In the movie, the artist, who was born in 1963, reveals that when she was 27 a nervous breakdown rendered her unable to speak, on and off, for a decade.She became suicidal, was admitted to a mental hospital and underwent shock therapy in 1999.Even before “This Close to Happy,” Merkin was already known for unabashedly writing about highly personal, and at times provocative experiences; her 1996 New Yorker essay about her penchant for sadomasochistic spanking, for example, raised interest as well as eyebrows.“Of course I’ve written about many other things,” Merkin said. We lived with a certain truth on one level and then a much darker truth on another level.After six months of treatment, surgery and chemotherapy, he went into remission and finished editing the film.
Some of the medications she’s taken during a lifetime of depression and anxiety have stopped working, and she’s been experiencing hallucinations as her doctors search for a new regimen.
She grew up Jewish in Los Angeles with a father who was a rageaholic and a mother who couldn’t bear to touch her for much of her childhood.
(Mother and daughter are now close.) Alper and Stiefel became good friends while shooting the movie over the past four years.
A more peaceful piece depicts the Los Angeles artist sitting in traffic on the 405 freeway, where she feels safe and calm.
Then there is the giant papier-mache figure of Alper’s beloved psychiatrist, Dr.