TODAY

TODAY   |  November 19, 2013

Artist uses comics to fight depression

Jenna Bush Hager talks to popular blogger Allie Brosh about how her “Hyperbole and a Half” comics are therapeutic for her and the thousands of fans who follow her who also suffer from depression.

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This content comes from Closed Captioning that was broadcast along with this program.

>>> blog.

>> it has turned her into an internet sensation and now she is out with a new book of the same name . today jenna bush -hager went in search of the web comic .

>> i did. good morning. she calls herself a draw writer on her blog. she is the most profound, funniest, most brilliant writer of all time. hyperbole aside i caught up with her in new york.

>> dear 2-year-old, face cream is not in a bowl. it's always going to be face cream and it's never going to be frosting.

>> 28-year-old allie lives in oregon with their husband duncan. every frame of their lives inspired their work. she writes about everything from eating an entire cake to her aversion to cleaning to more serious topics like anxiety and the fear of growing up. some of her most popular essays feature her very confused dogs.

>> so i have two dogs. one is very simple. she is adorable, very sweet but simple minded and the other one is narotic and she is a jerk.

>> in the book you have code names to protect their privacy obviously.

>> yes. my dogs are very concerned. there's the simple dog and the helper dog.

>> reporter: it all began as a hobby four years ago.

>> you started with a few followers. it was just a place for you and then all of a sudden it took off.

>> yeah. it was insane. i remember something so impressed that there were like three or eight people commenting on the things i was doing. i was like oh my gosh -- i walked in the living room and told my husband, duncan there are eight entire people looking at what i wrote.

>> reporter: soon she was getting 5 million hits a month. she even announced a book deal, but then she vanished. she would later explain in revealing blog posts that she was suffering from a crippling depression.

>> some people have a legitimate reason to feel depressed but not me. i just woke up one day feeling sad and helpless.

>> reporter: thousands of fans wrote to her. they were worried and thankful for her bravery and what they said was a near perfect description of how so many experience depression.

>> depression is a really isolating experience. so you can -- it tends to feel that you're the only one that miserable in the entire world. you have your little pity party. everyone comes to me and says like you writing about this has helped me and made me feel less alone. me hearing that makes me feel less alone. it's nice. it circles back around.

>> there's still a stigma around mental health . do you hope this book in some way will help with that stigma?

>> i do hope that anything that i write could help open up that dialogue a little bit more.

>> i'm going to be reading the god of cake.

>> reporter: she uses laugher to fight the pain. with a little girl with funny hair and a wisdom that reaches so many and because her art is as powerful as her words, i invited her to the easel.

>> this is going to be you.

>> you have pretty hair there.

>> i do like the way my hair looks and my eyes are bulging out.

>> here i am and i put out my hand, which is an arrow and then there you are. your little curly hand. you shake mine and that's where the magic happens.

>> and then we sat down and we talked. and then you were saying -- i don't know, stuff, shapes.

>> so now the end is this. do you see where i'm going with this? or not quite yet.

>> are we hugging?

>> yeah. it's a hug.

>> i'm glad you guessed it because i'm not sure that looks like a hug. i may not be an artist.

>> you were great.

>> but she is and what her fans say, she is still struggling with depression but she uses this humor and art and she even drew something for you and i think she actually got you all exactly right.

>> oh.