Earlier this week, I posted a piece called Taking off the mask. It’s about using humor to avoid vulnerability and to keep people at a safe distance emotionally. After some reflection, I’m afraid I inadvertently downgraded the benefits of humor.
The cliché saying that laughter is the best medicine is not far from the truth. Obviously, laughter cannot cure serious illnesses, but it can almost always play a part in making someone feel better emotionally.
Laughter is good for everyone, and it can heal invisible emotional wounds. One of my favorite moods I have is one in which I laugh at everything. I perpetually have the giggles and I am content and happy. I am able to find humor in the smallest details, and I am witty and hilarious.
This mood doesn’t happen incredibly often, but I am always thankful for it when it does manifest. It reminds me that I can pass as normal and that maybe deep down I am content, despite some of the emotional turmoil I frequently experience.
I want to be around people when I’m in my giddy mood, and I am quite adept in social situations. My aptitude for normal human interactions is typically inconsistent and it is often lackluster. It is fun being in moods where I want to be around people, though, which is somewhat surprising. I’ve told myself for a long time that I do not like people.
I love watching comedians on America’s Got Talent, and a few years ago there was a comedian who had a stutter, but he crushed his first audition. He had a stutter because of a freak accident while he was playing softball.
After he did his routine, Howie Mandel praised his courage, and he said that humor often comes from a dark place, and that many comedians struggle with depression. I watched that video right after I posted my last piece, and I realized my last post might’ve been misleading.
The ability to make people laugh is a gift, and even though it can hide some darker feelings, it can also be healing and cathartic to make others laugh. Sometimes humor and laughter are more than coping mechanisms; sometimes they come from a place of genuine elation and it’s nice to express the humor versus wallowing in the dark thoughts.
Even though humor comes from a dark place, it doesn’t always mean someone is avoiding hurt or pain or shame. After experiencing my favorite mood this week, I think I can tell how my humor is different when I’m struggling emotionally and when I’m genuinely happy.
When I’m in a dark mood, I am merciless and uncaring about other people’s feelings, especially my own. My self-deprecating humor is unhealthy and cruel. My humor is mean and dark. I recognize I am this way, and I have to put in place a hefty filter so that I don’t hurt other people’s feelings. The filter makes me slower and less funny.
When I’m in a good place, my humor is more light-hearted and my self-deprecating humor is not nearly as harsh or demeaning. I still make fun of myself, but it comes from a place of acceptance and contentment. My filter is off, but that’s okay because ugly comments do not escape because they don’t exist. Without the filter, I’m quicker than normal, and I am better able to articulate my punch lines.
What’s so great about this latter mood, is I can be that way without being hypomanic. Hypomania brings with it irritability, quickly leading to a bad mood if things do not go according to plan. I have all the energy of hypomania without the bad side, and it is amazing.
I’ve acquired a keen ability for self-reflection, and it has been enormously helpful in my emotional healing and growth.
Writing has helped significantly in this journey of self-discovery. I’m able to articulate thoughts and emotions much more succinctly and clearly. I hadn’t put my different modes of humor into words until I started writing this post.
Humor can be used as a diverting mask, hiding someone’s inner emotional agony.
Or, humor can be an authentic representation of the goodness inside of ourselves.