One of my favorite blogs in the whole wide world is a totally idiosyncratic creation called Hyperbole-and-a-Half by Allie Brosh. (Idiosyncratic is a good thing, because Allie is totally, hysterically, wonderfully herself.)
Allie disappeared from view a couple years ago. When she returned, she wrote poignantly about her struggles with depression.
It is one of the funniest, saddest, most powerful, most truthful descriptions of depression I’ve ever read. And of course, since depression affects almost all of us, at one level or another, at one time or another in our lives, it really hit home.
I totally recognize that spiral deathtrap of wanting to be nice, and doing nice things, and suddenly realizing I’m not doing nice things because I’m nice, I’m doing them because I want to be a nice person, and I want other people to think I’m nice. Even though the thing I really want to do is scream at some difficult person and say, “You are a self-absorbed idiot and I hate you!”
That spiral comes from intensive self-awareness. Not a pretty sight.
Allie transformed the spiral into something incredibly readable. Entertaining. Engaging. Even educational. (I’ll just say it has a long list of things NOT to say to a depressed person, and the list involves fish.) A true creative act if I ever saw one.
I wanted to write to Allie, to thank you for her honesty, and insight, and….well, for being her.
If I were to leave a comment, I would say, “Allie, I am grateful you are in the world. I’m grateful the internet provides you with a forum, a platform to share your delightfully silly drawings and your searingly honest self-awareness. I’m grateful because, in sharing your inner self, you’ve made us all feel better about being human. You’ve made it safe for us to realize being human isn’t about BEING good. It’s about making choices, very tiny choices, to be BETTER. Even if our reasons for making those choices is based only on the desire to appear good.”
Because being human being, and being a half-way decent human being, is in that real desire. And how good we actually are is an accumulation of all in those very tiny choices.
Sometimes the choice is easy, such as the time I opened a grief writing workshop with a quick discussion of the group rules, and one person volunteered, “No hitting?” Yes, not hitting people is a good rule, and a good choice.
Sometimes the choice is hard, like not giving in to envy of other people’s successes. Or not giving in to resentment at someone else’s lack of gratitude when we do something nice for them. (Oh, yeah, we SAY we don’t need to be thanked, we were happy to do it. But…..!!!)
And sometimes the choice is REALLY hard, like when you realize you must confront someone on their behavior that is racist, or sexist, or homophobic, or classist (discrimination based on social position), knowing full well that person will not react well.
Allie has made a hugely important and brave decision to share her life stories. She’s made herself vulnerable, a condition we are only just now recognizing as a very important human trait.
Yes, they are also hysterically funny, such as the one about basic concepts dogs don’t understand. But others are profoundly personal and don’t necessarily showcase herself at her “best”, as in her story about destroying her grandfather’s birthday cake.
By sharing these stories, she has deliberately made herself vulnerable. And in doing so, incredibly loveable, and forgiveable.
In doing that, she makes it easier for us to be vulnerable. And easier for us to forgive ourselves.
In short, Allie Brosh is one of my life heroes.
As for leaving a comment like this, it’s kind of hopeless, because she has hundreds of thousands of other fans who adore her writing, and hundreds–no, thousands–of comments on her articles and her Facebook posts. Mine would be a tiny drop in the ocean of people who appreciate her.
So here’s a bigger drop of water for the ocean today, for Allie.
Allie Brosh….THANK YOU!!!
P.S. My daughter bought me Allie’s brand new book for Christmas. It is perfect, except that it’s missing one of my all-time favorite Hyperbole-and-a Half stories, Wolves. But I’m hoping that will be in Allie’s next book.
Is it a coincidence that my dear hubby suggested last night it was good time for me to get started on my book?? I think not.