By On September 28th, 2005

The Depressed President

In the October issue of Atlantic Monthly, there’s a truly insightful article about Abraham Lincoln’s lifelong struggle with major depression. Of course, back then, it was called melancholy, but the sources and historical record show indisputably that Lincoln would have been diagnosable today. Here are some tidbits to illustrate the level of Lincoln’s depression:

–He did not carry a knife for fear he would use it to kill himself.
–He memorized and recited poems about death and pain.
–He talked to doctors about his low mood and took medications for it.
–He tells many friends and colleagues of his desire to commit suicide.

Lincoln actually wrote to a law partner “I am now the most miserable man living. If what I feel were equally distributed to the whole human family, there would not be one cheerful face on the earth.”

The article is remarkable because it illustrates how a remarkable man struggled his entire life, and at the same time, cultivated a depth and wisdom that empowered him to become one of our greatest leaders. It is an inspiring story for any reader, and perhaps of particular interest to those who struggle with depression.

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