Actress and comedian Sarah Silverman is one of the latest public figures to speak out about her struggle with depression, in hopes of highlighting the condition further. Her words are powerful and raw as she recounts what she describes as the darkest periods of her life and how she used her experiences as the basis for her character in her new film I Smile Back. The 41-year-old plays a suburban mother and housewife, Laney Brooks, who on paper has it all but, in reality, suffers from depression.
“I first experienced depression when I was 13. I was returning from a school camping trip which had been miserable, and suddenly something shifted inside me. It happened as fast as the sun going behind a cloud. You know how you can be fine one moment, and the next it’s, “Oh my God, I f**king have the flu!”? It was like that. Only this flu lasted for three years.”
In a candid interview with Glamour, the Masters of Sex star said what her shocked initially was how the depression changed her outlook on life.
“My perspective changed. I went from being the class clown to not being able to see life in that casual way any more. I couldn’t deal with being with my friends, I didn’t go to school for months, and I started having panic attacks,” she explained.
People use “panic attack” very casually, but I don’t think most of them really know what it is. Every breath is laboured. You are dying. You are going to die. It’s terrifying. And when the attack is over, the depression is still there.
She said it was medication that helped her through the next few years, and when everything was going well, the then 22-year-old said, quite simply, that it “just came back.”
“One night, sitting in my apartment, it came over me again. Though it had been nine years, I knew the feeling immediately: depression.”
She attributes the right medication and support from her friends and family to saving her life, and said that “I have seven emergency pills that I never touch; just knowing they are there is enough.”
“Since then, I’ve lived with depression and learned to control it, or, at least, to ride the waves as best I can. The dark years and ups and downs – chemical and otherwise – have always informed my work,” she continued.
Filming I Smile Back was therapeutic for Silverman and while she admitted she would probably always have to battle her demons, she appreciated that her life was “never short on happiness” and ended with these inspiring words:
“I wouldn’t wish depression on anyone. But if you ever experience it, know that on the other side, the little joys in life will be that much sweeter. Tough times will pass. You’re playing the long game, and life is totally worth it.”
The actress was also praised recently for her words on women and motherhood, and the unfair stigma that is often placed on those who decide not to have children.
Read the full interview here.