Some people say that comedy is pain plus time and I must admit when it comes to my standup comedy career I can certainly relate to this. I mean, I don’t think that all comedy is about pain, but it sure is an interesting concept. Lucky for me, my tumultuous dating life gave me a lot of material! In fact, it was the foundation for the majority of my jokes in the beginning. And, if you factor in the many depressive episodes I suffered because I am someone who lives with bipolar disorder, it’s a perfect pain/comedy storm.
Dating for me was rough from the start. I don’t know exactly why boys didn’t seem to like me in grade school and high school. It could have been the fact that I was taller and bigger than most boys my age. And that trip to the mental hospital my sophomore year for a manic episode probably didn’t help. I remember asking a guy to junior prom and he said, “No thanks…I’m good.” I’m good? So, he equated going out with me as… not being good? That didn’t feel good. Things didn’t get much better in my college years or for the majority of my 20’s. Although guys did start noticing me and asking me out, man did I screw things up! I was THAT girl that would fall in love in a heartbeat then get tragically dumped in a multiple of ways by guys that “weren’t looking for a relationship.” Looking back I realize what losers those guys were and how I was better off without them, but at the time oh how I suffered.
Depression doesn’t even begin to describe the pain I felt after being rejected or broken up with. It was like the floor dropped beneath me. The sadness was almost physical and would come over me like a storm. I was numb and devastated. One time after a break up I remember driving to work and wishing that I would crash into oncoming traffic. Anything seemed better than the excruciating pain I was feeling. I was so embarrassed by it all. On a side note, I believe I was under medicated for many years. That reaction could be a result of a chemical imbalance. It is something that I improved several years ago by going on a new medication and I am still working on finding the right balance.
So how did I use that misery to my advantage? I shifted my perspective. I got some distance from it. I was able to find humor in all. Dating is hard. Who hasn’t felt rejected now and again? And, when I started writing my stand up jokes, I had this raw emotion to build on. The jokes just came, like I was meant to write about it. When I got on stage the audience could feel that I was authentic. This was not made up. They could relate to me. To my surprise, they laughed! They were laughing with me and not at me! Feeling that laughter was far better than anything I could imagine. It started the healing process. Now, this wasn’t a conscious thing. I didn’t intend to use my past suffering to write jokes, it just sort of happened.
Not to get all self-help books on you, but after years of doing standup, I learned to be proud of who I am and what I have experienced. I am able to joke about what I went through. It no longer has power over me. I don’t have to let any feelings of loss or failure define me. I get to choose who I am. That makes me feel very powerful! I am a smart and vibrant young lady. Are you holding on to pain that you can let go of? What if you stepped back from your problems and maybe even learned to laugh at yourself? I am telling you it really can change things and empower you. It sure did for me. So, to all those boys who didn’t like me, especially that guy that I asked to prom, you all missed out cause I’m not just feeling good, I am looking… damn good. Check me out being all sassy!
For more information about my adventures while living with a mental illness, read my book Chocolate Pudding in Heaven; The Intriguing Journey Of My Bipolar Mind. Available in paperback and digital. And, if you like it, please review it on AMAZON. Check out my other stand up videos.
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Maggie Newcomb Raine
Maggie Newcomb Raine is Speaker, Comedian, Writer, and Mental Health Advocate.
She advocates for mental illness acceptance and mental health recovery through her speaking presentations, blog and book, Chocolate Pudding in Heaven (available on Amazon, iBooks, Barnes & Noble, and Smashwords).