Our website’s mandate is partly about trying to get laughs out of people with mental health issues, in the hopes that they’ll laugh at themselves……if they can. Sometimes we find movies, or in this case, standup comedians that accomplish exactly what we’re attempting to do, and that’s why we think you should watch Neal Brennan’s 3 Mics Comedy Special on Netflix. We’ve copied and pasted a giant excerpt below for you to read, and hopefully, it will entice you to go and watch the whole thing.
So, I’m depressed, and not the way you normally hear that. Like, “I’m so depressed. Kobe retired.” I mean, I have clinical depression, the mood disorder. And I’ve had it for as long as I can remember. I don’t know if you know about me, but I’m the youngest of ten kids. I don’t know if you know much about math, or kids, but ten kids is too many kids. Also, my father was a violent alcoholic. He didn’t hit me that much, but he used to terrorize my brothers. My parents were old when I got here. I’m the youngest. So, they were in their forties when I got here. They were born in the 1930s. They were from the “We did the best we could” generation. If you criticized their parenting, they’d go, “We did the best we could.” I always felt, “Really? That was the best?” So, Dad, you’d get drunk, hit your kids, and think, “‘Now, this is me at my best.’” My father was also a narcissist. So, the entire mood of the house was dictated by him, and all the attention went his way. I think me and my brothers and sisters realized early on the best way to deal with him was to minimize our feelings as much as possible so as not to call attention to ourselves. But you do that long enough, and your feelings start to atrophy to the point that you’re incapable of having them. Two things I knew I could feel were ego and adrenaline, so I basically just set out to achieve a bunch of shit to give myself a surge of good feelings. Like, I got into NYU film school, which was a miracle at that time. I did so bad on my SATs. I ended up dropping out after six months, but that was a huge rush of adrenaline. Then I ended up at a comedy club… Not as a comedian, as a door guy, taking tickets and barking for people to get in. But I also started giving actual working comedians little tags for their act. “Hey, try saying this or try saying that.” And to see my jokes work onstage was a huge burst for me. Then I started getting real writing jobs. “Real” is a big word, but… I wrote for MTV’s Singled Out. You’re welcome. I wrote for All That on Nickelodeon. Yeah, applaud. [cheering] Yeah. Then, when I was 23, me and Dave Chappelle wrote Half Baked, so, at this point, my system of keeping myself afloat via accomplishments was working beautifully… until it stopped. After Half Baked, I started writing with a guy named Mike Schur. And he and I had sold a pitch, which should have made me feel great, and I remember hearing the news as I drove along, and I heard the news on my cell phone, and I just had tears coming down my face. I was, like, “I guess my plan of achievement isn’t cutting it anymore.”
So, I knew I had to go to a psychiatrist and get antidepressants. So, I did. And the antidepressants worked, sort of. They definitely raised the floor on my mood, but none of these pills are panaceas. They just kind of lessened the symptoms. Depression to me has always felt like a virus that attacks your brain with negative thoughts. The medication staved off some of the thoughts, but a lot of them would break through and would leave a void in their wake. Like, to say I have low self-esteem is not true. I have no self-esteem. I don’t have the architecture for good feelings. You could give me a trophy, it will slide right down. I just don’t have the shelving. In fact, I used to have to carry around an index card of funny things I’d written or said or directed just to try to remind myself that I was okay. Depression feels like you’re wearing a weighted vest. I always felt like I was at a disadvantage mood- or energy-wise to my peers. It was never life-threatening, it was just life-dampening. And the medication could take weights out of the vest, but I still came across as either bored or cold or superior, none of which I wanted to come across as. Although, you know who always loved my attitude? Black dudes. Always. Yeah. They’d be, like, “Neal, man, you don’t give a fuck.” And I always wanted to say, “That’s because I’m sad.” I think black dudes appreciated how openly sad I was, because black dudes aren’t allowed to be sad in public. The only way a black dude can openly express sadness in public is if he does it with a saxophone. So, I think people with depression have the reputation for feeling sorry for themselves or they fell into a bad mood and were too lazy to get out of it. But, believe me, I’m not lazy, nor did I approach this lazily. Like, I went to a psychiatrist and a psychologist. If you don’t know the difference, congrats for having a great life. I became a vegan to feel better. I quit smoking to feel better. Every exercise plan there is, I tried to feel better. Meditation. I went on a seven-day silent meditation retreat. Medication. I’ve tried every medication they have. They all have side effects, whether it’s weight gain, weight loss, nausea, grogginess, memory loss… Which, for my job, is not good… And, worst of all, dick stuff. So, I’d been on antidepressants for 17 years, and finally I was, like, “I have to try something else.” So, I was so sick of the side effects, I was like, “I need to throw a Hail Mary.”
