By Christine Sederquist
WCRL VP of Communications
I have recently been reading a lot of books about the first Republican President, Abraham Lincoln. I’ve read about how he kept persevering when he wasn’t permitted a formal education. I’ve read about how he continued persevering when his bid for President was deemed a long-shot. And of course I’ve read about how he had no other way but to persevere throughout the dark days of the Civil War.
We all know those stories.
But I think the most moving of all were the stories shared in a book called Lincoln’s Melancholy. Did you know that Lincoln struggled all his life with depression? I didn’t. He would never carry a pocket knife like most men of his time did, because he was afraid he’d take his own life with it. His friends put him on suicide watch once in his twenties and took away his razor. Suicide watch wasn’t really a thing in the 1800s. It would have been extraordinary for someone to be on a watch like that. That says a lot about the depths his depression took him to… but he persevered.
All those things I spoke of before: the long-shot bid for President, the dark days of the Civil War, not to mention the very public mourning of the deaths of his sons…he had to conquer all of it, all the while grappling with his own depression.
We tend to judge leaders by the great things they do, the ways they persevered publicly. But perhaps we should recall that our leaders are human too, and that the biggest obstacles they must overcome are the personal ones that perhaps nobody ever sees.