Bipolar and Humor


Let me ask you a question: Have you ever belly laughed? I mean, laughed so hard that you cried? Laughed so much that it made your stomach hurt? Laughed until you didn’t think you could laugh another drop? (and then laughed some more?) That’s the kind of laughing I’m talking about.

You know, we don’t do too much of that when we’re dealing with bipolar disorder. Everything is so serious so much of the time. It’s like we’ve either forgotten how to laugh, or we’re

just plain afraid to laugh! Like if we were to laugh, we should feel guilty about it or something, because when you’re dealing with bipolar disorder, laughter isn’t something you’re supposed to do.

Hmmmm…. Let’s think about that.

Laughter is one of the most natural things we could do in response to something. Think about a child. Think about how naturally they laugh at things. It seems like so much makes them laugh.

And they laugh so easily, too!

Don’t believe me? Just play a game of peek-a-boo with a child and you’ll see what I mean.

Laughter is a gift. And it is a gift that is necessary when you’re dealing with a loved one with bipolar disorder.

I knew a bipolar supporter. And every time I saw her, she was smiling, and had such a positive way about her. It wasn’t a visit with her if she didn’t tell me a joke or two! I asked her one time how she could be that way, you know, joking around and all, when she had a husband who had bipolar disorder, such a serious mental illness. And this is what she told me: “Dave, I have to be this way. If I didn’t laugh, I’d cry.”

Wow. That blew me away. But it taught me a lesson, too. That you need to deal with things realistically. Well, realistically can sometimes mean with a sense of humor.

For a lot of people, it’s what keeps them going. Like that one supporter I was telling you about.

Now, I’m not saying that you have to go around telling jokes all the time, or ignore the seriousness of your loved one’s disorder… I’m just saying to lighten up a little bit… Have some fun once in a while… Enjoy yourself when you can… Learn to laugh again (if you’ve forgotten, or if it’s been a long time since you’ve done it)… Think about some things that have made you laugh in the past, and maybe repeat them. Maybe just the memory will be enough to make you

laugh again. Just thinking about some silly things you’ve done in the past may be enough to get the ball rolling. Or things that your children did when they were younger.

If nothing else, treat yourself to a comedyfest! Rent some of the funniest movies you’ve ever seen, and just enjoy yourself! You know, movies like Young Frankenstein, or Monty Python and the Holy Grail or Ghostbusters – it doesn’t even have to be a new movie. Any movie that makes you laugh counts.

Here’s another idea: Take out your old photo albums. Write one-line captions under your favorite pictures. That way, you don’t just have a ha-ha for now, you’ve got one for any time you feel blue – just take out that old photo album for a good laugh or two!

I’m sure you can come up with your own ideas if you try.

Humor is one of the most important tools we have in fighting this dreaded disorder called bipolar. We need to use it more!

Your Friend,


  1. I like the way you worded it, “laughter is a gift.” That’s so true! our creator agrees and said, “laughter does good like a medicine.”

  2. david you are so right. laughing is the best medicine you can have.keeps you healthy and young. i try to keep an healthy look out to life. , and that`s seeing the funny side of things. thanks for seeing the funny side also.we all need to have a sense of humor. there`s` there`s too many serious, negative people in this world. life is too short not to have a sense of humor. it`s what gets me though some days. dot

  3. the first comment went of before i was finish. i went to the phone, come back. it was gone. i did not finish so i don`t know how you received it. i wanted the second one to go. dot

  4. I never thought about the laughing part, the humor in my relationship. I forgot to laugh and I know laughing is a great medicine..I know it works, it was done in Iraq..but in my relationship, I forget, instead I get so angry almost everyday when she belittles me or my daughter and she walks away knowing she got the best of me. Laughing and humor will be a focus and a goal for my relationship and me. I know it works..I have taken my relatioship too serious for a long time and forgot about being happy. thank you so much

  5. Laughter “heals” the mind and the body. I could not agree more with the post and all the wise repsonses too. We should laugh and find the humor in our lives.Seek it out if it isn’t presenting itself at the time. Even movies I have seen a bunch of times cause me to laugh and smile and feel all that “good emotion”. Playing with my granddaughter and belly laughing together over a toy tossed in the air and having it land on the floor. What a contagious thing laughter is!We have serious challenges that we must deal with and I find that if you take 5 minutes to aprinkle in some real laughter…some good old fashioned belly laughs…this can make all the difference in the world!BRAVO for all your kind works, David!

  6. I forgot how to laugh , I guess I take things to serious.the email you sent to me hit home for me,I have decided to go back to my therapist again I should never stopped..every little thing just sets me off!! It could be something somebody said and it would ruin my whole entire day!

  7. laughter is the best medicine great advice and something we do forget, i’m gonna have a comedy fest tonight thanks dave!!

  8. As a single mom of a BP teen, I laugh a lot. Yes it’s black humor sometimes but it’s still funny. I’ve also taught my daughter to step back and laugh at herself. It helps so much when she is in meltdown and says or does something funny. I laugh she gets offended I explain why it was funny, she laughs, crisis averted. Obviously it doesn’t work all the time but it sure helps.
    Few hysterical examples.
    Teen Girl spinning down the hall at the Psychiatrists office. Singing loudly, “I am losing my mind!!!!!”
    meltdown triggered by mom’s anxiety over as work deadline, takes you by both hands, speaks softly and carefully “but mom, if I’m dead no-one will expect you to go to work this week.”
    Sometimes it is funny. So learn to laugh with and at your BP person. And teach them to look at you and themselves for humor.

  9. I absolutely agree not just bipolar but everyone……I’m sure you have heard it takes more muscles to frown than to SMILE:)

  10. yup laughter is something often taken for granted, once you start it’s contagious, and needs to be more often thought of as a release of tension. I tend to smile and laugh when i am nervous and it makes people mad, then i get even more nervous, but when you love and live with someone with bipolar that laughter comes few and far between more than anything.

  11. Dave:
    I don’t agree with the way you refer to the illness.
    Dreaded? Terrible? You put it as if it was the worst thing that could happen to someone. Either the person who has it or the supporter.
    I was diagnosed in 1993. I take my medicines every day. I have extra medicines to stop the episodes when I feel them coming.
    I have a normal life, wife and kid, steady job.
    Doesn’t look so bad, does it?
    The difference between my situation and the one you talk about is that I know myself very well ( therapy ) and I was treated and medicated by the very best.
    It should not be as bad as you put it and I don’t like the way you put it.

  12. You are very right about really laughing and having humor in your life, love your piece about that! I am not a supporter of bi-polar, I am the person with it. I have not really laughed in so long do not know how to do it any more really, sure I luagh, but not a great humor laugh where like you said you feel it, it hurts your laughing so much kind of thing the way you describbed it in your post….
    I have a lot of hardness in my life, and no support when it comes to my bi-polar, so there is very little room for humor, I wish I did have laughter and humor in my life!!

  13. I was diagnosed a few years back. I also have 2 other family members confirmed with this diagnosis but many family members in denial or unknowing. Your right not many people laugh that have families of bi polars unless they are manic. Humor is important. It is a bad diagnosis if left untreated but when medicated life isn’t so bad. I know.

  14. my 8 yr old & myself we being diagnose w bipolar.,And you know something? u are so right,i laugh a lot 4 the most part and it helps not only 4 me but for my family..i dont want them to think of me as a burden in the contrary,i like them to think that no matter what life brings laughing is a gift and what i see is anytime im laughing 3 minutes later my kids are laughing too…thank you dave

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