Patton Oswalt Says Daughter Saved Him From Alcohol Addiction After Wife's Death

By Victoria Kim 08/24/17

“[Without my daughter] I’m not saying I would be dead, but I would be a shut-in alcoholic.”

Patton Oswalt

After his wife of nearly 11 years passed away unexpectedly last year, comedian Patton Oswalt has been struggling to pick up the pieces. He’s made a steady recovery since the day of the tragedy in April 2016, fighting crippling depression and the urge to drink himself numb.

He’s now engaged to another woman, actress Meredith Salenger, and has a few projects lined up. 

The 48-year-old comedian and actor—known for his roles in Ratatouille and The King of Queensspoke with Playboy magazine for its fall issue about how his daughter Alice saved him from getting lost in his grief and drinking too much.

“I’m forever glad that I have Alice. If I hadn’t had a daughter and my wife died, we wouldn’t be talking right now,” he said. “I’m not saying I would be dead, but I would be a shut-in alcoholic.”

True-crime writer Michelle McNamara passed away in her sleep in April 2016—the result of an undiagnosed heart condition combined with Adderall, Xanax, and fentanyl, according to the coroner’s report. Fentanyl is the drug that killed Prince

Oswalt said that his crippling grief would have led him down a very different path had it not been for Alice and his duties as a parent which forced him to stay in a routine and have that structure despite his pain. This kept him from losing his will to face the day, he said.

Everything would have shut down. I wouldn’t have been about anything. But with Alice, it was and is “You got to get up.” There are mornings when we’re late to school because I’m sad, but I’ve still fucking got to get up. A night when I’ve had maybe one scotch with some friends, I’ll say, “That’s it. I’ve got to take her to school tomorrow.” If there were no reason to wake up, I would be morbidly obese. I’d be rewatching movies I’ve seen a million times, and I would have wallowed and sealed myself off in a falsely comforting bath of despair. Depression is not terrifying. Depression is seductive and comforting. It sticks around so long because it creates this false sense of “Oh, here’s where I’m safe.” Grief is like depression’s drill sergeant. It knows the tricks that depression doesn’t know. Grief is like, “Hey, depression, I taught you everything you know, but I didn’t teach you everything I know. Here, watch what I can do.”

Oswalt has a movie, Nostalgia, coming soon, as well as a special called Annihilation, in which he goes over the tumultuous year he's had since his wife's passing. "I don’t back away from the fact that here I am doing some comedy, and now I gotta do a hard segue into the year I just went through," he told Playboy. "It gets really dark, and I hope I end it on a hopeful note."

Please read our comment policy. - The Fix

Victoria is interested in anything that has to do with how mind-altering substances impact society. Find Victoria on LinkedIn or Tumblr