Can someone who has a mental illness make a joke about that mental illness?
Or, rather, at what point does humor stop being humorous?
Because let’s face it, we’ve all pretty much agreed that jokes about rape aren’t funny (and if you disagree, really, why the fuck are you following me?). That’s something everyone can agree on.
But what about mental illness? Depression? Bipolar disorder? I don’t know where I stand on this, honestly. I’d like to hear the thoughts of others on this one.
So, reblogging this because I have far more to say on this topic than I can fit into a standard reply.
Here’s my take on things: when I make a joke about my depression, or my autism, or any of the other things I’ve been diagnosed with, I don’t see it as making a joke about that illness (brief aside, once again, to point out how much I hate the terminology here). I see it as me making a joke about me.
To use a semi-related example: I made a joke the other day about my father hitting me (it’s part of how I cope, sue me) (and yes, for anyone wondering, this is what set off the molestation thing). I don’t think abuse is funny, and call me a hypocrite, but had someone else made the comment I made to me, I’d probably be mildly offended. But, as I see it, it’s my life, and should I with to joke about that, I can.
And you know, most of them really aren’t funny. They’re a defense mechanism. They’re a way to distract people so that they don’t realize how fucked up I really am. And more importantly, it’s a way for me to keep myself from thinking about the various issues I have in my life. I realized this the other day in Angora. I made a joke about how not trying to kill me was a major requirement for being my friend, and this got sidetracked into why this was something I had to explicitly mention. And the reality of that situation is because it’s happened. And you know what? I can make jokes about my father stabbing me, but to actually think about it as something that really happened? Yeah, I can’t do that.
So to answer the original questions: no, I don’t think that jokes about mental illnesses are okay. And while I’m reluctant to speak for others who have them, I wouldn’t be surprised if many of them are in the same boat as me: doing it to keep both others and themselves from really confronting it.
^ This, more or less. For me personally, I dislike it when the jokes about my mental illness become…. I’m not sure how to put this. Negative? I can’t think of an example off the top of my head because it’s five in the fucking morning but yeah. I make wisecracks all the time about the stupid shit my Bipolar makes me do sometimes, but if someone were to come up to me and make a wisecrack about me being mentally ill and basically implying how it makes me less than human, my opinions invalid, etc? I’d probably try to murder them.
It’s kind of like the whole “women belong in the kitchen” jokes thing (which, by the way, isn’t really that funny to me). Jokes aren’t funny when you use them to dehumanize a person and make them feel lesser. Am I going to laugh about how crazy spastic I get when I hit my manic phases, or about the time when I had my first psychotic episode and thought I could fly? Probably, yeah. Like Agnol, humor helps me cope, even if it’s morbid. Shit, I laugh about how the last time I tried to overdose on my medication and when I got the bottle, there were only four pills in there and I thought “wow, I’m so pathetic I can’t even kill myself properly”.
But the second someone suggests that I’m not capable of being a normal human being or something like that, even if it’s some form of joke, I lose my sense of humor.
Well, if you put it that way I lost my sense of humor about three days ago. But I can completely understand this. Really, when it comes down to it, I just think that people shouldn’t make jokes at the expense of other people.
But that still leaves one of my original questions unanswered: if you make the joke about yourself, are you damaging someone else?
Ah, see, you went and changed the question on me.
The answer to that one is maybe. Again, when I make a joke like that about myself, I’m doing just that: I’m making a joke about myself. I don’t see it as making a joke about that particular mental illness. Someone else might, though, and if they did, I can see why that would be upsetting to them.