Stand Up for Mental Health David Granirer counselor, stand-up comic, and author of The Happy Neurotic: How Fear and Angst Can Lead to Happiness and Success, created and leads Stand Up For Mental Health (SMH). David teaches stand up comedy to people with mental illness as a way of building their confidence and fighting public stigma, prejudice, and discrimination. The shows take a look at the lighter side of taking meds, seeing therapists, getting diagnosed, and surviving the mental health system. David, who has depression says: If you have bipolar disorder, depression, schizophrenia, obsessive compulsive disorder, post-traumatic stress disorder, or other mental health diagnoses, you're a perfect fit for this program!
When loved ones come home, always run to greet them. Never pass up the opportunity to go for a joyride. When you're happy, dance around and wag your entire body. Allow the experience of fresh air and the wind in your face to be pure ecstasy. When it's in your best interests, practice obedience. Let others know when they have invaded your territory. Stretch before rising. Eat with gusto and enthusiasm. Be loyal. Never pretend to be something you're not. If what you want lies buried, dig until you find it. When someone is having a bad day, be silent, sit close by and nuzzle them gently. Bond with your pack. Delight in the simple joy of a long walk. Avoid biting when a simple growl will do. On hot days, drink lots of water and lay under a shady tree. No matter how often you're scolded, don't buy into the guilt thing and pout. Run right back and make friends. Thrive on attention. Let people pat you on the head. Take naps.
Wear Sunscreen By Mary Schmich of the Chicago Tribune
Ladies and gentlemen of the class of '98:
If I could offer you only one tip for the future, sunscreen would be it. The long-term benefits of sunscreen have been proved by scientists whereas the rest of my advice has no basis more reliable than my own meandering experience. I will dispense this advice now.
Enjoy the power and beauty of your youth. Oh, never mind. You will not understand the power and beauty of your youth until they've faded. But trust me, in 20 years, you'll look back at photos of yourself and recall in a way you can't grasp now how much possibility lay before you and how fabulous you really looked. You are not as fat as you imagine.
Don't worry about the future. Or worry, but know that worrying is as effective as trying to solve an algebra equation by chewing bubble gum. The real troubles in your life are apt to be things that never crossed your worried mind, the kind that blind side you at 4 PM on some idle Tuesday.
Do one thing every day that scares you.
Don't be reckless with other people's hearts. Don't put up with people who are reckless with yours.
Don't waste your time on jealousy. Sometimes you're ahead, sometimes you're behind. The race is long and, in the end, it's only with yourself.
Remember compliments you receive. Forget the insults. If you succeed in doing this, tell me how.
Keep your old love letters. Throw away your old bank statements.
Don't feel guilty if you don't know what you want to do with your life. The most interesting people I know didn't know at 22 what they wanted to do with their lives. Some of the most interesting 40-year-olds I know still don't.
Get plenty of calcium.
Be kind to your knees. You'll miss them when they're gone.
Maybe you'll marry, maybe you won't. Maybe you'll have children, maybe you won't. Maybe you'll divorce at 40, maybe you'll dance the funky chicken on your 75th wedding anniversary. Whatever you do, don't congratulate yourself too much, or berate yourself either. Your choices are half chance. So are everybody else's.
Enjoy your body. Use it every way you can. Don't be afraid of it or of what other people think of it. It's the greatest instrument you'll ever own.
Dance, even if you have nowhere to do it but your living room.
Read the directions, even if you don't follow them.
Do not read beauty magazines. They will only make you feel ugly.
Get to know your parents. You never know when they'll be gone for good.
Be nice to your siblings. They're your best link to your past and the people most likely to stick with you in the future.
Understand that friends come and go, but with a precious few you should hold on. Work hard to bridge the gaps in geography and lifestyle, because the older you get, the more you need the people who knew you when you were young.
Live in New York City once, but leave before it makes you hard.
Live in Northern California once, but leave before it makes you soft.
Accept certain inalienable truths: Prices will rise. Politicians will philander. You, too, will get old. And when you do, you'll fantasize that when you were young, prices were reasonable, politicians were noble, and children respected their elders.
Respect your elders.
Don't expect anyone else to support you. Maybe you have a trust fund. Maybe you'll have a wealthy spouse. But you never know when either one might run out.
Don't mess too much with your hair or by the time you're 40 it will look 85.
Be careful whose advice you buy, but be patient with those who supply it. Advice is a form of nostalgia. Dispensing it is a way of fishing the past from the disposal, wiping it off, painting over the ugly parts and recycling it for more than it's worth.
But trust me on the sunscreen.
