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Part 1 of our two-part interview with Congressman Adam Smith. Congressman Adam Smith, 26-year member of Congress and Chair of the House Armed Services Committee for the last four years, offers a candid memoir about his years-long struggle with anxiety and chronic pain, and the winding path to find the right diagnosis and treatment.
Representative Adam Smith was successful by all measures, with a long, distinguished career in Congress and a loving marriage with children. Yet seemingly out of nowhere, his body and mind broke down to the point where every day was a relentless struggle to just keep moving. It’s a struggle millions of Americans know all too well. Would he be able to meet his responsibilities as a husband and father? Could he still maintain his breakneck professional schedule and continue to do his job well? He soon realized he couldn’t will himself well—he needed help. Thus began a desperate search for the right diagnosis and treatment for his mental and physical pain that lasted over six years and involved more than a hundred different health care providers. With unflinching honesty, Smith reveals how he got to this lowest point in life, and how he slowly, painfully, and unevenly found his way back to having a calmer mind and being free of chronic pain and medication.
Smith discovered the severe limitations of our nation’s health care system, and brought him face to face with the cost of the stigma our country has against admitting to and dealing with mental health issues. He learned that life isn’t about finding that quick fix or clear-cut mental and physical program to stop worrying and struggling. It’s about learning who you are, understanding your body and mind well enough to face those struggles that we will all inevitably face, and then being able to enjoy your life even when those struggles come.