Beyond Blue

Beyond Blue


Laughter as Mental Medicine

posted by Beyond Blue

The blog, “We Must Not Think Too Much,” is becoming one of my trusted sources of cool stories about depression and mental illness. I have no idea how she is able to scour all the sources she does. But she’s making my life easier.
Recently she posted writer Doug Williamson’s story in the “Windsor Star” about seven comedians struggling with mental illness, who took the stage at the Caboto Club for the kickoff of Mental Health Week, organized by the Windsor-Essex County branch of the Canadian Mental Health Association.
Says the article, which you can get to by clicking here:

“I went a whole year without laughing or smiling, I just wanted to die,” said Denise Jackson of Windsor, one of the neophyte comics who performed at the Caboto Club, and who is being treated for bipolar disorder.
“The message I’m trying to share is there’s hope,” said Jackson, 45. “Whatever people are experiencing, people have experienced it before. I’m just doing what I need to take care of myself.”
People with mental illness also suffer from the effects of misplaced public perceptions, said Vancouver comedian and counsellor David Granirer, founder of Stand Up for Mental Health, a group which advocates using comedy to empower the mentally ill.

The cliche that laughter is the best medicine holds true, he said. “When you have mental illness there’s a lot of shame. All of a sudden (comedy) diffuses the shame.”
Jackson, in an interview before her seven-minute routine, said a combination of religious faith, therapy and “caring people” have helped her, and said the experience of delivering standup comedy was exciting.
“I want people to be inspired. What we set our mind to, we can do.”
Bill Hamel, 57, of Windsor, said he has always harboured a secret desire to do comedy. His routine focused on subjects as varied as coffee addiction, song titles, the Rolling Stones’ Mick Jagger and the Beatles.
“In there, I talk about schizophrenia and psychosis,” he said. “Really, what I’m trying to do is make people laugh.”
He is bipolar, and suffers from post-traumatic stress and obsessive-compulsive disorders. He said he wanted to deliver his message to people with mental illness as well as those without.
“We’re just people,” Hamel said, adding he is well aware of public perceptions. “If I went for a job interview and told them I was bipolar, they’d be afraid of me.”
Granirer said coaching people with mental illness can be challenging.
“The subject matter is very serious,” he said, adding that some people are on medication or have cognitive impairments which can make preparation more difficult.
But then again, many professional comedians probably suffer from some form of mental illness without realizing it, he said.
“There’s the diagnosed and the undiagnosed,” he laughed.
“I think you’ve got to be a little bit nuts to do standup comedy.”

To read more Beyond Blue, go to www.beliefnet.com/beyondblue, and to get to Group Beyond Blue, a support group at Beliefnet Community, click here.



  • Joyce Bruns(JoyceB53)

    I think that if you can’t find humour in darned near any given situation, you are really in need of some serious help. One of the best laughs is when we are able to laugh at ourselves. After reading one of the comments from yesterday’s post, I’m really glad you posted this, about humour, today. And I especially enjoyed the link to the blog about the nervous breakdown, because I found some quotes there to put on my refrigerator! So thank you for today’s post.

  • joanna

    I went a long time without laughter. God gave me my laugh. Everyone I meet, tells me that when I laugh it makes them laugh. That is God. His blessings just don’t fall on me. They spread to others. I thank him for my new laugh. I appreciate the fact that I can laugh. It fels good.

  • Cracked Pot

    Haven’t you always really suspected God has a tremendous sense of humor?
    Have you ever seen a Ostrich running?
    Have you taken a good look at a Duck-billed Platypus? It looks like God was creating the world and had a few extra parts left over and said, “Hey, Let’s just take this duck bill and stick it on a beaver and see what happens. It’ll be fun.”
    God made a covenant with a childless husband. When the husband told his wife the news of God’s promise; “she laughed and laughed.” You see the husband Abraham was 100 years old and Sarah, the wife, was 90 years old. Sarah gave birth to a son. They named him Isac. Isac means: Laughter!!!

  • Jim

    I have to agree with Cracked Pot. God does have a sense of humor. I
    was talking to my priest one day, bemoaning the fact that I hoped my
    sense of humor didn’t get me in trouble with God. He said, Jim, don’t
    worry, God made humans, so He must have a sense of humor.
    I suffer from major depression, and even with meds, it can knock me
    into the dirt. Laughter, and the ability to laugh at myself, are the
    only ways to get back up again.
    I was a respiratory therapist at a level 1 trauma center and the
    pain and suffering we witnessed caused us to indulge in what some
    would call gallows humor. But it was needed to keep us sane. If
    we can keep things in context, we will be okay!

  • Cracked Pot

    Hi Jim,
    You and your priest are kindred spirit’s! I have been know on many occasions to get Church Giggles.
    I had one recently at a Full Staff Meeting with the President speaking. I covered my, tears running down my cheeks, face with a sheet of paper, but there was nothing to be done about the bobbing shoulders except:
    Note To Self: “NEVER make eye contact during Staff meetings! ”
    I’ve know people who don’t have depression and also don’t have a sense of humor.
    Now that is sad. And I have empathy for them.
    I have always had a sense of humor and I *Will* not let one of God’s gift be taken from me. Never gonna’ happen! &:-) LOL

  • martin cromartie

    I read somewhere that “A friendship formed from laughter is always fortuitous ” My best friend upon our introduction went out of his way to make me and everyone around us laugh. Some thought he was irritating but I and others laughed with him. He is now my business partner and friend.
    Laughter is the best medicine, I always say!
    EAGLE OUT!
    PEACE !

  • http://www.iwatchsupernaturalonline.com/ Supernatural

    laughter is a great medicine. so keep laughing. ha ha ha……
    Joke:-
    Before marriage….
    He: Yes. At last. It was so hard to wait.
    She: Do you want me to leave?
    He: No! Don’t even think about it.
    She: Do you love me?
    He: Of course! Over and over!
    She: Have you ever cheated on me?
    He: No! Why are you even asking?
    She: Will you kiss me?
    He: Every chance I get.
    She: Will you hit me?
    He: Are you crazy! I’m not that kind of person!
    She: Can I trust you?
    He: Yes.
    She: Darling!
    After marriage….
    Simply read from bottom to top.

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