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I'm Pimping as Fast as I Can: Perspectives on Depression from Eilowyn, Allie Brosh, and Angearia

Over the past year I've seen some sincere and well-intended comments in fandom re: how Buffy copes with depression in S6 that I've wanted to respond to but frankly have been at a loss. (What, me, at a loss for words? Yep. You can stop laughing now.) Because I try to do the usual mental somersaults "Don't take it personally they're not talking about me bitty blah..." and then end up walking away because the friendship is more important, right? (Right?)A.K.A, I'm a coward.  I do take it personally, however hard I try not to. Depression is so terribly difficult to describe to others because I can barely begin to wrap my own mind around it. If I don't understand it, how I can expect anyone who hasn't experienced it to be able to do so? It's a highly-stigmatized subject: don't ask, don't tell. Mental illness receives less respect and real science in terms of care and treatment than, say, athletes foot or erectile dysfunction. Season 5 touches on the disparities of treatment in terms of socio-economic factors, as well the huge divide between the care Joyce receives for a "physical ailment" vs that of Glory's victims, including Tara.

Fortunately, there are other people in this fandom and outside of it who are braver, smarter and more eloquent than I am, especially when it comes to this very personal and difficult subject.  When I'm at a loss all I need do is create a link and say "This". The biggest library in the whole damn world is right at my fingertips, assuming I can remember where anything is located:

[Warning: Major Pimpage ahead! Fasten your seatbelts...]
"Buffy and Trauma, Part 1: Where I'm Coming From" by eilowyn : "This series of meta posts, which begins with this one, originally was supposed to be one giant mega meta. I would view Buffy’s trauma and depression academically, put forth a thesis, support it with evidence, and conclude it succinctly. Meta doesn’t come easy for me, but academic writing does. However, the more I thought about Buffy’s situation and my situation, the more this giant mega post became smaller, separate posts. I had so much to say, and the only way I could say it all is if I told this story of my depression and Buffy’s trauma and depression in pieces. This is the first piece, in which I candidly discuss my depression, and how I came to win the fight against it."

I'm grateful that she chose to write it the way she did, because an entirely academic essay wouldn't be nearly as meaningful to me. Her actual, lived experience offers me something that clinical descriptions or analysis can't: recognition and a sense of relief that it's not just me after all - hey, I may be going crazy but at least I'm not going crazy alone, right? (Right?) Buffy Summers is not just an intellectual construct to me; she touches my heart and appeals to my mind equally, as does this essay. The greatest gifts I received the moment I walked with her into Sunnydale High School  - from Buffy herself, the 'verse and its fandom - are hope, relief, and comfort from people who identify with Buffy's struggles as I do, and write openly and courageously about their personal experiences with a highly misunderstood and stigmatized condition. I admire
eilowyn's courage and hope that I can make it my own, and pass her precious gifts along to someone else.


"But it wasn’t just intelligence that marked Buffy as something different. In a world rigged to make us feel alone and insignificant, Buffy gave us hope. It made us feel as though we were a part of something bigger than ourselves, that we belonged....Even now, so many years after the end of the show, there are still new fans finding their way into Sunnydale. Buffy doesn’t care that they’re late to the game. She’s’ been waiting for them – and she accepts all of them exactly as they are." - Letter from Amber Benson in The Making of A Slayer


"Depression, Part 2" is the latest update from Allie Brosh on Hyperbole and a Half : "The beginning of my depression had been nothing but feelings, so the emotional deadening that followed was a welcome relief.  I had always wanted to not give a fuck about anything. I viewed feelings as a weakness — annoying obstacles on my quest for total power over myself. And I finally didn't have to feel them anymore. But my experiences slowly flattened and blended together until it became obvious that there's a huge difference between not giving a fuck and not being able to give a fuck. Cognitively, you might know that different things are happening to you, but they don't feel very different."

Nearly every word Allie writes describes my own experience of depression with frightening, precise accuracy: the numbing fog, the hopelessness, the inability to feel not only positive feelings (joy, love) but even negative ones - to be able to have a good cleansing cry or scream, when the tears just won't come anymore (and what's the point anyway, right? Right?) But then her drawings - bright, childlike, sly and witty - poke the bubble of self-pity or gloom that a lesser artist might evoke. I can laugh again at my own situation, at the absurdity of it all, without feeling the pressure to lie to myself. Not "All fixed now", but "this too shall pass."

I can't end this post without a nod to angearia 's "My Depression, My Hero" - the first meta about depression I read in this fandom that made the small still voice inside my heart whisper "That's me"; and it's companion piece on depression and creativity (with nifty Parks and Rec gifs!) Emmie's work has been a huge influence on my own writing here, not necessarily in terms of style but moreso subject matter and the simple motivation necessary to speak courageously from the heart.

Also I will never pass up a chance to pimp her stuff, or eilowyn's, because I'm always encountering new or even veteran buffyverse fans who have not heard of them yet. (Come to that, there are people in fandom I've talked to who have never ever heard of the_royal_anna.  How the hell is that even possible? You could sooner explain to me just how many angels do indeed dance on the head of that damned pin.) This is clearly an error that must be corrected, one fan at a time if necessarily.
Thank you for sharing these.
I also want to thank you for sharing Hyperbole and a Half. I've read that article and I agree that it speaks on depression in so many ways.
You're welcome, hon! I should give fray_adjacent credit; she has an icon w/ one of Allie's drawings and that reminded me to check for updates from Allie.

Part 1 is good but this is even better IMO; part 1 ends with an almost hopeful sense "I don't give a damn what anybody thinks and it's liberating!" Pt 2 is what happens next - when "I don't give a damn" reveals itself to be "I can't give a damn even though I want to" There's a huge difference between choosing to not give a damn and being unable to.

And the corn thing, that breakthrough of emotions? That "Riley" post I did the other week was probably inspired by my "piece of corn" - it took rage instead of laughter to make me feel strongly enough, but it worked.