Depression (cont.)

BRACCO:
All of those questions are incredibly relative to being an artist. As an actor, all I do is use myself. How could I go on medication?

The medication did not dull me or stop me in any way. It lifted -- for me -- a heaviness that never belonged there in the first place. It allowed me to become the true woman, artist, and mother that I am.

MEMBER QUESTION:
Now that you're aware of what depression is like, can you look back in your life and see other times previously where perhaps you were battling depression and you just pushed it aside?

BRACCO:
I believe possibly that I had a bout with depression probably when I was younger and living in France. Looking back, I would say that, yes, there had been that other time.

MEMBER QUESTION:
What was your day-to-day life like with depression?

BRACCO:
You know what -- I functioned. I just did everything without any happiness or joy; without having me.

"I was just, maybe I could say, like a walking zombie in a funny way. I mean, I did everything. I just did it without any life inside of me."

MODERATOR:
What was the reaction of those closest to you? You mentioned a friend who urged you to seek help. What was your family's reaction -- your daughter in particular? Was she aware of what you were going through?

BRACCO:
I think they all knew I was sad or wasn't fully myself. I'm usually a very fun, spirited kind of girl. So I would think that, yes, they missed that part of me. They are my children and they are going to love me no matter what, and I think every mom knows that.

One of the things that I read somewhere, in a pamphlet I believe, was you only have one chance to be a mother -- why do it depressed? That hit me, it hit the core of my being. And I agree with that.

MEMBER QUESTION:
Did you ever feel incapacitated at all about your illness?

BRACCO:
Incapacitated in what way? You mean like where I didn't get out of bed or I cried all the time? I didn't have that. I was just, maybe I could say, like a walking zombie in a funny way. I mean, I did everything. I just did it without any life inside of me.

MODERATOR:
The phrase "walking zombie" is interesting in light of the fact that, of course, you are an actress, and an actress depends on being able to express so many emotions. How did you manage to get through shooting The Sopranos that year?

BRACCO:
I just did.

MODERATOR:
Obviously very well; your portrayal of Dr. Melfi is fantastic. But how did you manage that?

BRACCO:
I don't know what to say more than that. I did it. I did it to the best of my ability. I had children to take care of. I knew I was on the road to recovery.

MEMBER QUESTION:
Did anyone else in your family suffer from mental illness?

BRACCO:
Not that I'm aware of.

MEMBER QUESTION:
Were you worried that your illness might affect your career in terms of producers being less willing to hire you if word got out?

BRACCO:
Do I think some people probably have or hold on to the stigma of depression? Probably -- but no way to know. Why go back and why care?

MODERATOR:
What are you looking forward to at this point?

BRACCO:
I feel like -- I was just 50, you know -- I feel like I'm a kid; I just started to live.

MEMBER QUESTION:
How did your depression affect your relationships with the people around you and those you love?

BRACCO:
I believe I wore my depression on my face. They knew it wasn't the Lorraine they used to know. They were sad for me, they knew that I wasn't all there. They knew I wasn't happy.

MEMBER QUESTION:
Did going through this depression and the talk therapy provide you any insight to playing your role as a psychiatrist on The Sopranos?

BRACCO:
Yes, but more important, it gave me insight to what kind of woman I really wanted to be in this lifetime.

MEMBER:
You were wonderful at hiding your depression.

BRACCO:
Aren't we all? That is one of the reasons why I've come out about this. Once you start to deal with it, life is much easier.


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