Mike Kasdan: The Good Men Project is a platform to talk about lots of issues, including ethics, and social justice, and mental health. And one of the big areas that I got interested in — actually the first connection to the Good Men Project for me — was the anonymous publication of a piece I wrote called Intro to Alone, which was the bottom of my own depression. So it’s an issue that I’ve become very passionate about and more public about in trying to become a voice to help to de-stigmatize depression.
On the topic of depression and mental health in general, the way you speak about it in your book and and elsewhere — I found it to be unique. You focus on the beauty of a flaw or trying to take darkness and make something bigger of it and to create more connection and something more beautiful from it. And I was wondering if you could talk about that and how you came to have that point of view and why it might be important.
Andrew Solomon: That notion of resilience is absolutely central to all of my work. It’s a defining concern. I draw upon the experience I had as a gay person and the feeling of being marginalized in various ways as I was growing up. In most ways I had a very fortunate childhood, but its complexities and challenges and were authentic and real. So I’ve been engaged with the question of how you take your experience of adversity and make something of value.
People have asked me vis-a-vis the depression book, “Was it cathartic to write about your depression?,” and actually it was quite painful. It was a painful and sad experience. But what was helpful was that I could take what felt like a barren, useless period of my life and transform it into something that may be of help to other people. The writing helped to build some form of redemption.
It would be very patronizing to say to someone, “You are very depressed now, but wait and see, it’s going to be very great and valuable!” When you are in the throes of depression you don’t want to hear that and it isn’t true–but I think if you are able to establish the perspective that over time there may be meaning to be derived from such experiences, you help people not to feel that their lives are full of holes.
(To read the full interview, please visit The Good Men Project.)