Is laughter the best medicene?

04.08.14

Two blogs in two days – anyone would think i’m becoming committed to this project or something?! Or you might be thinking ‘i wish she’d blog off…’

Anyhoo – the above mockery has ‘deeper’ meanings – of which i will expand on below:-

Humour (or attempted) and self deprecation – both perhaps defernce mechanisms used by individuals to cope with situations/circumstances/certain people (can you relate?!). Both are suggested to be used more so in individuals with low self esteem…and low self esteem is often connected to mental health illnesses…hence a potential link with this project i think.

Giggles all round then?! No joking now – Humour is a powerful tool! One of my closest friends is a laughter therapist/advocate of all things giggletastic, alongside as being a bubble of fun, laughter and happiness herself!  There is plenty to suggest that laughter can be helpful – ‘its the best medicene’ as the saying suggests…Patch Adams (one of my faveorite films) looks at how helpful laughter is in medical settings (plus Robin Williams films are usually for comedy value – so you could benefit from watching it too!) and there is oodles of research suggesting many benefits to health/well being/social life of humour. ..PLUS – they often say if you can laugh at yourself…

But surely there has to be some boundaries – no one likes to be the butt of the joke or feel laughed at, do they? Sadly ‘Mental Illnesses’ are sometimes taken in a light hearted way. How many times have you heard about people’s ‘depression/OCD/disorders’ being used ‘lightly’ in conversation, without any formal diagnosis or real grounds for it. Whilst there is perhaps some benefit to being able to take things less seriously, ultimately hearing mental health issues spoken about in ‘light’ terms can make an individual feel mocked, belittled, resentful or just plain angry… it might prevent people seeking help they need, it might even stop them engaging in society.

Today i saw a sign saying “Do you suffer from mental illness..” and below it someone had written – “No i quite enjoy it”

I recall a quote, which i do quite like…”Why do angels fly?” Because they take themseleves lightly…

Which brings me onto the idea – is mental illness taken seriously – or too light hearted? Does media contribute? Do individuals? Does treatment as a whole?

I know i have heard people describe themselves as ‘a bit OCD’ and seen reference to being ‘Psycho’, ‘sucidal’ or ‘depressed’ in unwarranted terminology… I’ve also heard about someone being a ‘fashion schizophrenic’, meaning they cant decide what to wear…I’m not going to lie – sometimes it does seem a bit ‘below the belt’ and ‘inappropriate’… maybe you agree, or maybe i’m just a bit too sensitive…

Its’ not only mental health, where humour is used – one lady on a recent charity shop trip, told my father that she used to be able to find a “Needle in a haystack” and commented that “Now i cant even find the haystack” in reference to her failtering eye sight.

I also watched a touching documentary on the atrocities of the holocaust where a survivor told us that humour was a pointant part of his survival in war camps and still something he enjoyed a daily dose of! Amazing really when you consider that this was not a situation to be known for comedy value, and nor should it be in my opinion.

Plus every day you can see demonstation of humour being used – either helpfully or not… You just have to look for it!

 

I’m a great believer that humour can help – from hearing about the health benefits such as lowering blood pressure/increasing endorphins and helping the facial muscles, to experiencing the benefits of passing on a smile (and getting one back), watching a good comedy or having a comical catch up with good friends. I have been fortunate to come from a family where my father is extremely funny (in my opinion) and my sister similarly has a great sense of humour, i’ve also got very funny friends and enjoy a good giggle myself. I don’t always ‘hit the spot’ when humour is concerned, everyone’s different after all arent’ they (i refuse to believe my jokes aren’t funny…!!) and everyone will find different things ‘tickle them’…

In terms of Self deprecation too – i am one for always making fun of myself before anyone else has the chance to chip in – by the very nature of my illness i’ve never been a fan of chips anyway… but sometimes even i can see how making myself the ‘butt of the jokes’ can lead to a drop in my mood/confidence and sense of ability. I guess if i am always the one making fun of myself, i’m also granting others permission to do so and not really trying to help myself… just a thought i need to be mindful of, which may be disabling me more than i consider…

On an end note – I want to stress that mental health issues are no joking matter – statistics on mortality, suicide rates and reports of suffering , show this, but is there a balance here when it comes to humour? And is it ok for some to crack a joke and not for others, are certain situations more appropaire than others (any coupling fans will be familiar with the ‘giggle loop’ term) – i guess, and excuse the irony coming from an anorexic in recovery – where humour is concerned, perhaps its about weighing it up…

So – that’s my blog complete – until next time – have a happy week!

 

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