Thrive Podcast: Comedian Jessica Holmes on living, working and performing in the fog of depression


 


Founder of  Women in Biz Network Leigh Mitchell chatted with actor, writer and comedian Jessica Holmes on how depression can affect life, work and business.

Leigh’s reflections: As someone who has struggled with depression and anxiety throughout my adult life I was drawn to Jessica’s book: Depression: The Comedy because it was the first book that I personally read that discussed what it is like to deal with depression while being self-employed. I was acquainted with Jessica as she was a speaker for Women in Biz Network, but her latest book really goes deep into her story and ultimate recovery. Her honesty about her marriage, life as a parent and being a performer while in the throes of depression really touched me. I am so glad that Jessica has gone on to become an incredible advocate for people who are experiencing depression. Her work around reducing depression stigma can be found in her social media and her keynotes. We hope that employers and loved ones will learn from this interview what is helpful and most importantly what is harmful.

Learn about Jessica Holmes:

Jessica Holmes has brought the house down with her unique brand of comedy, opening for giants such as Ellen DeGeneres, Russell Peters, Jerry Seinfeld, and Oprah Winfrey. Combining stand up, music and improvisation, she honed her skills at Just For Laughs and the world-famous Second City before moving on to television. Her Carol Burnett-style series The Holmes Show and her knack for skewering celebrities like Nikki Minaj, Britney Spears, and Celine Dion have made her a favourite with audiences across the country. Also a wellness advocate, Jessica is known for speaking candidly about her experience with depression. She mixes comedy with a validating message about life’s challenges, and has become a celebrated voice in fighting the stigma surrounding mental health issues in her keynotes. In 2018 she became an ambassador for the Bell Let’s Talk campaign and wrote the hilarious and touching memoir Depression The Comedy. A mother of 2 (and wife of 1), Jessica’s passion is finding the humour in life’s imperfections, and turning embarrassments into punchlines.


 


More about “Depression the Comedy: A Tale of Perseverance”:

The book Depression the comedy by Jessica HolmesCelebrated comedian, actress and author, Jessica Holmes, has always applied humour as healing balm for life’s scrapes and bruises. Since childhood, Holmes has kept a “funny journal,” recording bizarre moments that remind her life is, most often, more comedy than tragedy. In this imaginative memoir, Holmes infuses deep reflections on mental health with her trademark wit, offering a relatable, unofficial guide to acknowledging one’s inner demons in an ongoing search for the silver lining.

Holmes first entered thousands of Canadian households when she starred in her own comedy on CTV: The Holmes Show. When she was the first new cast member added to Royal Canadian Air Farce, her career skyrocketed. She started booking high profile gigs such as opening for Jerry Seinfeld and Ellen DeGeneres. Her loving husband and two beautiful children were nothing but supportive of her newfound fame. From the outside, it seemed like Holmes had it all.

But on the inside, she was suffering in silence: after recovering from post-partum depression years earlier, Holmes entered a familiar slump. When she wasn’t glued to her couch surrounded by junk food, she was avoiding her agent and yawning through gigs—even when emceeing for one of her idols, Oprah Winfrey.

Depression The Comedy describes how Holmes eventually got diagnosed and dealt with depression: “the cold sore of the mind.” Writing with self-deprecating insight and emotional vibrancy, she speaks candidly about her condition, musing on everything from sex and marriage counselling to the bittersweet reactions of her kids to the funny (and scary) side-effects of medication.

Holmes also offers a thought-provoking perspective on the relationship between comedy and depression. Holmes asks: Which came first, the chicken or the egg? Is everything funny … eventually? Above all, she urges communities to de-stigmatize mental health, and offers a healing message for all: when we acknowledge the inherent humour of our human condition, we can begin to accept ourselves for who we truly are—jokes, junk-food and all.


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