Chapel of the Snows: Transfiguration, the Ghost

The idea of suicide, understandable as it is, does not seem commendable to me. We live in order to gain the greatest possible amount of spiritual development and self-awareness. As long as life is possible, even if only in a minimal degree, you should hang onto it, in order to scoop it up for the purpose of conscious development. To interrupt life before its time is to bring to a standstill an experiment which we have not set up. We have found ourselves in the midst of it and must carry it through to the end.
— C.G. Jung, correspondence, July 10, 1947
What if I should discover that the poorest of the beggars and the most impudent of offenders are all within me; and that I stand in need of the alms of my own kindness, that I, myself, am the enemy who must be loved—what then?
— C.G. Jung
SCHEME IIA, Front Elevation, east, pencil on vellum, July 19, 1959

SCHEME IIA, Front Elevation, east, pencil on vellum, July 19, 1959

“The house that Robert Venturi designed for his mother in Chestnut Hill, Philadelphia, and had built in 1964, is arguable the most architecturally influential building of the second half of the twenieth century.” [1] 

“The five room house stands only about 30 feet (9 m) tall at the top of the chimney, but has a monumental front facade, an effect achieved by intentionally manipulating the architectural elements that indicate a building's scale. A non-structural applique arch and "hole in the wall" windows, among other elements, together with Venturi's book Complexity and Contradiction in Architecture were an open challenge to Modernist orthodoxy. Architectural historian Vincent Scully called it ‘the biggest small building of the second half of the twentieth century.’” [2]

SCHEME IIC, Front Elevation, east, pencil on vellum

SCHEME IIC, Front Elevation, east, pencil on vellum


Diminution of Personality

"An example of the alteration of personality in the sense of diminution is furnished by what is known in primitive psychology as 'loss of soul.' The peculiar condition covered by this term is accounted for in the mind of the primitive by the sup- position that a soul has gone off, just like a dog that runs away from his master overnight. It is then the task of the medicine- man to fetch the fugitive back. Often the loss occurs suddenly and manifests itself in a general malaise. The phenomenon is closely connected with the nature of primitive consciousness, which lacks the firm coherence of our own. We have control of our will power, but the primitive has not. Complicated exercises are needed if he is to pull himself together for any activity that is conscious and intentional and not just emotional and instinctive. Our consciousness is safer and more dependable in this respect; but occasionally something similar can happen to civilized man, only he does not describe it as 'loss of soul' but as an 'abaissement du niveau mental,' Janet’s apt term for this phenomenon. It is a slackening of the tensity of consciousness, which might be compared to a low barometric reading, presaging bad weather. The tonus has given way, and this is felt subjectively as listless- ness, moroseness, and depression. One no longer has any wish or courage to face the tasks of the day. One feels like lead, because no part of one’s body seems willing to move, and this is due to the fact that one no longer has any disposable energy." [3]

SCHEME IIIA, Front Elevation, east, pencil on vellum

SCHEME IIIA, Front Elevation, east, pencil on vellum

"This well-known phenomenon corresponds to the primitive’s loss of soul. The listlessness and paralysis of will can go so far that the whole personality falls apart, so to speak, and consciousness loses its unity; the individual parts of the personality make themselves independent and thus escape from the control of the conscious mind, as in the case of anaesthetic areas or systematic amnesias. The latter are well known as hysterical 'loss of function' phenomena. This medical term is analogous to the primitive loss of soul.

Abaissement du niveau mental can be the result of physical and mental fatigue, bodily illness, violent emotions, and shock, of which the last has a particularly deleterious effect on one’s self- assurance. The abaissement always has a restrictive influence on the personality as a whole. It reduces one’s self-confidence and the spirit of enterprise, and, as a result of increasing ego-centricity, narrows the mental horizon. In the end it may lead to the development of an essentially negative personality, which means that a falsification of the original personality has supervened." [3]

Vanna Venturi House, Chestnut Hill, Pennsylvania, Scheme III A

Vanna Venturi House, Chestnut Hill, Pennsylvania, Scheme III A

SCHEME IIIB, Front Elevation, east, pencil on vellum

SCHEME IIIB, Front Elevation, east, pencil on vellum

"When I had the vision of the flood in October of the year 1913, it happened at a time that was significant for me as a man. At that time, in the fortieth year of my life, I had achieved everything that I had wished for myself I had achieved honor, power, wealth, knowledge, and every human happiness. Then my desire for the increase of these trappings ceased, the desire ebbed from me and horror came over me. The vision of the flood seized me and I felt the spirit of the depths, but I did not understand him. Yet he drove me on with unbearable inner longing and I said:

