“Eventually, I began a tailspin that I am convinced led directly to losing my job, further intensifying these unidentified, uncontrollable, and fearful feelings.”
I had my first experience with severe long-term depression at age 23 when a series of events converged simultaneously. I couldn't sleep, and my lack of appetite had me losing such a significant amount of weight that I feared I would end up in the hospital. I forced myself to eat and eventually gained back the weight, and later an appetite. Being on my own at this age in the late 1980s with limited knowledge of depression, I wouldn't realize what was happening to me until years later.
Learning of Abraham Lincoln's bouts with melancholy, I decided to live by his words: "Most people are about as happy as they make their minds up to be." That was the phrase I repeatedly turned to.
In my mid-30s, I began experiencing extremely painful and frightening chest pains every morning around 3 or 4. Waking me up, the squeezing of my heart and tightening of my chest would bring me to my knees on the floor.
Over the next three years, I would regularly see my doctor, who considered potential phy