Sarah Silverman Is Smiling Back [Video]

Sarah Silverman’s newest role as a comedian struggling with depression hit the star very close to home, according to Silverman’s essay in the November 2015 issue of Glamour.

Forty-four-year-old Silverman, who has been in hits such as Wreck-It Ralph and A Million Ways To Die In The West, will be starring in I Smile Back, an adaptation of the novel by the same name by Amy Koppelman. Silverman will be playing the role of Laney Brooks, a married mother who, like Silverman, is a comedian and battles depression. Silverman had discussed her battle with Howard Stern on his self-titled radio show, which prompted Koppelman to call and ask Silverman to star in the film. Three years after that phone call, Silverman collapsed on her bathroom floor, shaking after receiving the e-mail that they had received the funding to make the film.

Silverman’s Glamour essay begins with her recollection on the day she knew her depression had begun — getting off the bus after a school camping trip, Pampers in tow, covering her shameful bed wetting secret. Silverman describes the feeling as happening as “fast as the sun going behind a cloud,” stating that she couldn’t deal with hanging out with her friends and missed school. Silverman also began having panic attacks, which she says people use too casually.

“People use ‘panic attack’ very casually out here in Los Angeles, but I don’t think most of them really know what it is. Every breath is labored. You are dying. You are going to die. It’s terrifying. And then when the attack is over, the depression is still there.”

Sarah Silverman: "One thing I know that I used to not know: it will pass. And it does." (Photo by Frazer Harrison/Getty Images)
Sarah Silverman: “One thing I know that I used to not know: it will pass. And it does.” (Photo by Frazer Harrison/Getty Images)

Over the next few years, Silverman had multiple therapists; the first hanged himself. The next therapist over-medicated her, and as a teen, Silverman was taking 16 Xanax tablets a day. Silverman said she hid the bottles in a box, thinking that if she dies “they find this, they’ll know what happened.” Silverman’s next therapist was able to help the then-high schooler become herself again by weaning her off her medications. She remembers the exact moment that she took the last half pill at a water fountain, she tells Glamour.

Silverman continued feeling this way until she was 22, living in New York, working for Saturday Night Live. Luckily, a friend was able to calm her down and convince her to stay in New York. It was then that Silverman was given a script for Klonopin, which blocked her panic attacks. She was eventually weaned off.

Silverman’s essay also covers topics such as her having children (she states that ‘Freeze Eggs!’ is on her to-do list daily) and what happens when her depression gets the best of her (if you see Morrissey lyrics on her Twitter account, she’s having a down day). She did make sure, however, to include things she loves: belly laughs, her friends, talk radio, and her boyfriend.

Silverman, who lost her mother Beth Ann in August, once told Maxim that she “wouldn’t trade the pain of my childhood, because it’s made me who I am – not just to be funny but to be compassionate.”

Amy Koppelman, the author of I Smile Back, has posted many review snippets on her website, as well as a blurb describing the book.

“We live in an era that believes in the idea of rehabilitation and counts on the possibility of redemption. The thing is, not everyone gets better and even those who find salvation often leave a wake of destruction behind them. Laney acts out. Married with kids, she takes the drugs she wants, sleeps with the men she wants, disappears when she wants. Now, with the destruction of her family looming, and temptation everywhere, Laney makes one last desperate attempt at redemption.”

The reviews seem to have one thing in common: Koppelman has “expressive” writing as she explores depression with “ruthless honesty.”

You can read Silverman’s entire essay here, and you can purchase her memoir The Bedwetter: Stories of Courage, Redemption, and Pee here.

I Smile Back will be released October 23, but for now, you can order the book here, and check out the trailer above.

If you or someone you know is struggling with depression, please do not hesitate to seek help. The National Alliance on Mental Illness is able to give you support and local referrals when you call their hotline at 800-950-6264.

[Image from Alberto E. Rodriguez/Getty Images]