Seuss-isms from Wise and Witty Prescriptions for Living from the Good Doctor (Seuss)
SO...That's why I tell you to keep your eyes wide. Keep them wide open... at least on one side. * "Maybe Christmas," he thought, "doesn't come from a store. Maybe Christmas...perhaps...means a little bit more!" * I know, up on top you are seeing great sights, but down at the bottom we, too should have rights. * Thanks goodness for all of the the things you are not! Thank goodness you're not something someone forgot. * A person's a person. No matter how small. * And when they played they really PLAYED. And when they worked they really WORKED. * Today you are you. That is truer than true! There is no one alive who is you-er than you! * You're in pretty good shape for the shape you are in! * UNLESS someone like you cares a whole awful lot, nothing is going to get better. It's not. * So, on beyond Z! It's high time you were shown that you really don't know all there is to be known. * I can't blab such blibber blubber! My tongue isn't made of rubber. * I know it is wet and the sun is not sunny. But we can have lots of good fun that is funny! * Today is gone. Today was fun. Tomorrow is another one. * You rule all the land. And you rule all the people. But even kinds can't rule thesky. * I do not like green eggs and ham. I do not like them, Sam-I-am. * You must not hop on Pop. * They only could say it just "happened to happen" and was not very likely to happen again. * I meant what I said and I said what I meant...An elephant's faithful one hundred percent! * 'Cause you never can tell what goes on down below! This pool might be bigger than you or I know! * Oh, the things you can find if you don't stay behind! * If we didn't have birthdays, you wouldn't be you. If you'd never been born, well then what would you do? * Think left and think right and think low and think high. Oh, the THINKS you can think up if only you try! * I learned there are troubles of more than one kind. some come from ahead and some come from behind.
Sometimes a laugh is the only weapon we have. (Roger Rabbit)
While I was writing my book, The Courage to Laugh: Humor, Hope and Healing in the Face of Death and Dying, my dad died.
New Year's Eve 1996, he was taken to the hospital. Nine days later, just hours after my mom called to tell me that he was looking better, my dad was no longer alive. After a frantic phone call to book a flight and only two hours of sleep, I got on a plane that took me from my California home to my mom's condo in Florida and to the funeral.
I managed to hold back my tears until I was on the plane. There, however, amidst business men using telephones and the click of laptops, I sat sobbing.
So here I was, I thought, writing about humor and death while my dad died. The universe was testing me to see if I could find anything funny in the situation—and I was failing. I found nothing to laugh about as the shock of his death washed over me. Nothing funny that is, until the flight attendant shoved a cup of hot liquid under my nose and demanded, “Here. Drink this. I guarantee it will help.”
“What is it?,” I asked.
“Coffee and Bailey's Irish Creme,” he said.
That's when my tears mingled with laughter.
First of all, it was seven o'clock in the morning—not exactly cocktail hour.
Second, I laughed because I never drink coffee and, since I am lactose intolerant, I avoid dairy products—especially cream.
I refused the attendant’s grief-relief remedy but there was something special about it anyway. The comic irony of it all made me laugh—not a laugh big enough to completely stop the tears but an inner laugh that felt comfortable and whispered that everything would be all right.
Then I had another cosmic chuckle. I realized that I was just handed the opening words for my book. During the next few days, I cried a lot. I was feeling alone and very vulnerable. My mother kept saying not to cry but I allowed my tears to flow. I also noticed that in spite of the sadness of the situation, amusing incidents happened anyway. These drew me away from my tears and produced everything from a smile to a hearty guffaw.
One of the funniest incidents came as we were having a telephone conversation with the rabbi. In the Jewish religion, it is customary for the immediate family to sit Shivah for seven days after the funeral. Friends, relatives and neighbors stop by to pay their condolences during this time. While informing the rabbi that my brother would be completing his Shivah in Connecticut, where he lives, my mom had a slip of the tongue. Instead of saying "Sitting Shivah", she blurted out, "Shitting Sivah.” My brother and I immediately convulsed with laughter. My mom, realizing what she had said, shoved the phone in my hand. She was laughing too hard to speak.
For the next few days, as I was going through this roller coaster ride of tears and laughter, I learned several things about humor and grief.
I learned that it may take some time to find laughter after a loss. I learned too that it may not always be the fall-down-hold-your-belly kind of laughter that we had experienced when my mom got tongue-tied. Sometimes it’s only an inner chuckle. But whatever kind it is, it is there. It is there to provide a momentary respite from our grief. It is there to show us that indeed life goes on in spite of our loss. It is there to give us hope.
If you have lost someone dear to you recently, I will not tell you to read this book because, as the flight attendant told me, “I guarantee it will help.” No one can guarantee an instant grief remedy; I don't think there is one. What I can say from my own experience, however, is that humor might help. Maybe it will give you hope to continue and a much needed respite from your tears.
When a family is sitting Shivah, it is customary for condolence callers to bring food into the home so that the bereaved do not have to cook or prepare meals. While there, remembrances of the deceased are frequently discussed. Often it encompasses some lighthearted moments in the deceased's life. Like the food that the condolence callers bring to provide nourishment for the body, I believe that the things they laugh about provide nourishment for the soul.
Author's Bio: Allen Klein, aka "Mr. Jollytologist" is an award winning professional speaker on the benefits of humor and laughter. He is a recipient of a Toastmaster's Communication and Leadership Award, a Hunter College (NYC) Hall of Fame recipient, and a bestselling author of such books as The Healing Power of Humor, The Courage to Laugh, Up Words for Down Days, WorkLaughs and ParentLaughs, among others.
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