Comedian and actor Patton Oswalt has been remarkably open and honest about his experiences with depression. He even incorporates these experiences into his comedy routines.
In an interview with fellow comedian (and depression sufferer) Conan O’Brien, Oswalt acknowledged that no amount of professional success and acclaim can cure depression. Despite his continually rising fame and success, Oswalt understands that depression is simply an aspect of himself that he needs to live with. Or as he put it, “Depression is just this friend that I have to hang out with every now and then.”
In 2016, Oswalt’s beloved wife, Michelle McNamara, died suddenly at the early age of 46. McNamara, an accomplished true-crime writer, spent years investigating the unsolved murders committed by the serial killer and rapist she named The Golden State Killer.
Oswalt worried McNamara’s obsessive work ethic was taking a toll on her physical health and mental wellbeing. Her encouraged her to take a much-needed rest and get a full night of sleep. Heeding his advice, McNamara took a Xanax and went to bed.
The following morning, Oswalt dropped the couple’s seven-year-old daughter off at school. On his way home, he picked up a cup of coffee for his wife. When he arrived home and found her asleep, he left the coffee on her bedside table, then went to his home office to check his e-mail and make a few phone calls.
When Oswalt returned to the bedroom, he was shocked and horrified to discover that his wife was no longer breathing. Paramedics arrived and pronounced McNamara dead.
Oswalt describes that tragic day as the second-worst day of his life; the worst day, he said, was the following day, when he had to tell his young daughter that her mother was gone.
Oswalt doubts he’ll ever be completely the same following this devastating loss, but he’s done everything in his power to overcome his grief and be a good father to his daughter, Alice.
Photo source: Patton Oswalt by Gage Skidmore