Depression the Hyperbole and a Half way

Hyperbole and a Half, the brilliant, frenetic, illustrated memoir, tackles sudden depression, its effects and eventual cure in the long awaited new installment.

I spent months shut in my house, surfing the internet on top of a pile of my own dirty laundry which I set on the couch for "just a second" because I experienced a sudden moment of apathy on my way to the washer and couldn't continue. And then, two weeks later, I still hadn't completed that journey. But who cares - it wasn't like I had been showering regularly and sitting on a pile of clothes isn't necessarily uncomfortable. But even if it was, I couldn't feel anything through the self hatred anyway, so it didn't matter. JUST LIKE EVERYTHING ELSE.

Adventures in Depression (via Beth Pratt)


    1. Going numb also allows some to reset. I’ve experienced it in the past and was able to move out of emotional paralysis into a better mental state afterwards. It was the right kind of mild manic episode that helps one rejuvenate.

      I can not speak for you of course.

    1. Medication for depression (or any other mental disorder) isn’t a “cure”, at least not usually.  It can help with symptoms, but most people who have clinical depression will have to take that medication their entire life — and more than likely they’ll have to regularly change the dose, or, when the medication they are taking stops working (which is common), they’ll have to find something else that works. I have a lot of friends who deal with this in their lives. Finding the right combination is hard, and can sometimes take years. And when the right combination is found, it often needs to be changed again in the future, for various reasons.

      Not to mention the side-effects.

      There isn’t a “cure” for clinical depression.  Just things (therapy, medication) that can help with symptoms.  And even that doesn’t always work for everyone.

        1. I doubt 80%. Seasonal affective disorder is a known type of depression which these sorts of things treat, but there are other very different causes.

          1. “Fixed it for you” is not the same as “fixes it for 80% of people”.

            It’s not as simple as “Low Vitamin D causes depression”, or 70% of Americans would be depressed, and I wouldn’t be depressed.

            I’m innately suspicious of “this enormous list of ilnesses will be cured by this simple remedy” claims, and the related “this enormous list of illnesses is cause by this ONE THING”. Living organisms aren’t that simple; the many many modes of failure of a complex system, like a human, need many modes of repair.

            Maintenance of an already-functioning complex system is a lot simpler than fixing a broken one.

          2. “I’m innately suspicious of “this enormous list of ilnesses will be cured by this simple remedy” claims, and the related “this enormous list of illnesses is cause by this ONE THING”. Living organisms aren’t that simple; the many many modes of failure of a complex system, like a human, need many modes of repair.”

            Exactly. Apparently it’s much easier to just spread the stigma of mental illness and blame people for not taking enough Vitamin D (e.g., dismiss that their particular depression may be more than just a vitamin deficiency).

            I’d love to see actual peer reviewed journal articles that state that Vitamin D “cures” 50 to 80% of  cases of Major Depressive Disorder. As much as I like the Huffington Post, that doesn’t quite cut it for source material.

          3. I’m willing to try anything at this point, so after reading your vitamin D rec, I’m going to looking into it. But aren’t you worried about overdose if you’re taking 10,000 units a day?

          4. No, you would have to take 50,000 per day for 3-4 months to overdose on average. Health advocates are working on new recommendations of a minimum of 5,000 per day for adults. If you live north of the 45th parallel, taking less than 5,00 a day is like trying to fill a bathtub with a thimble (my doctors exact words). You can always have your doctor check your levels, its a quick inexpensive test. AMA recommends levels of 30+ but that is only the minimum. Now many docs say levels should be 50-80. I feel best at around 60 so far. Vitamin K and magnesium are really important cofactors.

          5. You are saying a LOT more than “try it”.

            Paragraphs and paragraphs more about how we’re fools. Thanks Laura. You’re a peach.

          6. 5,000-10,000 IU per day. Sometimes doc’s will give doses of 50,000 IU of D2 per week in one dose to replenish levels. D2 has been proven to be a substandard form. It is used by many docs because it can be prescribed. D3 cannot be patented or prescribed and it is very cheap in terms of cost. 

          7. There is precedent for “enormous list of (seemingly unrelated) illnesses will be cured by this simple remedy”,  including exercise, clean water, penicillin, cortisone, and smoking cessation. 

            There are a few  “enormous list of illnesses is cause by this ONE THING”, including smoking, high fat diet.  And several vitamin or mineral deficiencies can cause pretty global symptoms, which would give you an enourmous list of illnesses (really symptoms) caused by one thing.

        2. I would be willing to bet my life on the fact that at least 80% of them would recover.

          Are you willing to put enough money in an escrow account to hire a hit man to enforce that bet?

