I remember the first time my therapist laughed at something I said. Her eyes got wide and she quickly told me she wasn’t laughing at me, just the situation I was telling her about. She then said something that was more profound than I realized at the time.
Funny is funny.
Before I continue, let me make it clear that I was OK with her laughing at the situation. I had been seeing her long enough to trust her. I knew she wasn’t laughing at me. I honestly can’t remember what the situation was, but no doubt it was some absurd situation my anxiety twisted into a disaster.
As time went on, I began to see some humor in my anxiety and depression. I started feeling better about laughing during therapy. Before then, I thought it had to be serious all the time. After all, I was paying good money to figure my life out!
I thought my therapist’s office was no place for laughter. However, I began to see there is healing in laughter. I recently had an epiphany in my car and I sent this in an email to my therapist.
“Funny is funny” moment. I took my medication before going into the coffee shop. I felt guilty and thought to myself, “Man, you take these things like drugs.” Then I remembered that it is a drug. So I got a good chuckle out of that.
In that moment, the guilt I felt about taking medication for anxiety left me. I still have moments when I feel guilty about it, but now I have a funny memory I can use to combat the guilt. I have come to enjoy the “funny is funny” phrase. In fact, it’s one of my favorite mantras.
Don’t misunderstand me, mental illness is a serious thing, but sometimes you just need to laugh at your own mental illness. For me, it makes a moment of bad anxiety less intense. It allows me to step back and see my anxiety is lying to me. In those moments, I have hope that my anxiety won’t destroy me. I appreciate the serious times in therapy, but I also appreciate the moments we laugh. I now know both can bring healing.
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Thinkstock photo via MistakeAnn.