“If we couldn’t laugh, we would all go insane” is one of my favorite lyrics, from Jimmy Buffett’s “Changes in Latitudes, Changes in Attitudes” because it’s true (though obviously when writing about mental health throwing around words like insane takes a certain amount of detachment).
Obviously there are the scientific reasons laughing is good for you, but laughing was the first sign for me that things could even be OK again. I think the first time I laughed after my attempted suicide was actually later that day. My siblings came and sat with me in the morning, calmed me down, got me on the phone with my doctor, etc. Around lunch-time I went to see my primary care doctor, who looked at the wounds on my wrists, talked to me about where I was staying, was someone watching me, did I have any guns in the house, etc. Heavy stuff. She also gave me a prescription for anti-depressants to start taking that day.
So after seeing her my sister took me to the pharmacy to pick up my pills. Picture, if you will, a brassy and sassy pharmacist in her mid fifties who motors around the behind the counter filling prescriptions and cracking jokes with the customers. She knows several of the customers waiting in line (small town) and swaps a few “do you have any weekend plans” type comments.
Picture me. Hair is not really combed. Eyes are red and watery from crying most of the day. I have big white bandages on my wrists and I’m picking up anti-depressants. When I got to the counter and told her what I was picking up, she turns to grab it and asks “So how’s your day going so far, hon?” It was such an innocent and standard chit-chatty comment, but for me it was such a loaded question.
“It’s getting better,” I said, again, absent my circumstances is just a typical, polite response. And then I started to laugh. I couldn’t help it. There I was, at about the lowest point anyone can get, and so there really wasn’t anything else to say. Where else could things go but up?