Humour as a Coping Skill
The expression “laughter is the best medicine,” is quite applicable for many people with epilepsy. Laughter and humour have several types of positive therapeutic effects.
Below are some insights that Randy Perkins shared in his article Learning to Use Humor as an Epilepsy Coping Skill.
“I developed an appreciation for humor because it helped me cope with the oddball things that happen in my world of epilepsy. Comedy can be that road where pain and suffering disappear, if even for a short time. It can bring the humanity we have in common into focus. For me, comedy has become a balancing force for coping with my epilepsy. No prescription is needed. Laughter does something that a pill can’t do.”
Laughter also has other medical benefits. Below is an explanation by Dr. Robert Fisher about how it could even prevent seizures.
“Laughter activates the emotional systems of the brain, including inner temporal lobe structures very involved in epilepsy, such as the amygdala and hippocampus. Some studies have suggested that laughter can affect the release of the so-called “feel-good” neurotransmitters, called endorphins. These chemicals are related to opiate pain medicines, and they may also have a role in seizures. For example, a study some years ago showed that opiate systems were abnormal in the region of a temporal lobe seizure focus. No studies have been done to demonstrate that laughter can normalize the opiate balance near a seizure focus, but it is possible and perhaps even plausible.”
Now that we know about the benefits of laughter, below is some epilepsy-related humour that made me smile. I hope it makes you smile too!
The following anecdotes were collected from people affected by epilepsy on the eCommunities message board on the Epilepsy Foundation website.
You know you have epilepsy when…
- You can do bizarre things and have an excuse for it
- Your mom still drives you to work and you are 28
- You wake up surrounded by hot paramedics and firemen knowing that you are not at a “male review”
- Upon having a burst of energy you're asked "are you having a episode?"
- You wake up with a morning-after feeling and you never had a night before
- You have a seizure in your sleep and smack your spouse...and they ask...was that a spell or are you still mad at me?
- You tell the nurses and doctors how to spell the drugs you’re on
- Someone asks you if you're alright and you didn't know anything was wrong
- You can ‘clunk’ and ‘thunk’ along in time with the MRI machine…you’re old friends
Below is a collection of posts from a Dravet Facebook support group.
You know you’re a Dravet parent when…
- You have a small pharmacy in your kitchen cabinet
- You wear your mobile/cell phone on your hip even though it is the dorkiest thing ever
- You see your dirty house and say to yourself “I better clean this up, what would the paramedics think if they saw this mess!?"
- The school nurse or your child’s teacher begins a non-seizure phone call with “your child’s fine”
- Your first thought when you see any child stumble or fall is, oh dear, they must be having a seizure
- You wish you had a punch card for ambulance rides: ride 9 times, get the 10th free
- You just take your life day by day (or minute by minute)
A comic that often addresses the issue of epilepsy is called Johnny Optimism. This is meant to be an ironic look at a boy with a disabilitiy who tries to look on the bright side of life because "things could always get worse." Johnny interacts with medical professionals, bureaucrats, mean kids, fellow sufferers, a wacky helper monkey, and his trusted service dog called Lance. He also has a good friend with epilepsy. The author states, "this cartoon is about the problems, insecurities, and indignities that all of us must face - whether visible to others or not - and trying to find a way to laugh in the face of our own adversities." Below are some examples of this comic.