In early 2016 I suffered a depression relapse. May was the worst month in years. I won’t get into details. For now that remains private. Needless to say, it was a struggle getting back to a point where I could function. I’m stable again. For now.
I once wrote how humour is important. Humour is a positive emotion that lets us cope with emotional pressures. It’s an ability to find things funny. With depression, humour is a weapon, a shield, an emotional salve. A laugh or a smile doesn’t mean you’re happy. Most times, its the opposite reality.
When I first slid down the rabbit hole of depression, my humour was comatose. I couldn’t wake it if I tried. I’d be annoyed and irritated by ‘funny’ things. TV comedies seemed outright stupid. Want to tell me a joke? Let me tell you instead about everything that’s wrong and bad with my life and this world.
I didn’t laugh. I cried. I bawled. I raged against being alive. I attempted suicide. Then, much later, I began to see hope. I began to believe in myself. I started to love myself. Somewhere inside me, humour woke up.
I can recall the first time I laughed after years of silence. For me, the joyful sound bursting out felt sort of like the critter in Alien. I ached.
The function of laughter
Theorist Martin Armstrong, who wrote about the function of laughter in society, may have said it best when he wrote, “For a few moments, under the spell of laughter, the whole man is completely and gloriously alive: body, mind and soul vibrate in unison… the mind flings open its doors and windows… its foul and secret places are ventilated and sweetened.”
Humour brings relief from pain. Even a moment away from fear and anxiety is a blessing when you’re depressed.
Humour lets you laugh at things that frighten you. By being sarcastic or witty, you’re bringing something that’s frightening under control and making it less menacing. A good example is Woody Allen’s comment, “I’m not afraid of dying. I just don’t want to be there when it happens.”
Humour can replace logical thought for a moment. Making it possible to imagine a world that’s better for you.
Laughter doesn’t cure depression. But recognizing the humour that life naturally provides can strengthen hope.
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