Archives for Humor
Generic platitudes tend to annoy me. You know the kind I'm talking about -- right? Say you've just been through a bad breakup. It stings monumentally, and you keep hearing crap like this: "It'll all work out in the end." "Maybe it's for the best." "There are plenty of fish in the sea." Blah. These phrases are so scripted into our culture, and I'm sure the people who use these phrases mean well -- but I can't help rolling my eyes a bit at these saccharine one-liners.
I consciously try to avoid BuzzFeed articles because it's so damn easy to get lost on their website for hours. I jump from posts like "Thirty Adorable Cats" to "Celebrities Without Makeup" to "Adorable Cats WITH Makeup" and then BAM -- somehow, three hours have passed. But today, something truly worth my while popped up: a collection of web comics describing the frustration of anxiety disorders.
Here's something fun for a Sunday afternoon. I stumbled across this song yesterday, and now I can't stop listening to it. I've heard REM's "Losing My Religion" about a million times before, and personally, I don't have any particularly strong feelings for it. I don't love it; I don't hate it. Enter Major Scaled TV, an artist who digitally alters music to convert minor-scale songs into major-scale songs. For the non-musically inclined, here's a translation: he makes sad songs sound happier. Dark songs become lighter. Somber notes turn cheery. It's like dipping your iPod into a vat of liquid Prozac. See for yourself:
Does watching the evening news make your anxiety worse? As an anxiety sufferer, I try to avoid reading and watching too much news. After all, so much of it is negative. It's like junk food for my brain: a dose of bad news will sugar-rush me into worrying sick about health care or politics or some other major societal issue that I can't control. I'll spin around in a mental tizzy for an hour or so until I finally come back to the here and now. I can't avoid news altogether, though. Here's why: today, a particular news story on my local TV station has me laughing harder than I have in weeks. WNEP-TV reports: Just before noon a body was discovered in the Susquehanna River in the Williamsport area. Sometimes, things are not quite what they seem, and in this case that is a good thing. The body was discovered floating face-up in the river just below a spill-dam, an area that has seen drownings before. Police and the coroner were on scene, fully prepared to investigate a drowning. Sue Hubbard was under that impression, she first spotted the man’s body in shallow water. “I saw him down there all by myself, second thought was oh my gosh,” said Hubbard. You might be questioning my sanity right now. After all, I was cracking up at this story. They found a body! In a river! And it was floating! Not to mention that the body was spotted from a running trail on which I occasionally manage to go for walks. What kind of psychopath am I, laughing hysterically at a news story about a body floating in a river?
(Note: this post is part of a series about navigating my way through the 10 Rules for Coping with Panic, which is a nifty little list I keep in my wallet. To read the introduction to this series, check out this post: Coping with Panic: Why I Can’t, and Why I Can.) Every woman deserves a good bra. Yes, I'm making a public blog post that begins with a bra-related anecdote. No, I'm not ashamed. Really. We all wear them. And if I can spill my mental health foibles to you, dear internet-land, then I can comfortably tell you a story that begins with an undergarment, thank-you-very-much. Moving on. I ordered a bra from the Victoria's Secret website. I'm a bargain-hunter, but their most recent catalog included a voucher for $10 off any online order. "Offer not valid in stores," the voucher said. "Perfect," replied my agoraphobic side. I wouldn't have to leave the house. A few days later, my bra arrived. But it wasn't my bra. It was pink (ughhhhh, I'm not a pink person) and it didn't really look like the purple-y one I'd added to my electronic cart and ordered a few days prior. So, feeling a bit ballsy, I decided to test myself by going to the mall and returning it to my local Victoria's Secret store.
(This is the eighth post in a series called “Anxiety Society” in which I interview everyday anxiety suffers from all walks of life about their struggles, their triumphs, their coping methods, and more. I believe that the more we openly talk about our mental health, the less of a “thing” it becomes. Conversation can reduce stigma, and my interviewees want to be a part of that.) Meet Larry Nocella: blogger and independent novelist. He sold his first article at the young age of 14 and “has been writing ever since,” he says. By day, Larry is full-time employee at marketing company and a (mostly former) sufferer of anxiety & depression. He lives, writes, and works in the greater Philadelphia area. Just over a year ago, he “came out” on his blog as a user of antidepressant medication: Do I tell you something I'd rather keep private? Or do I spill the ugly details? I've decided to share. Why? Because of you of course. Yes, you. Reading this. You. Or maybe someone you know. Because there is definitely a time when sharing beats silence, and that's if you can help people. Mom was all about helping people, so while I lean toward her style of privacy, I think she'd appreciate why I've decided to come out. What I'm trying to tell you is I take an anti-depressant. Were you expecting me to say something else? Larry and I talked about his anxiety, depression, his medication use, and his optimism for the future.
