5 Comments to
Pain and Humor: The Dark Side of Funny

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  1. This one I agree with wholeheartedly. My last good therapist commented on my ability to discuss my painful history and end with a joke. She said that as long as I was able to keep my sense of humor that there was a good chance that I was going to make. I have to say that is the best advice I have ever gotten.

    I was diagnosed in 2003 with epilepsy after crashing my new Mazda 626 into a tree while having a seizure. I was/am a single parent who worked as a fork lift driver or a line cook most of my life. So now I had to figure out how to take care of my little girl but not do the work I had been doing for 10+ years.

    Rather than sink into depression I chose to screw with people. When I would talk to people about it, especially if I was driving, I would pretend to have a seizure. Sick? Probably but it worked. It allowed me to realize that I could have a life beyond my new disease. Using that same sick sense of humor I was able to put myself through school to be able to support my daughter without risking mine or someone else’s life. It also helped me during those trial and error times when I was figuring out what would or would not trigger seizures, and dealing with the feeling of complete helplessness.

  2. At this very late staqe in my life when people question my ideas or my behaviors, I just smile at them and tell them I am a “complete” whack-job. I harm noone and I tell people, first, if they want to be my friend they need to admire me and place a great deal of value on me. It feels so good to no longer need to “explain” why I am the way I am.
    And it sure allows others to see they also need what I need.

  3. There is an ancient and noble tradition in mixing up the funny with the poignant. Shakespeare was a genius at it (e.g. the dying Mercutio in Romeo & Juliet who said “Tomorrow you will find me a grave man.”)and so, Therese, are you.

    I loved this interview, laughed out loud several times and was moved for many more. You are an inspiration.

  4. “Tomorrow you will find me a grave man.”-Mercutio, dying in Romeo and Juliet, Shakespeare
    This is one of my favorite lines ever! Thanks to the reader that posted it. It is so brilliantly able to convey a sad reality, yet soften it delivery through the use of humor.
    In my work with patients using humor is essential. I work with many depressed, anxious, and bipolar patients, and without the use of a joke or two, I am convinced my patients would not have had so much as a chuckle that day. (Maybe I give myself far too much credit!) I prefer to go out on a limb, taking a risk that the humor will add a more effective buoyancy to the vessel of their life. I admit, I lose a patient every once in a while because they simply don’t appreciate my brand of comedy, but like Therese says, I am willing to lose 2 in order to gain 98.
    Thank you for this great article, and wonderfully insightful interview!

  5. Thank you Don Dell, I loved your comment! I used to get so upset when people would insist I wasn’t “normal”. Now I am happy to say I too am a “complete” whack-job. I am also kind, responsible, and funny on occassion-so there. In solidarity my brother!



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