‘My soul, where are you? Do you hear me? I speak, I call you—are you there? I have returned, I am here again. I have shaken the dust of all the lands from my feet, and I have come to you, I am with you. After long years of long wandering, I have come to you again. Should I tell you everything I have seen, experienced, and drunk in? Or do you not want to hear about all the noise of life and the world? But one thing you must know: the one thing I have learned is that one must live this life." [4] 

SCHEME IVA, Front Elevation, east, pencil on vellum, July 12, 1961

SCHEME IVA, Front Elevation, east, pencil on vellum, July 12, 1961

"'This life is the way, the long sought-after way to the unfathomable, which we call divine. There is no other way, all other ways are false paths. I found the right way, it led me to you, to my soul. I return, tempered and purified. Do you still know me? How long the separation lasted! Everything has become so different. And how did I find you? How strange my journey was! What words should I use to tell you on what twisted paths a good star has guided me to you? Give me your hand, my almost forgotten soul. How warm the joy at seeing you again, you long disavowed soul. Life has led me back to you. Let us thank the life I have lived for all the happy and all the sad hours, for every joy, for every sadness. My soul, my journey should continue with you. I will wander with you and ascend to my solitude.’" [4]

Vanna Venturi House, Chestnut Hill, Pennsylvania, Scheme IV B

Vanna Venturi House, Chestnut Hill, Pennsylvania, Scheme IV B

"The spirit of the depths forced me to say this and at the same time to undergo it against myself, since I had not expected it then. I still labored misguidedly under the spirit of this time, and thought differently about the human soul. I thought and spoke much of the soul. I knew many learned words for her, I had judged her and turned her into a scientific object. I did not consider that my soul cannot be the object of my judgment and knowledge; much more are my judgment and knowledge the objects of my soul. Therefore the spirit of the depths forced me to speak to my soul, to call upon her as a living and self-existing being. I had to become aware that I had lost my soul.

From this we learn how the spirit of the depths considers the soul: he sees her as a living and self-existing being, and with this he contradicts the spirit of this time for whom the soul is a thing dependent on man, which lets herself be judged and arranged, and whose circumference we can grasp. I had to accept that what I had previously called my soul was not at all my soul, but a dead system. Hence I had to speak to my soul as to something far off and unknown, which did not exist through me, but through whom I existed." [4]

SCHEME IVB, Front Elevation, east, pencil on vellum

SCHEME IVB, Front Elevation, east, pencil on vellum

SCHEME VI, Front Elevation, east, final presentation, ink on mylar, December 8, 1962

SCHEME VI, Front Elevation, east, final presentation, ink on mylar, December 8, 1962

"He whose desire turns away from outer things, reaches the place of the soul. If he does not find the soul, the horror of emptiness will overcome him, and fear will drive him with a whip lashing time and again in a desperate endeavor and a blind desire for the hollow things of the world. He becomes a fool through his endless desire, and forgets the way of his soul, never to find her again. He will run after all things, and will seize hold of them, but he will not find his soul, since he would find her only in himself Truly his soul lies in things and men, but the blind one seizes things and men, yet not his soul in things and men. He has no knowledge of his soul. How could he tell her apart from things and men? He could find his soul in desire itself, but not in the objects of desire. If he possessed his desire, and his desire did not possess him, he would lay a hand on his soul, since his desire is the image and expression of his soul.

If we possess the image of a thing, we possess half the thing.

