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Mike Wallace's Darkest Hour

Those suffering from depression often keep it a secret. Legendary newsman Mike Wallace knows that all too well.

By Mike Wallace, New York, New York

As appeared in

And just like that, I was in deep again. As deep as the first time. I'd look out the window at all the people on the streets of New York. So much energy out there, so much going on, and all I wanted to do was turn my back on it. I didn't care about anything except how miserable I felt and how I might end this pain.

Even so, I was still reluctant to acknowledge that I had what I had. The only ones who knew were Mary, Dr. Kaplan (who put me back on medication), and my son and daughter. And two good friends who were going through the same thing and were much braver than I in sharing their experiences: writer William Styron and humorist Art Buchwald.

Arty called me night after night. It was so reassuring to know that what I was feeling was normal for a depressed person, to talk to someone who'd been through it himself and come out the other side.

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I continued to take refuge in prayer. When I couldn't sleep at night, I'd turn to the affirmation that had been a mainstay for nearly as long as I could remember.

Shema Yisrael Adonai Eloheinu Adonai Echad. Those old, familiar words brought me back to my boyhood in Brookline, a town that was simply wonderful to grow up in. Back to a place and a time as far away from this oppressive darkness as I could imagine.

Eventually the depression lifted, as it had the first time, and I went back to doing what I loved—reporting stories, playing tennis, going out on the town with Mary. But grateful as I was for the help I'd been given during my darkest days, I still worried that people might think less of me if they knew about my depression, so I kept quiet about it.

Then came the night I was a guest on the late-night TV interview show Later with Bob Costas. Bob planned to devote the show to my work, but while I was talking to him about 60 Minutes, it suddenly occurred to me who might be watching television at one o'clock in the morning.

There are probably a lot of people listening at this moment who can't get to sleep because they're depressed, I thought. People who need to know that there's hope.

That's when I finally went public about my depression. I wanted whoever might be listening and suffering to understand how low I'd sunk and how I was getting better every day with treatment. Help was out there for them too.

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Depression, I'd come to see, was a part of me, something I'd always have to watch out for. The difference was, if it hit me again (and it did in 1993), I knew I couldn't retreat into its depths. I had to keep taking my medication and going to therapy, keep talking to people.

In a way, that's been the key to my still going strong for all these years. Every time I reach out beyond myself—to my family and friends, to my doctor, to my coworkers and the public to whom we bring the news, to the whole community of people who battle depressive disorders, and to the one I have turned to ever since I was a boy in Brookline—I find the hope that has led me out of the darkness.

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