As an avid Saturday Night Live viewer since a little girl, I have had my fair share of favorite comedians that I’ve looked forward to seeing each weekend, those who seem to radiate on stage and make me laugh until my stomach hurts. Humor has always been a big part of my family’s dynamics and looking back, has subtly been a coping mechanism for the more challenging episodes and chapters of life.
I first became intrigued with current Saturday Night Live cast member Pete Davidson’s comedy during his “Weekend Update” segment appearances. He seemed super down-to-earth and relatable, and I connected with his sarcastic humor and ability to poke fun at himself. I related on a more personal level as well, as someone who also lost a parent at a young age. As many know, Davidson tragically lost his father, a firefighter on September 11, 2001, and humor has seemed to play an important part in him coping with the loss.
On several occasions, Pete has also shared with audience members and SNL viewers his struggles with Borderline Personality Disorder. Borderline Personality Disorder (BPD) involves difficulty with regulating emotion, feeling emotions intensely and having difficulty returning to baseline after a triggering event. Impulsiveness, poor self -image and rocky relationships are also associated with the disorder. Pete has chronicled how a proper diagnosis for him came about, his experiences with different forms of therapy and how in relation to treatment, “there’s no shame in the medicine game.”
As a mental health professional, I think Pete discussing his BPD is awesome. He is helping to break down the stigma surrounding mental health and subsequently encouraging those struggling, to get treatment. It has been refreshing to watch and is so, so brave.
Needless to say, my heart hurt when Pete released a statement on social media last month indicating that he didn’t “want to be on this Earth anymore.” As many know, he was being bullied online and in person after his break up with popstar, Ariana Grande. The subsequent outpouring of support for Pete and discussions of mental health and the importance of being kind to one another was amazing to see, and he seems to be in a more stable, healthier mental state since.
Mental health becoming an open societal topic is important. With more and more celebrities using their platforms to be vulnerable and come forward with their own struggles (i.e. Ariana Grande, Kanye West), the stigma of mental health is weakening. I hope one day to see it completely defeated.
By: Gina Pellrine, LMSW