Amy Tan is the best selling author of The Joy Luck Club, The Kitchen God’s Wife, The Hundred Secret Senses, The Bonesetter’s Daughter, Saving Fish from Drowning, and the Opposite of Fate.

What is less well known is Amy Tan’s ongoing battle with depression. Indeed, her family history has been one of a sad battle with depression. Amy, who lives in the US has a photograph of her grandmother and three other women from her family. Every woman in the photo committed suicide. Amy’s mother, expressed her depression by violently upturning and even smashing the family’s furniture, and always threatened suicide. Amy herself experienced depression as early as 6 years of age, the age of her first suicide attempt. In addition to her mother’s suicidal tendencies, life gave Amy other reasons to be depressed. Her father and brother both died young from brain tumours, she was molested by a counsellor, raped by a school janitor and one of her best friends was murdered. Amy’s depression manifests itself as numbness alternating with extreme anger.

Even raging success as an author didn’t put an end to Amy’s depression. In 1993 she went to the premiere of the movie of her book The Joy Luck Club and instead of feeling great was overcome with a sense of meaninglessness, that everything in life was ugly and she was all alone.

It was after this Amy Tan started taking antidepressants and has found this has made an enormous difference. She says, “I know I will always have some degree of depression. I still have to wrestle with it, but I see where it fits in with my mother’s life, my grandmother’s life, my own life. For a long time I didn’t know how to be happy, and I didn’t trust happiness – I felt that if I had it I would lose it. But today, I am basically a happy person.”

 

Source: Reported in Who magazine interview, May 21, 2001

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