I recently faced a rejection. It felt like an emotional storm (the grief, sadness, shame, anger, self-doubt, feeling misunderstood). For several days my emotions were all over the place. I tried to help myself feel better, but nothing worked.
For the last few months, I’ve been thinking about the question: Can improving my mental health be more fun and playful? For me, humor has always been a form of therapy. So I asked myself, why not try making memes? My first drafts were not funny, because I tried to make memes that were too relatable. But then I remembered a quote, “art is an expression of self”. Making general memes on mental health wasn’t going to work, I had to make memes about myself and the personal experiences I have been going through.
First, I made a meme explaining how I felt about the rejection:
Second, I made a meme explaining how I was carrying some unresolved trauma and how it was messing up with my confidence:
Third, I listed out all the things that were affecting my mental health:
It was a fun exercise, going through all the meme templates, and looking at other people’s memes for inspiration. And later that evening something magical happened. I was preparing to join a call and wanted to take another look at the memes before I showed them to my friend. I looked at my memes and laughed. And after joining the call both of us started laughing. This was completely unexpected. I laughed at my trauma, and I made someone else laugh. What’s more important, is that I was able to communicate things that would have been very hard to convey. It was cathartic. I felt a sense of relief, and much better.
Creating memes about my trauma turned out to be therapeutic.
Five reasons why memes make it easy to convey our emotions
Here’s a quote from Oscar Wilde:
- “If you want to tell people the truth, make them laugh, otherwise they’ll kill you.”
While this is true for all things, it makes more sense when we are talking about emotions. We find ourselves in situations where we are afraid to express our emotions because of what other people might think, because of shame. But with memes, we’re not only trying to convey our feelings, but we’re also trying to create humor. And everyone appreciates a good laugh.
- Another reason why memes help in this situation is that they are casual. Memes take away the awkwardness that we might face during confrontations.
- Memes help us accept and internalize the truth about our trauma. There is nothing worse than staying in denial. By making memes, we tell ourselves and others what happened playfully.
- “A picture is worth a thousand words.” Memes are pictures, and most of the time they will express our emotions for us, even if we don’t know the right words.
- Finally, memes are relatable. If we share our memes, then other people can connect with us in our trauma more easily. We’ll get instant feedback and we’ll find out that there are people who have been through similar experiences.
How to start?
It’s really easy to get started. Anyone with an internet connection and a smartphone can make memes. Here’s how:
- Go to google and search “meme generator”, you’ll find a ton of options there. Pick the one you like the most. I use Imgflip and Canva.
- The next thing you need to do is find themes that you want to use to express your emotions. You can google search meme themes. Most of the online meme generators will have a theme section, so you won’t have to look anywhere else.
- Once you find the theme that best describes your experience, add a text that you think is funny. Make sure you pick something personal. Picking something personal will help you express yourself and it will also be original.
- Your meme is ready, share it with as many people as you can. Don’t be afraid to share it, the whole point of this exercise is to express yourself.
- It’s okay if people don’t find your memes funny. Your meme-making will improve as you make more memes.
Making memes will help in most situations. But if it feels like things are getting out of hand, please seek professional help.
We run mental health groups for people in their 20s. We are trying to de-stigmatize mental health and make it more fun. If you like this “Meme Therapy”, consider joining our groups. Our groups are a fun and safe place to work on your mental health.