Hey friends, or friend, or random person reading this!
I caught Jim Breuer on O&J the other day, and something really resonated with me and wanted to share.
“The Importance of Humor during Tragedy”
If you’ve been following Jim Breuer by listening to his appearances, his podcast or facebook, you probably know that he’s been through a bunch of low points in life, death in the family (dad, and sis), his wife’s cancer, mom’s in a home, you know crappy stuff life throws at you. So here’s the audio from O&J the other day- Note timestamp below.
Timestamp – 8:24 On his wife’s chemo treatment time:
“One thing I noticed is she watched funny videos 24 – 7 and alot of them were animal videos and I was surprised going into a lot of treatment centers where they don’t have anything for the patients. You’re in a room and everyone’s the lab rat and their all hooked up and sitting in a room getting juiced up and they should have videos or something of non-stop humor just anything, cats, dogs, funny distractions, and she got addicted to watching hilarious videos and that was a huge HUGE help throughout it all.
And that’s what I tell anyone who asks how’s your… “my daughter is going through this”, or my wife is going through, my grandma… I’ll just say “This is what my wife did, here’s a link of what she started watching…and it definitley helps…”
Well, when Jim said this, it immediately brought me back to a time where humor was so important.
My 10yo was admitted to the child psych unit for suicidal ideation. It was such a dark time to be separated from him, and as parents we felt helpless, and depressed. I still weep at the memory of it, no kid should go through this. As a mom, I felt horrible that to treat his depression, that the first drug that the psychiatrist prescribed was the one that caused the worst side effect. The child psych unit felt like a mini prison, he had a lousy pillow, thin blanket, no toys and was in there because of being on the wrong medication, and it was not his fault, and he was separated from the people that loved him. However he was a danger to himself and we needed him safe while they made sure he was off zoloft and stabilized.
When your kid says he wants to commit suicide and you didn’t even know he knew the meaning of the word, it does a number on you (He read it in a children’s book about “Suicide Hill”). As parents we were silent, sad, and nothing would really remove that gray cloud, I don’t recall enjoying anything, it was a state of shock, we’d just get through the day, keep the other 2 siblings in their routine as much as possible, leaned on our families. He’s only 10, how could this happen? Why him? He was so happy last year?
We were only allowed to see him an hour a day, and my heart just ached when he asked if he could shorten the visit, because seeing us made him sad because it reminded him how much he missed us and just wanted time to go quicker. We wanted more time with him, but at the same time we respected his wishes, even though as his parents we were desperately wanting time with him. After the 2nd day, we decided if we come to visit we have to really really make him laugh.
We told the kids we really needed to make their brother laugh, and they were all in. Our 9yo who is really close to his brother and was already familiar with power point, knew what would make him laugh. They had recently discovered Netflix had a season of teletubbies and the description of the episodes had them cracking up. So we made up a few slides. They were ridiculous, Dipsy had a soiled bottom, we used photoshop. We found images on the internet of pokemon cards with teletubbies on them. We made our own descriptions for make believe episodes. His sister made her own slides of cute pandas for him to look at.
When we went to visit next time, after he was done having his milk shake we showed him the power point and for the first time since he was there he laughed, it was divine. He really loved all the slides, and we promised to come up with new ones for the next visit.
“I love you guys” he said to us.
“We love you too buddy, you’ll be home soon.”
His stay at the psych unit was short compared to many others, we can’t imagine having a child there for such a long time, and our hearts go out to all the parents that have had to hospitalize their kids. One thing that is so painful for parents that have their kids in a psych unit is that the visiting hours is “visiting hour”. They really limit their contact to the outside world, and it is HEARTBREAKING.
From our perspective, we found that humor as Jim said, is just the key to getting through crappy times.
So if you are going through this for the first time, bring humor to your visits, you know what makes your kid laugh, bring the youtube video if they allow you to, or print out some funny stuff you find on the internet, that’ll make them smile. Since they only have family time once a week in some psych units, let their siblings make a video, or find stuff that will make them laugh. If you don’t have reception at the psych unit, then make sure you save stuff to your phone that you can show them.
My 10yo is doing well by the way now, he’s not depressed, having a better year, with ups and downs, but not nearly as bad as this past spring. He has interests again, and now is the owner of 2 guinea pigs. We are still on a journey to make sure we’ve addressed his mental health, but we have lots of hope and a lot of support. All the kids now have a great appreciation for photoshop.