Marion Crouse was very kind to give her reflections on the new “Laugh It Off” education program. This will be part of a much larger, wider spread article later this year (stay tuned!), and her article is so superb I wanted to get it out for others to read right now. Enjoy!
Marion Crouse “Laugh It Off” DBSA Albuquerque May 31, 2016 Event
For the first “Laugh It Off” event, which had been scheduled for the last day in the Mental Health Month of May 2016, I was hoping to get a few laughs for my jokes. I knew that there would be questions after the three of us (Steve Bringe, Dennis Gray, and myself Marion Crouse) gave our stand-up comedy sets, and so I was also hoping that I would be able to answer a question or two intelligently. I had figured that we three would give a humorous reprieve from the day-to-day activities at Turquoise Lodge Hospital in Albuquerque, NM. I was glad and honored that I had been invited to be part of that experience.
So, I got a few laughs for my jokes about the juxtaposition of having Schizophrenia and being able to see ghosts. Steve and Dennis got some laughs for their jokes, too. I had a good time, and I got the sense that while I wasn’t cracking everybody up, they had a good time too nevertheless. And then, after our sets, we got some great questions from the audience, both inpatients and hospital staff. I left the building feeling like I had presented myself as someone who, along with having a handle on her own mental illness and not in spite of having Schizophrenia, is still able to use her mind.
Then, a couple of days later, Steve let me know that not only had everyone enjoyed our “Laugh It Off” event, but after we left that day, the effects of looking back on our own life events in a humorous light were such that the mood on the unit had lightened up too. The people who were getting help at Turquoise Lodge Hospital were more talkative with each other after we had left. That made me very happy, because I know that when folks communicate with one another, we are better able to find common ground and get along with one another. To be able to discuss our illnesses and other problems, and yes our good times too, is to have camaraderie with one another and to be at peace within ourselves. When I first got sick with Paranoid Schizophrenia in 1997, and especially when I first accepted that I have that illness in November of that year, I was in no mood to crack jokes about cracking up. I was totally confused about who to be, as if I had to be somebody new to myself because I had contracted a permanent illness that was new to myself. Well, my fingerprints are still the same, so I am still me.
Keeping quiet, not talking about stuff, makes Mental Illness seem like a dark secret. Comedy about Mental Illness, without self-deprecation, is a great way to open the floor to discussion and to help put an end to stigma. Having serious question/answer time after the comedy show is a well-rounded way for us folks with diagnoses to let everybody (peers or not) know that our minds are still good, we are still ourselves, and you can’t be scared of us if you are cracking up too.
“Laugh It Off” is one of five new mental health education programs DBSA Albuquerque is offering, beginning this June with full roll out by September. We’ve given four presentations for “Laugh It Off” now, and I’ve been asked by a few folks to give an idea of what kind of jokes our comics are sharing.
I don’t have the go ahead from the other comics to share their material, so I’ll share one part of my set. Here goes.
There’s a group of peers in our community who don’t get a lot of recognition, and that’s kids growing up with a parent who has mental health issues.
I’ve got my own son, Scott, and he’s the greatest kid ever. Still, it was rough on him having to live with me as I struggled to get the bipolar stuff under wraps so I could be a parent to him.
Of course, sometimes it was a lot of fun for both of us. We’d play family games like “Cat vs. Electricity” and “Will Your Head Fit Here?”
And sometimes it wasn’t so great, like when I’d tell him that when the ice cream truck was playing music it meant they were out of ice cream.
My kid is smart. Even at 4 years old he knew enough that I was full of crap about the ice cream truck. And, he was his own form of sadist.
One morning, I woke up to take my meds, only I didn’t find my meds, I found big, melty wads of ice cream stuff into my med bottles instead.
My kid comes sauntering in, and he said to me:
“Dad, when you hear the ambulance siren screaming up the street to drag you off to the hospital it means you’re out of medication.”
If you would like more information about “Laugh It Off” and how to schedule a presentation, please contact Steve Bringe at 505-514-6750 or firstname.lastname@example.org
DBSA Albuquerque “Laugh It Off” stand up comics performed at the Turquoise Lodge Hospital in Albuquerque on May 31, which is the perfect way to close off May and Mental Health Month here in New Mexico. It’s also the perfect way to introduce DBSA Albuquerque’s “Laugh It Off” comedy education program to the Albuquerque communities.
Comics Marion Crouse, Dennis Gray, and Steve Bringe delivered moderately amusing jokes about their own life experiences, highlighting that even the most traumatic events in our recovery journeys can be pretty darned hilarious when told in the proper way.
The folks in the audience responded incredibly positively to our comics’ comedy sets, and what’s great is that the audience asked a ton of truly superb questions about many of the same topics we talk about in Monday and Thursday Support Groups, as well as talking to each other and learning that there are things common to our life experiences and that we’re not all alone in recovery and wellness. The importance of peer connection and power of peer support is integral to DBSA Albuquerque “Laugh It Off” comedy education program.
DBSA Albuquerque thanks Jackie West from Turquoise Lodge Hospital for the invitation, and we hope to continue offering our brand new “Laugh It Off” community education program at Turquoise Lodge.
Stay tuned… our comics are poised to tell their life story/jokes many places around Albuquerque throughout June. Join our DBSA Beacon newsletter for the latest scheduling for our comedy gig. This is an excellent way to learn more about mental health from peers who are excited to tell you about through the magic of humor.
We are recruiting new peer comics for “Laugh It Off”. If you would like more information about the “Laugh It Off” education program, how to get involved, and how you can bring our comics to your community, please contact Steve Bringe at: