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The Schmooze

Mariel Hemingway Opens Up About Her Family’s Depression

“I come from one of the greatest American families in the world,” said Mariel Hemingway, Academy-Award-nominated actress, mother, mental health advocate and now author of “Out Came the Sun: Overcoming the Legacy of Mental Illness, Addiction and Suicide in my Family.”

Speaking to guests at the Hope for Depression Research Foundation’s Ninth Annual HOPE Luncheon Seminar at 583 Park Avenue, Hemingway added: “My grandfather was one of the greatest writers of the 20th-21st century… But he was deeply depressed…in a dark, dark place a lot of his life. He believed that darkness was what made him write better — a severe alcoholic — there is not one country I have gone to where some old person told me ‘I had a drink with your grandfather!’”

“Growing up in this family — while creative and wonderful people I love — I watched my parents self-medicate with alcohol for their own depression. My mother lost her first husband in [WWII]… My father was the son of Ernest [who committed suicide] and a writer… to be the son of someone who takes their life is so difficult to live with. It doesn’t matter what age they are when they took their life. “

“My life was about survival, I was terrified in a house with a family where people said we were cursed.” Describing her “many plans — gurus, doctors, medication… someone to give me the answer so I would not pass it on to my two daughters” she found an upside…” that included a visit with the Dalai Lama who “listened, put his hands on me and said, ‘You’re O.K.’”

“What people don’t understand about depression is it’s a brain problem, a life problem…I want to take the “I” out of illness putting “w” in as in wellness… Mental illness cannot be fought alone… it’s a “we solution.”

Audrey Gruss, HDRF founder and event Chair presented the award to Mariel and thanked the roster of speakers and event participants — Dr. Charles O’Brien, Prof. of Psychiatry and Founding Director of theCenter for Studies in Addiction at the University of Pennsylvania who detailed new treatments for depression and alcoholism. Dr. Huda Akil who spoke about new genes and proteins that had been identified “to point the way to potential new medications,” and actress Demi Lovato who launched the “Be Vocal: Speak Up for Mental Health” initiative.

Prefacing the event, emcee Chuck Scarborough offered a sobering overview of “our [extreme] association of celebration with beer, wine and liquor” staring with “Prohibition… popular cinema history, John Belushi (“Animal House”) W.C. Fields and Dudley Moore in the [inebriated] 1992 blockbuster “Arthur”… It is fashionable for celebrities to announce they are going to rehab… In 2014 alone—according to the CDC — 88,000 adults died in the U.S. from alcohol consumption. There are more than one million alcohol-related visits to the emergency room and 10,000 alcohol-related driving fatalities.”

Following the Paris attack interviews with that city’s bookstore owners uniformly reported that Hemingway’s “A Movable Feast” was sold out—not a copy to be found and that it made the best-sellers list. Its original French title: “Paris est une fete” which translates into “Paris is a Party.”

Post luncheon for almost half an hour writer Mariel Hemingway happily autographed copies of her book.


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