how the people who care about me worry about me and that's most of the reason I don't communicate with anyone anymore when I'm depressed—it doesn't seem fair to make them feel bad. My mom, though, knows me too well and pretty much can figure out when I'm depressed so not talking to her just makes her worry more, though I still can't quite bring myself to talk with her. Her pain on my behalf and love for me kind of hurts, in a way.

Ivan Fyodorovich, I understand what you mean. But I also hope that you keep in mind how depression reaches for reasons to isolate. Even when people can't do anything specific to help you feel better, even if they may feel helpless or feel pain on your behalf (but that's what having a relationship and caring about other people means...), they may help just by being there, just by being themselves and keeping you connected. (And people feel good that they can be there for you for that.) And if your mom knows you so well, she worries anyway, and you can't save her from it. In some way, if you have a caring parent, it may be a kinder thing to them to let them be a parent, which is what they want to be, for you, instead of going on the assumption that you may be a burden. Most of all, I hope you remember not to let depression isolate you -- speaking from experience, it makes it so very, very much harder. We really can't do it all by ourselves.
posted by catchingsignals at 10:49 PM on October 27, 2011 [4 favorites]


Oh gosh, there are a lot of us. I want to give you all a big hug. I know that doesn't help much, but I don't know what else to do - for you or for me.

The exoskeleton bit at the end doesn't do much for me, but the rest...oh. my. god. And yeah, I definitely have enough guilt and self-hatred about this being a first-world problem without other people pointing that out.
posted by naoko at 10:51 PM on October 27, 2011 [3 favorites]


Because I sometimes use dumb internet quizzes like a magic 8 ball and use them to try and figure out what exactly I am thinking, when I got out of college I stumbled across the Mayo Clinic's Depression Self-Assessment quiz.

It was a really useful tool for me because it forced me to recalibrate my sense of what was normal. I usually try and outsmart quizzes, but I didn't try and outsmart that one the first time I took it, because I was pretty sure that I was fine. And instead of telling me I was fine (like everyone else in my life had been telling me), it told me that I was very likely moderately depressed (wait, you mean it's possible to happier than this?).

That started me on the path to getting help. So I'm sharing it here too in case anyone else needs help in recalibrating.
posted by colfax at 10:51 PM on October 27, 2011 [3 favorites]


I had :((( thoughts about this cartoon-story all evening! My PTSD/mild depression combo tends to work itself out in a similar way, except the invincibility phase is followed by either

1) self-destructive and crappy decision-making that leaves consequences that need fixing once I am not invincible anymore, or

2) presuming that now I have a handle on everything and nothing will ever be a problem ever again (haha, nope). It's hard not to use this as proof of how stupid/wrong/whatever I am once the invincible feeling has subsided.

Love to everyone here who's struggling.
posted by bewilderbeast at 10:55 PM on October 27, 2011


naoko: And yeah, I definitely have enough guilt and self-hatred about this being a first-world problem without other people pointing that out.

I'm not calling you out, naoko--I'm just using the comment as a jumping-off point. Depression isn't a first-world problem; depression is a universal disease. It's just that, currently, there are only solutions available in the first world.

In another discussion about depression that I was just having, someone made a snide dismissal of therapy and medications and mental illness in general by saying something like, "Oh, poor poor us. What did we ever do without happy pills and shoulders to cry on?" And someone else said "Well, we died, mostly. Usually by our own hands." This isn't a disease people have because they can afford to have it. And I honestly believe that it hasn't become more widespread, but that, thanks to more widely-available mental-health awareness and care (though not nearly enough on either count), more of us are *surviving* to be counted.
posted by tzikeh at 11:11 PM on October 27, 2011 [16 favorites]


tzikeh, yeah, I almost put "first-world problem" in quotes and then didn't for whatever reason. Word.
posted by naoko at 11:25 PM on October 27, 2011


I love and hate this post.
posted by arse_hat at 11:58 PM on October 27, 2011


Thanks for this post. Two psych wards, a lot of medication and therapy later and yet this shit still comes up to bite me. I'm sort of in the midst of it now what with all of the financial shit hitting the fan at the moment. Maybe I'm dealing with it like a normal person does but I can definitely tell because of how I'm eating and how I've lost interest in a lot of the things I normally love. That's usually how it manifests itself with me. On the bright side, I know I have the strength to wait it out and keep plowing forward in spite of myself (not saying that's THE ONLY way to do it; just how I deal with it). Reading your stories in addition to the original link really does help. Thanks again, Metafilter!
posted by KevinSkomsvold at 1:10 AM on October 28, 2011 [2 favorites]


I had stumbled on HaaH some time ago and had forgotten about it until this post. Thanks, sweetkid!
Being in the weeds right now myself, this post and reading everyone's story and experiences is really helping me feel a little less like I'm stranded out on an island all myself. I'm still on my little island mind you, but now a little bit of the fog has lifted and I see there's actually a bunch of little islands all around mine, with people who clearly know what it's like out here. I can't reach them, but I'm sure waving and hoping you all make it off okay.
posted by ApathyGirl at 1:30 AM on October 28, 2011 [3 favorites]


This thread has genuinely made me tear. It's a strange mix of sadness and relief that some many other people have experienced the same thing, but more importantly I am so damn glad that this comic has pushed some people to get help and therapy. Count me as one of them.
posted by litleozy at 1:39 AM on October 28, 2011


The thing about depression is . . .

if you're depressed, I mean deep down to your soul depressed, you're not going to be talking about it. Not on the internet. Not anywhere.

Also, at a certain point you kind of come to the realization that depression isn't so much a thing in and of itself so much as it's a reaction to a very fucked up world.

There just aint a whole lot to say once you reach that point.

That's my take on it, and I may be wrong about it. I do have a lot of years of experience on the subject.

Thing is, the state of being depressed sort of excludes the drawing of cartoons, the writing of prose. That's kind of what depression is: It's debilitating.

But I'm a depressive fucker and may be wrong about all of that.
posted by metagnathous at 2:33 AM on October 28, 2011 [3 favorites]


if you're depressed, I mean deep down to your soul depressed, you're not going to be talking about it. Not on the internet. Not anywhere.

You may, in fact, be wrong about that. Because if that's true, how would we ever know someone is depressed?

Also, at a certain point you kind of come to the realization that depression isn't so much a thing in and of itself so much as it's a reaction to a very fucked up world.

This may in fact be accurate. I've suspected as much sometimes. Those things that can be done to improve it for everyone don't seem (other than OWS) to be emphasized at the moment.

