A certain special person in my life has been encouraging me to write with more humour, although a recent discussion about the matter left me feeling bewildered. Perplexed. Upset even.
How am I supposed to write with humour about the subjects I want to write about…the importance of feeling good about yourself, understanding the truths of our existence, helping people end their individual suffering, helping humankind end its collective suffering? These are serious issues that I feel compelled to present in a serious manner.
Well, it’s funny how the universe works in synchronistic ways. You see, I recently started reading a book titled, I Don’t Want to Talk About It, by Terrence Real. It’s about male depression. Stupid depression, as Homer Simpson would say. The author, a counselor, provides a very real…not an intentional pun…and understandable description of depression. More importantly, he differentiates between overt and covert depression.
We all recognize overt depression. It’s Brian Wilson of the Beach Boys lying in bed for a year. It’s Judy Garland having a nervous breakdown and turning to alcohol and drugs. It’s Kurt Cobain taking his own life.
Covert depression is less recognizable as depression. It’s masked in the form of addiction, workaholism, abusiveness, excessiveness, impulsiveness and irresponsibility. The behaviours of a covertly depressed person aren’t necessarily linked to depression. Real makes the connection and for me, it was an important distinction.
You see, when you look around you see lots of stuff that isn’t very funny. You see lives that are litanies of covertly depressed behaviours masking anger…anger born of unexpressed and unresolved grief, shame, guilt and resentment…that we mostly direct at ourselves.
You see children who constantly act out, misbehave and bully. You see teenagers who rebel, drink excessively and get in trouble with the law. You see parents who mistreat their children. You see adults with financial struggles, failed marriages, failed business ventures…although I am loathe to consider anything a failure because I think all experiences are life lessons…and whose bodies are in a constant state of betrayal.
The body, as I have learned the hard way, is the canary in the coal mine. When there is unresolved emotional pain, the body will tell you. Acne, migraine headaches, food sensitivities, joint pain, back pain, broken bones, concussions, arthritis, asthma, cancer, neurological disorders and gastro-intestinal disorders are the body’s way of telling us that we have unresolved emotional pain, although quite frankly I figured this out a long time ago and so I wonder why my own body won’t shut up.
Perhaps we’ve lost friends and never grieved. Perhaps we’ve grown up experiencing injustice and didn’t have the courage to stand up for ourselves. Perhaps we’ve grown up feeling unloved and unwanted because love was never overtly expressed in our family. Perhaps there were no ‘I love you’s,’ no hugs, no cuddles, no nurturing. Maybe it was expressed in other ways and wasn’t recognized as love. Parents are generally well intentioned…they want their kids to be good and they do love their children, but many simply believe it’s the way kids are supposed to by raised.
Perhaps we’ve done inappropriate things for which we’ve never fully forgiven ourselves…behaviours born of shame and grandiosity, the hallmarks of the wounded inner child that is at the core of covert depression.
Anybody depressed? Sorry, if you’re feeling depressed, I didn’t mean to depress you.
I think it’s important to talk about these things. It’s an essential part of healing. Maybe it will inspire others to do the same. You know, ‘I’ll show you mine and then you show me yours!’ And perhaps injecting a little humour now and then is the medicine we all need to overcome depression…to heal the emotional pain that is at the root of it.
Towards the end of the book, Illusions: The Adventures of a Reluctant Messiah, by Richard Bach, there is a chapter with only two lines. The first line is a question, ‘How do you know when you have no more healing to do?’ The second line is the answer, ‘When you’re no longer here.’
Emotional healing is a lifelong process. It’s one of the main reasons we’re here on the planet, although don’t tell that to the medical community or the drug companies. Stupid drug companies! It’s even more important than getting laid…sorry guys…and it’s nothing to be ashamed of. Healing our emotional pain is liberation. It frees us from the chains that bind us. It is an expression of self love. And healing with a little sense of humour, as Patch Adams taught us, helps enormously in the process. It helps keep us sane.
Okay, now that I figured that out, let the humour begin. If only I could get past this mental block. Stupid mental block! Where’s Homer when you need him? The internet, is that thing still around…doh!
Have an awesome day!