When we first go through the process of recovery, it is not a laughing matter to us. Not in the slightest. As soon as we hear our diagnosis, it becomes the most serious thing we could ever think about in our lives. It is the thing that feels like it is literally trying to tear us apart on the inside. It grips us and beats us, cuts us and wounds us, and there is no aspect of what we are going through that makes us feel anything close to amused. We take it seriously and we seek help. We enter into a program, attend our meetings and appointments, and we keep moving forward. We choose to show that we are not going to let it stop us; we are standing up to it and showing no signs of weakness. It is a natural reaction to something as traumatic and difficult as mental illness. We go through the absolute worst so how can we view it as anything but?

While we understand and respect anyone’s desire to not laugh at their situation, we also encourage you to see the benefit of humor. It may be a cliche saying and idea, but laughter truly is the best medicine. We are not saying that you have to laugh everything off to the point of ignoring it, but find the little things that make you smile. As you live your life after recovery, creating an even greater distance between yourself and those difficult weeks or months, you may find yourself able to laugh at certain things. Perhaps you find yourself able to make a sarcastic remark about what happened, show a flash of self-awareness about what happened, or just able to crack a joke about it all. For many people, this could be viewed as wrong or inappropriate. Maybe they have a point, but we also encourage those of you who share that mindset to think about why we may try to find the humor in it. For many of us, laughter shows control. If we are able to make jokes about it, then it doesn’t have any control over us. For us, letting it bring us down or cause us to feel scared of it, then we are letting it win. We are giving in to it and letting it stop us from enjoying life the way we want to. By laughing at it, we are showing it that it doesn’t control us. We are showing it that we won’t let it keep us down or sad. We are expressing our freedom from it, by laughing at it. We are not afraid of it; we are so far from the fear that we have to laugh. It’s funny to us and therefore powerless against us. 

Laughing with Ourselves, Not at Ourselves

Of course, there is a limit. The most obvious one is when this makes others uncomfortable. We have to be aware of other peoples’ limits. If someone isn’t okay with hearing those jokes, then maybe we should hold off on making them. It doesn’t show that we are weak or giving in to it, but we are just respecting another person’s boundaries. In addition to this, and related to the last point, we also know that there are the wrong moments to laugh. If a person is in the beginning stages of recovery or fresh off of their diagnosis, then it may not be a good idea to share a joke about mental illness. Allow them to have time to process the news and figure out how they feel about it themselves. They may reach a point similar to you where they feel fine to laugh at things, but they could also find that they prefer not to do that. Either one is okay, and we have to allow others to cope with life how they need to, as is always the case. While we may find peace in laughter, others may feel differently. There is no wrong way to think about it; there is just a matter of preference. 

Allowing yourself to laugh can help manage any emotional moment. It can help relieve any stress, anger, sadness, and more. It can be a freeing moment for you, allowing yourself to strip off the burden of whatever plagues you. It can offer you a momentary moment of respite. We encourage you to find a place where you can do this, but also recognize that it may not be possible. That is okay. We support you no matter what decision you may make. You are the one who decides how you react. Find the ways that make your life easier, the things that bring you joy. Above all, that’s what is important in all of this. You deserve that, we deserve that, and we are all here to help each other achieve that. We all want to share a laugh, or a hug, together. 

If you, or anyone you know, is struggling with addiction or mental illness, do not hesitate to contact the team here at True Recovery. Our program, founded in 2014, is built around finding what’s best for you to overcome your addiction. Our facility is located in Newport Beach, California, with our supportive housing located close to our campus in Costa Mesa. Take advantage of the local beaches, nature preserves, and Orange County community while we fight for you. Contact us at (866) 399-6528 or [email protected]