Humor & Depression


I was in the airport getting ready to board a plane when I saw the news about Robin Williams’ death. I gasped and clapped my hand to my mouth to muffle my groaning, “No!!!!”

I was so shocked and terribly saddened to see that light go out.

Too many lights go out.

Then I kept watching the TV Screen. Suspected suicide. History of depression.

“But,” people say, “he was so funny…so…happy…how could he be depressed?”

Oh, I know exactly how to be funny and depressed. That is my life.

I smile and laugh and joke because, well, I think I have a knack at being funny, of course. But also? I gotta find some way to cope with this damn depression.

Because blackness, dark, dark, dark gets really old and grows very heavy. So I make light of whatever I can whenever I can.

Pluswhich, I think my depression rather skews my take on the world such that I’m just a little quicker to spot life’s little ironies and hilarities. And caring is sharing, so I say the funny things and get the laugh.

Everybody likes that person.

The dark of “what’s the point of getting up today?” just doesn’t go over as well at the old church potluck.

That time I actually thought, “I just want to go throw myself down the stairs,” doesn’t really come up in polite conversation, no matter how nice people are.

And I promise you, the funny girl thing is not an act. I really am that funny. I’m not pretending when you see me smiling and laughing. That is genuine Jennifer.

I don’t hide the depression so much as I just try with all my might to ignore the hell out of it when I can muster it.

And when I can’t muster it, those are usually the times I am not even around other people because I’m just trying to survive until the next minute.

I don’t claim to speak for Mr. Williams and what he experienced. There’s already too much speculation about everything related to his death.

But when people are puzzled that humor and depression can be so intwined, I can offer my own experience as a “case study.” Damn it.

6 responses to this post.

  1. Yep. 100%, thank you for putting perfectly into words what I couldn’t.

  2. I remember a girl from my old church who was the very picture of an outgoing, extroverted evangelical: always greeting people, smiling all the time – basically everything that I have to work at to be around people came so naturally to her. So it was really shocking one day when she confessed how lonely she was because no one asks her how she’s really doing; she’s just ‘that bubbly girl’ which takes a lot of work and energy to keep up. Never forget that sometimes the funniest, most likeable people feel extreme amounts of pressure to keep it up to not let anyone down.

    Good thoughts, Jennifer.

  3. […] that I’ve been in a bit of my own mess this week with my depression flaring up (see the post Humor & Depression over at my blog for more on this). I hate how this limits what I take in about everything else […]

  4. Posted by Linda Drage on August 17, 2014 at 6:19 am

    Wow once more you come too close to home. I always hate to mention about the depression I go through. It’s so much easier to try to be funny and cover it up. I think that is a way I get so entangled in interpersonal issues at times. It feels like no one understands me. Someone said last week they would be there for me when I went into surgery and pray with me. Then when they didn’t show up; I spent my time thinking about how easier it would be if I died during surgery because it didn’t really matter; it would be a way out. She did show up at the last minute, and lied about the hospital not being able to locate me. (small hospital with a board up showing everyone in surgery that day) When I went in, I told them she was coming & they said they would send her in right in because she was late. Yes, I’ve have had treatment for depression and when younger been hospitalized for it, but I can’t take medication because my body get’s toxic because my blood/liver does not filter it like it should. All I can say is GOD is not done with me yet. I’m educated & sit on a lot of community boards. I keep getting up each day and try to find something useful to do for others and I can make them laugh if nothing else.

  5. […] often think of my depression as darkness as worries close in on me, and my sense of worth dims. So, I understand darkness all too well. […]

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