And the Depressed One Said, “Let There Be Laughter.”

I was going through some old files today, culling the herd so to speak, and I came across some notes on depression humor.  With just bidding farewell to a crazy January and looking to a cold and bleak February, I thought it might be time to add a little humor to the darkness that often surrounds depression both for the people in the midst of it and those who care for them. Even in the direst of times, if we are able to laugh, we can make it through one more moment, one more encounter.  Laughter is a lot like changing a diaper.  You know it won’t be a permanent change, but it will help at least for a time.   

One of the many people we interviewed related a story of the first days she had been institutionalized for her depression.  It had been a rough day and she was feeling lower than she had in a long time.  Tears came readily and with great force.  A well meaning nurse came up to her, placed her hand on her shoulder and said, “What’s the matter, honey.”  The depressed one looked up and without skipping a beat or a tear said, “I’m crying.  I’m depressed.  It’s my job and it’s part of the job description.”  She remembered laughing about it later and the laughter lifting her spirits.  

Another person, finding it difficult each day to get up enough energy to do anything, thought that Apple should come out with a pedometer for depressed people and title it IPlod.    

Another depressed person had become obsessed with possibly having some disease, had dutifully researched it in the library and came up with a series of tests to prove one way or the other if the disease was present.  Enlisting the help of his wife, they went through the tests, his obsessiveness driven by depression leading him to repeat the tests again and again and again to be certain.  Soon they were both laughing at the ridiculousness of it all and hugged, seeing a light of true joy for one brief moment.   

Depression is a serious illness but it is an illness of people who were born to laugh and cry and smile and frown.  It is an illness that grows a little dimmer each time a laugh crosses the lips of those suffering or those caring for those who are in pain.  As a caregiver, your burden will be lighter and hope will rear up each and every time you are able to smile, to laugh, to meet that disease with humor and say, “A depressed person, a caregiver, a priest, a rabbi and a nun walk into a bar and the bartender looks up and says, ‘What is this?  Some kind of joke?” 

-Bernadette

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