My Greatest Worry Was that my Father Would Die

The objectives of Humain Avant Tout are to lessen the taboos around mental health issues; end the isolation; rekindle hope; and inspire people to ask for help. The organization broadcasts and publishes testimony be people who have already suffered psychological problems, diagnosed or not. Here is comedian Matthieu Pepper’s personal testimony:

My father died a year ago… (Note: this essay was published on the Humain Avant Tout website in August of 2019). Death was always my greatest worry – especially his. From 8 years of age onward, I would often wake up in a panic because I’d dreamed that my father had died. I really anticipated that moment.

I was very close to my father. Our relationship was based on our common sense of humor, which we loved to share. He was my best audience. When I started my career as a comedian he supported me, because he understood that it was what I wanted most. He passed on the courage to do something you love, because he left a big job himself to become a spiritual accompanier in palliative care.

When he was at the end of his life, he didn’t want me to cancel my shows just for him. That’s one of the reasons I worked 60 – 70 hours a week through that period. It was a way for me to not think about things too much, and to freeze my brain, kind of like a drug, because if I hadn’t I would’ve been too anxious. Happily, if I hadn’t continued working, I don’t think I’d be around today.

Sometimes I feel regret swelling up inside of me because I tell myself I could have done more. At the same time, I’ve never felt like I neglected my father or my family; but I think that I could have been more mentally present. My father died in July, on the day of my first gala. He left us during my break, a few hours before I got on stage. Maybe that was the only way he could come to see my gala.     

Since he died, I feel like my head is disconnected from my feelings. I’m not at the end of the mourning process yet, and I don’t think I’ll ever get there. It’s as if I unplugged my personal human USB key.

I continue to live with anxiety daily, but that’s been true ever since I was young. Even though I’ve missed a lot of beautiful moments in my life because of my anxiety, it has made me who I am. It has given me my personality. It’s an engine that helped to create me: my humor primarily stems from my anxiety. There’s something beautiful in the fact that I can talk about anxiety on stage and make people laugh… I find that there’s nothing more beautiful in life than seeing people laugh away their pain and their sorrows.  

First seen on Raymond Viger’s blog, March 23rd, 2021

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