29/03/2018 11:29 BST | Updated 29/03/2018 11:29 BST

Living With Depression: Sometimes Laughter Can Be The Best Medicine

When I was about six years old I tried to do the splits and ended up fracturing both of my legs. I was in traction for months and I basically had to learn to walk again. I have no idea what made me attempt to do the splits, but I’m sure in my six year old brain there was an amazing reason.

At the time I probably didn’t enjoy that whole experience. But I look back on it now and I think it’s hilarious.

That pretty much sums up my sense of humour. I find it incredibly easy to laugh at myself and the ridiculous situations I have gotten myself into over the years. And I think that by embracing my ability of self deprecation I’ve become a funny person as a result.

Sure, I can be serious when I need to be. I certainly wouldn’t be cracking jokes in the middle of a funeral. Although there was that one time somebody in front of me passed wind during a service and I got the giggles for five minutes. But I mean, who wouldn’t??

I seem to have developed a knack for finding humour in even the darkest of places.

Over the years this has been both a help and a hindrance. I’ve discovered during therapy that I tend to use humour as a defence mechanism. When things get too heavy or too hard to deal with I tend to switch off and make a joke out of it. On the other hand, being a funny guy is a great way to make friends.

The trick is to find the balance between the two. Over the last few months I’ve learned that humour definitely has a place in my life. It’s ok to be a funny guy when the situation warrants it but it’s also perfectly alright to be serious when it’s necessary. It’s not a bad thing to be able face up to the issues that make us feel bad and work through them instead of hiding behind a laugh and a joke.

I’ve always wanted to be a stand up comedian but my depression and anxiety have always held me back. My inner critic has always told me that I would never be good enough and that I should never even try because I’d just be setting myself up to fail.

For most of my life I believed that nagging voice. I allowed it to have power over me and my life suffered as a result. I never put myself out there or took any risks. I convinced myself that I was a failure before I’d even attempted to succeed. This only fed my depression and I ended up in a never ending cycle of self doubt and self hatred.

It wasn’t until I was forced to to open up and accept help that I was finally able to recognise and challenge my negative thinking.

It’s taken a long time and a lot of hard work but I’m finally starting to believe in myself. My inner critic is still there, constantly throwing my negative core beliefs in my face but I’m getting so much better at ignoring that annoying little voice.

With the amazing therapy I’m having and the great emotional support I have in place I’m at a place in my life where I can be a funny guy just because I’m a funny guy and not because I’m hiding from things I don’t want to face.

I’ve made such good progress that I finally made it up on stage to do a stand up gig in front of about fifty people. My anxiety reared it’s ugly head and I was terrified. What if I wasn’t good enough? What if nobody laughs. What if I die on my arse? All these thoughts and more were racing through my mind. But I pushed through all the doubt and did my five minute set and it was success. I got lots of laughs in all the places I wanted to get laughs and I did it all with only minimal nerves showing through. It was the ultimate case of aversion therapy and an amazing adrenaline rush.

A lot of my material was based around my recent struggles with mental illness and I found it incredibly cathartic. In a way, being able to laugh at my depression and anxiety went a long way towards lessening their power over me.

Comedy has become a new creative outlet for me and I feel it’s been vitally important to my recovery.

I think we all have that little voice in the back of our minds. One that tells us we’re not good enough and fills us with doubt. I now know from experience that this voice only has power over us if we allow it.

I, for one, choose to laugh in the face of my inner critic. And if other people choose to laugh along with me then I know I’m doing something right.