I am glad when celebrities share details about their mental illnesses. It makes things easier for the rest of us. Jon Hamm’s revelation that he took medication for his depression is very significant. There is quite a stigma related to therapy and antidepressants in Singapore. Sadly a huge stigma.
Here are parts of The Observer interview with the Mad Men star that resonated with me.
When Jon Hamm was 10 years old his mother died, suddenly, of stomach cancer. Hamm went to live with his father, who had divorced his mother when he was two. “To lose a parent at 10 – which is young, though not unprecedented – it means you understand, at a very early age, what permanence is.”
And then, 10 years later, when Hamm was studying English at the University of Texas, his father died. “I was… unmoored by that. But I was very fortunate to have really good friends in my life whose parents sort of rallied: ‘We’re gonna help this kid out, because otherwise there’s going to be trouble…’
Were they right? I say. “Oh yeah,” he says.
You could have lost it? “Easily. I struggled with chronic depression. I was in bad shape. I knew I had to get back in school and back in some kind of structured environment and… continue.”
What helped? “Work.”
Therapy? “I did do therapy and antidepressants for a brief period, which helped me. Which is what therapy does: it gives you another perspective when you are so lost in your own spiral, your own bullshit. It helps. And honestly? Antidepressants help! If you can change your brain chemistry enough to think: ‘I want to get up in the morning; I don’t want to sleep until four in the afternoon. I want to get up and go do my shit and go to work and…’ Reset the auto-meter, kick-start the engine!”
He also talks about his life partner Jennifer and that part of the interview is really sweet. He’s set to star in Jennifer Westfeldt’s screenplay, Friends with Kids.
We talk about his 12-year relationship with Westfeldt, which is enduring in Hollywood terms. What’s the secret? “We just… really love each other.”
The little girl, Kiernan Shipka, who plays Sally Draper also recently did an interview for Mad Men. I think she is heart wrenching in her role.
Q: Do you think you’d act like Sally if your mom was like Betty and your dad was like Don?
A: I think Sally’s actually much better than I would be, given her situation. Sally is really, really reserved. Divorce can be terribly stressful and confusing. Add to that an emotionally unresponsive mother and a physically absent father, I think Sally’s actions are pretty tame. If I was experiencing Sally’s situation, I would be a complete terror of a kid.
Q: What’s been your favorite scene to act out in all of Season 4?
A: Unfortunately I can’t discuss it because it’s in an upcoming episode.
Q: Any runner-ups?
A: I really liked the fall in Episode 9 — the trip. It was my first time doing a really big stunt and I thought it was fun. I have done tae kwon do for a long, long time, and I’m a gymnast, so I wasn’t too worried about the stunt. I had done some stunts before. I was more excited than worried.