The image of the world is half the world. He who possesses the world but not its image possesses only half the world, since his soul is poor and has nothing. The wealth of the soul exists in images. He who possesses the image of the world, possesses half the world, even if his humanity is poor and owns nothing. But hunger makes the soul into a beast that devours the unbearable and is poisoned by it. My friends, it is wise to nourish the soul, otherwise you will breed dragons and devils in your heart." [4]


Chapel of the Chimes: Death, the Son

There is but one truly serious philosophical problem, and that is suicide. Judging whether life is or is not worth living amounts to answering the fundamental question of philosophy.
The Myth of Sisyphus, Albert Camus
If temperamentally we are on the depressive side, we are apt to be swamped with guilt and self-loathing. We wallow in this messy bog, often getting a misshapen and painful pleasure out of it. As we morbidly pursue this melancholy activity, we may sink to such a point of despair that nothing but oblivion looks possible as a solution. Here, of course, we have lost all perspective, and therefore all genuine humility. For this is pride in reverse. This is not a moral inventory at all; it is the very process by which the depressive has so often been led to the bottle and extinction.
— "Step Four," Twelve Steps & Twelve Traditions, Alcoholics Anonymous
But suicides have a special language
Like carpenters they want to know which tools.
They never ask why build.
— Anne Sexton

“In a clinical setting, assessment of suicide risk must precede any attempt to treat psychiatric illness or prevent suicide. Asking a patient directly about suicidal thoughts or plans is an obvious and essential part of history taking. In addition to an individual’s stated plans about suicide, there are other major risk factors that need to be evaluated: the presence or absence of severe anxiety, agitation, or perturbance; the pervasiveness, type, and severity of psychopathology; the extent of hopeless- ness; the presence or absence of a severe sleep disturbance or of mixed states; current alcohol or drug abuse; ease of access to a lethal means, especially firearms; lack of access to good medical and psychological treatment; recent severe causes of stress, such as a divorce, job loss, or death in the family; a family his- tory of suicidal or violent behavior; social isolation, or a lack of friends and family; close proximity to a first episode of depression, mania, or schizophrenia; and recent release from a psychiatric hospital.

[...] Suicide usually requires multiple 'hits'—a biological pre- disposition, a major psychiatric illness, and an acute life stress—but only some of these 'hits' are amenable to change. There is, for example, relatively little a doctor can do to control many of the major stresses in a patient’s life: they occur too randomly, and thus are difficult to predict and even more difficult to govern.” [3]

“While depression is by no means unknown when people stop drinking, it is usually on a scale that is not menacing. But it should be kept in mind how idiosyncratic the faces of depression can be.

It was not really alarming at first, since the change was subtle, but I did notice that my surroundings took on a different tone at certain times: the shadows of nightfall seemed more somber, my mornings were less buoyant, walks in the woods became less zestful, and there was a moment during my working hours in the late afternoon when a kind of panic and anxiety overtook me, just for a few minutes, accompanied by a visceral queasiness--such a seizure was at least slightly alarming, after all. As I set down these recollections, I realize that it should have been plain to me that I was already in the grip of the beginning of a mood disorder, but I was ignorant of such a condition at that time.

When I reflected on this curious alteration of my consciousness --and I was baffled enough from time to time to do so--I assumed that it all had to do somehow with my enforced withdrawal from alcohol. And, of course, to a certain extent this was true. But it is my conviction now that alcohol played a perverse trick on me when we said farewell to each other; although, as everyone should know, it is a major depressant, it had never truly depressed me during my drinking career, acting instead as a shield against anxiety. Suddenly vanished, the great ally which for so long had kept my demons at bay was no longer there to prevent those demons from beginning to swarm through the subconscious, and I was emotionally naked, vulnerable as I had never been before.” [1]

“He began having trouble sitting down. After only a few minutes in the chair the blood inside his legs would thicken. His thighs would become tight and hard until he couldn’t feel them. When he tried to stand he would often fall unless he waited posed and frozen like a urinating dog to let the platelets loosen up and flow back through his body. The mornings were the hardest. Sometimes getting out of bed took longer than the increasingly spotty sleep itself.

He went to the doctor. The doctor didn’t look at him, but rather beside him, even when he spoke, like there was someone else there he couldn’t see.

‘You’re getting older,’ the doctor said to the almost empty space. ‘Your shape is changing. It’s nothing new. All those years of food and sun and work, they’re all crammed in there, thrumming in your body. This will go on till you die.’

The walls seemed very near around them, white and edgeless.

‘And it doesn’t get better. It gets worse,’ the doctor said. ‘No matter how much you do, there’s always more you haven’t done. Those masses of inaction become trapped inside the brain and incubate and cloud your sense of self. So that by the time you start to feel you understand how or who you are or where or what you’ve been, that person is already gone. It’s happening to everybody, always, even now.’” [2]

"The doctor wrote out some prescriptions — pills for the morning, pills for night. He told him to exercise more, and to rest more.

