On a cold morning in February 2004, the lights went out. I’d been feeling incredibly stressed at the time: work was unusually overwhelming, my long-term marriage had hit a rough patch, and our youngest was about to leave for college. Our son’s leaving home for college was a good thing, but frankly, I like my chicks in my nest. Besides, my son’s departure meant that I had the arduous task of finding a place to store—or better yet to junk—the helicopter I’d used to perfect my parenting style.
During the weeks leading up to that frigid February day, I found myself ruminating endlessly about the issues that were troubling me. Days blended into nights. Many nights, I barely slept at all.
Then one morning, it was as though someone had flipped a switch. I felt the most intense anxiety I’d ever experienced. My stomach was twisted in a constant knot. My heart raced. I lost so much weight that my clothes hung on me. The light hurt my eyes; sounds overstimulated me. I felt as if I were in constant danger. And then I tipped into a deep depression that nothing in my then 30 years of clinical experience had prepared me for. If you’ve ever been depressed yourself, you know exactly what I mean.
Depression sucked the life out of me. Waking up felt like a curse. I just wanted to pull the covers over my head and stay in bed, but I was too anxious to do that. I couldn’t keep still. Each day was a battle to stay connected to the things that gave my life meaning, the things…