Dear Joy,

If you don’t laugh, you cry.

To be totally fair, I’m not sure if this is something I came up with or someone has said it long before me, but it’s a phrase I have been using for years. One of my personal favorites.

I love laughing. I love being silly and making jokes. I would love to spend all my time with people who make me laugh until my stomach hurts (very few people actually have this skill but I’m lucky to know a few). But life is sometimes really really unfunny. Like full of situations where you are crying or screaming or shouting, and any one of these usually involves lots of tears from me regardless. I am fully aware that not everything can be turned into a joke and that humor is not always the most appropriate way to go. But it actually is more often than you may think.

After you’ve felt the feelings and felt the pain, or comforted your friend or cried with your family, there should always be space for laughter. If you didn’t start to laugh at some point you would just cry forever. I cried about my mother’s cancer, lots and lots and lots. But I also made dark jokes about it and when at some point early on was able to share this humor with her and she joined right in. Plenty of stuff about hospital appointments and strange drug side effects can be funny. If you were sitting in the waiting room and couldn’t laugh about how ugly the plant looked or how ridiculous the painting they had chosen was, you might just sit in there and cry because it’s a hard place to be. But laughter makes it easier.

Humor as a coping mechanism. Yes, that’s what it is. Why is “blank… as a coping mechanism” seen as something negative? What’s negative about coping? If laughter and jokes help you through the darkest times, then go for it. I couldn’t just cry and cry. I couldn’t do it. It’s also quite tiring. But if I didn’t laugh, that’s what I would be doing instead. Trying to make the best out of the worst. Make it funny. Allow yourself to laugh at the ridiculousness of the darkness that we find ourselves in.

Dear SickBoy Podcast,

I can’t even remember how I stumbled upon the podcast. It was late 2020, after I had spent almost a year isolating and fearing the outside world because of the “you know what.” Before I knew it, it was the only podcast I wanted to listen to. Jeremie, Taylor, Brian and their amazing guests became my company throughout that incredibly challenging winter. The first episode I listened to was about grief. It made me laugh and cry and I knew that this show was different. So, what a Christmas present it was to discover hundreds of episodes where they give their platform to people dealing with all manner of incredible challenges.

Their humor was what I was most drawn to. I have always used dark humor and (slightly inappropriate) jokes to get through the most difficult situations. I had now found people who were speaking my language. Not only that, but they were speaking it in a time where I felt the most alone and most disheartened. My mother was fighting cancer, my grandfather was dying of cancer across the ocean, and our hearts were breaking as we accepted that we would spend his last Christmas apart. Meanwhile, I was doing my very best to hide and push away my own health problems because between all that drama and the “you know what” there wasn’t space for anything more.

In a family where we don’t talk about the hard things, listening to Sickboy gave me an outlet. Sounds strange that an outlet can be found in not talking but listening– but it was incredibly powerful. I needed to hear that other people were going through similar things. I needed those conversations to show me that not only is it okay to discuss things, it’s even okay to laugh and joke about the difficult parts of life. I needed it to show me that other people had been through adversity and come out the other side, because there are times where it’s impossible to see the other side.

Almost every episode, no matter what condition or event was talked about, was able to validate something I had felt. Whether it be the frustrating struggle to be listened to in the over-burdened healthcare system or the isolation that you feel when you have something that makes you a little different from the norm. Listening to the guests was freeing. Plus, I have learned so so much.

It’s now about a year since I discovered this gem. I have listened to every episode, some a few times over. I await Feel Good Friday every week. It will make this next dark and difficult winter a little brighter. I have no sense of what 2022 will bring, or what direction my life will take–nobody really does. But I fully expect that Sickboy will be part of that year no matter what is in store for all of us.

In short, I really recommend you listen to this podcast, in case you didn’t catch that.