Comedian Wayne Brady Shows that Depression is No Laughing Matter
Practically on the heels of Robin Williams’ death, a fellow comedian shares what it’s like to live with depression – Wayne Brady, of “Whose Line Is It Anyway?” fame. Wayne Brady recently opened up to Entertainment Tonight about his struggles with depression, culminating on his 42nd birthday. Talking about depression, Brady’s tone is frank and straightforward, all the while combating the stereotype that comedians are always happy and don’t ever feel sad.
He touches on what he calls a “double standard” in Hollywood about confessing substance use issues versus mental health issues; rehab is okay to talk about, but depression is not. Interestingly enough, the root of substance use issues so often comes down to underlying mental health issues; substance use is merely a symptom of the deep psychic pain, but it is easier (read: more comfortable) for people to talk about the symptom as a stand-alone problem, therefore avoiding talk about uncomfortable, touchy-feely emotions.
It is so important that famous people like Wayne Brady are coming clean about the real struggles in their lives. It can be so easy to assume that famous people always have happy lives; it can be so easy to assume that comedians always have happy lives. No one is immune from depression. No one is immune from genuinely tough circumstances. No one is immune from mental health issues. This is something that any one of us can face, and many of us already have in some form or another. We can’t assume, “That won’t happen to me”, because there goes your empathy and understanding for someone else’s struggle. What counselors and therapists have known for so long is how important openness is in combating mental health issues. Hiding it just propagates stigma, and reinforces the belief that “not many people actually go through this type of thing”. Especially when considering a struggle like depression, isolation can, quite literally, kill. When people think that they can’t open up about their real battles with darkness, it only perpetuates that darkness.
Congratulations to Wayne Brady for being vulnerable enough and brave enough to allow us to share with him this deeply painful experience, because he knows that sharing it lessens the pain and increases hope.
Photo credit: Wikimedia Commons – Josh Hallett