          1. They do.

            Studies in third world countries show 80% g0t better in 2 years because they couldn’t afford the medication. Studies in the U.S. show out of thousands of people studied, only 5% on Rx’s got better.

            I was cured in two weeks after STOPPING 5 AD’s, I did it cold turkey too. 

            They want you to experience side effects, “Whoa, slow down there, is seems you’re experiencing episodes again, let’s up your dosage.” Assholes almost killed me.  

            Insurances won’t pay for substantial mental health visits,” Educate on how to Medicate & Tolerate!”

      1. (Insert anti-depressant name here) is THOUGHT TO do this or BELIEVED TO do that. 

        There is no proof on how anti depressants work. Their “proof”  is, get this, SIDE EFFECTS. “Hum, they must be doing SOMETHING, or this patient wouldn’t be having side effects.”

        That’s like filling a gas tank full of water, letting the car roll down a hill, then say “Hum, the water must be doing something, the cars moving.” 

    2. Medication isn’t the “cure” – I was treated for depression for two years and can say with 100% certainty that the medication did not “cure” me. What it did was allow me to break the vicious cycle that made it nearly impossible to get out of bed, much less do anything else. What ultimately “cured” me was therapy, exercise, and finally getting out of the hell that was graduate school. [Edit to say that I also had/have a vitamin D deficiency that I take a supplement for, and use a 10,000 lux light therapy lamp in the mornings]. None of those things would have been possible without the medication FIRST, but it’s not a cure in the way that antibiotics are cures.

      I got to the end of the H&1/2 post and all I could think of was The Doors’ “Break On Through”.

  1. The turning point in the depression – the desire to re-watch Jumanji.

    I mean yeah it’s alright, but if I had read that on 4chan the first think I would think is: not sure if trolling…

    1. not sure if trolling…

      Really?  This is obviously very sincere.  And spot-on (I don’t suffer from depression, but have friends who do).

      I think you need to stop spending so much time on 4chan, because you’ve lost the ability to determine what is sincere and what is actually trolling.

      1. Yes really.  As in the part where I stated – “if I had read that on 4chan.”

        My wife has suffered from depression and I can completely relate to the abject emotionless being a person becomes.  I believe everything she wrote is sincere, honest, and from a very personal place in her life.  If anything I applaud her for being able to take something so personal and present it in a less serious but emotional way that allows many people to better understand what she went through.

  2. That fantastic blog has inspired me so many times. Her artwork is especially astounding, and affecting. 

  3. Hmm, I don’t know. I’ve been thinking I’ve been having depression, but I’m not experiencing anything like this. I get up, go to work, go out sometimes.

    It just all seems… kinda meaningless.

    Maybe it’s just ennui. A year of ennui.

  4. That absolute hollow sucking apathy is the worst part of depression for me. Even the crushing anger/self-hatred/bad feeling stages are better in some ways, at least to me…that ‘I don’t give a fuck anymore’ nothingness scares the shit out of me.

    It’s the point where I know it is really, really, really bad and I need to get actual help. So maybe it’s an upswing in that way, but only in the sense that hitting rock bottom is an upswing. IME.

    Also: Disqus sucks big time. It has taken me five minutes to type this out. It’s like watching someone hunt-and-peck.

  5. …so it didn’t matter. JUST LIKE EVERYTHING ELSE

    Yep. Some people really, truly get it.

    Some people don’t, and they probably never will. I envy those peopel, but not too much.

    1. Wow, a link promoting Vitamin D fro,,, THE VITAMIN D COUNCIL??? Gasp.

      Got any double blind research reported by folks without financial interest in the question?

      You know, actual SCIENCE?

      Because your anecdotes, about that working, it does, for some people.

      Those are the people who have Vitamin deficiencies, and need more sun.

      But everyone else with depression, you just blew all them off AND belittled them. Thumbs up, right, that’s an awesome pastime you have.

  6. The thing about this page is that it divides the people up in the room: If you laughed your ass off, you’ve been exactly right there, and probably have a lot in common with those of us who have clinical lifelong depression. If you said, “Medication/sunshine/nutritional supplement x of the week fixes that,” you are not us, speaking as someone who just re-surfaced out of a particularly bad bout of depression the day before this entry was published with an eerily similar experience….right down to the bicycle and being badly dressed upon it. 

