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Rachel Maddow Opens Up About Her Depression And Feeling Like a Failure

Illustration for article titled Rachel Maddow Opens Up About Her Depression And Feeling Like a Failure

For anyone who's ever suffered from depression or even some good old-fashioned self-doubt, it's nice to know that you're not alone. Even the uber-successful and amazingly talented Rachel Maddow has her moments of getting down on herself and feeling depressed. She told Rolling Stone that she often turns on herself:

Yesterday was like a four-star show, I was totally into it. Today and Monday -– like, blaagh. Like, doesn't get any worse. I've been doing this for four years! Why do I still have one-star shows? It's me — failure.


She added, "Oh, another bad thing about myself is that I've allowed you to see that I'm hard on myself. The fact that you're seeing me sweat is like, 'Ah, well, I'm failing on that, too.'" Sound at all familiar? However difficult she might find it, Maddow has been open about the fact that she's long suffered from what she calls "cyclical" depression, and she talked a little bit about how that plays out for her:

One of the manifestations of depression for me is that I lose my will. And I thereby lose my ability to focus. I don't think I'll ever have the day-to-day consistency in my performance that something like This American Life has. If I'm not depressed and I'm on and I can focus and I can think through something hard and without interruption and without existential emptiness that comes from depression, that gives me — not mania. But I exalt. I exalt in not being depressed.


As for where she thinks a lot of her depression and anxiety originate, she says, "I see my job as making a TV show. I fail at it — constantly. And that's all I can think about." Of course, on the outside, it's easy to see that she's anything but a failure, and in fact most of us would probably say she's constantly succeeding, but that's the devilish thing about self-doubt and depression: they keep you from seeing yourself the way others see you.

Rachel Maddow Candidly Discusses Her ‘Cyclical Depression' With Rolling Stone [Mediaite]

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Afternoon Delight

I want to post this quote just because I can already imagine the types of invalidating comments that can come out of any post in which a seemingly successful and happy person labels themselves as having any kind of depression.

"Depression is humiliating. It turns intelligent, kind people into zombies who can’t wash a dish or change their socks. It affects the ability to think clearly, to feel anything, to ascribe value to your children, your lifelong passions, your relative good fortune. It scoops out your normal healthy ability to cope with bad days and bad news, and replaces it with an unrecognizable sludge that finds no pleasure, no delight, no point in anything outside of bed. You alienate your friends because you can’t comport yourself socially, you risk your job because you can’t concentrate, you live in moderate squalor because you have no energy to stand up, let alone take out the garbage. You become pathetic and you know it. And you have no capacity to stop the downward plunge. You have no perspective, no emotional reserves, no faith that it will get better. So you feel guilty and ashamed of your inability to deal with life like a regular human, which exacerbates the depression and the isolation. If you’ve never been depressed, thank your lucky stars and back off the folks who take a pill so they can make eye contact with the grocery store cashier. No one on earth would choose the nightmare of depression over an averagely turbulent normal life.

It’s not an incapacity to cope with day to day living in the modern world. It’s an incapacity to function. At all. If you and your loved ones have been spared, every blessing to you. If depression has taken root in you or your loved ones, every blessing to you, too. No one chooses it. No one deserves it. It runs in families, it ruins families. You cannot imagine what it takes to feign normalcy, to show up to work, to make a dentist appointment, to pay bills, to walk your dog, to return library books on time, to keep enough toilet paper on hand, when you are exerting most of your capacity on trying not to kill yourself. Depression is real. Just because you’ve never had it doesn’t make it imaginary. Compassion is also real. And a depressed person may cling desperately to it until they are out of the woods and they may remember your compassion for the rest of their lives as a force greater than their depression. Have a heart. Judge not lest ye be judged."