Memes about mental health struggles have gained immense popularity on social media in recent years. The phenomenon is fascinating: how people are driven to use comedy to get a little relief or make a connection with the world even in the darkest of moments. When we look at how laughter works to relieve painful emotions, however, it makes much more sense why humor is so helpful when we are hurting.
Painful emotions have a physical response that comes with them. It includes your body language, your facial expressions, and your behaviors. When you are depressed, for example, you may have a slumped body posture. Your face may frown, and you get the urge to lay in bed and sleep. Slumping, frowning, sleeping all day… all send a message to your brain that can make the depressive emotions even worse.
On the other hand, finding something funny has another physical response that includes smiling, laughing, and a more excited body posture. What message do you think this sends to the brain? When you look at a meme, when you can laugh about something or laugh at yourself, it tells your brain that it can relax. It can lighten up.
You can see how important this is for people who live in the darkness of mental illness. There are few things that give you joy and laughter when you are depressed or anxious. This is where mental health memes come in! They are a fantastic tool for people who are having trouble finding a bit of light and humor in their pain or having trouble putting their experience into words.
“If you can get yourself to laugh and smile, GENUINELY laugh and smile, you can impact your emotions and your mental health in a positive way by indirectly using your body to talk to your brain.”
Try it out! Keep a list of your favorite mental health memes on your phone or in your crisis kit for when you need a pick-me-up. You can even make your own!
Jade Stanton is a mental health and BPD coach.