It’s not to everyone’s taste and I can be serious if I need to be. When discussing other people’s mental health I always do it with respect. But when it comes to myself I choose to use humour and a little sarcasm. Why? Because that is what I am comfortable with. From my experience, I also find that it helps other people feel less awkward and they are more likely to feel comfortable about talking all things mental health-related with me. Would I crack a mental health joke about myself to anyone? Of course not. First of all, I would get to know you and make sure you can handle my approach. Then it’s game on!
My mental illness is with me for life. Yes, it is serious and my use of humour is in no way meant to minimise how serious it is. But by putting a funny spin on it I can see the silver lining. Somedays a silver lining is the only thing I have to hang on to.
My husband also uses humour when discussing my mental health. As he too finds it easier to cope this way. For example, maybe I have gone a night without sleep. He will ask me “were you working the night shift last night?” or maybe he will refer to my medicine as my “unihorn suppressants”. If I am having a particularly hard day he will console me with “it is hard work being a unicorn isn’t it?” I love the metaphors and similes we use to discuss my mental illness. It takes the hard edges off it. Suddenly it seems doable, even laughable.
My mental illness is very much a part of me it is what makes me quirky, why I see the world differently, why I am so creative. It is also why I sometimes can’t sleep, get out of bed, wash, why I can’t eat. With the good, there is also the bad. So with the seriousness, there has got to be some humour.
I find that when talking with others who have a mental illness the best way to approach it is to take their lead. If they want to be serious then be serious with them. If they want to talk about it lightheartedly then do that. Most importantly don’t shut them down. If someone who has a mental illness has been brave enough to talk to you about it. Listen, be receptive, ask questions, show you care.