A former standup comedian diagnosed with clinical depression performed an act showing his 20-year struggle with depression in a humorous lecture on April 24.
Brian Wetzel, who has opened for comedian George Lopez, shared his autobiographical one-man show with students at the West Valley Room at the University Student Union.
The event was the last in a three-part series called “Being Comfortable with Who You Are,” which was presented by the Leadership and Life Skills Institute from the Matador Involvement Center.
The University Counseling Services partnered with the Blues Project and the USU in co-sponsoring the event.
“I was scared to death to let anybody in, (whether it was a) girlfriend or just a friend, because I was afraid they wouldn’t accept me, depression and all, and that is included in who I am,” Wetzel said.
Wetzel continued his act with some personal stories, not forgetting to include his own humor while telling his life story.
A joke that sparked laughter in the audience was when Wetzel talked about how Tom Cruise doesn’t believe in depression.
“You may have a chemical imbalance. Unless you’re Tom Cruise, there’s no such thing,” Wetzel said. “He is the one that said, ‘There is no such thing as a chemical imbalance, and there’s no such thing as depression.'”
“Tom Cruise said, ‘There’s no test to show that there’s a chemical imbalance.’ You see, you and I know that there is…the way that I see it, there’s no test to tell that he’s an asshole. We just know he is,” Wetzel said.
In his first attempt to kill himself, Wetzel was 19 years old. He went to the garage and turned on his car engine and inhaled the carbon monoxide, he said.
“Obviously, I didn’t go through with it. I totally paniced…I called (the) suicide hotline and asked somebody for help?I talked to somebody for five minutes. We hung up the phone?but it never went away, and all these dark bad scary feelings follow me into my adulthood,” Wetzel said.
Later on in his life, when Wetzel tried to cope with depression, he found himself uanble to date because of his condition, he said. In a part of his act, Wetzel talked about how he overanalyzed asking out women.
“How you doing, my name is Brian?” Wetzel said he would tell them. “I have intimacy issues and low self-esteem. I am constantly depressed. You want to go to a movie?” he added.
During the question and answer portion of the event, Wetzel said how he used to go from one mental clinic to another.
A packed room with a speaker was open for students that did not find seats in the main room, which was filled to capacity with 220 students, so they could hear Wetzel, Blues Project graduate student assistant Debra Arviso said.
Marshall Bloom, psychologist at University Counseling Services and director of the Blues Project, said the project provides services and raises awareness about depression and suicide.
The program has peer educators going to classes at CSUN, high schools and community colleges, said Bloom.
The program has not sponsored an event for more than a year, Bloom said. But after he found out about Wetzel on his Web site, Bloom said he decided to invite him for this event.
Depression and suicide has a stigma to it, said Bloom, and the goal for the Blues Project is to get rid of it and allow people to come and talk about their depression.
Wetzel’s performance at CSUN allows students to see someone that has depression and is using humor to cope with it, said Bloom.