Thing is, the state of being depressed sort of excludes the drawing of cartoons, the writing of prose. That's kind of what depression is: It's debilitating.

There's different kinds of depression, and people react to it differently. Judging from some books, some people only draw cartoons when they're depressed. Ba-dum, tssshh.
posted by JHarris at 2:56 AM on October 28, 2011 [4 favorites]


I wasn't going to say any of what I'm about to say, but I don't want sonika to feel like she's the minority voice here, or at least the only one. So.

I have what is commonly known as "double depression", which is dysthymia comorbid with major depressive disorder. Basically, I feel like shit until I really feel like shit. My disorders presented themselves at or around puberty, so I've been a suicidal depressive consistently for about twenty years.

I did not really enjoy the comic. It was fine, and generally I like HaaH, but I got nothing out of it. Part of that is because her depression isn't like mine. Part of that is because I'm not going to get better, not even in a manic or hypomanic way, which of course is not better at all. Mostly, it's because my experience isn't one of an undertow occasionally catching me out but of a whirlpool pulling me inexorably to the bottom.

That's florid enough, and I don't want to make anything about me. But, sonika, you're not the only one wishing for an art that more reflects your experience, and you're not the only MeFite left a little vacant by this particular narrative. I appreciate the community that has sprung up around this piece of art. But it's not for me.
posted by Errant at 2:59 AM on October 28, 2011 [7 favorites]


I took the Depression Self-Assessment that colfax listed above and am stunned to discover that, according to that tool, I rate at "moderately severe depression." I really had no idea. If I remove all of the most recent (within the last 18 months) symptoms, I've rated at "moderate depression" nearly all my life and I had no idea. I thought everyone felt like this.
posted by Joey Michaels at 3:12 AM on October 28, 2011 [2 favorites]


I would simply like to point out that Cheradenine Zakalwe misspelled his own name.
posted by Justinian at 3:24 AM on October 28, 2011 [4 favorites]


Man, I missed this whole thread and the attending drama because of depression.

Not sure if that's good, bad, or indifferent.
posted by Eideteker at 3:28 AM on October 28, 2011


You know, I don't see it as a happy ending or a terrifying ending. I don't see it as any kind of an ending. She's not describing how depression ends forever, I don't think, or how her story of it ends forever. I think she's describing how she went from not being able to work and function to being able to work and function. She's describing the feeling of regaining the ability to do things, and whether that's manic or not, whether she's on meds or not, she's just describing what the feeling was. She also stresses in the Reddit thread that her depression is fueled by anxiety, and there are people whose anxiety is relieved by things other than medication.

Everybody's different -- however it happened, Allie went from not being able to write to being able to write, and whatever the future holds for her, I'm sure that alone is a tremendous relief. I don't feel like I need to believe it's the end of her experience of depression or universally applicable in order to find it both a very valuable articulation of her experience and a heartening story of this one creative person I admire so much finding a way to free herself from depressive paralysis for whatever period of time.
posted by Linda_Holmes at 4:16 AM on October 28, 2011 [11 favorites]


This spoke to me so much. For me, the final, exhilarating despair was the only thing that made it possible for me to seek treatment. I'd had all these ideas that somehow, eventually, I'd grow a backbone and become an Okay Person (TM) and not have to compromise my belief that only people with real problems got to talk to their doctor about it, and that mine was a moral failing that deserved no sympathy. Then I finally got to the absolute rock-bottom point where I was going for walks along the side of the motorway in the middle of the night, and I had to acknowledge that all my hopes of being an Okay Person (TM) were dead and I just had to keep myself alive by whatever despicable means were necessary. I wept and took a short-notice holiday from work, and had to ask a friend to get me a doctor's appointment and take me there because I was unable to do it on my own. I also posted an AskMe that was this close to breaking the guidelines, and which also revealed more about me than anything I'd ever written before. I still feel guilty about that.* And now, of course, I feel stupid that I didn't seek medical attention much sooner, but maybe it's good in a way that I had so many of my ideas about myself stripped away. At the same time, I'm really glad that I didn't do any of the other things I thought about doing, like throwing all my most treasured possessions into a river or going on a weird depressing road trip through Essex on foot, staying in TravelLodges and never telling anyone where I was. Despair is a powerful thing.

*(I'm sorry, mods! I'm glad it turned out OK in the end, but I must have caused some stress and I shouldn't have done that! At the time, I fully expected to either be banned or be so ashamed I'd never come back to Metafilter again.)
posted by Acheman at 4:45 AM on October 28, 2011 [3 favorites]


I love this comic. It totally sums it up. The end panel is just the end panel, it's not where things stop.
posted by h00py at 4:59 AM on October 28, 2011


I guess what bothers me is that while the post itself is great, the constant re-sharing seems to drive home the message that what depression feels like is this linear path that includes getting over it.

For me, it doesn't.


For a lot of people it doesn't, but I don't think an objective definition of what depression is was the "message" she was trying to convey. Rather, this was a story of her own struggle with her own particular brand of depression. It's not going to be the same for everyone. It wasn't the same for my dad, for my ex-wife, or for me. It doesn't strike me as particularly dangerous that her story is being recounted and shared. It will resonate with many people, to varying degrees, and to others, not at all. But the underlying message is that this is a condition unique to each person. In other words, I don't think there's really anything to be bothered by.
posted by Marisa Stole the Precious Thing at 5:23 AM on October 28, 2011 [6 favorites]


Also, at a certain point you kind of come to the realization that depression isn't so much a thing in and of itself so much as it's a reaction to a very fucked up world.

My personal view is that at least some forms of depression are symptoms of flaws in western culture, particularly alienation and social isolation and suppression of emotion.

For those who think you can't draw while depressed, I agree with the people who say some can only draw while depressed. I spent my 20s riding out several lengthy episodes of depression. I wrote letters and journalled obsessively during each wave. Writing let me stay put and exorcise/externalize some of the constant discomfort. When an episode started to lift, the first signal that caused me to notice it was often opening my journal and starting an entry "huh, I haven't written in three days." It took me years to realize that the obsessive journal writing was one of the effects of my depression, and that as soon as I made it out of a shadow period, I lost a lot of my desire to write. and would ignore my journal for months.
posted by Miko at 5:31 AM on October 28, 2011 [4 favorites]


I do not suffer from depression, but my partner does. Threads like this are an invaluable resource for us 'outsiders' to begin to understand what it is like to deal with depression. Though this is slightly off-topic, I just wanted to say thanks to everyone who has posted and shared their experiences and feelings. It is important to educate people on what depression actually is and what can mean to a person. Too many of my peers shrug off the very idea of depression as something that people should just get over and I want to get them to understand what it is actually like, without having suffered from it myself.
posted by slimepuppy at 5:37 AM on October 28, 2011 [3 favorites]


I feel ever more strongly every day that the sociotypical human psyche, that is, the psyche that will mesh best with our increasingly conformal society, is actually quite rare. Put another way, the world we have built for ourselves is well and truly suitable, in an optimizing contentment/happiness way, only for a relatively small proportion of the population.

