Adventures in Flawed Coping Mechanisms – Bingo Update

Hyperbole and a Half, Allie BroshBingo Squares: Read a biography, read a book by someone under 30
Book: Hyperbole and a Half, Allie Brosh

I think this might be cheating on Literary Bingo a little bit. Allie Brosh’s hysterical, charming and odd blog comic has been online since 2009, and I have casually perused them for years. Now some of them (mainly those pertaining to her life) have been compiled into a book. In my defense, there’s a large portion of the book that I hadn’t actually read, so yay me! I read a whole book of webcomics.

Sure, I could read a lengthy biography about someone who scaled a mountain or dig up some fantastical tome created by a teenage prodigy who will be a better writer and possibly human being than I will ever be. But I prefer Allie’s style – it’s childish and ridiculous and I relate to it entirely.

The thing I love about Allie and her tales is her representations of the flawed coping mechanisms people create to feel better about themselves. Admit it – you do it too. We want to feel special, we want to be the hero, so we create scenarios to pat ourselves on the back and say “Hey, self. You’re pretty great.” Never fear, you weren’t a dick to the ugly kid that one time, so you’re still a good person.

On top of that, her book is just fucking hysterical. I laughed until crying over her analyses of her own flawed logic. Allie’s self-deprecating sense of humor coupled with absurdly hilarious MS Paint drawings of herself are just perfect.

“I’ve gotten pretty good at making myself feel ashamed. I can even use shame in a theoretical sense to make myself do the right thing BEFORE I do the wrong thing. This skill could be described as ‘morality,’ but I prefer to call it ‘How Horrible Can I Be Before I Experience a Prohibitive Amount of Shame?’”

What may surprise you about this series of stories is that in between hilarious stories about her dogs (the mentally challenged “simple” dog and the mildly vicious “helper” dog), a terrifying bit about a goose (hey, Allie, I TOO was traumatized by geese when I was little. I would have reacted similarly), is a surprisingly honest reflection of what it’s like to be inside the head of someone with depression.

The way she describes it is incredible in how simple, yet understandable and relatable it is. Depression is a commonly misunderstood mental issue – it’s more than being sad, it’s a life-altering mental condition. As Allie describes it, sometimes you don’t even feel sad when you have it – just overwhelmingly nothing. It’s reassuring to have a story like Allie’s as a reference to help people understand what it’s like for some people who live with the condition. Sometimes it’s really difficult to describe, and the comic is both approachable AND funny.

And it’s heartening that by her own account, she, a real, normal (for the most part) 20-something human being, struggles with it – note that her two posts about it are two years apart – 2011 and 2013 – yet still lives and creates and functions. “Maybe everything isn’t hopeless bullshit.” (This statement is much funnier in its original setting with rainbows and smiles.)

Overall, the book is a wonderful collection of really weird pictures and stories. A great representation of what misadventures and life commentary you’ll find on the blog.

Closing note: Grammar-nazis – you’ll love her alot.

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