Back when I used to be a blogger — a real blogger, who posted at least 3 or 4 times a week, sometimes more — there is no way on earth I would have not heard of a blog that had 395,975 likes on Facebook, a blog that was turned into a book that, only 18 days after being published, is #8 on Amazon, with 316 reviews already and an average of 5 stars. No way. No. [Unladylike expletive deleted]. Way.
But here I sit, procrastinating from doing the things on my To Do List by browsing Amazon’s biographies and memoirs category, and I see this crudely drawn, brightly colored cover of the #2 selection. In part because hyperbole is one of my favorite words and you don’t often see it printed in childlike all caps above a cartoon drawing of a dog and a….human (?) with a yellow cone on its head, but mostly because I wasn’t ready to stop procrastinating, I clicked on the book, and then visited the blog.
The newest post was about a four-year-old (presumably the author, Allie Brosh, at four?) and a dinosaur costume that caused untold mayhem when worn. It was entertaining. Not enough to get me to buy the book, but enough to check out the favorite posts links on the sidebar, where I found This isWhy I’ll Never be an Adult, to which I could relate all too well. Imagine: stumbling onto a blog post about cyber-procrastination while you are cyber-procrastinating. Oh, the exquisite irony!
In the post, Ms. Brosh (or should I say Allie, since she will never be an adult?) describes how she periodically decides she is going to be mature and efficient and starts doing everything she is supposed to do, but then gets burned out and ends up melting down and then back on the internet wasting time again, all illustrated with her crudely (intentionally crudely, and skillfully) drawn illustrations. I particularly liked the chart showing the interrelationship of productivity and responsibility:
Yeah. I totally get that. I know that when I try to do too many things, I don’t do any of them well. I know I need to prioritize, fight the tendency to perfectionism, stop trying to be Supermom. Maybe making that chart my desktop background will help.
I’m starting to get those Amazon numbers now. Some of her posts are cute and un-serious, like the dinosaur costume one, some are funny but also perceptive and insightful, like the procrastination one, while others really cut to the bone, like Adventures in Depression, in which she writes:
Slowly, my feelings started to shrivel up. The few that managed to survive the constant beatings staggered around like wounded baby deer, just biding their time until they could die and join all the other carcasses strewn across the wasteland of my soul.
The effect of such lyrical prose, juxtaposed with the childlike cartoon images, is powerful. Her succinct analogy of the impotence of shame as a motivating force, or force of will in the face of something stronger than will, is apt:
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 have never suffered clinical depression myself, but someone close to me has, and this analogy seemed to capture the powerlessness of it pretty well. The “Come on, suck it up” approach isn’t really effective with genuine depression, as opposed to garden variety sadness or self-pity, but most of us who have not suffered it or watched someone else suffer it do not fully comprehend the difference, and it doesn’t help that we overuse the term, saying “I’m so depressed” when we mean “I am sad,” just as we overuse the term addiction. The post ends rather abruptly, not with therapy or medication, but with the implication that she was suddenly okay again.
Only she wasn’t, as a post from more than six months later makes manifest. This one describes her struggle with suicidal thoughts, the difficulty of trying to make a terrible situation less terrible for those who loved her, how she finally went to a doctor and got on medication, and the light at the end of the tunnel.
I think I’ll buy the book.