Comedienne and actress Sarah Silverman had her first experience with depression at age 13. She had just returned from a miserable school camping trip. She was a bed wetter, so she had to carry diapers in her sleeping bag—it was a humiliating secret. She felt something inside her shift, and for the next three years, she just wasn’t the same.
Her entire mindset changed; she was no longer the class clown, because she could no longer see the world in the same light. She started isolating herself from her friends and skipping school. She also began experiencing frightening panic attacks.
Silverman sought treatment for her depression and went through several therapists. Tragically and ironically, her first therapist ended up committing suicide. Her second therapist started overprescribing prescription medication; at one time, he reportedly had her taking Xanax four times a day.
Not surprisingly, the excessive medication made her feel like a zombie. Although Xanax can be helpful for treating severe anxiety and panic disorder, it’s also highly addictive and can be dangerous, even when taken as prescribed.
A few years later, Silverman started seeing a new psychiatrist, who helped her wean off her medication over a six-month period. Silverman recalls she finally felt like herself again after discontinuing the medication.
For the next six years, her depression seemed to enter remission. She attended New York University, then got a job as a writer and performer for Saturday Night Live at age 22. Though, one night, her depression came back, seemingly out of the blue. She was devastated, as she had hoped her depression and panic attacks were behind her.
Silverman saw a psychiatrist who prescribed Klonopin, a benzodiazepine similar to Xanax, to help control her panic attacks. According to Silverman, the medication literally saved her life. Though she was eventually able to wean off the Klonopin, she still carries a few tablets with her just in case a panic attack strikes.
Depression is still part of her life, but she tries to manage it to the best of her ability. She takes a small dose of Zoloft, an SSRI used to treat depression and anxiety, and she sees a therapist regularly to keep her mental health under control.
Silverman wants others struggling with depression to know that the dark times eventually pass, and that makes the good times even sweeter.
Photo source: Sarah Silverman by Gage Skidmore