TODAY   |  April 05, 2013

Mariel Hemingway shares her struggle with depression

Academy Award-nominated actress Mariel Hemingway and her partner Bobby Williams talk to TODAY’s Matt Lauer about her family’s struggle with mental illness and suicide, as well as her own path to coming out of depression. They have a new book called “The WillingWay.”

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This content comes from Closed Captioning that was broadcast along with this program.

>>> now, actress, author and mother of two, marial hemingway wowed audiences in "manhattan" and was only a teenager when she was nominated for an academy award . but her family has had a troubling history with mental illness and suicides, including her grandfather ernest and her sister, margot. mariel is an advocate for mental health awareness, she's written a book with bobby williams called "the willing way." good morning.

>> good morning.

>> nice to be here.

>> the history i talk about, is there any way something like that doesn't impact every aspect of your life from the time you're growing up?

>> absolutely not. i've spent my entire life, a documentary called "running from crazy" because i literally have been running from crazy my entire life. i felt like what if i wake up and i don't know i'm nuts.

>> you said something in the pre-interview, you said you were living with depression every single day and didn't know it until you weren't depressed anymore.

>> exactly right.

>> what did the difference feel like?

>> i have to say that my partner, bobby williams , has a lot to do with it. it was like coming into -- i mean, it's like being in darkness. you don't know that was the life i had but when i realized that i could come out of that through lifestyle choices which is really why i got involved in the book with bobby.

>> so now that she's not running from crazy, she runs with crazy. which helps out a lot.

>> this concept you can choose a lifestyle and relieve some of what might be considered mental illness , a medical condition , a physical condition, a hormonal or chemical condition.

>> absolutely.

>> do you really believe in this?

>> i absolutely do.

>> talk about the mcclain over at harvard, said about 200 years ago that's what they did. it was about work sunshine --

>> psychopharmaceutical drugs, they honored me and i was a little -- i was hesitant only because i truly believed that the piece that is missing is lifestyle, what you eat, how you think, whether you get outside.

>> getting fresh air , eating the wholesome foods, adventure in your life.

>> yes.

>> you're believers in that.

>> absolutely. i have mariel in yosemite climbing. you want to talk about not being crazy anymore that makes her not crazy anymore.

>> makes you present.

>> you also talk about the need to play and laugh.

>> absolutely.

>> what are the things that you avoid in your life now that you think could be triggers for darker times?

>> well because my family was so full of addictions, there was a tremendous amount of alcoholism, i never was a drinker. i know because i have addictive personality that i don't do addictive things. i don't eat sugar. i don't drink. i don't, i would never do drugs. i'm very careful about how i live my life but i think that's a piece of mental balance. brain chemistry is affected by our food, by our thinks, by whether we take silence, like you said whether we get nature.

>> you have two daughters, i think they're in their 20s now.

>> yes.

>> was it at all possible as a mom watching them grow up to not hyperanalyze every mood they went through, knowing your family history ?

>> you're correct. i mean i did have moments where i was afraid, because i've been afraid my entire life, but what i realized is when you can break that curse or that chain of dna and genetics and stuff like that and i truly think that you can, once i did that, i feel that i released them from that, you know, they're going to have their own problems and nobody's going to say they're not going to have days where they're sad but i don't think that i've passed on this depression.

>> and in terms of you personally, you have fears at all that depression will come back?

>> not at all anymore because of my lifestyle now, because of the willing way and the way that we live our life, i feel like, you know, i feel like, i mean my life is just starting over . it's just amazing.

>> nice to be able to say.

>> it is.

>> it's a pleasure mariel and bobby nice to meet you..

>> pleasure for me as well.

>> the book is called "the willing way."