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Imagine Wellness – Depression is Funny

It’s been about a year since we’ve seen anyone. Sure, there are people you have to see because of work, or getting groceries, or family. But, like, casual hangs, with friends or acquaintances, are pretty much nonexistent except for the one half hour blip to see out of town friends who were here for a concert. Even that was iffy until the last minute for Becky and me.

Becky and I go out and do stuff, as witnessed on this here blog, but we stick to each other. The reason, depression. Seeing others can trigger major voices in your own head about what those people are thinking, or what you think they are thinking, and sends you into a panic spiral at just the thought of going out that all you can do is blanket up, make a pillow fort, and dig into your mattress.

Yes, there are a lot of external causes of depression. Parents losing jobs, health, financial stress, moving, changing jobs, Trump keeps winning.

Most times, those are only happening at the same time as the depression. They fuel it, but aren’t the fire. We’re not sure how to pinpoint the fire, but I think Billy Joel has something to do with it. He’s way too quick to deny, you know, and quick to blame everyone else in history.

Being big devotees of depression and mental illness awareness, and fans of John Moe, when we saw that he was going to be hosting “The Hilarious World of Depression” as part of the Imagine Wellness event presented by Minnesota Public Radio and Minneapolis Institute of Art, I knew we had to go. We got the tickets, though we only wanted to attend the one piece of the day long event.

On the night, Becky was unable to make it, due to depression causing her to not sleep past 4 a.m. the past several nights, but she insisted I go so she could nap, and that I had to write about it.

I got to the MIA in time to find a seat, ready to take notes.

John Moe, who I’ve written about several times in the past, hosted the event. He’s a hilarious writer of things, and is public about battles with depression and the effects on his life. In the course of hosting WITS, he noticed that many comedian guests also fight depression, and he wanted to get to the bottom of what the shit that’s about.

Side note. I don’t get the terminology we use about depression. We’re always fighting it. Battling it. There’s action involved in that. But in reality, depression is most often something that one must endure, like getting punched a lot without blocking or fighting back. When Becky is feeling it, there is so little I can say that will help her, that she can’t jujitsu into a negative. You simply can’t talk your way out of it or talk someone else out of it. Hugs, just hugs and more hugs, and absorb anything you can. Depression punches so often that you forget that it’s not normal and think of it as the way life is. Even the pills we use to fight depression take like a month to start helping, like the slowest, most gradual punch ever.

Moe’s thesis is that Depression is Funny. It comes from the same place that comedy comes from. He used this to guide the night’s collection of stand up, rap, skits and interviews. Dana Gould was amazing. Sims was fantastic. I loved every bit of it.

imagine wellness event
Mike Fotis, John Moe, Dana Gould and Sims talkin’ ’bout depression. Yes, that’s a poodle in the lower left corner.

There were some good takeaways as well.

  • People say weird shit to you without realizing depression is a medical condition, not a mood. You can’t smile cancer away, and you can’t smile away depression either or realize you have nothing to be depressed about because it’s a great day out.
  • When people say “Pills just mask the symptoms,” you say “Exactly! That’s why I take them!”
  • The more open we can be about it, the less power it has. Depression feeds on being stigmatized. It thrives in being kept secret.
  • Depression does not make creativity happen, it can come from that, but fighting depression can make you much more productive and give you way more material and variety of emotions to draw from. (My fire is writing, and I can testify how much depression kills creativity on that front, but I feel close to having it back)

The best news is that this won’t be the only one. Moe is working on a podcast series on this very theme and plans to speak to more comics about depression to get to the bottom of this, and maybe clear out some of the darkness with laughs.

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