    I’m *on* medication. I’m taking a therapeutic dose. What medication gives me doesn’t resemble anything like a “cure.” It gives me more days in a year where I don’t think, “I should get up. No, I hate myself too much.” Those days are great, I love them, I’m really glad I have them. But it is nothing like a cure, and that is the gap between situational depressions of all sorts (because damn it, when you have situational depression, you have a bloody good *reason* to be sad, don’t ever forget it) that solve with medication, Vitamin D3, exercise, and a change in diet. 

    I do all of these things.

    It gains me more days in a year where I don’t win the game of stand in the corner looking stupid. That’s great. It is an order of magnitude better.

    It is not a cure.

    And if you’re not standing on this side of the room with me: Bless you. I hope you don’t really end up over here. Sunshine and more milk doesn’t fix it. And yeah, that sucks, but I’m sure glad I got this day, where I got to *laugh* at it.

      1. I hope that you’re at least making money from peddling a product only supported by anecdotal evidence, biased research and a huff po article.

        Mentioning it is one thing, but you’ve gone WAY beyond that; you’re preaching it.

        1. Post proof that anti depressants work and HOW they work. Didn’t I see you in my doctor’s office today, you were wearing a pretty nice suit and had a huge briefcase and tossing samples around.

          1. You know, it’s not like Vit D pills and injections are found inside lotus buds. They come from pharmaceutical companies, too. Just less regulated ones.

  7. “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.”  

    That is the explanation I wish I had had whenever someone suggested “just try harder to get better”.

  8. that is blatantly untrue!!!!. I personally know at least 15  people who have been put on large doses of vitamin D by their doctor. That is nuts. Even the nurse at my daughter’s pediatrician said that half the kids that come to the practice have to supplement Vitamin D now because there is an epidemic of *severely*  low Vitamin D, rickets low.    Large volumes of Vitamin D does not weaken your bones. And maybe you don’t know it but where I live you could lay in the sun all day long between October and March and not produce one drop of vitamin D from the sun. North of 35. I am at the 45th paralell. Oh , what am I doing, this is such utter bullsh8t! I refuse to waste my time with this anymore. You can’t help anyone. Especially not people who do not want to help themselves.

      1. yeah, and what you guys are doing (psychologists and psychiatrists, yeah, thats working out well).  I was only sharing my OWN PERSONAL STORY. I don’t have anything to sell any of you. What am I going to do, sell you the D3 from my medicine cabinet? I was sincerely trying to be helpful. I am deeply sorry for offending anyone. I will certainly *never* waste my time with this again because it is clearly pointless. Call me a jerk, call me a know it all, call me unpleasant. The one thing that you can’t call me is fuc8king depressed!

          1. One reply to multiple commenters is sufficient if you’re saying essentially the same thing. We try to discourage repetition in the interests of keeping threads from becoming monotonous. And you’re miles behind today’s winner, who said the same thing 53 times in three hours.

          2. good, point well taken. I am a done Tom Turkey. I have never commented (this much) on any one post or any website in my entire life. I just happen to feel very passionate about it after all of the money, time, and never ending misery I endured trying to treat my depression through traditional routes.

          3. I hear where you’re coming from.  Some folks are likely concerned you may injure yourself through supplements that they’re concerned are harmful, some folks have the same investment in traditional medication that you have in Vitamin D and are afraid you might be missing out.  It’s great that you found something that worked for you.  MD’s who I’ve talked to about this generally admit to a trial and error approach to choosing which agent(s) and what dosage.  Don’t worry about the argumentative, life’s too short.

          4. We appreciate you passion, truly, rock on, but we do not appreciate the ends it drive you to.

            You absolutely were dismissing anyone else’s approach, and you removed any evidence of your words to that effect from the record. That’s not the best healthiest course of action for the community or the discussion at hand, but it probably works best for you, and I will leave it there.

        1. “yeah, and what you guys are doing (psychologists and psychiatrists,
          yeah, thats working out well).  I was only sharing my OWN PERSONAL
          STORY. I don’t have anything to sell any of you. What am I going to do,
          sell you the D3 from my medicine cabinet. I was sincerely trying to be
          helpful. I am deeply sorry for offending anyone. I will certainly
          *never* waste my time with this again because it is clearly pointless.”

          If my work saves even one person, that’s working out well for that one person, I’m not out to win medals or prove my existence to anyone.

          The problem is that you weren’t just sharing your OWN PERSONAL STORY, you were dismissing the possibility that there may be other factors and assuming that you have the magic cure. The truth is, if that worked for the percentages you were claiming earlier (that you’ve now edited out – way to stand by your own words), then a lot more people would be taking it. Backing up your claims with popular media articles and/or anecdotal evidence doesn’t actually “prove” anything.

