Wednesday, November 30, 2016

Cutting Through Depression - Chris Gethard

Chris Gethard's new one-man show, Career Suicide, finds a humourous way to tackle dark topics like suicide, depression and alcoholism. (Atisha Paulson)

Having a dark or a good sense of humour comes from pain I believe. Joni Mitchell's song People's Parties said that laughing and crying are the same release. But if we had our druthers most of us rather laugh than cry.

I used humour growing up, as a coping mechanism, to cope with alcoholism, mental illness, Multiple Sclerosis and death. Using humour to cope with what I call a big, dark, emotional, shit ball, it helped a lot, and sometimes I think might be dead otherwise under the heavy weight of that shit ball I carried around, didn't want to talk about and really didn't want anyone to know about.

When my young,handsome, intelligent, sensitive, creative and funny, and loving husband died at the age of 27, I thought he'd committed suicide, because in retrospect he'd appeared to have all the signs. I really had great difficulty explaining it all to myself, until I came to terms, begun to understand  and accept how he'd suffered for 14 years with drug induced Paranoid Schizophrenia, and Brittle Diabetes, and this is what eventually took his life.

Those with depression, who find themselves at that jumping off point, where the pain of living, is for them greater than the pain of dying, are mentally ill and not thinking right. And no, it is not a cowardly thing to do. There is so much stigma, misconception and assumption around mental illness, that most times this simply exacerbates an already difficult situation, making it worse.

Loved ones are left trying to make some kind of sense of why this suicide has happened. They wonder if there was something they could of done to prevent it from happening. The 'if only' and 'what if' rational is a useless exercise because illness happens, and loved ones don't cause, control, or can't cure any disease.

Because of a recent suicide in our small community, my thoughts have been about, how so many young people are suffering from depression, mental illness and are contemplating suicide or who have followed through. There is a serious epidemic throughout our country and there is simply not enough help, and little to no preventative help available either.

Listening to comedian Chris Gethard's interview yesterday affirms that humour can help to cut through depression and lift the veil of darkness and stigma that openly invites a dialogue through their humour.

When we laugh we feel better, no doubt due to how this effects our endorphins, dopamine, and serotonin, all feel good hormones.

I love comedians, and truth is, I'd love to do stand-up but I know couldn't do it for a profession, I'd be too stressed and anxious. But I understand why people do it, they use humor to cope and love making others laugh. There may be a connection between mental health problems and comedy with many pros and cons to being a comedian, but Stand-Up For Mental Health is definitely a positive.

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