In still other words, getting up at a fixed time, working under a constrained social atmosphere for nine hours, then socializing with a different set of people for an evening, then going to bed and doing it again tomorrow, 250 days a year in the same place with the same people with the same tasks: some people like to do this and thrive on it. Many more people can do it and simply get by. And some people try to do it and snap.

Humans are diverse and adaptable, but that doesn't mean we all start out the same perfectly malleable blobs of clay that can be moulded to fit whatever situation we find ourselves in as our lives go on.

Here is a silly analogy: you are born as a colour, yellow or blue or pink. If you were born pink and you find yourself in a position that needs a red person, well just add some pink and there you go -- you can do that. But if you find yourself needing to be green... there's no way a pink person can even be green; no matter how you try to change, you'll end up a dull brown.

There's not much room in this world for people who aren't able to work 40 hours a week day in and day out doing the same job with the same people in the same place for years and years, and despite the fact that is what 80% of us do, that doesn't mean that it is what we want to do... it's just what we must do.

Perhaps another silly analogy: maybe 25% of us could eat wheat, let's say, and not feel any ill effects. Another 50% can tolerate wheat but it makes us kind of sick and feel kind of gross but by and large it's not life-threatening; just reduces the quality of life. And 25% try to eat wheat and get really sick and simply can't cope with it. But wheat is what's on the menu.... all day, every day and if you want something else you really have to work for it. But it's really hard to do that work when you're feeling sick because of wheat poisoning....

I know this isn't a new argument. It's just the one that keeps resonating to me, over and over again.

What makes me happy is teaching and sharing my knowledge. Bringing people together and aligning their interests leadership and motivation. Creating beauty with my photography and more importantly sharing it. Exploring the world. But day after day I find myself not doing these things, and when I don't do them for a period of time I get depressed and the only thing that keeps me from rolling up into a ball is the hope that next time I reload MeFi there will be something interesting.

I'm still trying to figure out how to do what makes me happy more than a couple hours a week. You'd think it would be trivial for a self-employed guy but it turns out not to be the case...
posted by seanmpuckett at 6:21 AM on October 28, 2011 [6 favorites]


... "just add some yellow" to make red.
posted by seanmpuckett at 6:22 AM on October 28, 2011


My personal view is that at least some forms of depression are symptoms of flaws in western culture, particularly alienation and social isolation and suppression of emotion.

Absolutely.

There's a pretty good book called The Depression Cure that explores this in some detail. The idea is that it's normal to have an abnormal response to an abnormal situation, and that the situations we tend to find ourselves in as we go about our (fitter, happier) lives in the first world are situations which don't really translate to how our brains evolved.

I found a lot of comfort in the book, in part because there's always that guilt, when you're depressed, that depression is a first world problem and you should just be happy to live in a fairly alienating environment because you don't have to worry about polio or where your next meal is coming from. The first couple chapters of the book speak to that guilt, and the rest set out a pretty good program -- that might not work for you, and that's okay, too -- for how to deal with this kind of depression.
posted by gauche at 6:50 AM on October 28, 2011 [1 favorite]


khaibit: "I find that the worst part is when it comes back. Sure, there's that month or two of feeling like a normal person, or at least the most normal person you know how to be, but there's that voice in the back of your head that whispers: "Hey, khaibit, remember when we used to hang out and be all depressed. Good times." And no matter how much you know that voice to be a liar, it starts again, and eventually it's all, "Fork grabber.""

Reminds me of this bit from Patton Oswalt.
posted by Deathalicious at 6:51 AM on October 28, 2011


This is an amazing thread.

For those of you who have been in this place multiple times before, and know you're going to be again, it might be worth checking out one of the modern cognitive therapies, like mindfulness-based cognitive therapy (MBCT) for depression. It seems to have done well in small-scale studies:

Recovered recurrently depressed patients were randomized to treatment as usual (TAU) or TAU plus mindfulness-based cognitive therapy (MBCT). Replicating previous findings, MBCT reduced relapse from 78% to 36% in 55 patients with 3 or more previous episodes ...

I don't have a shred of qualification and don't know a damn thing about it myself, so I feel weird even writing about it. But I do know someone who was depressed and on meds all her life, and hasn't had a depressive episode in seven years thanks to this therapy (and a ton of work keeping it going). If you're at a place where absolutely anything has to be better than going through depression again, it might be worth checking out.
posted by Honorable John at 7:01 AM on October 28, 2011 [3 favorites]


Amazing post.

I'm lucky enough not to suffer from this type of depression. Anxiety, sure. Other problems, definitely. But not this. I have, however, watched many of my love ones struggle with it. Even as a child, I wanted to help, to fix it, to impart some of my eternal internal optimism. It took me a long time to see how wrong and unhealthy that was, not just for me, but for the depressed person, too.

One of my closest friends is depressed right now. Much of it is situational, and completely justified. Shit job situation, shit living situation, crushing debt. He has a lot of friends who have not dealt with depression who love him, but spend a lot of time yelling at him about how he's so amazing and why can't he just see that, and do something, anything. I wish I could send them this comic, but I don't know that they'd understand. I struggle with explaining it: "We can't fix this. This is inside of him. We can be there and we can listen if he wants to talk but beyond that we're just compounding something insidious."

I'm not sure what my point is, other than that depression is a hard thing for the people who love depressed people, too, and comics like this that make it possible for outsiders to empathize are a Good Thing.
posted by PhoBWanKenobi at 7:59 AM on October 28, 2011 [1 favorite]


I hit my favorite limit so I'll just write more. So glad to see more thoughtfulness and stories appear here.

PhoBWanKenobi, your phrasing of "the depressed person" reminded me of the David Foster Wallace story of the same name. I like the story, but man it was hard to read because that character is SO self absorbed. Which is the whole point of course.

It just reminded me because even people who do suffer from depression can look at other depressed people, or accounts of it, and see all these negative elements and feel frustrated and annoyed by them, even if you're operating off an underlying base of real compassion.

I understand that a lot of people feel like some kinds of depression are caused by our modern culture, or "Western"/US but I can't say I entirely agree. I think it can aggravate an existing condition.

