Art Buchwald wrote the following as an introduction to a fantastic article in “Psychology Today” (Nov, 1999) called “Celebrity Meltdown: Famous, Important People Who Have Suffered Depression.”
“I had two depressions, one in 1963 and the other in 1987–the first clinical depression, the second manic depression. One of my major fears during my depression was that I would lose my sense of humor and wind up in advertising. I was hospitalized because I was suicidal, but I wouldn’t have followed through anyway because I was afraid I wouldn’t make the New York Times obituary page. I was fearful that Gen. De Gaulle would die on the same day, and no one would recognize my passing. But I still thought about it constantly.
My wife knew I was in this state, and on a visit to my hospital bed, she surreptitiously placed a photograph of my three children on the nightstand. When I saw it, I realized I would be hurting them more than myself.
In the early ’90s, I went on Larry King Live with Mike Wallace and Kay Jamison to discuss depression. I wasn’t sure I should do it because I didn’t want to become a poster boy for mental health. But I did. As it turned out, the show had the most viewer reaction of any Larry King show.
There were more depressed people in America than anyone guessed. Celebrities can play a role in helping depressed people: When Bill Styron or Mike Wallace admit they struggled with depression, sufferers say, “If they can have one, then I guess so can I.” Styron, for one, is a role model for me.
Mike, Bill and I suffered from depression at the same time; the only difference among the three of us being that Mike and I suffered–and Bill made a million dollars.
All kidding aside, the message is simple. You do get over depressions. More important, you are a better person for having had one. I seemed to wipe out many of my skeletons in a short period of time and discard many fears that had bugged me before. You become more sensitive and kind. In my case it was so.
I agreed to write this introduction because talking about depression seems to help me as much as the people I am talking to. I wouldn’t want another depression in a million years but I have made peace with the two I have had.”