I had an obsession in my early teen years: David Letterman. I’m not quite sure how it all started, but for several years, I collected every media clipping I could find about him and even found a biography (or two) on him to read. In fact, the pictures of Letterman above are some of the ones I accumulated during my infatuation with Dave. While he has his TV show that is on daily, he is not one to be in the media outside of the “Late Show.” But I noticed that he was going to be on tonight’s Barbara Walters special, “A Matter of Life and Death,” a program highlighting heart disease. I just had to see the show.
Several celebrities, including Letterman, “bared their hearts” about going through open heart surgery. David Letterman recounted the process of finding out that he needed surgery, going through surgery, and so on. But a simple question about depression after such surgery turned to a more poignant moment where he talked about how he knew the difference between “the black hole” and simple sadness. Barbara Walters questioned him a little more about what he meant, and he spoke about the experience of depression and being treated for it. Walters then questioned him whether he was medicated for it, and he answered that, in addition to his heart meds, he was on medication for depression. (Note: I hope I can find direct quotes or a transcript form this interview)
Knowing how private he is about, well, everything, I was surprised and really touched that he spoke about something that he wasn’t required to say. Sure, other people have talked about their mental health issues, but it meant something to me that David Letterman, the man I looked up to for such a long time, was open about it.
Perhaps it was that secret sadness underneath the humor that attracted me to him all those years ago…but as I laugh out loud while watching his show, I also think that laughter may have been what kept me going during those years, too.