My family comes from India, and when I was diagnosed the doctor told me to look at my family for history of anxiety and depression. He said I'd surely find it. I did, although not many people would admit it. I have a mix of European and Indian people on one side of my family, and some things, when I look back on certain stories...I see it in there.

But people don't admit it. Thankfully not in my family, but in friends of the family, there have been suicides. I know people carp about how therapied/medicated our culture is in the US, but at least we can talk about these things. It infuriates me that there are several friends of the family who suffered from depression and died, because I know there's a lot of internalization of the idea that this is a "Western" problem and it's invasive to have a therapist come in and try to fix your problems or deal with your family.

I just don't like the idea that there's some other more natural culture in which we all need to be living because it just idealizes something that we don't really know for sure and that we can't have.
posted by sweetkid at 8:27 AM on October 28, 2011 [3 favorites]


JoeyMichaels, are you in the US? If so, you should know that employer-provided health insurance plans in the US that provide mental health coverage are now required to treat mental health essentially the same as physical health treatment - ie, they can't have lower ceilings or have higher deductibles/copays.

Good luck.
posted by lunasol at 8:27 AM on October 28, 2011 [1 favorite]


I did not really enjoy the comic. It was fine, and generally I like HaaH, but I got nothing out of it. Part of that is because her depression isn't like mine.

...

What is it about Hyperbole and a Half that has you so mad? Why not just come out with what you're trying to get at? If you yourself have fought depression, why are you acting out in a manner that appears to show little understanding or empathy for the woman who is trying to explore it through her comic?

I think some people (not naming names, but myself kind of included) might have an emotionally negative reaction to the comic because (to the depressed person especially) it could be read as invalidating our very different form of a same-named illness. That might not be a fair response, but I can feel it.

It is a rather self-centered reaction, but also pretty natural, imo.
posted by mrgrimm at 8:48 AM on October 28, 2011


I also felt that the ending of the comic didn't make any sense. The beginning resonated, and then suddenly she went off and didn't care what anyone thought of her anymore, and then what? I have gotten to that point, and my "and then what" usually is "make very specific and detailed plans to kill yourself". I thought about the comic for a while, but I never got past not liking it because it was just too . . . I don't know. Different? Unfair?

I've tried lots of drugs. And they just don't work for me. Not only do I not feel better, I feel worse. The side effects have always been worse than depression. And it's not so bad, or at least it has been much, much worse: I don't self-injure anymore, even if I sometimes want to; I shower regularly and clean my clothes and get to work every day; I have cats who depend on me, or who I depend on. I enjoy things often, I am sometimes even happy. It's not what people describe life like when they are on meds that work, but it's infinitely better than I imagined it could be during the worst periods (although nothing near as nice as the times I was happy -- not manic; I've never been manic except as a reaction to meds).
posted by jeather at 8:49 AM on October 28, 2011 [2 favorites]


I've tried lots of drugs. And they just don't work for me. Not only do I not feel better, I feel worse.

IANAA, but have you tried marijuana? Or LSD? (or ketamine?)

Fwiw, talking never did much for me. My best treatment has been doing things with people and staying busy and not thinking (as unfortunate as that may sound). And smoking marijuana. And taking LSD. Or Psilocybin.

Justmy2c. Not recommending anything, just reporting my own experiences and curious if others shared them.

I realize that most of the press has gone the other way. But then click on the comments ... which reference this study that indicates dosage is what matters.

I'm just surprised psychedelics haven't been mentioned yet, considered how many people consider them to be lifesavers. Honestly, if I hadn't dropped acid I don't know if I would be still around or as functional as I am.

Can psychedelics treat depression?
posted by mrgrimm at 9:07 AM on October 28, 2011


What fascinates me most about this thread is the incredible spectrum of manifestation that depression clearly has, as shown by the stories people are telling here. Depression takes on so many different forms and, by extension, requires so many different types of treatment, that it can go unrecognised for a long time, even by those suffering from it.

I think this might explain in part why it took me so long to recognize my own depression. I watched my father's version (slump home from work, crawl into his room with a bottle, lock the door and turn on the TV) and thought it was "simply" alcoholism; being too young to understand the self-medicating aspect of the disease. Twenty years later, I witnessed someone very close to me cease her meds, and fly into a mania (which, again, I didn't recognize as such - I just thought she was really, really inspired, confident, and prone to interrupting people a lot) before crashing a few months later into a sobbing, catatonic, not-getting-out-of-bed depression. Oh, so this is what depression looks like, I decided. Now I knew what "it" was.

Well I was wrong. A few years later, I notice I have no desire to shower, to clean, to eat. I can't think straight. I do nothing in my spare time, but inexplicably, I cannot sleep. I don't feel like calling anyone, and I turn down invitations to go out anywhere, even though I'm bored out of my mind. The simplest decisions are impossible to make. Work goes from being a labor of love to just labor. I become convinced everyone I work with can't stand me, and I assume the worst about their motivations towards me ("she only asked me to grab a coffee some time out of pity; she doesn't actually enjoy my company"). It wasn't until the intrusive ideations about the pointlessness of my own existence arose that it occurred to me that I might, in fact, be struggling with something here.

It's something I still struggle with, mostly by simply going through the motions until I feel better. I've learned to accept that this is something that will come and go for me. But more over, I learned that depression is not a carved-in-stone set of symptoms. It will manifest itself in each person differently, and each will require unique treatments. I think if I knew this sooner, I could have helped my father sooner, or myself. But I know it now, and I'm glad for that much.
posted by Marisa Stole the Precious Thing at 9:19 AM on October 28, 2011 [12 favorites]


And then there's this song (lyrics in the video description).
posted by Marisa Stole the Precious Thing at 9:27 AM on October 28, 2011 [1 favorite]


In case anyone wants MOAR ALLIE TALKING ABOUT THIS (hey, I did) she has a comment up on the Hyperbole and a Half Facebook page. There is also a horse drawing.
posted by sweetkid at 9:39 AM on October 28, 2011


For those who think you can't draw while depressed . . .

As JHarris and miko have so effectively pointed out above, I have a really bad habit of universalizing my own experiences. A lot of great stuff is created by depressed people, obviously. For me, it's completely debilitating. If someone else is able to produce good work from within the hell that is depression, hats off to them.
posted by metagnathous at 10:00 AM on October 28, 2011


I liked MoodGym too - I thought it was worth doing; it helped reinforce some thinking strategies that have been useful for me.
posted by Miko at 10:25 AM on October 28, 2011


For those of you looking into things like MoodGym--be, uh...be really careful googling the acronym "CBT", especially with safe search turned off. That is all.
posted by Mr. Bad Example at 10:32 AM on October 28, 2011 [5 favorites]


Mood Gym is awesome (I can't understand my reluctance to log on) - my life is less exhausting after I learned new thinking strategies. Though it may have contributed to my ability to deceive myself into thinking I was doing better with the depression; I was just reacting better but not getting better. But I do believe the thinking strategies should be taught to everyone in primary school.

