“Laughter is the best medicine”. A very popular phrase that conveys the notion that one can almost laugh away one’s woes. Researchers say that they can show us physiological changes in the body that occur when we laugh. Endorphins are the new morphines, and groups have sprung up across the world that practice laughter the same way de-stressing enthusiasts pursue yoga or meditation.
I don’t know for sure if humour heals, but I do know for sure that humour helps. It has helped me in many ways. I think of myself as largely melancholic when in private, or in the company of very, very close loved ones, and somewhat sanguine when in the company of friends and acquaintances. Sometimes these seemingly diametrically opposed parts of my nature almost seem to clash… I cry one moment, and then I laugh the next! Terms like “bipolar” flash through my mind occasionally… :) but my friends tell me that they do the same… and I am comforted that I am normal.
Humour comes easily to me because I have long used it to hide my true feelings, to avoid confrontation, to get attention, to entertain others, and sometimes just to plain annoy people. It is only in recent years as I have lived with Crohn’s disease that I have come to perceive of humour as being helpful in the healing sense.
When I have been racked with pain, or when I am unable to eat or when I am so drained that I feel weak, I sometimes break down and cry. It’s one of my 2 coping mechanisms. I cry, and the tears, apart from washing my eyes as a friend once cheekily suggested, seem to relieve the burden I feel and carry in my body, my soul and my spirit. Being melancholic by nature though I can linger in this state of sadness if I allow myself to do so, but as a wife and mother I can’t allow myself to wallow. And so I employ my other coping mechanism, laughter, long practiced in my early days when I laughed more than I cried.
While the tears relieve me of my burdens, my laughter completely chases the lingering shadows away. I feel that endorphin rush, and the natural morphine of laughter not only numbs the pain for me, it nukes it as well… it is gone. For that moment in time I feel free.
I laugh easily over fairly silly things, largely I think because I have young children who find humour in even the most inane and banal of things. This is of course a nicer way of putting things than saying I am simple. Ha! Perhaps years of illness have made me so… it doesn’t take much to make me cry and similarly it doesn’t take much to make me laugh. In particular I love witty jokes and cheeky puns, and I enjoy witty repartee with my dear friends who engage and indulge me on occasion.
And so when I am faced with the pain of illness, and by extension the other pains of life such as the loss of a loved one, hurt, the ending of a friendship, grief etc I do not linger for long in sadness and melancholy, weeping and mourning. I do feel and do these, but I choose to see the journey ahead. A journey through time and the healing of some pains, while with others, like Crohn’s , the lack of healing. In choosing I decide to move to humour and laughter as a means of coping and surviving beyond the first flush of tears.
Humour helps me stay happy, and when I’m happy a whole lot of other people are happy too. Humour helps. I hope it helps you too!
Thanks for reading! :)