I just got back from the dentist. And I am so, so relieved that I am back from the dentist and no longer reclining in that chair. Stupid cavities. I hate them. And yes -- that photo above is me, today, reclining that that ever-hated dentist's chair. How'd I pull that one off, you might ask? Well, when I'm nervous, I like to keep my cell phone in my hands. It's admittedly a safety behavior -- merely holding my phone doesn't save me from anything. It won't stop a panic attack. It won't cure nausea. It won't slow down my heart rate. But it just feels good knowing that my teeny little digital portal to rest of the world is resting in my palm. While the dentist was working, I raised the camera with my left hand and snapped that picture. Call it a distraction technique. And check out those sweet shades they gave me so that I wouldn't get toothdust in my eyes. In combination with all of that dental stuff coming out of my mouth, I sort of look bionic. The only reason I can find humor in this picture now is because it's all over. Two hours ago, I was shaking and feeling tingles in my toes. I was freaked out that part of ear had gotten numb. I couldn't handle the fact that my swallow reflex felt stunted. My heart was racing, my jaw was sore, and I was involuntarily flexing every muscle in my body. A dental appointment is no field day. Especially for those of us with panic and anxiety disorders. But you might be relieved to hear that there are a few things you can do to make your next appointment less nerve-wracking:
According to the ModernAnxieties website, the premise of this project is simple: send a tweet with the hashtag "#modernanxieties" on February 8th, and Agentic (a digital media company based out of British Columbia) will donate 5 cents to the Vancouver Crisis Centre. And what exactly are you supposed to tweet about? Well, modern-day anxieties, of course. From the Vancouver Crisis Centre's website: Inspired by Bell’s Let’s Talk Campaign, Agentic Communications Inc. will be involved in an online awareness and fundraising campaign via Twitter, “Modern Anxieties” (www.modernanxieties.com). Agentic will be tweeting an amusing technology-related modern anxiety (i.e. lack of e-mail syndrome, GPS mistrust anxiety, etc.) every day, leading up to the campaign day on February 8th, 2012. All proceeds of up to $1000 from every share of their website/video/tweets will be donated to the Crisis Centre! Lack of e-mail syndrome? GPS mistrust anxiety? Agentic's Twitter account (@TehWorryBot -- not a misspelling of "the"; it's slang from teh internetz) lists a few more of these "modern anxieties": Breaking into sweats over needing a better phone? Fretting over a font's unrequited love? A font?
Last week, I wrote about how certain mental health-related quips and jokes can sometimes be hurtful. Comments like "take a chill pill" run the gamut from innocuous to downright insulting -- depending on who is delivering the phrase, who is receiving it, and the context of the communication act. So, to counter all of that, here's my favorite piece of panic attack-related humor. Today, I erupted in giggles when I re-watched one of my favorite Saturday Night Live sketches called "Group Therapy". In the following scene, Penelope (a peppy gal who compulsively one-ups everyone with ridiculous tales, played by Kristen Wiig) disrupts a group therapy session led by actor and episode host Neil Patrick Harris. I won't ruin the fun by explaining the scene any further. Just watch it before reading on!
Has anyone ever told you to "take a chill pill"? (I thought this phrase went out of vogue years ago, but I still catch it now and again. Oh, and it's...it's apparently a $52 pajama set for young girls, too. Thanks, Google.) Or, maybe you've found yourself in the company of a co-worker who rolls her eyes at Susan, the office grouch, and laughingly whispers something to you about how Susan must have forgotten to take her meds today. (Whatever happened to using the expression "waking up on the wrong side of the bed"? Isn't that a bit less likely to cause insult?) And tech nerds everywhere are familiar with the phrase "there's an app for that" from the iPhone commercials. But before apps, there were pills. And "there's a pill for that" is still a common punchline. The last time I heard it, I was in the elevator at my day job listening to two graphic artists joke about how their workflow system was down. One guy said he was getting antsy because he couldn't get any work done until the system was back up. The other guy, of course, told him that there's a pill for that. (For being antsy, I presume. Not for correcting enterprise-level system failures. Sorry, hopeful IT folks.) Sometimes, mental health humor is funny. Sometimes it's not. On a good day, hearing "take a chill pill" wouldn't bother me -- but, then again, would someone really be telling me to take a chill pill when I'm already having a good day? Likely not.