Mental Health Month begins today, and to kick things off I called blogger and cartoonist Chato Stewart, a mental health advocate and one of Sharecare’s Top 10 Influencers on Depression. Stewart, who suffers from bipolar disorder, uses his cartoons to show how humor can be a tool to cope with mental illness.
Hey, Chato, got any favorite cartoons you’d like to share?” I asked.
Next thing I knew, into my inbox popped a drawing that made me laugh right out loud, even on a hectic Friday afternoon: two talking acorns, one happily chattering away about the family of squirrels moving in nearby—oblivious to the fact that he and his pal are about to be lunch.
“He’s just so darn positive,” Stewart says. “If you’re an acorn, it’s obvious that having a family of squirrels right above you is not a good thing.”
That uber-positive attitude is what Stewart says is so nutty about the advice mentally ill people often hear. “People want you to be overly positive, and some people just aren’t at that point,” he says. What’s more, he adds, trying to be constantly upbeat can wear you out. “Too many positives equal a negative,” Stewart says. “It burns your batteries.”
The trick, of course, is learning to strike a balance between the positive and the negative. That’s something Stewart knows about firsthand. “I fail a lot [at being positive],” he says. “A lot of times I’m a complete failure at it. But you have to dust off your feet and keep moving forward. That’s where humor comes in for me. I’m trying to look at life in a way that will find joy. And if I can’t find that, then at least I can learn to laugh things off, and keep moving forward in my recovery.”
How has humor helped you cope with a health condition? Share your thoughts in the comment section below.
Want more from Chato? Check out his blog post “A Window to Laughter and Certification.”
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