Mental Health Monday Meets Laughter Is the Best Medicine

Lydia Kang and Leigh Moore are co-hosting the Laughter is the Best Medicine Blogfest today. The rules are simple: Post a joke that pokes fun at yourself, writing, or work.

When I was a resident, I rotated in the state facility where patients with severe and chronic mental illness stayed for months or years. We’d have case conferences with the patients, namely to discuss their treatment and progress, as well as discharge planning of how to transition them back into the community.

One patient came in for his treatment plan review. It was snack time so he had juice and cookie bits stuck in his beard. His clothes were rumpled and stained. His eyes had that wild look that comes only with psychosis. Despite months of medication adjustment and therapy, he continued to hear voices and struggled with impulse control.

We reviewed what he needed to do and our recommendations. Even though we sat in a conference room, we could still hear another patient pitching a fit about not getting enough cookies. Needless to say, it was quite distracting, though, like troopers, we carried on. At the end, we asked the patient if he had any questions.

His response:

“Yeah, could you shut that woman up? Her screaming all the time will make ya crazy!”

*cue laughter*

Yes, the irony of a psychotic patient commenting on his mental health certainly brought some humor to the day.

Is that wrong? 😉

26 comments on “Mental Health Monday Meets Laughter Is the Best Medicine

  1. I’m sure in this field, you need to find humor where you can get it. LOL

  2. Sarah says:

    I was wondering if your patient ate that lady’s cookies! This takes me back to the two years I spent working in a group home. Psychosis is rough, so any levity is doubtless appreciated!

  3. Lynn Rush says:

    OH my word, this is funny!! I’m not much of a joke person.

    Back when I was working in a residential drug treatment center I once had a person tell me his doctor prescribed the cocaine that he tested positive for.

    I’ll never forget how serious the guy was, too.

  4. Lydia K says:

    OMG, that is too funny! Really, he said that? You guys must have totally lost it!

  5. Vicki Tremper says:

    I would imagine that you need moments like that to get through the day on a job like that. Kudos to you!

    And – LOL!

  6. Anita Howard says:

    Haha! That’s so sad that it’s funny. 😉 The picture on the top of your blog is so peaceful and beautiful. I want to be there today!

  7. Sophie Li says:

    Hello new here!

    And hahahahaha!!

    I use to sell Prozac and as sales reps we had to do a round in the psych ward to sort of put a face to the disease sort of thing.

    I remember walking in the halls when we had to abruptly stopped and ushered into a small conference with the door closed.

    Afterwards we found out that the residents can get quite feisty over their ‘popcorn and a movie’ hour!

  8. That’s awesome. I love how you can find humor in pretty much any situation.

  9. ketmakkura says:

    Here’s a bit of stupid from me at work:

    The first hotel I worked at, I was learning to do night audit. One of the things we have to do is slip their receipts under the door for express checkout.

    My first night doing this, I leaned in too close to the door and cracked my head on the big brass handle. I staggered into the middle of the hall, clutching at my head. It hurt, but I was more worried that I woke the guest inside up!

  10. Karen Lange says:

    Things that make you smile on the job…thanks for sharing! 🙂

  11. Linda Gray says:

    Ha! Love that! You took me straight to a memory from when I lived in New York in the 80s, and walked to work on 42nd and 3rd every day: I often passed a man who walked up and down 3rd Avenue in his own little world, talking gibberish in the most amazing voice. We dubbed him ‘Megaphone Man.’ One morning, I heard his voice and looked up to see that he was half a block ahead of me, walking the same direction. Then I noticed another of NYC’s wanderers (the halfway houses had been closed due to gov’t. cutbacks). This was a woman I often saw, whose eyes watched amazing things around her that none of the rest of us could see and who talked to invisible beings as she went. She was coming toward me on the sidewalk, and as she passed me she gave me a knowing look, cocked her head back at Megaphone Man, and said “What a kook!”

  12. I love to laugh, Laura. If I’d been your patient that day, I’d have had a hard time not giggling after the other patient’s first loud outburst. I may have asked you with a smile, at that point, if all your patients were crazy. Then you could have laughed, cautiously, with me, another one of your crazy patients.

    I don’t think it’s wrong to be tickled when something is funny, but I know you have to be cautious about laughing in the presence of patients with reasoning disabilities, who may not react normally to something humorous. You have a tough and delicate profession. I admire you for having the wisdom and discernment to tread the waters in such matters.

  13. Ellen says:

    I admire the way you handled things; yes humor helps cushion the soul, especially in work related scenarios. YOU must have to bite your tongue a lot, so you won’t burst out laughing~

  14. MPax says:

    Very amusing anecdote. 🙂

    Aww, your FB pic looks like my Nini.

  15. Catherine Johnson says:

    We were just talking about mental patients yesterday (as you do lol) since my grandmother had Alzeimers. It’s such a hard job looking after them you need some laughs!

  16. Yes, that is funny. I’m loving today, what a fun day.

  17. Kendall Grey says:

    As a smarty pants college grad, I went home to the small town where I grew up and picked up the local newspaper to see what had been happening in the community while I was away. To my dismay, the paper was riddled with typos, misspelled words, and terrible grammar – basically an insult to any human being who could read. I got so mad, I wrote a letter to the editor and complained. I left it with my mom, who said she’d mail it. Next day, she called me and said, “Honey, you misspelled the title of the newspaper in your letter.”



  18. He, he. Cute! 🙂 Thanks for sharing.


  19. roguemutt says:

    It’s kind of a funny story.

  20. Trisha says:

    Hehe, that poor guy – I feel so bad for people like that.

  21. Donna Hole says:

    When something’s funny, its funny. I’m sure he appreciated the irony too.

    In my social worker classes there was this lady who said she had multiple personality disorder (yes I know its called DID now). We thought it unfair at exam time that she had people to give her the answers. Shouldn’t that be cheating?


  22. I think it’s great when a person can joke about their problems and laugh, that’s a great way to deal with problems, too. 🙂

    Can Alex save Winter from the darkness that hunts her?
    YA Paranormal Romance Darkspell coming fall of 2011!


  23. Leigh Moore says:

    LOL! That is NOT wrong. I’d probably feel the same way… It’s like the little kid asking you to make the other little kid stop whining/begging/crying/making noises.

    😀 Thanks for playing!!! ❤

  24. Ginger says:

    lol… good to know he can differentiate the voices he hears 🙂

  25. Oh, that is funny. The poor guy! I don’t suppose he caught the irony?

    Trying to think how to poke fun of myself. I struggle with depression, so it’d probably help if I could poke fun at myself more often!

  26. Ha. I once worked at a mental health clinic. I have a few stories.

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