An adventure worth my recovery

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Psychiatrists, therapists and social workers have told me I use humour as a defence mechanism, the gentler ones called it a coping strategy. It's true; humour has helped me through difficult situations and helped me to deflect probing questions, sometimes very probing questions. However, at the Mood Disorders Association of Ontario I found out humour could be more than survival. It could be transformation. When I began the Laughing Like Crazy Program (then called Stand Up for Mental Health), I was an inpatient at the Centre for Addiction and Mental Health (CAMH). I was in one of the darkest periods of my life, in and out of the hospital, often suicidal, and measuring my life in coffee spoons and cigarette butts. I attended peer support groups at the Mood Disorders Association and saw the poster for the stand-up comedy group. It was such a crazy idea, I had to apply.
I attended the first few group meetings on evening passes from the hospital and returned to a locked psychiatric ward at the end of the meeting. That was the fall of 2007 and I haven't been back in the hospital since. In the weekly meetings, I met people I could connect with and share my own story. I laughed loudly and laughed a lot, despite the fact that Michael Cole, the inspiring facilitator and Program Director, encouraged us to use humour to look at our most difficult experiences. My first performance was exhilarating, but it was the hope, friendships, and new way of looking at this crazy world that had already changed my life. Through Laughing Like Crazy, I found an adventure worth my recovery.
Michael asked me to co-facilitate the next group with him and I have gone on to facilitate and co-ordinate more groups and become increasingly involved with the development of the program. I am co-facilitating the current Laughing Like Crazy program with Michael, and as we approach the Showcase on August 4, 2011 I am reminded of how my journey with Laughing Like Crazy began and feel so honoured to be able to share this process with others.
The Showcase on August 4, 2011 will be at the Northern District Public Library at 40 Orchard View Blvd. You can download the flyer to share with friends and family.  There are also two more opportunities to see Laughing Like Crazy Grads perform this week as part of  Mad Pride. We will perform at College Street United Church, 502 Bathurst St. on Wednesday, July 13, 2011 at 2:00pm and Friday, July 15, 2011 at 12:30pm. Check out the complete Mad Pride schedule.
See you at the shows!
Emma Árdal, Associate Director, Laughing Like Crazy