Daphne Merkin’s new book is This Close to Happy: A Reckoning With Depression. From her Q&A with Isaac Chotiner for Slate:
Isaac Chotiner: What, if anything, about the act of writing the book changed the way you think about either your own depression or depression more generally?--Marshal Zeringue
Daphne Merkin: I went through different stages writing it. There were periods where I was depressed and didn’t write. Cumulatively, it gave me some kind of perspective on depression and its landscape. With rare cases, it completely remits, and people are never depressed again. But usually it does have a life of its own, and it is not all that predictable. It will taper off and then recur when it recurs.
I think one of the hardest things about being in a severe depression is that you don’t think it will end. I think most people who have been in one would say that. That’s undoubtedly what leads to suicide: the idea that you’re going to be stuck in this painful, in a way noisily painful yet also silent, illness forever. Writing the book, I became more aware that depressions don’t last. With or without medication, they have a lifespan. I don’t think they suddenly abate. They stop, and they recur. There were times when I was significantly not depressed. I think at the very end of the book I said the opposite of depression isn’t some state of great, extraordinary happiness. The opposite of depression is...[read on]