Michelle Wolf calls for honest talk on depression: "Even our poo emoji is smiling"

"Let's make it OK to admit you're not doing great and really listen to other people when they admit they're not"

Published June 18, 2018 9:17AM (EDT)

Michelle Wolf (Getty/Tasos Katopodis)
Michelle Wolf (Getty/Tasos Katopodis)

On Michelle Wolf's Netflix show "The Break," the comedian did her usual spiel of running down the news of the week and making jokes as she goes. But in Sunday's episode of "Hate It or Love It," Wolf's most profound moment came when she discussed the deaths of Anthony Bourdain and Kate Spade and how in the era of social media, the pressures "to seem flawless" quell meaningful conversations about mental health.

"I want to talk about something that's really been on my mind," Wolf said. "Over the past couple weeks we've had two prominent, beloved people end their lives: Kate Spade and Anthony Bourdain. I'm a big fan of both of them. Before I could afford her purses, I'd buy knock-off Kate Spades on the street. I'll never forget my first Kate Splade."

She added that Bourdain was the only guest she requested to meet while she worked at "Late Night" with Seth Meyers.

Spade and Bourdain died by suicide just days apart. Despite being respected giants in their industries, it was revealed that they both suffered from deep, overwhelming depression.

"Depression is a disease," Wolf continued, "and I'm not an expert on mental health by any means. I'm barely qualified to talk about hosting a TV show. This only episode four. . . I do think if we're going to have any chance of de-stigmatizing depression, we have to get rid of the pressure to pretend we're happy even when we're not. How can we expect to have an honest conversation about anything if we're always supposed to seem flawless?"

Wolf explained how, if you scan social media, "you think our lives are just sun-kissed beaches and calorie-free avocado toast," rather than endless piles of dirty laundry. The comedian says she speaks from experience. When all her underwear is dirty, she buys new underwear, she quipped.

"If you want proof of how ingrained pretending to be happy is in our society, even our poo emoji is smiling!" Wolf said. "We're all walking around like we're happy little soldiers, yet one of the most beloved movies of all time is about a guy deciding whether he should kill himself. That's one of our favorite Christmas movies," she added, referencing the 1946 classic film, "It's A Wonderful Life."

"It's okay to admit that life is terrifying and we never know what's going to happen next. I mean we only know five percent of what's in the ocean, and most of the earth is ocean. That's terrifying," Wolf said. "And yet, we're all just walking around answering the question, 'How are you?' with 'Good.'"

What would an honest answer to that routine question look like, she wondered. Is 'good' or 'fine' the only acceptable answer? It's almost more about being polite and not making the questioner uncomfortable than saying anything that's grounded in truth.

"Let's make it okay to admit you're not doing great and really listen to other people when they admit they're not, either," Wolf suggested. "But if we can admit that we're not always happy and our lives may not be as perfect as they appear, maybe it will pave the way for us to talk more openly about things like depression." With the rise in suicide rates, it's certainly worth a try.

We need to take depression seriously

How can we better understand people living with depression?

By Rachel Leah

MORE FROM Rachel Leah

Related Topics ------------------------------------------

Anthony Bourdain Depression Happiness Kate Spade Mental Health Michelle Wolf Social Media Suicide