Hi everyone! Today I’m here with my stop on the Orphan Monster Spy blog tour and I’m really proud to be sharing an article from the author Matt Killeen where he pays tribute to one of his own female heroes.
I have struggled with anxiety and depression for decades. For the purposes of clarification, when I say that, I mean I have had periods of crippling, life-destroying and all-encompassing visits from the black dog – a huge, voracious and fanged hound that did its best to tear me from my family and from myself. Sarah’s dream dogs in Orphan Monster Spy have nothing on it.
I am not alone in this, one in four people suffer from depression in their lifetime and one in six people are depressed at any one time but it remains a misunderstood blight on human existence. It ruins lives and literally kills.
One reason for this is a dearth of true understanding in society at large. To explain the inexplicable, most people turn to the arts. However, most profoundly depressed people can’t get out of bed, let alone create anything, and recovering depressives tend to fail to capture the experience in the aftermath. It’s called perception-dropout. It isn’t possible to remember the mental state in enough detail once you’ve left it behind…it’s like a conversation with Saruman or a visit from Doctor Who‘s The Silence.
Enter Allie Brosh, “a heroic, caring, alert and flammable” blogger, best known to the world as an MSPaint-style stick figure in a pink dress with an asymmetrical triangle of blonde hair. She has been stricken with bouts of prolonged depression that have made her contributions to her blog, Hyperbole and a Half, intermittent, but her small oeuvre is of priceless value.
“All the things” or Why I’ll Never be an Adult, for which she is most famous, nails anxiety, but it is her duology, Adventurers in Depression that makes her one of humankind’s most important storytellers.
The moment when Allie finds herself having to comfort loved ones due to her own suicidal thoughts – “no, see, I don’t necessarily want to kill myself, I just want to become dead somehow” – rang painfully, eardrum-burstingly, true. No one had come close to encapsulating this moment that I had experienced, but couldn’t even explain to myself. Likewise, the dead fish analogy remains the most persuasive and accurate description that currently exists of society’s failure to get what depression is and just how poisonous our simplistic efforts to fix it can be.
It’s powerful stuff, because like Menace, The God of Cake, the ice shorts, Simple Dog and How Kenny Loggins Ruined Xmas, it’s also hilarious. It communicates the deep horror of the moment that everything is spiders and yet you feel nothing, in a way that a dry but accurate description just couldn’t. It’s warm and terrifying simultaneously. It’s art, at its very, very best.
Allie hasn’t blogged in a while and I suspect that isn’t because she’s out loving life and too busy to write anything. To Allie, all I can say is, that whatever kitchen floor you are sitting on, crying or giggling in turns about a shrivelled piece of corn under the refrigerator, I am there too, holding your hand.
I’d like to say a huge thank you to Matt for sharing such an honest and powerful tribute with us today. Please make sure to check out the rest of his posts on the tour!
Orphan Monster Spy
Author: Matt Killeen
Genre: YA, Historical Fiction
Publication Date: 8th March 2018 (UK)
Format: Paperback (400 pages)