Sarah Silverman is known for her sassy, sharp-tongued comedy, but like many comedians, her sense of humor grew from darker places. Silverman got candid about her first bout of depression, and how she battles to overcome it on a daily basis.
Silverman, 44, revealed to Glamour magazine that she was just 13 years old when she first became depressed after coming home from a “miserable” school trip where she had to hide her “gigantic and shameful secret” of bed-wetting from her friends.
“My mom was there to pick me up, and she was taking pictures like a paparazzo. Seeing her made the stress of the last few days hit home, and something shifted inside me,” she told the magazine in its November issue. “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—ing have the flu!?’ It was like that. Only this flu lasted for three years.”
She added: “My whole perspective changed. I went from being the class clown to not being able to see life in that casual way anymore.”
She said during these years she began to avoid spending time with friends, staying home from school and worst of all, suffering from crippling panic attacks.
“Every breath is labored. You are dying. You are going to die. It’s terrifying. And then when the attack is over, the depression is still there,” she explained. “Once, my stepdad asked me, ‘What does it feel like?’ And I said, ‘It feels like I’m desperately homesick, but I’m home.’ ”
Throughout the years – and a couple trails of medication – Silverman said she has learned to take her depression day by day. Instead of trying to mask the pain with heavy medication, she says she allows herself to experience her natural emotions.
“I’ve lived with depression and learned to control it, or at least to ride the waves as best I can. I’m on a small dose of Zoloft, which, combined with therapy, keeps me healthy but still lets me feel highs and lows.”
She also says that acknowledging her depression instead of hiding behind it while onstage has actually transformed her comedy.
“The dark years and those ups and downs – chemical and otherwise – have always informed my work; I believe being a comedian is about exposing yourself, warts and all,” she said. “But my stand-up has evolved along with me.”