The pills didn’t help. No matter how much he took or how often, at night when he got home and tried to sit, he found his blood continued thickening, getting harder even faster than it had before, his legs staying numb even longer.

It never happened at work, during the hours he’d have been just as glad to not be able move through. It was only when his time belonged solely to him that his flesh seemed to have decided doing nothing was better than doing anything.

Soon it wasn’t just the legs. He felt the blood begin to cluster in his ribcage, in his shoulders, up the inside of his face. He felt it pulsing in his jaw, lapping at his skull. The more he tried not to let it bother him, to focus elsewhere, the faster it gathered, the more deeply in his body it would reach. As long as he kept moving he could stay clear, though often even standing too long in the same place made his blood begin to stick.

He did his best to keep himself busy, doing stretches, drinking caffeine, eating the pills. But still he’d get hung up bending over to take the paper, putting his shoes on. It was becoming very hard to read a book or kneel to pray." [2]

"Over time, he seemed to have less and less control of what he was doing. He watched himself eat food he did not want to eat, read books he did not wish to read, go places even knowing he’d much rather have been most any other place. Colors would sometimes fill his vision, obscuring what parts of the world around him he could see. The colors looked like splattered paint, then like decades of sky stacked on top of one another, each with its own earth underneath it. The time the colors lasted grew a little each time, as did the amount of time required to make his body remember how to move.

He began to walk to work. He was always late then, and always sweating. He couldn’t find ways to make his mouth say what he meant. The blood seemed to cave in over his thinking, gathering intensity and definition the more he thought. It grew harder to remember where he’d been, which room in the house led to what other room, how many years he’d been alive. What clear thoughts he did have were almost worse; he imagined home invasions, fires, earthquakes, knives flying from the sky, against any of which he, held there in the increasingly long bouts of immobility, would have no defense and no escape.

He called to set up another appointment with his doctor and was given a date three weeks in the future.

By then, whole nights would pass with him unable to move. He could still feel his brain inside him thinking, waiting for the blood again to turn him loose, but the way time passed while he waited didn’t work right. What felt like a half an hour would by the clock’s word be five, then 15, day’s date shifting like a frail panel underneath him." [2]

"The time he could manage to keep moving before he gave in to the inertia kept getting shorter, closing the window of what he could cram in to any day. Gaps began appearing in his understanding of how he got from moment to another. He’d be there at the mirror in his bedroom, then he’d be tending to the lawn or, having climbed up on the roof once, shouting at no one. Bruises appeared on his arms and thighs. He had a new haircut. He’d bought a pickaxe. He was walking slowly through the mall. There’d be other people sometimes, though he couldn’t understand what they were saying.

At some point he tried to write down what was happening to him but the words that came out didn’t seem like what he meant.

Each time he sat or lay down it was with the understanding this time might be the last, that when the final sliver of the difference between who he had been and who he was now wholly vanished, he wouldn’t know enough to notice, nor would anybody." [2]


Chapel of Repentance: Debt, the Father

Fear of people and of economic insecurity will leave us. We will intuitively know how to handle situations which used to baffle us. We will suddenly realize that God is doing for us what we could not do for ourselves.
— "Promises," The Big Book of Alcoholics Anonymous, pg. 83-84
I’m lying in bed when the thumping arrives, like a foreign invader. It’s a horrible dark mass, like the monolith in 2001, self-organized but completely unknowable, and it enters my body and releases adrenaline. Like a black hole, it sucks in any benign thoughts that might be scrolling across my brain and attaches visceral panic to them. [...] I can feel the irrationality and anxiety draining my store of energy like a battery-operated racecar grinding away in the corner. This is energy I will need to get through the next day. But I just lie in bed and watch it burn, and with it any hope for a productive tomorrow. There go the dishes, there goes the grocery store, there goes exercise, there goes bringing in the garbage cans. There goes basic human kindness. I wake up in a sweat so thorough I sleep with a pitcher of water by the bed or I might die of dehydration.
Where'd You Go, Bernadette: A Novel, Maria Semple
We are the failures on, not the governors of, this earth. [...] The diseased fear only poverty. For all else is theirs and not to be feared: isolation, the ravages of sexual needs, ravaging sexual need, misunderstanding, autism, visual and audial hallucination, paranoia [...]
— "Lust," Hannibal Lecter, My Father, Kathy Acker

"By all counts and measures, Bradley Smith is an unequivocal business success. He's CEO of Rescue One Financial, an Irvine, California-based financial services company that had sales of nearly $32 million last year. Smith's company has grown some 1,400 percent in the last three years, landing it at No. 310 on this year's Inc. 500. So you might never guess that just five years ago, Smith was on the brink of financial ruin--and mental collapse.

