This may sound silly, but Duck Dynasty is a part of my recovery. Okay, let me explain: as someone who has episodes of severe anxiety and depression, I tend to take life too seriously sometimes. A few weeks ago I was watching my guilty pleasure, Duck Dynasty, and I laughed out loud. To my amazement, I then realized that that was the first time that I had laughed all day! That silly show had put a smile on my face and had forced me to stop thinking such serious, deep thoughts for once.
Laughter is important! AA’s Big Book says on page 132, “but we aren’t a glum lot. If newcomers could see no joy or fun in our existence, they wouldn’t want it. We absolutely insist on enjoying life.” Dialectical Behavioral Therapy’s (DBT) creator, Marsha Linehan, made sure to include a section of coping skills about adding positive and pleasurable experiences into one’s life, because that is what helps create a “life worth living.” (If you do not know what DBT is, just know that it is a therapy that helps people like me with impulsivity and mood problems. It is relatively similar to a twelve-step group in that its principles and coping skills become a lifestyle and can be worked on alongside an anonymous program.) Although probably none of us got into recovery specifically to laugh again, would we really stay in it if we never did? Boredom and stress tend to lead us back into a relapse fairly quickly.
When someone smiles and when someone laughs, you know there’s hope. I remember once telling a therapist about the “stupid” and “pointless” activities a recreation therapist had me perform while at a mental hospital several years before (not at Ridgeview). She had us walk in circles around the gym while she played loud Gloria Estefan music, continually yelling at us to, “Swing your arms! Move with the rhythm!” The whole activity seemed surreal and ridiculous and finally the young woman behind me and I couldn’t hold in our shared reaction and we started giggling uncontrollably. For years afterward I was convinced that we were sort of mean in our laughter at her, but the newer therapist explained to me that actually, no, getting us to laugh was the whole point and the fact that we did proved that she was quite competent in her job! She explained that the fact that we laughed let the hospital staff know that we were doing better and could be discharged soon. Getting us to not be so serious was her goal!
There is a misconception that people in recovery are a glum lot and always take life super seriously. Think of how people in recovery are portrayed in the media-have you ever seen a TV show where someone in recovery laughed or did something fun? No, they’re always coming to make an amends, saying something heavy at a meeting or having a relapse and while those things do happen-it is only showing one side of a story. Here is my side-I attended DragonCon this year, which is the world’s largest science fiction and fantasy convention and I went dressed up as a character from the movie, Brave.
Other people in recovery went too! There was a twelve-step meeting every night and people talked about dancing for the first time sober, looking forward to actually being able to remember the event, and just in general learning that they could be serious about remaining in recovery, while not taking recovery so seriously that they passed up the opportunity to make costumes (cosplay) and bond with other sci-fi geeks once they were ready. I do need to take my recovery seriously, but I am thankful for all the forces in my life, from my sponsor and friends, to the events that I attend, to even the television shows that I watch that keep me from taking it too damn seriously. And that makes me happy, happy, happy!
I hope this article and the pictures made you laugh! What is your humorous guilty pleasure?