S3-EP7: Writer Daphne Merkin on Living Through the Pandemic With Serious Clinical Depression
Debbie Weil talks to acclaimed author Daphne Merkin about what it’s like to live through the pandemic as a lifelong sufferer of serious clinical depression.
Note from Debbie
If you enjoy this episode, would you please consider leaving a short review on Apple Podcasts? It takes less than sixty seconds, and it really makes a difference in attracting new listeners and upcoming guests. I might read your review on my next episode! – Debbie
Debbie Weil talks with Daphne Merkin, a highly acclaimed novelist, essayist and literary critic. She is known for writing boldly, without shame or modesty, about depression, obsession, money, sex, family, and religion. Her 2017 memoir, This Close to Happy: A Reckoning With Depression, which was 16 years in the making, got a front page review in The New York Times by Andrew Solomon, another acclaimed author on the topic of depression.
Daphne’s latest novel, 22 Minutes of Unconditional Love, is a powerful story about sex and obsession. And underlying those twin themes, the experience of depression. Today she and Debbie talk not about her books, per se, but about her experience with clinical depression and what that can teach us in this difficult year of COVID when many of us are experiencing deep uncertainty and anxiety. It’s a topic of personal interest to Debbie who is an occasional sufferer of clinical depression. Depression is the story behind the story, if you will, of much of Daphne’s writing.
Debbie and Daphne explore why real depression – sometimes called endogenous depression – is not talked about, why it is so misunderstood, and why it’s something that NEEDS to be talked about. They talk about how her creativity as a writer, cooped up in her apartment in New York City, has been affected the past few months. They talk about the pros and cons of doing therapy via Zoom. And they talk briefly about Psilocybin and the new psychedelic-assisted therapies for depression.
Daphne ends the conversation with some poignant thoughts on what the depths of depression are like and how society has a long way to go to better address depression, as well as thoughts of suicide. This is a powerful conversation with a brilliant author. Be sure to explore the links to Daphne’s writing below.
Mentioned in this episode or useful:
- Daphne Merkin bio
- 22 Minutes of Unconditional Love by Daphne Merkin (Farrar, Straus and Giroux, July 2020)
- New York Times review of 22 Minutes of Unconditional Love (July 7, 2020)
- This Close to Happy: A Reckoning With Depression by Daphne Merkin (Picador 2018)
- New York Times Review of This Close to Happy (Jan. 30, 2017)
- Re-issue of her 1987 novel Enchantment (Picador, July 2020)
- Other writing and reviews
- Daphne’s review of new Sylvia Plath biography: Shifting the Focus From Sylvia Plath’s Tragic Death to Her Brilliant Life (New York Times, Oct. 22, 2020)
- New York Institute for the Humanities
- Freud’s wife, Martha Bernays
- How To Change Your Mind: What the New Science of Psychedelics Teaches Us About Consciousness, Dying, Addiction, Depression, and Transcendence by Michael Pollan
On the topic of depression
- When Depression Creeps in Like the Fog by Debbie Weil (Medium, Sept. 25, 2014)
- Depression and isolation during a pandemic by Daniel W. Drezner (Washington Post, Oct. 29, 2020)
We are looking for a like-minded sponsor
If you are interested in reaching a smart and thoughtful audience of midlife (GenX and Boomer) listeners, who are active, open to adventure and change, and who think differently about lifestyle, finances, and retirement, contact Debbie.
Thanks to our media partners
Encore.org, our newest media partner, is an ideas and innovation hub tapping the talent of those 50+ as a force for good. Founder and CEO Marc Freedman is an award-winning social entrepreneur and author, most recently, of How to Live Forever: The Enduring Power of Connecting the Generations. Looking for a great gap-year transition program? Check out Encore Fellowships, which match skilled, seasoned professionals with social-sector organizations in high-impact, paid assignments.
Modern Elder Academy is a program dedicated to navigating mid-life transitions. MEA, based in Baja California, Mexico, provides the place and the tools to start reframing your lifetime of experience. Grow whole, not old. Founder Chip Conley is a New York Times bestselling author, award-winning hospitality entrepreneur and a rock star of the mid-life transition movement. His newest book is Wisdom @ Work: the Making of a Modern Elder.
Next For Me is an important new resource for the 50+ crowd focused on rewriting life. Taking a gap year or timeout may be the best way to figure out “what’s next” when you’re in this stage of life. Founder Jeff Tidwell explains, Next For Me “connects and inspires our generation to evolve our post-50 lives through new work, a new purpose, or a new social contribution.”