reads from This Close to Happy: A Reckoning with Depression.
"Belongs on the shelf with William Styron's Darkness, Visible and Andrew Solomon'sThe Noonday Demon. It brings a stunningly perceptive voice to the forefront of the conversation about depression, one that is both reassuring and revelatory."--Carol Gilligan, author of In a Different Voice
"D. W. Winnicott wrote that depression is the fog over the battlefield. In this extraordinarily lucid and moving book, Daphne Merkin illuminates the dark and desperate battle that depression can be. This is a book for all those who know nothing about depression and for those who know too much. "--Adam Phillips
A gifted and audacious writer confronts her lifelong battle with depression and her search for release. This Close to Happy is the rare, vividly personal account of what it feels like to suffer from clinical depression, written from a woman's perspective and informed by an acute understanding of the implications of this disease over a lifetime. Taking off from essays on depression she has written for The New Yorker and The New York Times Magazine, Merkin casts her eye back to her beginnings to try to sort out the root causes of her affliction. She recounts the travails of growing up in a large, affluent family where there was a paucity of love and of basics such as food and clothing despite the presence of a chauffeur and a cook. She goes on to recount her early hospitalization for depression in poignant detail, as well as her complex relationship with her mercurial, withholding mother. Along the way Merkin also discusses her early, redemptive love of reading and gradual emergence as a writer. She eventually marries, has a child, and suffers severe postpartum depression, for which she is again hospitalized. Merkin also discusses her visits to various therapists and psychopharmocologists, which enables her to probe the causes of depression and its various treatments. The book ends in the present, where the writer has learned how to navigate her depression, if not "cure" it, after a third hospitalization in the wake of her mother's death.
Daphne Merkin, a former staff writer for The New Yorker, is a regular contributor to Elle. Her writing frequently appears in The New York Times, Bookforum, Departures, Travel + Leisure, W, Vogue, Tablet, and other publications. Merkin has taught writing at the 92nd Street Y, Marymount, and Hunter College. Her previous books include Enchantment, a novel, which won the Edward Lewis Wallant Award for best novel on a Jewish theme, and two essay collections, Dreaming of Hitler and The Fame Lunches; the latter was one of The New York Times Book Review s Hundred Notable Books of the Year. She lives in New York City.