In the introduction to the inaugural episode of his podcast, “The Hilarious World of Depression,” host and humorist John Moe makes the disclaimer that the show is neither a cure nor a treatment for depression, and that he is not a doctor.
Well, I am—a doctor, that is—and I’ll make my own disclaimer: mental illness is an enigma. Unlike most physical illness, it is subjective, hard to measure, so abstract and yet so very concrete. Not everyone struggles with diabetes (for example), but everyone struggles with their mood. And so the mentally healthy often have a stated or unstated opinion about a co-worker’s or a friend’s mental health problems, in a way they wouldn’t have an opinion about that same person’s diabetes, or high blood pressure, or lupus etc..
Anyone who hasn’t seen depression up close, eyeball to eyeball, probably doesn’t have a clue what it’s really like. Many of us see a depressed friend sitting in the dark and think they need a new light bulb, when the problem is that the power lines have been severed. And we may never see depression up close because the disease comes with a degree of personal shame that knows few rivals in the halls of medicine (the closest I can think of is a smoker just diagnosed with lung cancer). The shame drives everything inside, into a hidden space, which only stokes the hopelessness and isolation that feeds The Beast.
Case in point was Moe’s first guest, Peter Sagal, the host of National Public Radio’s popular quiz show “Wait Wait…Don’t Tell Me!”. Moe had known Sagal for years but was clueless about his depression. Moe admitted to falling for what he called “the old trap,” believing there was no way the energetic and successful Sagal could be depressed, right?
“I forgot, once again, that that is not how depression works. It’s not just for mopey people listening to The Smiths.” – John Moe
And besides, Sagal was funny. Discovering that a person who makes other people laugh for a living is struggling with depression feels like finding a fish with a water allergy. Impossible! And yet entirely possible. In fact, that’s who Moe has lined up for future guests: comedians and funny people living with the Scarlet “D.”
I’ll disagree with Moe on one point. I think “The Hilarious World of Depression” could be a therapy option for depression. To prove it I am willing to endorse the podcast with my MisFortune 500 company “9-Out-of-10 Doctors™,” waiving the rigorously superficial product testing I typically perform while waiting for the check to clear.
In fact, I might even prescribe it for folks who are not dealing with depression. Then, when you’re done listening to the show, be sure to stop by the website of one of the show’s sponsors, MakeItOK.org, for tips on how all of us can help remove the stigma surrounding mental illness.
“’The Hilarious World of Depression’: the only comedy/depression show recommended by 9-Out-of-10 Doctors™”