28 Times People Found Humor in Living With Chronic Illness
Laughter can be a great coping mechanism when you live with a chronic illness. Most of living with a chronic illness isn’t funny, but sometimes you can’t help but laugh at the random thing you forgot or awkward interaction at your doctor’s office. Whether it’s mixing up words, coming up with funny nicknames for yourself or just laughing when your doctor looks shocked when examining your medical chart, it can be helpful to find some humor during tough times.
Laughter is a distraction technique that can be beneficial to your health. Research found laughter can increase your pain tolerance. When you laugh — a real hearty laugh, not a fake chuckle — your body releases endorphins, a hormone that can help reduce pain and stress as well as relieve muscle tension. So not only is it OK to laugh at yourself and what you’re going through, your laughter can benefit your overall health.
Since we all could probably benefit from a bit more laughter in our lives, we asked The Mighty community to share times where their chronic illness made them laugh. Though it’s great that some people are able to find humor in living with chronic illness, if you can’t, that is also OK. What helps one person cope, may not help everyone.
Here’s what our community had to say:
- “When you meet a new doctor and they say, ‘So tell me about your medical history.’ I reply with, ‘How much time do you have?’” – Candace H.
- “On bad days I tend to look like a ‘little old lady.’ You know the stereotypical curled in on herself, taking small steps, etc. So when my husband mentions it, I shake my fist at him and tell him to get off my lawn.” – Brittany G.
- “I slur and get my words confused and sound completely hilarious. Once I referred to a light switch as ‘God’s power of dark bright… button.’” – Candace C.
- “When people ask why I don’t drink and I reply, ‘Because if I want to feel drunk, all I have to do is stand up too fast.’” – Collene B
- “I currently have a fissure way up there and am on blood thinners. I also happen to have five teenagers who are under my roof. I have passed out a couple times and urinated on myself. After they get my husband and the emergency is dealt with, I get text messages like the one I got today: Kid: Mama, how bad is your butt bleeding today? Me: Why? Kid: I need you to cut my hair, but I don’t want you to pass out and accidentally stab my head.”
- “I have POTS and a kid I go to school with calls me Fainting Goat. I absolutely adore it. Also, I love it when people think I’m sucking on a mint and it’s a salt pill. I always get funny looks from that.” – Paige R.
- “I was diagnosed with four different illnesses… in alphabetical order.” – Anna H.
- “[I laugh about] the weird places I put things. Keys in the refrigerator, hot chocolate in the bathroom, sunglasses lost quite frequently and I need them to go outside. I have to laugh or I will totally breakdown. Got to stay strong for the little eyes looking up to me!” – Mindy L.
- “When I had my first endometriosis surgery, some random lady told me I should cover my scars and treat them with the same regards as nipples so whenever my friends want to see my scars, they ask to see my nipples.” – Miranda H.
- “You have to laugh when you have epilepsy. I give myself nicknames like Twitchy McGee and Lady Shakes-A-Lot. My friends and I like to laugh about the funny things I do when I’m postictal and unaware. One time I woke up and started piling all of my daughter’s stuffies on her high chair. Her father said he guessed I was trying to get more fiber into her diet.” – Jennifer M.
- “Sometimes my ‘word salad’ makes me laugh. It’s like the right word is almost in reach, but ‘trampoline’ ends up being ‘trampo-llama.’” – Roberta P.
- “I always had excuses for why I couldn’t do the dishes and now I actually can’t do the dishes. The universe literally gave me a ‘you keep doing that and your face will stick that way.’” – Michele A.
- “This may sound crazy, and maybe it is, but my family and I treat my illness with laughter most of the time. It lightens the mood and helps me feel comfortable. One thing we laugh about a lot is my spells where I fall unconscious for a small amount of time. An example, once at a donation dinner my family and I were sitting together at a table and I kept passing out into my plate of spaghetti. When someone asked me if I was OK, I said, ‘Yeah, I just really like spaghetti.’ My family and I laughed about it the whole night. I can’t change my illness right now. I need to enjoy life in any way I can.” – Gina L.
- “Whenever I see a new doctor or specialist, their reactions to my lab work make me laugh. They tend to freak out because my results are so abnormal, but normal for me, and I usually have to calm them down.” – Patricia G.
- “I joke about my arthritis all the time, especially during weather events. ‘Yeah it’s going to rain; I feel it in my bones.’ The funny part is that I sound like an old lady, but I’m only 18.” – Sierra N.
- “When people ask how I am doing I say my elbows are doing great since it’s the one part of my body that typically doesn’t hurt. But then I took a fall and now my whole arm hurts so I had to laugh about that. Guess my elbows wanted to join the chronic pain train.” – Acadia M.
- “I faint a lot from POTS and I get 1 point for every NEW place I faint at!” – Lidia M.
- “[The joke I make is that] I shoot up to avoid getting high! (I take insulin injections to avoid high sugars.)” – Chloe M.
- “While most people start their days with a cup of coffee, I start mine with a bottle of Pedialyte.” – Rebecca H.
- “I tried to open the front door with the car key the other day! Literally tried to ‘bip’ the front door open. Stupid brain fog/fuzzy head/general clumsiness!” – Helen B.
- “[I laugh about] fibro fog. Some of the things I blank on or completely forget that cause me to do weird things can be funny. Like the time I poured the kettle into the coffee tin instead of the mug!” – Madeleine S.
- “I laugh when I have strong glute or leg spasms that shoot me off my chair! It’s usually just one side, with no warning, but I crack up every time. It’s not quite as funny when it occurs in my arm and I smack my face with my phone, but it’s still comical.” – @kerkhe
- “I have brachydactyly which means my pinky fingers are both really, really short. They stopped growing when I was young. When I was finally diagnosed with EDS, my best friend and I decided I was a ‘miniature dinosaur circus freak.’ Brachydactyly sounds like a dinosaur, and back in the day, super bendy people did travel around with circuses. It makes me laugh and on bad days, my friend has been known to just show up with a little dinosaur. I have a ton of them, but it never fails to put a smile on my face.” – Amanda B.
- “I laugh that after meds, sex is 100% better…” – Yoshi Q.
- “[I laugh about] my Mary Poppins purse. People tease me about having everything in there… until they need something out of it. Then I make them apologize and then I’m the one laughing. From band-aids and Benadryl, to snacks and scissors, to dental floss and disinfecting wipes, I seriously have just about everything you could possibly want or need. My pain and sickness are enough. I don’t want to be left without medications or small niceties that make life a little more tolerable.” – Tonya W.
- “I laugh at the fact that I no longer have long fingernails due to my infusion therapy. I no longer will poke my eye when trying to put in contacts!” – Katelyn W.
- “[I laugh at] the looks on some people’s faces when a joint moves in a way it’s normally not supposed to, especially small kids. They’re either super grossed out or they think it’s one of the coolest things they’ve ever seen.” – Claire C.
- “[I laugh about] the fact I can compare pain with 75-year-old ladies.” – Christopher
Of course, laughing at life with chronic illness isn’t the only to get the health benefits of laughter. There are lots of ways to insert more humor into your life. You can check out your local comedy club, watch comedy specials on your favorite streaming platform or comedy channels or just find funny videos on YouTube. You can also join The Mighty’s DistractMe community to see what helps others with chronic pain get through tough times.
To learn more about how people use humor when it comes to their chronic illness, check out the following stories from our Mighty community: