Hugh Laurie: ‘Depressed people cling to depression because it is… familiar’

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The Night Manager doesn’t come to America for another few weeks, but considering the crazy-great reception it got in the UK, many are expecting the miniseries to do very well for AMC. I’m assuming we’ll be writing stories about Tom Hiddleston for the next month as he shifts from promoting I Saw the Light to promotion for TNM. Meanwhile, we can also look forward to many grumpy Hugh Laurie interviews, I’m hoping. Laurie sat down with the Wall Street Journal for a piece published a few days ago to promote TNM and his new Hulu series, Chance, where he plays a San Francisco neuropsychiatrist. While I knew that Laurie has struggled with some mental health issues in the past, I didn’t know that he was so reticent to discuss depression these days. He also smokes. And he’s a moody, neurotic, thoughtful curmudgeon, which basically makes him my dream man.

He starts the interview by lighting a cigarette: “Please don’t take this the wrong way but I could really use a cigarette right now… I have, from time to time, stopped smoking cigarettes. And there’s a thing about de-smoking, or whatever the term is that therapists use, that people get anxious about: ‘Well, if I’m not a smoker, have I lost something? If I take that thing away, then surely—just in terms of Newtonian physics—there must be a gap now.’ ”

He bores himself: “I bore myself. I’ve actually fallen asleep mid-sentence on a therapist’s couch, I’ve bored myself so much.”

On his battle with depression: “Wish I’d never mentioned it.”

Playing the villain in TNM: “I had to just assimilate the fact that I was not going to be the night manager. I’m no longer qualified, if I ever was—and, by the way, I wasn’t. I never was sufficiently virile and dashing to be the night manager. So I had to stand aside and watch Tom Hiddleston be that.”

He’s plagued by self-doubt: “Hesitations and anxieties bedeviled every line. I always have hesitations. And I always spend the entire shoot running through the list of people they should have gotten to play the role.” During this particular shoot, his list of preferred actors included one who has since died. “I feel I shouldn’t even say his name, because it feels disrespectful now. But I was always such an enormous admirer of Alan Rickman’s. I thought that he has, or had, such a powerful presence, a sort of silky malice that he was able to summon… I really shouldn’t say that.”

Whether he was burned out during the last seasons of House: “Oh, no, no, no. Well, this serves me right for not reading the stuff, because that’s not accurate. I did use the phrase ‘gilded cage.’ That was a mistake. But that was to do with the experience of playing the eponymous character in a television show, and therefore being confined to a black box for 100 hours a week. But for that I was incredibly well paid. No, there was no feeling of retreat…. I realized I was never going to get the better of it, so I should just stop. Also, my Presbyterian side won’t allow me to delight in positive things. So I don’t even try. But even if every word that came out of my mouth was accurately reported, even if such a thing were possible, I would still hate it, because I don’t want to be accurately represented. Because I bore myself. Because I’m dull—no, really, I am.”

Again on his depression & anxiety: “I can understand how it might be perceived as an indulgence on many levels, because, first of all, I am quite preposterously lucky to be where I am, doing what I’m doing, and to have lived the life that I live. I give thanks for it every single day. And to actually spend any time trying to enlist sympathy—‘Oh, you don’t realize how I suffer’—is sort of indecent, in a way… And I also think that, to a degree, it sort of feeds upon itself. If you acknowledge it and confront it, you might be able to get the better of it. But you might also just be giving oxygen to the whole thing… depressed people cling to depression because it is, to some degree, familiar. It’s known. It’s part of who one is—that maybe, if I surrender it, if I heal myself, well, then what? That may be incorrect. But most of all, a privileged, Western, reasonably healthy actor who is living the life I live has got no business, really. It’s just ill-mannered. It’s ill-mannered to complain—”

[From The Wall Street Journal]

He goes on at length at the end there, and when he’s challenged by the writer that his anxiety over his depression is basically “very British,” he agrees. As in, he knows he has legitimately suffered through periods of depression, but he gets anxious about discussing it because, in his mind, it’s such a first-world problem. While I think the neurotic (British) side to Hugh is a first-world issue, genuine mental health issues exist in every society, first world and third world. Also: what he said about Alan Rickman was really lovely.

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Photos courtesy of WENN.

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104 Responses to “Hugh Laurie: ‘Depressed people cling to depression because it is… familiar’”

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  1. aims says:

    I can only speak for myself, but depression is real and I have suffered from it half my life. If I could get rid of it, I would in a heartbeat. Depression can happen to anyone from any place. It’s debilitating and I have utmost compassion to anyone suffering from it.

    • Lady D says:

      +1
      Speaking only for myself, the man is an idiot.

      • chakatay says:

        I don’t think so, explaining his depression does not make him idiotic nor does owning up to the fact that, sometimes, illness becomes you… and you don’t know or understand how much you can control…. Being home sick for a long while now… I think that’s fair… there are times I just give into it when I should take a walk which would make me feel better.

      • The Eternal Side-Eye says:

        Disagree. It’s not the pretty answer but on many levels he’s touched on things I’ve felt myself. It does become familiar and dependable even as it wrecks your life. You don’t consider it important even though you know how much it effects you.

        This doesn’t make him an idiot at all.

      • ClaireB says:

        Nope, not an idiot. If there were a magic pill to cure me instantly, I would take it. But because recovery is a process, there are times when I begin to feel better and the feeling of unknown opening up in front of me is terrifying, and I self-sabotage to stay safe in my familiar depression.

      • Eve says:

        @ ClaireB:

        Described my feelings sometimes perfectly.

      • tegteg says:

        I suffer from another illness, not depression, and I’ve often also felt like this… Sure, it’s not true for everyone suffering from depression, but that doesn’t make him an idiot.

      • spidey says:

        As someone who has suffered myself, I don’t think he is an idiot at all. He appreciates that a lot of people would have no sympathy for a successful actor who says he suffers from depression. But depression is not a respect of wealth, status or circumstances.

      • Hannah says:

        Speaking for myself he has absolutly touched on something that I can relate to and have felt in the past.

      • Artemis says:

        Personally, I agree with him as I’ve felt this way about my depression for the past decade. I know I can change, I can make different choices but who am I when I change? It is easier to cling on to what I know. And what if you manage depression and life isn’t ‘better’ after all? It’s a constant battle of wanting to change but being scared of what is to come after that because if it’s bad, what was the point after all that hard work?

        And it is hard work, I now only focus on going to the gym for my mental health but also to lose weight and it feels great the consistency but by god, it’s hard work. And it cannot end or I’ll fall back really quickly into old bad habits whereas creating new ones feels like pushing the stone of Sisyphus! Sometimes I think I’m ‘meant’ to be this way, that a peaceful mind and thus life is not something I deserve so I might as well who ‘I am’.

      • Babsie says:

        I have spent years battling depression, and what he says is true. Sometimes we cling to the depression because it’s familiar and easier than changing. Beating depression means really hard work that digs at the core of our personality. It’s not something you do without a lot of pain and hard choices.

      • Goodnight says:

        He’s completely right. Depression does become familiar and a lot of people do cling to it because it’s a constant and they’re scared of trying to change things for the better because they might fail – even if their depression is chemical. It’s really hard to get out of that slump, because it becomes normal.

      • Trixie says:

        @Lady D:

        You must have never suffered from depression if you think Laurie is an idiot for his words on depression.

        “depressed people cling to depression because it is, to some degree, familiar. It’s known. It’s part of who one is—that maybe, if I surrender it, if I heal myself, well, then what?”

        As someone who has suffered from depression for almost 20 years, this is the truest statement that I’ve ever read from a celebrity about depression.

      • Anne tommy says:

        I think it was a thoughtful and insightful response from Hugh. But I would not agree with Kaiser that being neurotic is a first world problem. It’s is a form of anxiety and can be very disabling.

    • mcphia says:

      Depression is 100% real and horrible. Like many people, I have suffered from it half me life and would do anything to get make the suffering go away. Depression is personal. No one person is the same it how it effects them and part of the why. It is layered and complicated. I can relate to what Hugh Laurie is saying. I hate it and the suffering can be unbearable, but it is ” familiar” and change and letting go of something that (this is my inner skewed unhealthy thinking) is scary. I know in a way is a PART of my struggle in overcoming this disease. Hugh’s statement wasn’t a blanket one, it was his own perspective about himself.

    • Carol says:

      Yep, me too, had it for half my life as well and if it was a matter of choice, I, like everyone else who suffers from it, would choose to get rid of it.

      But Laurie’s interview is quite telling. He sounds like he lives in some state of self-hate; sooo incredibly judgemental of himself and of all his human feelings. Must suck to be him. So I get why he can’t not be judgemental of everyone else. I feel weirdly sorry for him as opposed to being insulted.

    • Intuitive says:

      My take on what he meant (by depression being familiar) is that, because depression is so difficult to overcome and involves change, it is sometimes easier to stick with the way things are. That’s not to say anyone would rather stay depressed, just that sometimes it feels insurmountable. If this makes sense?

      • Babsie says:

        Exactly. No one wants to stay depressed, but we cling to familiar habits because they are a) familiar and b) often instinctive and unconscious.

      • booboochile says:

        I remember telling my mother about it and she told me bad things happen to people all the time and you don’t hear anybody else whining about it. Those are white people problems. The rest of us just get on with it. And i did not send you to that expensive school so that you can bring that nonsense home….it took me ten years….a drinking problem, a lot of self harm before i got help. and no my mom was awesome, a paediatrician….i think she suffered from it too, so i don’t blame her.

    • GoodNamesAllTaken says:

      I can’t relate to what he’s saying at all. I believe him, that part of his illness is a reluctance to venture into the unfamiliar to help himself. It’s just not part of mine, so I find it hard to understand. Part of mine is “oh, I’m better now that I’ve been taking my medicine so I bet I can stop taking my medicine even though that never works, it probably will this time.” I think we all have obstacles in our own minds, unintentionally, that hinder our recovery.

    • TwistBarbie says:

      I’ve suffered from depression, often very severe, for almost my entire life and I totally get what he’s saying. There’s a Nirvana song with a chorus that goes “I miss the comfort of being sad” and I think that sums it up. I don’t think people with depression can just “snap out of it” or will themselves better but I do think sometimes there is a hesitation to take certain steps. When you’re depressed often you don’t want to do anything, doing something that may make you feel better falls into the category of “things I can’t deal with”.

  2. OTHER RENEE says:

    I have a real soft spot for Hugh and not just because I love “House.” My family met him after his concert (which was amazing) and he really took time speaking with my then teenage child, who absolutely adores Hugh from older British tv. Hugh was amazed that such a young person would be a fan of that work and very gracious.

    • Kitten says:

      I absolutely love him so this story makes me happy :)

    • Crumpet says:

      Me too! I am definitely a Hugh fan-girl. It’s so RARE that someone is so concerned about manners, and other’s people’s feelings. He is like the anti-Tom Hardy. I don’t care how many times Tom poses with puppies, Hugh’s puppy eyes will get me every time.

      • OTHER RENEE says:

        Kitten and Crumpet, you have no idea how much Hugh’s kindness meant to our family. He took time to ask my kid (also a musician) questions in a caring manner. After all the horror stories you read about the shabby way some stars treat their young fans, what a delight it is to know that there are those who are kind and respectful.

  3. LAK says:

    ‘Silky Malice’ is a great summation of Rickman’s evil characters.

  4. Eve says:

    Today feels like DepressiBitchy day.

    • BengalCat2000 says:

      @eve, It does… I’m having a “good” month but the anxiety never leaves me…ever. I’m so tired of it…*Hugs* to everyone.

      Alan Rickman was my forever crush… That was a lovely description of him…

      • Nancy says:

        Bengal: Klonopin? They’re all so addictive, but it allows you to sleep. Feel better.

      • BengalCat2000 says:

        I’m prescribed a small dose of xanax… I’ve taken it for years and it helps immensely. It gets a bad rap because so many people abuse it. I usually smoke pot to help me sleep. For me, it’s better than any prescription med I’ve ever had because it doesn’t give me that ‘pill hangover’ (for lack of a better term). I’m just tired of meds in general. People don’t understand how expensive dealing with depression is. A lot of insurance companies don’t cover Psychiatric appointments, and the cost of medication is ridiculous. It’s very disheartening but things are getting better. I have hope. Sorry for the rant…☺

      • Nancy says:

        I hear you and feel your pain and you’re not ranting. There are more of us anxiety/depressive ridden people than one can imagine. People try to hide it because society has deemed mental illness as the plague. I hate the smell of pot so don’t use it but it’s probably safer than meds. Klonopin helps me sleep and I don’t get the day after head fog. I wish the best for you, truly I do…..it’s a battle every day.

      • Eve says:

        @ Bengalkitten:

        At least I (think) I have something funny to tell: my sister (and only family) knows almost nothing about celebrities but she knew who Alan Rickman was. However, she knew him from movies like “Love, Actually” and “Die hard” but had NO IDEA he was in Harry Potter movies. Simply didn’t recognize him as Snape (his most famous/popular role).

        Come on, admit it: It’s funny.

      • BengalCat2000 says:

        @eve, lol! He really didn’t look like himself (to me) in the Harry Potter films. I remember telling my ex (who dragged me to all the movies) that I was only watching to get my ‘Rickman fix’ and even tho he wasn’t as beautiful as he is in other movies, THAT VOICE, my god it turns me to jelly.

        @nancy, thanks for your kind words. I appreciate the feedback from everyone on this site. You ladies are amazing! 😚

      • qwerty says:

        Magnesium is great for anxiety. It doesn’t work like nxiety meds, you gotta take it long term to see a difference but I really recommend it. Read up on magnesium deficiency.

      • Crumpet says:

        Bengal, Klonipin lasts 12 to 24 hours, so it’s generally recommended for chronic treatment rather than Xanax. I have prescriptions for both, but only you the Xanax as a rescue med. The Klonipin allows me a good nights sleep. My doctor and I are thinking of trying Lyrica next if my insurance will cover it.

      • BengalCat2000 says:

        Thanks for the information guys, I appreciate the feedback. At this point I’m comfortable with the meds I’m taking (I’m also bipolar). I don’t usually have a hard time with sleep especially now that I’ve cut back on caffeine. I’m also experiencing early onset menopause… I’ll be 43 in a few days, so that’s been a bit of a mind f@ck as well.
        You guys are so brave to open up the way you have. I appreciate all of you. I love this site so much ☺

    • I Choose Me says:

      I struggle with not depression but anxiety issues and was at one time agoraphobic. The process of healing is a daily struggle. *hugs* to you Eve and to everyone who suffers from depression.

      • Nancy says:

        I Choose Me: That’s the big question does the anxiety cause the depression or vice versa. I think anxiety is worse, but those who suffer terribly with depression would most likely disagree. Wish there was a viable answer. Too many sad and anxious people. But I emphasize with everyone who has commented. Eve, you’re heroic to me. With all of your demons, you still maintain your sense of humor. You’re an inspiration to me.

      • Eve says:

        @ Nancy:

        I feel embarrassed by your compliment. I’m anything but heroic. I’m a lazy coward, actually.

        My sister is the one who fights. She gets the medal.

      • Nancy says:

        Eve: You probably won’t see this, but I’ll post it anyway. You got up and dressed, came to your pc and posted. Maybe some days you hide away and watch the world go by. But you took the time to encourage other women who are hurting, maybe not as much as you, but you did it. I don’t know your full story but remember a few months back saying I’d never forget you and I didn’t. Your sister is an angel by being so faithful to you, but you’d do the same thing. Give yourself some credit, you didn’t ask for the gift of depression, it was handed to you. So yes Eve, you are inspirational. Give yourself a break and allow those of us who read your comments, funny or sad, the chance to thank and bless you. Peace out, fight the fight. xoxo

    • Crumpet says:

      Oh my God, Eve! I was just thinking of you today – wondering where you were and how you were doing. Glad to ‘see’ you. :)

  5. Nancy says:

    I hated House, but he is to say the least unique. Many of us are silent sufferers of depression. I get what he is saying. You work through it if you are able to, it becomes a part of you. He suffers from a functionable depression which is awful but maybe attributes to his craft. Sucks

  6. Sofia says:

    He does seem to feel pretty guilty about it just because he was lucky professionally, but with that in mind you can always find someone who gets it worse but that is not a reason to not validate what a person is feeling. From what I’ve studied, depression can happen to anyone, but people who live difficult conditions assume they feel “down” because of their circunstancies while privileged people feel more confused and conflicted because “everything else seems to be ok and there’s no reason for this” and that’s when the guilt starts. There are endogenous and exogenous factors that can contribute to depression and frequently is a bit of both.

    It is what it is and people should be able to get help, specially when symptoms start so it doesn’t get worse. My heart and compassion goes to anyone who is going through it or as someone close to them suffering from it. It’s not easy:/**

    • Esmom says:

      Very well said. It’s unfortunate that people like him feel so guilty, that it’s a “first world problem,” as Kaiser put it. Because people don’t generally feel that way about cancer or diabetes…and until we all start acknowledging it in the same way as those diseases, the stigma will remain.

      It isn’t easy. I think of living with depression/anxiety as having an injured limb that I sort of drag around with me. I can function yet it’s not exactly the same as being fully intact.

      • Sofia says:

        I see it has a disease that “infects ” everything. It works like a lens distortion that naturally distorts how you see yourself, the world and how you interpret everything within and around you. Just like you mention, you may be able to function but it’s more like dragging yourself right? And then it brings consequences to ones life that makes everything worse (relationships, work, other health problems) and then a person doesn’t know anymore what’s the disease and what’s the personality or character. I’ve been dealing with it for ten years and it’s an invisible weight that others have no idea of, unless they’ve been there.

        Be strong**

      • GoodNamesAllTaken says:

        When I was first married to my sweet husband I had the worst bout of depression I’ve ever had. I felt incredibly guilty because I’m supposed to be so happy now, I AM so happy now, except I’m not.

  7. Kate says:

    I can get quite comfy in my depression.

    Even when I’m well and firing on all cylinders, I’m not the most motivated person. I’ve definitely been guilty of not getting help when I needed it, and was capable of it, because my depression was helping me mask and not own up to some of my not so great, non depression related, qualities. There’s definitely a feeling of, if I’m not depressed, I have no excuses, and I like my excuses.

    • CommentingBunny says:

      I totally hear you. I’m off anti-depressants for the first time in years (amazing how a change in environment – in my case divorcing an abuser – can help you heal). And now I’m seeing the same thing. Depression is very real, but it also created some very real habits that I know have to break.

      I catch myself lying down instead of doing something productive – not because I can’t do it but because for so long I couldn’t.

      It’s the same way I catch myself thinking negative thoughts about myself. I don’t really believe it (anymore) but when I make a mistake, it’s my habit to say oh, I’m such an idiot.

    • The Eternal Side-Eye says:

      Exactly. Same with anxiety. The most relaxing day I ever had ironically was after my biggest panic attack, I was so burnt out from the attack that everhthing was hazy and peaceful the next day. That was comfortable, but I also know it’s terribly bad for me. It’s a very strange and disturbed cycle.

      • swak says:

        I have two daughters with horrible anxiety and see what they go through. So ESE, my heart goes out to you and all who suffer from anxiety and depression.

      • The Eternal Side-Eye says:

        Thank you so much swak, your daughters are exceptionally blessed to have a mom like you who’s aware and cares.

      • Crumpet says:

        Side-Eye – I know what you mean. It is what Clair Weeks calls “The peace that lies on the other side of panic.” We spend all our time trying to avoid panic attacks (in truth, no one has ever died of a panic attack), which in itself is very stressful. If, however, you let go and ‘float’ and let it do it’s worst, you will not die, it will end, and you will feel that peace once the adrenaline is spent. I highly recommend her book ‘Hope and Help for Your Nerves.’

    • tealily says:

      Yes! And it’s honestly sometimes hard to know if you’re dragging your feet on something because you are unwell, or if it is because you are being lazy. I often tell myself “your anxiety is really bad” or “it’s okay to feel low sometimes” if I bow out of a social obligation or something, but it’s such a fine line between self-care and self-indulgence. When you have a condition that makes you doubt yourself, it’s hard to understand your own motivations sometimes.

      • ClaireB says:

        @tealily, I’m so glad you said this! I struggle with distinguishing between self-care and giving in to depression. I actually quit going to a counselor recently because I asked her for help with this and she didn’t even understand the question!

      • Siouxsie Sioux says:

        I dont often comment on boards. De-lurking to say I co-sign this 100%.

      • tealily says:

        Glad to know I’m not alone!

  8. FingerBinger says:

    I thought Laurie was burned out doing House. He was tired of doing an american accent.

    • Lindsay says:

      I doubt it was the accent. He said he missed being away from his family for such long stretches but was very reluctant to uproot them because Hollywood is unpredictable and they had lives and were thriving in England.

  9. Santia says:

    I came on here to rip him a new one, but – read in context – he’s kind of right.

    • EnnuiAreTheChampions says:

      Yes, the headline doesn’t really capture what he was trying to say, I feel. The headline almost reads as if he’s saying depression is a state of mind that one can just snap out of, but people don’t, because they cling to it. And I full-body cringed, but then I read the entire quote, and he’s not saying that at all. He actually addresses the topic quite thoughtfully and I really feel for him. I love CB’s headlines as a general rule, but I think this one was a bit unfair.

      • The Eternal Side-Eye says:

        Yeah I was expecting ignorance from him but saw a really measured and thoughtful explanation. He didn’t say anything wrong.

      • noway says:

        The headline does make it seem like a choice to be well or not, and in context that is not exactly what he meant. I would say a lot of illnesses, especially ones related to any mental illness can be a bit like that. Sometimes it is just so hard to fight out of the hole to go to the unknown that may not be better, and you just feel better staying in the hole. It feeds on itself.

    • tonka says:

      This. I kinda get what he’s saying. I have depression and I loathe it, but I’m familiar with it and there’s something comforting in that familiarity when everything else seems completely out of your control. My depression is compounded by grief after the death of my partner and it was so hard to get help. Partly, because depression is so debilitating but also because the grief made me feel connected to my loss and I was so afraid of losing that connection to my partner. Human brains are complicated and it’s why we need therapy as well as medical intervention options. I still sit in my therapist’s office thinking “this is bullshit” and I know better!

    • Esmom says:

      Yes, the headline is very misleading. I thought he was going to show contempt for and impatience with depressed people. Far from it. I also get what he’s saying, maybe not so much for me but definitely for my mom. Who is so frightened about the thought of letting her worries and fears go, she’s just wrapped herself up so tightly in that miserable space that she can’t imagine life any other way.

    • Kitten says:

      I actually came here expecting awesomeness from him and he didn’t disappoint. He’s always struck me as such an intelligent, articulate, and thoughtful guy.

  10. Leah C says:

    It is good that famous people are coming out and talking about depression because it is a disease that thrives in the dark. Glad to hear something from someone who suffers from the hellacious tangle of both anxiety and depression.

  11. islandwalker says:

    Silky malice is a perfect description of Rickmans presence on film. Miss him still.

  12. ItHappenedOneNight says:

    I have struggled with depression for much of my life. I have attempted suicide, and even now, regret that I failed. I will not try again, however, bc now I have a perfect and wonderful son who needs his mom – and needs her to show him how to live a meaningful and juicy life. Every day is a struggle to wake up and to put one foot in front of the other. It hurts physically, but more terrifyingly, it hurts mentally. I battle every single second of every day just to make it to the next – and, all I have accomplished in that is making it to the next second that I struggle to survive in. This has gone on for years. I have told my therapist that my son has trapped me into living life when all I want to do is go to sleep and never wake up. I so desperately want to be free of the hideous hideous pain of self-hatred, hopelessness/helplessness, and a thorough inability to see that tomorrow could be a better day. I live solely for my son and to guide him through a messy world. I put on a mask so that he sees the beauty of life, learns cope with the frustrations of it and understand that , despite the ugliness of some of the world, most of it is beautiful. If he develops my depression later, I want to guide him through it so that he can find joy in life.
    Lately, I have heard more people speak up about their own personal experiences with anxiety and depression, and I hope that it “normalizes” mental health issues (in the same way JLo normalized an ample butt – lol). There is a bit of solidarity that I feel when I hear of others suffering the same battle. If, God forbid, my son has to deal with it, I hope that by then, the worldview will have swung to embrace compassion, quality therapy and inroads into good care for those who suffer. Maybe each celebrity who steps forward can help in the tiniest way to make that world a reality. I appreciate those steps on behalf of my son.

    • The Eternal Side-Eye says:

      Hugs.

      I know exactly how you feel. I agree, I’m very thankful for celebrities speaking up about topics like this. Sometimes it’s easy for me to perceive myself as defective because of my issues and point to everything wrong with my life as evidence. When I see celebs who seemingly have it all convince to the same pain then I finally understand.

      It took me a while to realize the way I felt wasn’t healthy, that it didn’t even have much to do with my environment, that chemically things were off and they might always be off and that wasn’t a fault of mine. You’re doing so good, people love and appreciate you.

      • kay says:

        your line just punched me in the heart:
        sometimes it is easy to perceive myself as defective because of my issues and point to everything wrong with my life as evidence.

        t.e.s-e: i feel like this a lot. i figured i was just a spoiled and ungrateful person. i guess it might sound stupid to say, but i never considered depression or chemical imbalances.

        i am kind of crying. you made me re think.
        thank you.

      • The Eternal Side-Eye says:

        Wow, I don’t know what to say.

        I’m so grateful my small statement could help you. It took me a long time to be ‘aware’ of my illnesses. To realize they were a part of me but not all of me. Realizing what I had always perceived as normal was not. Later realizing that my circumstances did not change, all the things I pointed to as my shames and faults could still be there but some days I would wake up and feel suspiciously happy. Realizing that my pain or at least my perception of it is so controlled by processes in my body that I simply can’t keep blaming myself for not being able to be whatever it is I feel like I’m supposed to be.

        I used to feel very ashamed and broken when I would see people with incurable illnesses and physical deformities that were so positive and fiercely happy about life even with their circumstances. I’d feel broken, what kind of person can’t do the one thing humans are supposed to (want to live), what kind of person is so selfish to feel sad when they’re basically okay, etc. Realizing that those chemical imbalances are as real as any physical ailment has helped me to stop blaming myself and realize like a bad limp or phantom pain I’m constantly fighting against something and in my small way rebelling against thoughts that are harmfu or destructive. Neither I or you are broken. We have our flaws but we also have our strengths. We keep fighting, we’re strong. Everyday you ask why is a day you know in your heart you are not worthless.

    • vauvert says:

      Hugs and god luck and good health, IHON. I have been there and in those darkest moments, the thought of my son and what it would mean to him to lose his mom is what pulled me through. I am doing better today – I wish I could say I discovered a magic bullet that could help others, but sadly I have nothing wise to impart…

      Depression is real and terrifying and I actually loved Hugh’s interview here. I understand what he says completely. And every one who speaks out about how devastating depression can be, every one who donates funds, or time, or helps in any way, is a great person in my book.

      My now pre-teen had a bout of anxiety when he was younger – we found (our third try) a wonderful therapist who helped him – and helped me understand his fears and stress. He is doing great now, we discuss everything and I thing the critical thing with young children is to ensure that they never see mental health challenges as something shameful. I think he developed even more empathy and compassion afterwards, because he could understand how others’ behaviour could stem from a sad, or fearful, or insecure place. And it taught him that it’s okay to express his emotions and deal with them at the time – no need to repress or hide or feel bad. We are the sum of our feelings at all times, and no one is made of just sunshine and unicorns all the time.

      Anyway, not trying to preach (hope it doesn’t come across that way). I wish you the best on your mental health journey, and to your son as well. Stay strong.

      • ItHappenedOneNight says:

        I agree – you’re not preaching at all. He’s two now, and while we are not really facing the “terrible twos” yet, there is definitely an increase in frustration and tears as he begins to have his own opinions about things that may not be consistent with a safe or responsible life. Even if he’s pissed at me bc this time is REALLY IS bedtime, I do a LOT of, “We’ll get through this together. I’m not going anywhere. It’s ok to be upset. We all get frustrated at the rules and want to cry, so let’s work on this together and figure out a way through it. I’ll be right here with you.” He doesn’t understand a word of what I’m saying, but I will keep it up. As frustrated as I am, I slam on the breaks and try to manage his frustrations as calmly as possible to show him that there are healthy ways to cope with it all. I only wish that someone had done the same for me, bc now that what I cope with as an adult is a lot bigger in nature, I find myself totally unable to. Most of my parenting style based on “what is the opposite of what my mother would have done?”

    • putyourphonedown says:

      I’m so glad I came across your post. My heart was pounding against my ribs reading what you wrote — I see so much of what I’ve felt in your words. And then you went and said “…in the same way JLo normalized an ample butt,” and I literally guffawed into my afternoon coffee.

      You’re really funny, and you’re really brave. Good luck to you :)

  13. Tiffany says:

    His depression goes back to his House days. He said it was made worse by being away from his family (the kids were at an age where their life was in England and he did not know how long the show would last to uproot).

  14. Betsy says:

    I wouldn’t use the word “cling” with its connotations of needy choice, but he’s right. Per my psychiatrist, your brain can sort of wear in neuro-chemical grooves. It can become a habit. God knows I spend half my time fighting against said habit.

    Basically: he’s right.

  15. Mila says:

    I live in a third world country and have bipolar disorder and i suffer from anxiety. So i dont get him. He should travel more like go to Serbia and get a reality check.

    • spidey says:

      Mila, I’m surprised that as someone who suffers from a mental disorder you come out with a remark like that to be honest. Clinical depression is not a respecter of persons or circumstances. He has admitted how lucky he is in every other way but it still doesn’t alter the fact that he suffers from an illness.

      • Mila says:

        I know, i was too harsh , hope the word is right. Should have read the whole interview, I get it now, and i am sorry about my comment.

    • Ayra. says:

      You’re the perfect example of what he’s talking about.
      This just gave me flashbacks of when I thought I had no right to be depressed because had a roof over my head, food to eat and water to drink.. I felt selfish because there were people who had it way worse than I did yet here I was depressed.

      • serena says:

        exactly, I felt the same way and still do but people can be so ignorant and judgemental, they make you feel guilty of suffering.

  16. Kitten says:

    I totally get what he said, even though I’ve never experienced depression, because it really resonates with me as an ED-sufferer.

    So much of having an eating disorder revolves around clinging to a certain mindset, certain rituals…certain barriers that you rely on to keep people out and to keep yourself “safe”.
    Even though you want to get better SO badly, the thought of not having these things to depend on anymore is terrifying.

    • Beckysuz says:

      Yes @kitten I was thinking the very same. That my ED was so hard to break free from partially because it was all I knew. It had become such a familiar part of me that I didnt really know who I was without it. And though I hated it, it (and the rituals) were my best friends in a way. I also suffer(ed) from depression and anxiety at times, so I totally get what Hugh was saying. And though outward circumstances at times exacerbated my issues, they were still there even when things were going well. Depression really isn’t a respecter of persons or circumstance.

    • Anne tommy says:

      When I read his comments I also thought about their relevance to being overweight/ obese : you loathe it, you wish you were slimmer but there is something about it that is serving some sort of purpose. Recognising what that purpose is, is difficult. But attributing it all to greed and laziness is inaccurate in my experience.

  17. Jackie says:

    I’ve had depression off & on for years but I was always able to talk myself out of being depressed & able o pull myself out of it. Up until a year & a half ago & it got so bad, I really thought I was going crazy. Its so hard to explain to anyone who doesn’t feel like that. It took many different combinations of drugs to get me back to being halfway normal again. I function now but, things that used to make me happy, no longer do. The anxiety was so bad & so debilitating that I would just sit & cry or pace so much I thought I would wear a hole in the floor. I felt so bad when it hit me because I always used to think that others could just pull themselves out of it & everythingwould be okay. It doesn’t work that way. I sometimes wonder if I try other meds, maybe it would make things better. But, I’m afraid to come out of what has been sort of working & having that dark cloud hanging over me again. Depression is a constant battle. One which I was there was an easy fix for.

  18. GUEST says:

    so you think Hugh doesn’t have “genuine” depression? if man says he has it it’s not up to you to decide

  19. Triple Cardinal says:

    Midway through House’s run, I did a phone interview with Lisa Edelstein. When I asked how it was on-set with Laurie, what’s he like to work with, she alluded to his depression.

    I’m paraphrasing, but she said it was a very quiet set with no kidding around and no light moments. Nobody socialized together during or after work. They punched in, did the work, punched out and went home. She had seen, she said, happier sets.

    Edelstein, btw, was a pistol to talk to. A really fun subject who was deeply committed to rescue dogs.

    • Paul says:

      I’m surprised Lisa said that actually because she and Hugh got on incredibly well. I had a couple of friends who were crew, and they said they spent a lot of time together on-set, and actually leaned on each other through their respective personal problems. Hugh was prone to outbursts however. He had a habit of losing his temper with someone and then going back to apologise unreservedly 10 minutes later. People got used to it. He was also really generous and used to buy every single member of the crew gifts at the end of each season. One year it was guitars. He really is as complicated as he sounds here.

  20. Crumpet says:

    I spend my life terrified of the black hole I circle, which at times threatens to pull me in with talk of how much better off my husband and daughter would be without me. And it backs up that talk with PTSD-like flashbacks of moments in my past that are unbelievably painful. It’s like I am there experiencing all of the horribleness all over again, it is that real. So I respect what Hugh is saying, but I do not feel that way at all. I want out so badly. I just got through a trial of Abilify which unfortunately gave me akinesthesia – a really awful side effect. We just keep on trying things. It’s all I know to do. If nothing else I am incredibly persistent.

    • Tara says:

      You’re wonderful, crumpet. Have you tried Zoloft or Effexor. Those most effectively even me out. I also find Gabapentin extremely helpful; it can act like Xanax to help with anxiety but is not really addictive.

      • SilkyMalice says:

        Tara, thank you. <3 I am on Effexor, and it has helped me stay on the edge of the black hole better than anything else I have tried so far. And I do use gabapentin for the anxiety as well. I am trying to get my insurance to cover Lyrica as some studies have shown it is very effective for anxiety disorders. I think I have tried just about every drug out there, we just need to find the right cocktail.

        I am glad you have found what works for you! :)

        -used to be Crumpet

  21. Maria_ says:

    TNM: Hiddlebum !!! its priceless XD,
    and ends here in spain tomorrow :-( .

  22. Tara says:

    I just want to thank Hugh Laurie, Kaiser, and all the thoughtful commenters on this thread. You’ve somehow aired the complexity some very difficult aspects of life, sharing personally and compassionately. You made my day better, and I’m grateful.

  23. rudy says:

    Depression is an ILLNESS.
    It is not your fault, just like cancer or arthritis or a brain embolism.

    We do have responsibility for how we react. Certain things can help: meds and therapy, eating well, exercising, living with safe positive loving people, and distraction, distraction, distraction.

    BUT the depression DOES NOT LEAVE.
    It never really does. Some people get situational depression — a loved one dies — that can last for years but there is an ending.

    Most of us have major depressive disorder. Some get depressed for months, others only during the day. All of us have different chemistries and react differently to different meds.

    A dysfunctional childhood does NOT HELP IN THE LEAST.

    Hugh Laurie is an idiot.

  24. serena says:

    I love him and always will, he’s such a splendid actor and (seems) human being. I can also relate to what he says about depression, but it’s also wrong to downplay it, kind of triggering guilt as a result, because there are ‘bigger’ issues in the world or you live a privileged life.

  25. raincoaster says:

    I don’t know why he’s being coy about smoking and pretending to quit and so on. I walked by him on a sidewalk in Vancouver once and he was smoking and he had that “bottom of a pub ashtray the next morning” smell that only certain welfare people have, because they have nothing else to do but sit in a room and smoke until it comes out their pores. This dude is stone addicted.

  26. caitlinK says:

    I can empathize w so many here, who suffer from the hermetic hopelessness and helplessness of depression. I have been clinically depressed for over a quarter century, and on meds since I was 16. Finally, after years of “trials” on multiple antidepressants, I found one that works for me at least 50 percent–meaning, while I’m still fairly dysfunctional in my depression, I’m usually not actively suicidal. I don’t have “episodes” of depression and then good periods, I am always struggling, every step, from waking till sleep, and always wishing I did not have to remain here on earth, in my life. I remain here for my husband alone, but there are times I actually resent him for being here, thus making me feel I must stay on, too…Anyway, my heart goes out to all of you who suffer from depression here, and everywhere. It is an odd thing: *Many* people DO suffer from depression, of varying intensities, but it rarely unites people: nothing can make you feel more utterly abandoned and alone than depression. I think that sharing our experiences with it w others is a good way to glean some needed recognition, alliance, and comfort.