Back in 2008, Smith was working long hours counseling nervous clients about getting out of debt. But his calm demeanor masked a secret: He shared their fears. Like them, Smith was sinking deeper and deeper into debt. He had driven himself far into the red starting--of all things--a debt-settlement company. 'I was hearing how depressed and strung out my clients were, but in the back of my mind I was thinking to myself, I've got twice as much debt as you do,' Smith recalls."

"He had cashed in his 401(k) and maxed out a $60,000 line of credit. He had sold the Rolex he bought with his first-ever paycheck during an earlier career as a stockbroker. And he had humbled himself before his father--the man who raised him on maxims such as 'money doesn't grow on trees' and 'never do business with family'--by asking for $10,000, which he received at 5 percent interest after signing a promissory note.

Smith projected optimism to his co-founders and 10 employees, but his nerves were shot. 'My wife and I would share a bottle of $5 wine for dinner and just kind of look at each other,' Smith says. 'We knew we were close to the edge.' Then the pressure got worse: The couple learned they were expecting their first child. 'There were sleepless nights, staring at the ceiling,' Smith recalls. 'I'd wake up at 4 in the morning with my mind racing, thinking about this and that, not being able to shut it off, wondering, When is this thing going to turn?' After eight months of constant anxiety, Smith's company finally began making money."

"Successful entrepreneurs achieve hero status in our culture. We idolize the Mark Zuckerbergs and the Elon Musks. And we celebrate the blazingly fast growth of the Inc. 500 companies. But many of those entrepreneurs, like Smith, harbor secret demons: Before they made it big, they struggled through moments of near-debilitating anxiety and despair--times when it seemed everything might crumble.

Until recently, admitting such sentiments was taboo. Rather than showing vulnerability, business leaders have practiced what social psychiatrists call impression management--also known as "fake it till you make it." Toby Thomas, CEO of EnSite Solutions (No. 188 on the Inc. 500), explains the phenomenon with his favorite analogy: a man riding a lion. "People look at him and think, This guy's really got it together! He's brave!" says Thomas. 'And the man riding the lion is thinking, How the hell did I get on a lion, and how do I keep from getting eaten?'"

"Not everyone who walks through darkness makes it out. In January, well-known founder Jody Sherman, 47, of the e-commerce site Ecomom took his own life. His death shook the start-up community. It also reignited a discussion about entrepreneurship and mental health that began two years earlier after the suicide of Ilya Zhitomirskiy, the 22-year-old co-founder of Diaspora, a social networking site. [ED: After the original publication of this piece in September 2013, Autumn Radtke, the American CEO of First Meta, also committed suicide, leaving a comment on the online version of this article saying, "Everything has its price." She was 28.]

Lately, more entrepreneurs have begun speaking out about their internal struggles in an attempt to combat the stigma on depression and anxiety that makes it hard for sufferers to seek help. In a deeply personal post called "When Death Feels Like a Good Option," Ben Huh, the CEO of the Cheezburger Network humor websites, wrote about his suicidal thoughts following a failed startup in 2001. Sean Percival, a former MySpace vice president and co-founder of the children's clothing startup Wittlebee, penned a piece called 'When It's Not All Good, Ask for Help' on his website. 'I was to the edge and back a few times this past year with my business and own depression,' he wrote. 'If you're about to lose it, please contact me.' (Percival now urges distressed entrepreneurs to seek professional help: Call the National Suicide Prevention Lifeline at 1-800-273-8255.)"

"Brad Feld, a managing director of the Foundry Group, started blogging in October about his latest episode of depression. The problem wasn't new--the prominent venture capitalist had struggled with mood disorders throughout his adult life--and he didn't expect much of a response. But then came the emails. Hundreds of them. Many were from entrepreneurs who had also wrestled with anxiety and despair. (For more of Feld's thoughts on depression, see his column, 'Surviving the Dark Nights of the Soul,' in Inc.'s July/August issue.) 'If you saw the list of names, it would surprise you a great deal,' says Feld. 'They are very successful people, very visible, very charismatic--yet they've struggled with this silently. There's a sense that they can't talk about it, that it's a weakness or a shame or something. They feel like they're hiding, which makes the whole thing worse.'