          1. I never  ever*dismissed* the possibility that there may be other factors!  I simply stated that I believed from my own personal experience, that a large number of the cases might be attributed to  nutritional deficiencies, etc. I wasn’t trying to *prove* anything, I was sharing my story and someone asked for sources of info, that was simply the first info I was able to find quickly, there is a lot more info out there. I was basing my comment on my own personal experience. QUITE obviously this will not apply to each and every case! I am not a professional, I am a life long sufferer.

          2. “I never  ever*dismissed* the possibility that there may be other factors!”

            I’d be happy to point out the places where it looked like you were dismissing other factors, but given that you’ve gone back and edited out all of your posts to either be blank or say something quite the opposite, it’s not possible. It’s unfortunate that you are so passionate about this topic and yet not willing to stand by your own words and arguments.

          3. “it looked like you were dismissing other factors” I have apologized for the fact it read that way. As I said, that is not what I *MEANT*. This is why I deleted the comment. Offending people is the opposite of my intent.

          4. ..and yes, I deleted my comments because obviously they were not coming across in the way that I intended. My intentions were to help others like me, not offend a bunch of people so they would take it upon themselves to sh8t all over me. This is not the way that I want to spend my time. I happen to be home with my sick daughter today and I chose the wrong path in my internet adventures.

      2. And Youtube  is akin to The National Academy of Sciences? I here they have “music videos” too. 

    1. I agree, I worked at many doctors offices, and people came in for Vit D shot’s all the time. 

      ~Last week, a report in the prestigious US journal Proceedings of the National Academy of Sciences revealed that people with higher levels were more likely to survive colon, breast and lung cancer. This follows last year’s University of San Diego review of 40 years of research, which revealed that a daily dose could halve the risk of breast and bowel cancer.

      Other claims are that it reduces the risk of heart disease (a study of 10,000 women in California found that those who took supplements had a 31 per cent lower risk of dying from it), diabetes (in a Finnish study of 12,000 children, it cut their chance of developing Type A diabetes by 80 per cent), even colds and flu (New Yorkers who took vitamin D had flu 70 per cent less often).~

      I personally collected and charted information during the massive Women’s Health Initiative study. Vitamin D is an integral link in sustaining good health.

  9. “Best of luck to you with your depression.”

    I’m not depressed, interesting assumption though. However, I am a clinical psychologist who works with several people who wouldn’t be magically cured by your solution of more vitamin D.

    1. Laura NEVER used the work magic. She’s not talking “magic”. I hope you don’t skew your patients words like that too. Shameful coming from someone in a questionable profession. Psychology has and will be branded worse that a vitamin produced in the body by the sun. 

  10. Laura, it seems to me that you have a good heart and are mainly wanting to share your success story; however, you’re coming across a little strong and are alienating your audience.  I would suggest you not use HuffPo as a scientific resource. The article you pointed to was written by a non-medically-qualified person quoting  someone else who makes a living selling Vitamin D products. 

    Instead, find a friend who has access to PubMed, the national database of peer-reviewed scientific research articles.  You’ll actually find a lot of good studies being done on Vitamin D and depression.

    I’m so glad you found something that worked for you.

    1. You are right on all points. It is very exciting to be free of depression after all of these years. I didn’t take time to put a lot of thought into it. I just responded to this post from my heart. It was on my mind and it is obviously a huge issue in the world that we live in. I don’t have enough free time to make a crusade out of this but thanks for the tips.

    2. I don’t disagree with what you said, and liked that you said it kindly.  I’d also like to point out that PubMed is accessible to everyone on the internet, though I’m old enough to remember when it wasn’t.    Most abstracts and a few full text articles are freely available.

    1.  I read where you said you were DONE and dropping out of the conversation … for the *third* time … so I kept scrolling looking for more, and here it is! Thank you. That’s hilarious. Oh, and I see there’s even more below this. Awesome.

  11. Sheesh, isn’t it obvious that anyone paying attention to their Vitamin Whatever intake is also going to be paying attention to their health in general? None of it is a “cure” for clinical depression (speaking from personal experience) but it helps. Just the act of getting out of bed, eating a yogurt instead of a vodka, and then going for a bike ride helps. It’s not going to “fix you” but it’s baby steps out of huddling in that corner looking stupid.

    Personally I take 5-HTP and iron and zinc and a multi. Placebo effect, maybe, but who cares? Managing to drag my ass across the room and take them at all is a tiny little victory. Leaving the house while the sun is out is a tiny little victory. Getting to the supermarket for real food instead of corner bodega ramen is a tiny little victory. Go from there.

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