What, hey, they toss in a whole bunch of other, less useful, stuff in our kids education beyond 3R's. Why not CBT?
posted by _paegan_ at 10:32 AM on October 28, 2011 [2 favorites]


Re: Depression as a "first world problem." It so isn't. Yes, incidence appears to be higher in the US than anywhere else in the world, but this may very well be a function of how often it gets diagnosed and treated, as opposed to how many people actually get depressed. Note from the map that Brazil, India, and Pakistan have higher incidences than anywhere except the US.
posted by bardophile at 10:50 AM on October 28, 2011 [2 favorites]


One of my battles with depression got me to understand why people believe in divine intervention. I'd had an episode bad enough that I'd lost my job. I just pretended to everyone that I still did, on the rare occasions that I talked to anyone else. I just wandered around, slept as much as I could and thought "This is unbearable - I can't go on like this." And I'd go another day and think, "This is unbearable - I can't go on like this." And another... It went on for... well I'd been struggling before I lost my job (which is what caused the behavior that got me 'let go'), in a long slow decline, so I don't know how long that was. I got fired in November, though, and waded through the sucking morass all through the holiday season and January. Then, one day in February, I thought "This is unbearable - I can't go on like this." And I picked up the phone and called a doctor, and then my old temp agency. By Monday, I had a filled prescription for antidepressants, a weekly therapist appointment, and a job.

I wasn't a better or stronger person that February morning than I had been for months. I didn't "decide to get better". I just... was able to make a phone call. It really did feel like some random force had given me a hand up. And since I'd done nothing to deserve it, it had to be grace, right?
posted by Karmakaze at 11:06 AM on October 28, 2011 [3 favorites]


According to Peter Kramer in the book Against Depression, research shows that depression is not a "first world problem", it is "the major scourge of humankind."
The most extensive global-burden-of-disease study is one conducted by the World Health Organization, the World Bank, and the Harvard School of Public Health. The study was massive.… The findings are often quoted to the effect that by the year 2020, depression will be second only to ischemic heart disease—narrowing of blood vessels and related cardiac problems—in terms of disability caused.

Astonishing though it is, the estimate for 2020 serves to mask the current reality. As of 1990 (the year for which data was analyzed), the afflictions that stood ahead of depression were ones that steal years by killing children young—respiratory infections, diarrhea, and the illnesses of early infancy. These conditions are grouped— they represent not one disease but many—while major depression stands alone, independent of bipolar disorder (manic depression), minor depressions, and alcoholism.

Among the chronic diseases of midlife, depression was (by 1990) already the most burdensome, and not by a small margin. Major depression accounted for almost 20 percent of all disability-adjusted life years lost for women in developed countries— more than three times the burden imposed by the next most impairing illness. The story was similar in developing regions: depression was still the fourth most burdensome disease (after conditions that affect the very young) and the most disabling disease for both men and women age fifteen to forty-four. In the 2020 projections, depression becomes the single most disabling disease in developing regions. (p.152)
(Emphasis added.)

Depression is neither a new problem nor a problem that affects only privileged people.
posted by Lexica at 11:18 AM on October 28, 2011 [8 favorites]


"Well, we died, mostly. Usually by our own hands."

If I had lived before the 1950s, I would have died young. With ADHD, GAD, and bipolar II, I would have thrown myself off a bridge if I were having an anxious episode, or would have slit my wrists if I were having a depressive episode. (With hypomania, I just scream a lot. A hypomanic episode in the pre-1900s would have had me living as a madwoman in the forest.)

My meds now have some side effects. Sometimes they stop working. Sometimes they need tweaking. But without them, I would be dead. I have no doubt about that.
posted by cereselle at 11:20 AM on October 28, 2011 [1 favorite]


I didn't "decide to get better". I just... was able to make a phone call

I worked on a suicide hotline and in our training we'd call making that phone call "taking an action" which is pretty critical in trying to get better, get help, get anything. "Deciding to get better" is an impossible, gigantic task that you just can't do, but you can do one small action. then another action, and another.
posted by sweetkid at 11:22 AM on October 28, 2011 [2 favorites]


I take a perverse pleasure anytime I beat my high score on those depression self-assessments. Hey, at least I'm good at something.
posted by Errant at 11:31 AM on October 28, 2011 [3 favorites]


I take a perverse pleasure anytime I beat my high score on those depression self-assessments. Hey, at least I'm good at something.

Me too, Errant.

Sometimes I feel like I'm terrified to stop feeling so shitty. Like if all it took was eating differently or getting more exercise or moving to a new part of town I'd feel so fucking stupid for not having figured that out before. Being depressed makes me interesting, makes me real, makes me deep. I know this is not good thinking but it feels almost like an addiction. And the idea of looking back on myself and thinking "you... were romanticizing depression?!?" seems so pathetic I'm too scared to get to that point when I can even take that look back.

Even when every waking second hurts I somehow manage to find reasons why doing anything at all is a bad idea.
posted by DLWM at 11:47 AM on October 28, 2011 [3 favorites]


"Interesting. I've battled depression/social anxiety, and I had the same epiphany she had but (luckily) much earlier in life: it doesn't matter what people think."

If I may, I'd like to share something from my own recent experience. Nothing new, but we keep learning the same lessons over and over again.

As I was getting ready for a date, I was having trouble taming my nerves. So finally, I (while looking in a mirror) asked myself, "Why are you so worried people won't like you? Is it because you don't like you?" With a view towards probing deeper why I didn't like me. But, because I was saying it to myself in a mirror, I could sort of tell right away that it wasn't the case that I didn't like myself; it just didn't ring true (and no, I'm not in love with my reflection; it was in the eyes). But it did clarify for me that I really am mostly worried that other people won't like me, and well, that's because that'd been my experience growing up. I had a very critical, judgemental mother at home. At school, I was picked on for being a fat nerd who was good at every subject but gym. So there's that expectation, from a critical part of my development, that people just won't like me. My mother was always finding (and pointing out) faults, and kids at school would just ridicule me for anything.