Heard of this drug ketamine? If you know what ketamine is, it’s a horse tranquilizer that’s also a party drug, and they’ve started prescribing it for depression. I know it’s legit because I saw it on Reddit. So, I found a doctor that prescribes it. I went to his office. And I can’t explain to you how normal this doctor’s office was. A bunch of other people waiting for other doctors, fill out the form, old magazines. They call me back into his office, put an I.V. in my arm, drip ketamine into it, and I tripped my fucking face off. On a Tuesday afternoon in a doctor’s office, immobile, out, music festival level, not on this plane. Gone. And it lasted about 45 minutes, but the comedown was rough. When I came out of it, I felt like I just came out of surgery, which makes sense because it is an anesthetic. So, I decided not to do it again. Woke up the next day and felt better than I’d felt in months. I was, like, “Fuck, I’ve got to do it again.” Did it five more times in the next two weeks. But long-term, the side effects from ketamine were bad for me. I got nauseous for months, I was groggy for months. Worse than that, my eyes burned for four months straight. It was crazy. So, that didn’t work, for me. Then I heard about something called TMS. TMS is short for transcranial magnetic stimulation. All right, so, looked it up online. Go to a doctor’s office, and they put a contraption on your head, looks like kind of a halo, and they basically shoot magnetic beams into your brain, about an inch deep into your brain, to a certain area that stimulates growth and can alleviate depression, allegedly. I did that. That lasts about a half an hour. It just feels like tapping. Just feels like kind of a shitty woodpecker. You’re, like, “Okay, let’s wrap it up now.” And by the second treatment of that, I felt great. Something definitely lifted. The depression’s still with me, but not nearly as bad as it was. I ended up doing 45 half-hour sessions of TMS, which is a lot. And the reason I itemize it is because when you have any kind of mood disorder, it’s not provable to people. All I have to show you is my work. I had 45 half-hour sessions. It’s really aggravating when you have a mood thing. You can feel people’s suspicion. Imagine if you had a cold, and people were, like, “He doesn’t really have that cold. That stuffiness is a choice.” It’s really frustrating. It speaks to people’s ignorance about depression. I’m in the Big Brothers program, because I’m an angel that fell to earth. No, I actually joined because I heard volunteering releases endorphins, which I gotta say… eh. But the kid is great. So, one day, nine-year-old kid, we’re hanging out. He sees me take an antidepressant, put it in my mouth. He’s, like, “What’s that?” I was, like, “An antidepressant. I do it to make myself feel better…” and I’ve also shot ketamine into my veins.” You know when you forget to lie? You’re, like, “Oh, here’s everything.” “And I’ve shot magnetic pulses into my head, but only, like, 45 times for half an hour.” And he’s looking at me, and I can see his wheels are spinning. When a nine-year-old is ready to say something, you’re, like, “I have no idea which way this is going.” I don’t know if this is gonna be great or crazy.” But he goes, “You do all that stuff to try to feel better?” I go, “Yeah.” And he goes, “So you’re like a cucumber… “but you’re trying to turn yourself into a pickle.” I was like, “Yeah.”
If you or a loved one you know battles with any Mental Health Issues, please do get the help you need. If you need to talk to someone now, you can talk to one of the many fantastic therapists at Better Help by CLICKING HERE.
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