Comedian combines hilarity and gravity to openly discuss mental illness

Comedian and mental health advocate Ruby Wax combines humor and solemnity in the TED video below to question the stigmas that surround mental illness. Relaying her own experiences, Wax describes how following her institutionalization, the other hospital patients became her “tribe”, and her only friends. She states, “I wasn’t sent a lot of cards or flowers. I mean if I had had a broken leg, or I was with child, I would have been inundated but all I got was a couple phone calls telling me to perk up.” In exploring her own reaction to her illness, Web found that she felt an intense sense of shame and frustration, brought on by her, and society’s, inability to view her mental illness in a tangible sense. Web demands, “How come when people have mental damage it’s always an active imagination? How come every other organ in your body can get sick and you get sympathy, except the brain?” We are beginning to discuss the mental illness that many people in our population experience – just the fact that a prominent comedian is sharing her own history with mental illness demonstrates that – yet as a society we have room to grow. But the first step is talking openly, as Web is doing, as we at disAbility Rights Galaxy are doing, and hopefully, as you, our reader, will continue to do.

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Emily Pate is a third-year student at Seattle University interested in Strategic Communications, learning Spanish, and working with non-profits. Her work for Rooted In Rights is focused on discussing current events in the community of people with disabilities. Her experience previous to Rooted In Rights includes writing broadcasts for KBOO radio in Portland, OR, and managing a neighborhood blog in the Seattle community. In addition to work, Emily enjoys drawing, spending time with her friends and family, and backpacking.