One therapist I had basically told me the same thing as this strip; there's a voice in my head that is constantly lobbing these criticisms at me. Only, in my case, he said it was the voice of my mother, internalized (though there's surely some of the school bullying in there, too). So yeah, that kind of adds a layer of social anxiety to the whole thing. Which, well... so I go to a lot of meetups. I tend to be one of those "say yes to everything" people. Because every time I meet folks and they don't outright hate me (!), it's like a punch to the gut of those old bullies. I am good enough, I am smart enough (but mostly not arrogant!), and doggone it, people do actually like me sometimes. (Fortunately, I don't need to be everyone's friend.)

But yeah, the critical voice is what really struck the chord with me. If you find yourself in that hole, try the mirror thing. I can't guarantee it will work for you, but it's worth a shot. Because if you've made it this far, you probably are pretty awesome (I mean, you've made it, and WITH depression holding you down/back) and you probably do like yourself. In certain ways, at least.

Today, I made a list of my various coping mechanisms. Because some of them were hurting the people around me, and I need to cut them out. But I was also able to see what some of my strengths are. I started with just "making people laugh" but then was able to pull up about six other positive ways I can get validation/approval/confidence. Some I need to work on strengthening (mainly the ones that involve getting my validation from me; I like myself but don't love myself, which interferes with my ability to love someone else in a non-crippled way), but of the whole list, I only needed to cross off three (though they're a big three). It's a bit less daunting (depressing!) than it was when I felt like I was going to have to deal with my depression without any of my coping mechanisms.

Not giving a fuck isn't working this time (and it doesn't every time, and not for every person) in particular because I'm trying to work on my interpersonal relationships. I also have a job and stuff that I really like and care about. All in all, my life is pretty stellar right now. So I have to be very selective in the fucks I don't give. Do I give a fuck what I wear to work? No! Do I give a fuck that I make it to work on time? Yes! Because I'd like to keep my job and all the things it affords me. Without my job, depression will be a LOT harder to fight on my own.

So yeah, that's me. I've kinda laid myself bare here not for attention or sympathy, but because I know that part of depression is the isolation, and I want others to know my situation so they can know if theirs is similar (or different!). Maybe feel less alone. Because that's something I can do.
posted by Eideteker at 12:38 PM on October 28, 2011 [10 favorites]


See also: Depression Comix (SFW), by Hard/Clay of Sexy Losers (NSFW) and the recently relaunched Thin H Line (NSFW).
posted by Evilspork at 1:26 PM on October 28, 2011 [1 favorite]


As some have pointed out, I have mis-spoken above, when I wrote " there's always that guilt, when you're depressed, that depression is a first world problem and you should just be happy to live in [the first world]".

I didn't mean that depression was a first world problem. I meant, that particular false belief is a source of guilt for some when depressed, myself included, and the book I was referencing helped me to deal with some of that guilt.

I completely agree. It's not a first world problem. I mis-spoke, and I would hate for anybody to get the wrong idea from my words. I really would.
posted by gauche at 1:55 PM on October 28, 2011 [2 favorites]


I didn't think that, gauche. I thought it was a good comment. I haven't checked out the book, so I don't have a complete opinion, but I think sometimes people make too much of our isolating Western culture causing depression. I think it probably aggravates in part, and just because depression is defined by chemical changes in the brain doesn't mean that environmental things don't cause those changes. But I definitely didn't think your comment was trying to explain depression away as a "first world problem."
posted by sweetkid at 2:33 PM on October 28, 2011 [1 favorite]


I tossed the concept out, and when I was challenged on it, I favorited the comment. I don't feel hounded, I feel a little more enlightened because my assumption was probably too narrow.
posted by Miko at 3:04 PM on October 28, 2011 [1 favorite]


[Comments removed; you want to talk moderation policy or community standards, go on over to Metatalk and do it where you're supposed to. Last thing this thread needs is yet another derail.]
posted by cortex at 3:23 PM on October 28, 2011 [2 favorites]


I had the same feeling. I can't claim to know much about her actual situation from afar, but my wife is bipolar and can have manic episodes that look like that.

Allie Brosh has ADHD. Symptoms of ADHD can include manic/depressive episodes, but they cycle faster than in people who are bipolar and are not usually as severe. It's possible for someone with ADHD to be bipolar as well, but sounds to me like she has the typical rapid cycles related to ADHD. It's also possible for people with ADHD to be depressed, and brief mania can accompany it.
posted by krinklyfig at 4:31 PM on October 28, 2011 [4 favorites]


So, today, I'm getting ready to call the EAP person and for the first time ever, I recognize that I'm hearing myself tell myself "dude, why are you doing this? Just suck it up and you'll not feel suicidal eventually. What's your problem? Its no big deal. You can do this youself."

Called anyways, but I've never really recognized that I do feel like that - all the time - I just don't know that I've ever actually put it in words like that before.

Its strange, because its not like hearing another voice to me, or a separate being. Its sort of like hearing a recording of your own voice leaving a message for yourself. Its hard to ignore, not because its somebody else, but because its you.
posted by Joey Michaels at 4:46 PM on October 28, 2011 [8 favorites]


(I called yesterday and left a message; in the past, I called once about a different situation - today would be the first time ever I spoke to them about this situation - I phrased that very poorly)
posted by Joey Michaels at 4:47 PM on October 28, 2011


I've found myself recently reciting my internal hate monologue out loud, which is a relatively new development. I catch myself in the middle of it, so I'm not sure exactly how long I've been muttering death threats or outrageously filthy insults, just that I've been saying them sufficiently audibly that possibly the people on the street are looking at me funny now. It's kind of a fun new verbal tic.

It's weird to hear that voice as an actual voice saying full sentences, even in your own head, as opposed to just a vague and diffuse sense of malice. It makes it harder to ignore, but it also makes it easier to identify and fight. I'm glad you made that call.
posted by Errant at 4:56 PM on October 28, 2011


I've got my first therapy appointment since 2003 next week. I was lucky enough that pregnancy and postpartum actually made me sane for what felt like the first time in my life - I could be sad and happy and angry and then not be! I wasn't mired in this awful hash of hate and fury and apathy. So when it came back (slowly, insidiously) I was even more furious. But also apathetic.

So it's from that perspective that I just didn't feel the comic. I don't know if it was the buildup or what, but it just didn't resonate. So that kinda sucked, but the whole "don't give a fuck" terrifies me. I get stuck there, and lose friends and alienate my family and resent my loved ones because fuck, can't they see how godawful I am and how much of a waste I am and why won't they let me just fucking die already. But I still love them so I am stuck, holding on by a thread, hating them for it. So the "no fucks we're given that day" scares me because that's how more than one relationship has ended, more than one friendship ruined, more than one person hurt.

