Misery Loves Comedy
I wanted to talk about two things that sound like opposites but actually go hand in hand: depression and comedy. Every good comedian knows the equation. Tragedy + Time = Comedy. There's another saying that "Misery loves Comedy". It's weird how those three words shouldn't be caught dead next to each other, but there it is. It's probably no surprise to anyone that I struggle with depression. And to those who didn't know, Surprise! Actually, I think that's good because I've been working hard on hiding my emotions years before Elsa!
So, let's begin at the beginning: what does it mean to be depressed? This is a tough question to answer, because those antidepressant commercials and memes do a good job of depicting it. The difference is that I actually feel that, usually without the set up. Having asthma, I don't know what it's like to run around for more than ten minutes straight without my lungs suffocating, so I don't really know what it's like for normal people. Likewise, I don't know how other people's brains and emotions work. I know that people with depression have different symptoms and degrees, so I can only talk about my own depression. My depression is portrayed by just feeling down. It's just me looking around and thinking to myself, "what's the use?" And "Whatever, I don't care." It's just self-pity and cynicism. According to psychologists, it's not a disease unless these things negatively affect your life. Here are some examples of how my life is negatively affected by my depression: "Why get up? I don't have to be at work until _____" "Why start looking for career-type jobs? They're not looking for me" "I'm probably going to be alone forever, because people won't want to be my friend, let alone a girl to be my girlfriend!" "I'm tens of thousands of dollars in debt. There's no way I'm moving out of my parents' house and there's no way they're moving out of this crappy house we're stuck in." "There's no way I'll ever lose this stupid gut I have, because working out is a pain (literally and figuratively) in my chest and muscles and takes time I don't have out of every day." "Why not finish off the pizza? It's just going in the garbage if I don't."
I will stop here, but you can get how this may not be the healthiest lifestyle. A keen reader might notice a pattern in the way my mind works: it's very logical. And that's what makes my depression so dangerous! It might not be the best logic, but I don't think these things without evidence behind it. That's what cements these thoughts into my head and makes it hard to get out of it. Fortunately, this is a very mental depression that only affects me inwards. I've never even felt the slightest desire to self-harm, or overeat (more than usual), or drink, or pop pills, or anything crazy like that. For me, it's all internal. So, how have I been able to tame my depression? Well, it ranges to different things every time, but before I explain what I do, I should talk about why my depression peaks its head out every now and then? (You know, as I wrote that that's sentence, I realized how similar it is to Naruto with the nine-tailed fox demon sealed inside of him. Later on, I'll talk about how to tap into depression to make it work for me. Also like Naruto!)
I've concluded that there are 3 factors that need to stay in check to keep my depression sealed away. The first is medication. In a lot of cases, depression is caused by chemical imbalances you have in your brain. it doesn't matter how much yoga or praying you do. So for me, I just accept that I have a couple pills to take every day. Whatever. For the skeptics out there that are against modern medicine screwing natural bodily functions, I can address you about this. My medication functions as such where if I forget to take my medicine in the morning, I will start to feel down by the end of the day for no reason, until I remember that it's because I forgot to take my pills. Likewise, my depression will act up sometimes, even when I have taken my pills. For me, my medicine just makes it easier for me to muffle the echoes of self-doubt and sad thoughts. Number two is self-worth. This is different from self-pity. This is something I have in spades. I like me. I'm my own best friend. This is good, because it means that I don't have any desire to harm myself. Whenever I'm feeling down because of internal feelings, I just do something to make me happy. I'll buy a Lego set. I'll play video games. Other times it helps to watch really sad videos or shows. One time I watched all the Peanuts cartoons! And I'm talking about the ones that don't air during holidays! They made a bunch, same with the Dr. Seuss books! The third pillar of my depression is third party support. This is the big one for me. Friends and family. This is my biggest struggle; especially in the "friends" department. Not only do I have very minimal experience in making and hanging out with friends, but... wait, no, that's it. The worst part is how I'm really quiet and introverted in large groups and loud and extroverted in smaller groups. It doesn't help that My personality takes some getting used to, but I promise it's worth it! (I really am an old man!) I'm going to refrain from talking about my family, but let's just say that family alone would never have been enough support. I mean, to some extent, they HAVE to put up with me! So now you know about my constant struggle with depression. I kind of forgot to tie this in with comedy... ...Ok, so in Naruto, Naruto borrows power from the demon fox sealed inside of him. Instead of letting the demon take over, he learned to extract what he needed to make himself stronger.
I do the same thing too, only it's way less cool. Basically, I tap in to my depressing thoughts to begin writing jokes and stuff. And because I'm always in my head, I am able to analyze these thoughts. All I have to do then, is write down my thought process and there you have a skeleton of a comedy bit! I have a feeling that most comics use a variation of this process, and likewise, most comedians struggle with their own inner demons. As I said at the top, you need misery for comedy. Hell, have you read Shakespeare's "comedies"? They're not knee-slappers! I figured that since I've been in a slump for a quite a while now (several weeks) I might as well talk about it, and maybe somehow someone might get something out of it.