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Manic Depressive Illness Needs a Sense of Humor (Guest Blog)

Posted Sep 15 2011 12:21am

Tonight’s guest post comes from reader/author/artist/poet Meredith who runs two different blogs- one on manic-depression called The Daily Bipolar   and another that showcases her poetry and art: Gurgling Thoughts . Meredith examines how humor can impact life:

I used to have a sense of humor. Sometimes it pops out now, but when I was younger, without children or any real ties, I had a sense of humor mixed with cynicism and at times anger. Of course, then I was self-medicating with alcohol, acid, pot, pretty much anything but the heroin and PCP.

I married a man who has an over-the-top sense of humor – everything is funny. Every situation got laughed at and not enough was taken seriously. At first, this was ok and didn’t stress me out. It was when we had children that things started splintering.

I got serious, really serious. Solemnity became a badge I wore strung so tightly to my heart it took years before those ties would begin to unravel. I believe much of my seriousness is from fear (i.e., anxiety), a fear that if a problem isn’t taken seriously, nothing will be done to solve it. Carrying the weight of the world on my shoulders was natural to me and none of it was funny, to laugh would just be disrespectful.

After the divorce, I was finally able to see his part in the turmoil and that I wasn’t crazy. With distance from his humor-laden conversations, my own sense of humor slowly emerged.

Being able to laugh at oneself makes living, in general, easier (once past the embarrassment) and makes living with bipolar lighter and much more manageable. My children have taught me how to laugh at myself. It’s a good thing too, since they’re two of the main reasons my world got so serious! J

There are times we get into giggling fits at the dinner table, even when it relates to manners. My mother would be appalled as manners are no laughing matter. I have found that I must take my laughter when it comes, for the most part, because it doesn’t come that often. After so many years of working on it, it actually feels good and less scary to let go. My wife may not always agree with me when I laugh at something the kids say in response to my discipline, but sometimes that’s ok.

I will always remember one of the funniest things my daughter did. We went camping this summer and as we were packing up to go, the kids were in the tent trailer getting things ready. My son (13) said something and my daughter (15) hit him.

I sent him out of the trailer and looked at her (stonily) for a moment. I said, “Who do you think you are?” She replied, “Runnin’ ‘round leaving scars.” My pursed lips were suddenly perforated with zerbet sounds as I laughed involuntarily. She cracked up, too. I still laugh when I think about it. Eventually, we got down to the brass tacks, but now that scene is remembered when certain stress points arise. It allows us to laugh, relax, and solve the issue in a diplomatic fashion.

Some days, I go a day without laughing at all. Some days, I laugh in the company of myself reading someone’s blog or tweet. And there are those days, amazingly enough, when I have a lighter step and nothings seems to rile me. But I still have trouble predicting or controlling them. Gotta roll with it.


*If you are interested in writing a guest post for Struggling with the Elephant in the Room, please send an email to manicdepressiveblog [at]

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