Laughter Is The Best Medicine

Laughter Is The Best Medicine

“I didn’t know at the time that being able to laugh about serious situations was good medicine, but laughter is the BEST medicine.”

Years before being diagnosed with bipolar disorder, at the end of 2005, I turned 19, and I spent about a week in the hospital to treat my major depression.  Just after I got out of the hospital, I was feeling like a zombie from the medication. But, I wanted to talk to someone about my experience in the hospital. I tried time after time to share that experience with someone I looked up to.

I was living with my cousin at the time. He was that someone I looked up to. He tried his best to be somewhat of a father figure to me during that year, but his version of tough love wasn’t as helpful as he may have intended.

I remember sitting with him at his office where he worked at his business selling used cars. I was stuck in my mind thinking about my life leading up to my hospitalization. I tried to figure out where I went wrong. Then there was a point where my thoughts shifted to something else.

For the first time since my 2005 hospitalization, I started to find some humor in my experience. I didn’t know at the time that being able to laugh about serious situations was good medicine. However, there was probably a reason my mind found the humor in it — I needed to heal.

Here I was, six months after a breakup from my very first relationship. I had drunk myself almost to death. I self-medicated with alcohol up until my body and mind couldn’t take it anymore — up to the point of contemplating suicide.

I was a mess, but I survived that week in the hospital, and I came out willing to talk openly about my experience. I was willing to laugh for the very first time about some of the things that happened during my stay.

I’m sitting there with my cousin in his office at this very moment, and I start to speak. I start to laugh about what I’m telling him. Then the very worst possible thing that could have happened at that moment happened — he shut me down.

I paraphrase, but this is what I remember him telling me, “Tommy, that’s in the past now. It’s time to move on. You don’t need to talk about it anymore.” The exact words aren’t what matters here. It’s the feeling deep in my gut that matters.

I was willing to lighten up about my experience and laugh about it, but at that moment, I got the message that he didn’t want to hear it. I shut my mouth and immediately felt ashamed again. From that day on, I don’t remember ever discussing it with anyone else.

Well, I think it’s time I speak up and tell my story unapologetically. I’m not sorry to speak up about my mental illness. I’m not sorry for telling my story. Why? Because I need to heal, and I need to let it all out instead of keeping it bottled up. And damn it, to keep me sane, I need to find the humor in some of it.

What happened during the hospital stay that got me laughing? Well, it may not be as funny to anyone else, and it may very well be a ‘you had to be there moment’. This is what happened though.

All the rooms on the mental health floor had no doors or at least from what I remember, the doors didn’t lock. Keep in mind, this was 15 years ago. I remembered one morning waking up to find that the clothes I brought with me were missing from my room. I panicked.

I walked out of my room kind of looking around and asked the nurses to help me. They suggested the laundry room, and this is where I found my clothes. There was another patient who took my clothes and started doing my laundry.

When I found my clothes and realized what was going on, I was really confused. Why would anyone do this? Well, we were all on the mental health floor so the reasons could be anything.  And most of those reasons probably wouldn’t even make any sense. After all, none of us were in our right mind, and that’s what made me laugh the day I tried to tell my cousin about it. I mean, it cracked me up.

The moral of this story is, please don’t shut anyone down when they’re trying to get better. Sometimes telling their story is one of the best ways for them to heal. Looking back though, I know my cousin was working. His mind wasn’t fully focused on what I was saying because he had a job to do.

However, moments like these can change the trajectory of our life, until one day we remember to lighten up and laugh at some of our lowest moments. I didn’t know at the time that being able to laugh about serious situations was good medicine, but laughter is the BEST medicine. When we can laugh about our experiences or crack jokes about ourselves, we will have better days.

What are some of your toughest experiences that you were able to laugh about later?
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8 thoughts on “Laughter Is The Best Medicine

  1. Paige Long says:

    My toughest experience was when my anxiety was so crippling that I would have panic attacks in nearly any situation, these panic attacks would cause me to vomit (on the spot)… after realizing that I was in control and could handle my anxiety in other manners and finding the coping skills I was in need of, I no longer vomit when anxious and can laugh at the fact that I uses to do that (in the most random places).

    1. Tommy says:

      Oh wow, Paige! You got me laughing, haha! I’m sure some of those experiences vomiting were a little embarrassing during the panic attacks, but it’s so good that you were able to figure out a way to cope. I’m glad you are able to laugh about it now. Good job getting through all of that!

  2. Marissa says:

    Thank you for sharing part of your story! Being in the hospital is such a hard experience. I never want to go back! I’m also an alcoholic so I get you about being a mess from alcohol! Keep writing!

    1. Tommy says:

      You’re welcome – that’s why I’m here ;). And I’m with ya! I never want to go back either! Yes, alcohol can mess us up, but without it we are so much better. Thank you for reading and giving feedback!

  3. Kellie J says:

    I found the power to laugh at everything in my story. The decisions, the choices, the outcomes, the lead ups. 🙂 Honesty is the best opener; I can understand and make sense of any truth with laughter. This is not dismissive either it is liberation. Because Laughter breaks open the darkness. I see it as a call from the light to shine through. Beautiful work here. 💙❤️🦋🙏🏻

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