Laughter can be a form of therapy for depression, and it can help with anxiety, but it is no cure. You can’t cure mental illness by going to a comedy show, telling jokes, or watching funny movies. At times, it can be nearly impossible to even laugh when you are deeply depressed. Laughter can be therapeutic. It can be relaxing and it also sheds a small amount of light into the darkness, but it doesn’t take the sadness away. Mental illness is a chemical imbalance and can only be treated, but not cured.
While struggling with depression after my break up with my ex-boyfriend, my therapist moved away, and before she left, she referred me to another therapist. My whole life seemed to be in shambles. I told my therapist how horrible I felt. I confided in her, that no matter what I did, I felt this overwhelming sadness. It seemed as if my life were hopeless. She looked at me and said, “Go home and watch a funny movie and you’ll feel better.”
It was all I could do to keep myself from jumping out of my chair. I thought of everything I wanted to say, but the words would not part my lips? If it were that easy, why the heck am I seeing you? How can a funny movie make me feel better? I just told you I am depressed, and that’s all you have to say? Aren’t you supposed to help me? I went home that night even more upset.
After a couple of sessions of spilling my heart out and my therapist telling me to do things that would make me laugh, I decided to find someone else who could help me. I met with a counselor through a program at work to help me find a new therapist. After telling the counselor about my therapist, he asked for her name. To my dismay, the man turned out to be her husband! But he did direct me to another counselor who could help me.
A friend at work started laughing when I told her about the situation. I found it embarrassing, but she pointed out the lighter side to it. With convincing, I soon was able to laugh about the whole thing. Humor showed me a different side to an embarrassing situation. It took my friend time to get me to laugh, but it did feel good. It helped ease my depression slightly and showed me a different way to look at a situation I thought was awful.
Many times while struggling with my illness, I would call my friend Cheryl in tears. I felt like I had fallen to the deepest part of my hole. I’d cry over the phone, telling her how I wanted to injure and end my life. She would tell jokes, make funny comments, and do whatever she could to make me laugh. My heart was sunken into the dark hole of my depression and at first I couldn’t find the strength to even smile, but Cheryl did not give up. She talked to me for hours until I finally laughed. Laughing helped me relax enough to sleep.
See, laughter is not a cure for mental illness, but it can be therapeutic. It’s hard to find humor in anything when you’re depressed, but give it a try. It can help you see things differently and help you feel better even for a little bit. A Funny movie will not make your illness go away, but laughter helps.
Now when I’m down and a person tells me to watch something funny, I tell them, “Thanks. I will. It’s part of my therapy, but not a cure.”
With medication, therapy and laughter, I have found the light.