Sara Benincasa’s comedy night

Kerisa Ward

Sara Benincasa came onto Saddleback College’s campus to talk about her story on stress and depression.

Benincasa is an award-winning comedian, writer and host of the popular podcast “Sex and Other Human Activities,” available on iTunes. Her outspoken comedy has won praise from the Chicago Tribune, CNN, The Guardian, and The New York Times, and has earned her an Emerging Comedian of New York Award and a Webby nomination.

Benincasa’s amazing sense of humor brought to life serious issues in an entertaining and hilarious way. She began to express her empathy and admiration towards community college students, claiming that the students at community colleges are the ones who have to deal with real life problems and are living real lives with jobs, bills, and the stress of school.

Depression and anxiety are some of the obstacles that Benincasa had to face in her face, and still battles with to this day. In college she was overwhelmed with the stress of feeling the pressure to succeed, this stress became very difficult and lonely. Her real life experience is something that I’m sure all of us are very familiar with.

The pressure to achieve and produce because that is the proof that we are successful and good people is a very real stressor that we are all faced with. Benincasa decided not deal her anxiety or stress, her family has a long history of mental health issues and she just didn’t want to become another family member needing help. So instead she ignored the signs and was soon dealing with very intense depression.

Benincasa slowly began to develop agoraphobia. It first began with her not wanting to fly to leave the state, then not wanting to leave the city, or town, and soon it came to the point where she only felt safe in her little studio apartment. She had a very real fear that something bad would happen, like a monster of some sort would get her, if she were to ever leave her apartment.

After a time had past and Sara Benincasa seemed lost to the world her friends became very concerned so brought this to the attention of her family. They then staged an intervention to get Benincasa out of her apartment and provided her with the help that she needed.

Now Benincasa has learned to deal with her anxiety and is currently on tour as a stand up comedian promoting her book and speaking out about the very real dangers of depression. If Benincasa didn’t have people around her who cared about her and took the time to make sure she was all right, the situation could have turned out a lot worse and maybe even deadly.

The morale to her very personal and sincere story is that we all need to take care of ourselves. Stress is a very big part of our lives and we need to take the time out of the day to just breathe and understand that you cannot just ignore things like depression or anxiety. Benincasa left us with a few advices on self-care:

1. A breathing technique called: 4-7-8 breathes

step 1: put your hands on your belly

step 2: breath in for 4 seconds

step 3: hold you breath in for 7 seconds

step 4: release the air slowly for 8 seconds

2. Sleep, though sleep may not be the most profound piece of advice it helps with anxiety and is an aid to prevent weight gain.

3. Take a walk and move around. We all have so much pent up stress that we tense up inside our bodies, so talking a walking or moving around to release this has been a huge help to Benincasa during her panic attacks.

Sara Benincasa’s new book called Agorafabulous will be released on February 14, 2012 and is now available for pre-order.