But, my depression has always been comorbid with anxiety (40 minute panic attack at my desk yesterday, complete with oh god I'm pregnant fears, certainty I burnt the house down leaving the straightening iron on, my husband isn't answering texts because he and the baby died in the conflagration and I'm going to lose my job because I just can't fucking face one more goddamn round of pandering to elected fuckwits). At the end of which I walked away and did my job and assembled a facade of "I'm having fun and happy to be here". When I don't give a fuck I walk away (auto corrected to 'kill away', thanks iPad) and I have too much to lose to walk away. I want to care again because I have a truly awesome two year old and a great husband and they deserve more. I just need to make that 'more' a goal for me, as opposed to yet another stick to beat myself with.


In other words, as much as I rail against the whole 'mentally I'll people are dangerous' I totally disagree that depression means you don't hurt people or yourself when you stop caring.
posted by geek anachronism at 5:26 PM on October 28, 2011 [3 favorites]


Right, I don't think Allie meant it that way. But every human I know on various social media is sharing it with exactly that sentiment - which has gotten seriously old and this post hasn't even been live for a full 24hrs.

When I posted the link to facebook I accompanied it with a blurb about my own experiences with ADHD. I didn't actually use the name of the disorder/condition, just the thoughts running through my head constantly. This is how I first identified with Allie, as she has it too, although I always thought she was funny regardless. I can identify with her description her depression too, but I didn't really want to mention that due to the type of reaction I knew this would prompt. I don't think you can really control that sort of thing, however, and for a lot of us it wasn't about relating to the precise arc of her depression but more about the fact that while going through it so many of us experience very similar feelings.

I gather from the reddit comments she has been through this before- I have also battled the darkness more than once. For bipolar and even ADHD people who go through this depression (and usually mania) can become a recurrent problem that cycles, although by no means is recurring depression unique to these related disorders, just a common comorbidity. I am grateful that the recurrences for me have not been nearly as bad as the one I went through almost ten years ago. During that episode I didn't crawl on the floor for months because I was stuck in my bed. I think the main reason the cycles haven't been as bad lately is due to a diagnosis for ADHD a few years back and accompanying talk therapy, which helped resolve a lot of lingering issues, plus Wellbutrin which I took for a year or so. It's still spooky when I feel it coming back. Hyperfocusing on some new diversion brought on by impulsivity helps, especially creative diversions. I'm currently into metalwork and hoping it will stick long enough for it to become part of my life. Pouring yourself into creative work doesn't cure depression, but it does help keep the monster back. A creative outlet is a good release valve for all those awful thoughts.
posted by krinklyfig at 6:31 PM on October 28, 2011 [1 favorite]


See also: Depression Comix (SFW)...

Reading those comments, it really struck me: I can totally identify with what's going on there, but I have no clue what it's like to not be depressed. I have no idea what it feels like to be psychologically normal, well-adjusted.

Especially this. There are people who don't do that? What is life like, if not that?
posted by meese at 6:37 PM on October 28, 2011 [4 favorites]


I want to care again because I have a truly awesome two year old and a great husband and they deserve more. I just need to make that 'more' a goal for me, as opposed to yet another stick to beat myself with.

I know how this part feels. Have anxiety as well. Your husband may or may not feel alienated, but you deserve to feel better because of you and not out of an obligation to others. Your husband should be a supportive friend, although I know how easy it is to push people away. I don't know exactly how he feels, but my guess is he doesn't feel like he deserves better but loves you and just wishes for you to be happy, too.

I know it's never this simple but also know how that cycle of thinking has run through my own head so many times. It's always different hearing it from someone else when it's not going on for me, and also realize that just knowing these things I'm telling you doesn't always help. For all I know you've heard this many times before but still don't feel better. All I could say further is try not to feel guilty about other people caring about you, because they may be helpful in their support, but definitely don't spend time listening to people who claim to care but do nothing but pile on more guilt. I'm sure therapy will help more than I did, so best of luck and glad you're getting help.
posted by krinklyfig at 6:50 PM on October 28, 2011 [2 favorites]


There are people who don't do that? What is life like, if not that?

I have been advised by my therapist that this is one of the reasons she wants me to get out amongst other people more, because I feel the exact same way. I suspect it's sort of like finding out you're red-green colorblind - what, other people see things differently?

For me it's the idea of a euthymic middle ground. The idea of knowing who you're going to be tomorrow, and the day after that, and the day after that. People just have this, like, stability thing going on, from what I've gathered. It took me years to really become convinced that I was experiencing changes in mood far in excess of what nearly everyone else experiences. I'd love to know what it's like to live with a brain like that.
posted by Fee Phi Faux Phumb I Smell t'Socks o' a Puppetman! at 7:11 PM on October 28, 2011


People just have this, like, stability thing going on

I'm not sure why, but aging really settled me down. Not aging alone, because I did plenty of work and also endured plenty of misery, but at 42 I am able to feel most of the time calm. It is really striking when I remember or, better yet, look at the evidence of the deep lows of my 20s and the related drama and difficulty. The stakes have dropped significantly. I'm quite glad I made it through, because life has become not only a lot more tolerable, but downright enjoyable much more of the time, not only in tiny peaks. I understand this doesn't happen for everyone, but it can happen. Much of my depression was anxiety- and expectation-fueled, and as you get older you do overcome some of their emotional demands just through the wearing down of living.
posted by Miko at 8:17 PM on October 28, 2011 [3 favorites]


I think that's the worst part of having been better at some point. Yes, I have a little more trust in my body and my brain that it is possible, but fuck me those memories can hurt. I remember crying in the shower when I was heavily pregnant and terrified about being sick, and marveling to my husband that I was sad and sick and scared but still didn't hate myself, or want to die. I had a base level of happy and things happened to that. I could see the future - in my woo-ridden and most depressive years, i was convinced I would die young because I could never imagine a future that involved me. Ever. And watching that future get more and more narrow, disappearing under the weight of how worthless I think I am, makes it all so much worse.

I'm in the midst of job hunting because I cannot stand my current job and it is ridiculous. I have no faith in myself, no energy, no desire, but I'm trying to convince someone to hire me. Just ridiculous.
posted by geek anachronism at 8:21 PM on October 28, 2011 [3 favorites]


For me, age (47 in a week or so) hasn't lessened the depression, but rather has made me more resilient, so to speak, in the face of it. Particularly, I'm not young and prone to thinking that everything is the Most Important Thing Ever and, also, having been around the block of Depression and Suicidal Ideation Manor more than a few times, I have a sense that I'm more likely to survive these things than not. The "than not" is a concern, especially because, obviously, for a lot of depressed people it's just a matter of time before it's too much to keep trying to fight it anymore. These days, I worry less about being crazy-in-pain-despairing and more about falling through that level into a sustained well, maybe, I've finally fought it as long as I possibly can and, hey, I'm tired. That worries me.

