TERRY GROSS, HOST:
This is FRESH AIR. I’m Terry Gross. For people prone to depression, especially if the depression is triggered by stress, this is probably a really difficult period. That’s one of the things I’m going to talk about with my guest John Moe, who you might know from his public radio podcast “The Hilarious World Of Depression,” which is also the name of his new book. He’s a humorist who’s dealt with clinical depression much of his life. On his podcast, he interviews people – mostly comics – who have depression. In his book, he writes about his own depression and the history of mental illness in his family. His older brother died by suicide. Throughout the book, Moe quotes relevant passages of his interviews with comics. In the preface, he writes that the book is about how he’s been tortured by depression but also found the absurd humor in it.
In fact, your thoughts often have much more to do with how you feel than what is actually happening in your life.
This isn’t a new idea. Nearly two thousand years ago the Greek philosopher, Epictetus, stated that people are disturbed “not by things, but by the views we take of them.” In the Book of Proverbs (23: 7) in the Old Testament you can find this passage: “For as he thinks within himself, so he is.” And even Shakespeare expressed a similar idea when he said: “for there is nothing either good or bad, but thinking makes it so” (Hamlet, Act 2, Scene 2).
Burns M.D., David D.. Feeling Good: The New Mood Therapy