Is Fatalistic Humour A Valid Coping Mechanism For Depression?

14/03/2017 12:30
kunertus via Getty Images

A while ago, I was on Buzzfeed; the first place to go to when you want to procrastinate something important, and after finding out what type of coffee I am (Chocolate Mocha, apparently), I found myself reading one of their classic listicles. This listicle was called '19 Pictures That Are Too Real If You Love Dying And Being Dead' and it was basically a bunch of fatalistic memes, which I related to, far too much. I sent it to my friend and she also thought it was hilarious. I then accidentally realised the comments section was a bloody warzone. People were saying it made a mockery of depression, that people who relate to this should get help, that it was wrong to normalise such humour. Then there were other people, who like me, rely on morbid humour like this as a coping tool. It seems to be a big generation divide, that people my age like this kind of humour, we find it useful, and other generations think it trivialises mental illness. So I wanted to share, why I believe this humour is okay and why it can actually be a vital coping tool.

First things first. I have diagnosed depression and anxiety. I've been to the doctors, I'm on medication, it's all kool and the gang, don't worry about me. I've been dealing with this shit for years, I've got this under control. Now, my main belief about any problem in life, is that you have to find a way to laugh at it. You can cry too, of course you can. Big advocate for having a good cry, but laughter is the main thing that will truly help you heal. If you can laugh at the notion of suicide, it stops having power over you. When a minor inconvenience happens and I think, 'ah if only I had the sweet release of death', I know damn well that I'm not going to do it, and it helps me relieve depressive thoughts in a safe and humorous way. I'm going to have the depressive thoughts, that's something I can't help, but if I can find a way to make them less real, to reduce their impact on me, then that's a positive, surely?

Furthermore, talking about having depression, is a right pain in the arse. I know that I have to do it, but like, I'd rather not, you know. If I'm miserable, I don't want my friends to have to be miserable by hearing about my misery too. If I can use memes to talk about depression amongst my other depressed friends, it becomes a lot easier. We can all laugh and know that we aren't alone. It takes away any of the awkwardness. It isn't always easy to be like 'so how are your mental health issues' whereas saying something like 'what's up you depressed bastard' is often preferable because it makes it casual and lowkey. A while ago, a friend told me she had depression and she went on to say she felt so guilty because she was constantly thinking 'lol might just jump off a cliff' when anyone asked her what her future plans were. The second I said I make jokes like that too we were both in stitches and sending over some classic memes. It ended up bringing us closer together, and she was laughing instead of feeling guilty and alone.

Thirdly, I've seen the argument that its a false coping mechanism but I don't think this is true. Sometimes you think something is helping you but it actually isn't. For example, I used to think cigarettes helped my anxiety. Now technically they did; they had an immediate calming effect, and they saved me so many times in uncomfortable social situations, but they weren't really addressing the underlining problem. I really don't think this is the same with morbid memes. I could be wrong, after all, I'm not a mental health professional, but I do know that from a personal perspective, there is a correlation between my overall well being improving and my use of fatalistic humour. I don't think it trivialises mental health- having depression is a giant pile of dog shit that I wouldn't wish on anyone. I don't say that lightly. There are some people in this world I really fucking hate, and I would never wish depression on them. It is a huge deal. Sufferers using suicide based humour to cope are not the people who trivialise it, it is people who say things like 'oh this generation are a bunch of snowflakes' or 'some people just need a good smack round the head' or 'why don't you try yoga' or 'green tea is supposed to work wonders' or 'you don't need medication, you need some fresh air or exercise' or any other of the ridiculous things neurotypicals say to people like me. They are the problem, not us.

So please, let me have my morbid coping mechanisms, and please don't presume to know what's best if you haven't personally experienced a mental health issue. If you have however, and morbid coping mechanisms don't work for you, then of course, don't use them and find other things that do work for you. I'm not saying we all have to use them, I just want people to understand why it can be helpful for some of us. Hopefully I explained it well enough, and if I didn't and people still argue with me, that's fine because I've got the sweet, sweet thought of death to comfort me. Lol.