There are a lot of different subtypes of depression and it would be good if all of we who suffer from it understand that what's true in our experience isn't necessarily true for others. That said, I recall reading long ago that for a certain kind of depression, and especially for men, it's in middle-age when the risk of suicide reaches it peak. That "feels" right to me, from my own experience.

Because, in a way, the same long experience that has made me more resilient has also made me just tired of it all.

Granted, my personal experience is complicated by troubles in addition to the underlying depression. (But that's so often true.) My declining health, with the disability and chronic pain have combined with the depression to both socially isolate me while also making my life much more materially/practically challenging, and I have only a small support structure. My sister has the same illness I have and she has a husband and a religious community, as well as a mother and a mother-in-law who, on a weekly basis, all help with the children and numerous other practical daily realities of her life. True, her children (only recently, as in two weeks ago, has there been a second boy) present an enormous responsibility and challenge to her that I don't face. Even so, my mother who helps with her and knows my situation has said many times that she doesn't understand how I can manage alone the way I have been. What she really means, and she knows this very well, is that she knows that I'm not managing.

Antidepressants made a world of difference for me, back when I first started them almost twenty years ago. They haven't worked very well for me in the last five years, at least. They keep me, I think, out of the very lowest, acute depression, crisis state where I'm not just having incidental suicidal ideation, but stuff that's more serious. But, even so, I end up maintaining at a low level that is (I strongly suspect) a pretty severe depression by most people's standards.

And yet, per my previous comment, as bad as this year has been, it's so much better than last year. There's nothing that knocks me down worse than a relationship failure, and after having been entirely single for years, and very lonely, a woman I've known for twelve years, a friend, and I fell very hard for each other at the beginning of 2010. Only six months after she had separated from her husband. You probably know how this story goes. We'd always liked each other, had a simpatico, and there was always a powerful mutual attraction and so when we both found ourselves available for the first time, well, it happened. But it was way, way too soon. And it fucked me up because it was simultaneously the best and the worst relationship of my life. I had worried that I'd never fall for anyone like I did the woman I was married to in the early nineties, but what I felt last year blew way past that. Even so, and even with the fact that this woman also felt more powerful stuff than she'd ever felt, we would fight worse than I've ever fought with anyone one day out of three (the other two were heaven). And it ended fairly quickly, and badly. And given all these circumstances combined—that I'd been lonely, that it was the most powerful relationship I've had, that it made me have a lot of hope for the future, that I'm middle-aged and feeling every day of it—this break-up just destroyed me. After my divorce, which was the worst time in my life, I was in a Bad Place for, oh, about four months. Suicidal and all that. Because of all that I wrote about earlier, this wasn't as bad because it wasn't the first time I've felt this badly; but, otherwise, it was worse. And it never fucking ended. It went on and on and on and on. I was suicidally depressed, pretty much constantly, from May through October. I would think, this has to get better. It's got to. There's no way I could feel this bad for this long, it has to be just about done. And another month would go by.

And then, around December through March, I finally felt a lot better. That's relative, of course. My life is shit. With my ex-friend/ex-roommates betrayal that has made homelessness a possibility, I'm in a bad way these days. But it's still better than last year.

I honestly don't know if I will make it. I mean, I've made it this long. One thing about me is that I've never stopped trying, never stopped trying to help myself and, really, I've never yet stopped thinking that it was at least possible, conceivable, that my life could be happy. I just sort of keep on going, even if it's "keep on going" manifested as "stay in bed all the time" instead of, you know, jumping off a bridge.

But I don't know. Depression runs in my family. My paternal grandfather killed himself when I was three.

I don't know if I really had a point. Maybe I did want to talk about it, a little. Maybe just to complain. Maybe I just wanted a counterpoint to Miko's comment (and I love Miko, everything she writes is worth reading, but this particular comment didn't resonate with me because, well, it sort of has gotten easier and sort of hasn't gotten easier with age for me). I dunno.

This woman I fell in love with? She has two great kids. I really liked her kids. Being around them made me happy. Kids make me happy.
posted by Ivan Fyodorovich at 8:19 AM on October 29, 2011 [4 favorites]


Two big things that help(ed) my depression. The fact that other people don't feel like this all the time, and the fact that there are people out there that do. Thanks for linking to this, especially when it's so well written on the comic side of tragedy.
posted by fragmede at 11:46 AM on October 29, 2011 [2 favorites]


Kids make me happy.

Just a thought, maybe you could get some of the kid energy back in your life through volunteering or something. I mean, that might be not so feasible right now or until things settle down a little, but I just wanted to mention it as a possibility. It really is fun being around them, they're silly and very open. I used to work with kids and lot and have been missing it in recent years.
posted by Miko at 2:00 PM on October 29, 2011


Miko, I thought about that for awhile recently. The problem is that these days a single, middle-aged male is not trusted with children.
posted by Ivan Fyodorovich at 7:16 PM on October 29, 2011


The problem is that these days a single, middle-aged male is not trusted with children.

Depends on the context. Random strangers' kids? Probably not. Volunteering in an organized setting? Totally doable.

I'm a professional childcare professional and while it may be tough to overcome the bias towards women, you could totally work at a YMCA or do storytime at a library or some such thing. You'd have to pass a background check, but everyone has to do that. I'm a young married woman and have to pass criminal and credit checks before any new job with kids.

If you're into one on one with kids, I've heard good things about the Big Brother/Big Sister program.
posted by sonika at 7:33 PM on October 29, 2011


The problem is that these days a single, middle-aged male is not trusted with children.

What sonika says is true: in an organized volunteer setting there are plenty of such people volunteering and staff and parents understand and know what to expect. Big Brothers, in particular, is often actively seeking men because there is a shortage of men who will volunteer. The 'safety' concern is dealt with through the increased use of full CORI and background checks, and usually a training and supervision protocol. We have a number of single male volunteers where I work, and they give tours to kids. Once they've been through the check, everything is AOK. Other places you could work with kids in an organized way might be nature centers (bonus, gets people outdoors), tutoring programs, YMCAs, sports programs, Scouts, museums, local afterschool and mentoring programs, etc.
posted by Miko at 6:48 AM on October 30, 2011


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