If you run a business, that probably all sounds familiar. It's a stressful job that can create emotional turbulence. For starters, there's the high risk of failure. Three out of four venture-backed startups fail, according to research by Shikhar Ghosh, a Harvard Business School lecturer. Ghosh also found that more than 95 percent of startups fall short of their initial projections.

Entrepreneurs often juggle many roles and face countless setbacks--lost customers, disputes with partners, increased competition, staffing problems--all while struggling to make payroll. 'There are traumatic events all the way along the line,' says psychiatrist and former entrepreneur Michael A. Freeman, who is researching mental health and entrepreneurship."

"Complicating matters, new entrepreneurs often make themselves less resilient by neglecting their health. They eat too much or too little. They don't get enough sleep. They fail to exercise. 'You can get into a startup mode, where you push yourself and abuse your body' Freeman says. 'That can trigger mood vulnerability.'

So it should come as little surprise that entrepreneurs experience more anxiety than employees. In the latest Gallup-Healthways Well-Being Index, 34 percent of entrepreneurs--4 percentage points more than other workers--reported they were worried. And 45 percent of entrepreneurs said they were stressed, 3 percentage points more than other workers.

But it may be more than a stressful job that pushes some founders over the edge. According to researchers, many entrepreneurs share innate character traits that make them more vulnerable to mood swings. "People who are on the energetic, motivated, and creative side are both more likely to be entrepreneurial and more likely to have strong emotional states," says Freeman. Those states may include depression, despair, hopelessness, worthlessness, loss of motivation, and suicidal thinking."

"Call it the downside of being up. The same passionate dispositions that drive founders heedlessly toward success can sometimes consume them. Business owners are 'vulnerable to the dark side of obsession,' suggest researchers from the Swinburne University of Technology in Melbourne, Australia. They conducted interviews with founders for a study about entrepreneurial passion. The researchers found that many subjects displayed signs of clinical obsession, including strong feelings of distress and anxiety, which have 'the potential to lead to impaired functioning,' they wrote in a paper published in the Entrepreneurship Research Journal in April.

Reinforcing that message is John Gartner, a practicing psychologist who teaches at Johns Hopkins University Medical School. In his book The Hypomanic Edge: The Link Between (a Little) Craziness and (a Lot of) Success in America, Gartner argues that an often-overlooked temperament--hypomania--may be responsible for some entrepreneurs' strengths as well as their flaws.

A milder version of mania, hypomania often occurs in the relatives of manic-depressives and affects an estimated 5 percent to 10 percent of Americans. 'If you're manic, you think you're Jesus,' says Gartner. 'If you're hypomanic, you think you're God's gift to technology investing. We're talking about different levels of grandiosity but the same symptoms.'

"Gartner theorizes that there are so many hypomanics--and so many entrepreneurs--in the U.S. because our country's national character rose on waves of immigration. "We're a self-selected population," he says. 'Immigrants have unusual ambition, energy, drive, and risk tolerance, which lets them take a chance on moving for a better opportunity. These are biologically based temperament traits. If you seed an entire continent with them, you're going to get a nation of entrepreneurs.'

Though driven and innovative, hypomanics are at much higher risk for depression than the general population, notes Gartner. Failure can spark these depressive episodes, of course, but so can anything that slows a hypomanic's momentum. 'They're like border collies--they have to run,' says Gartner. 'If you keep them inside, they chew up the furniture. They go crazy; they just pace around. That's what hypomanics do. They need to be busy, active, overworking.'

No matter what your psychological makeup, big setbacks in your business can knock you flat. Even experienced entrepreneurs have had the rug pulled out from under them. Mark Woeppel launched Pinnacle Strategies, a management consulting firm, in 1992. In 2009, his phone stopped ringing.

Caught in the global financial crisis, his customers were suddenly more concerned with survival than with boosting their output. Sales plummeted 75 percent. Woeppel laid off his half-dozen employees. Before long, he had exhausted his assets: cars, jewelry, anything that could go. His supply of confidence was dwindling, too. 'As CEO, you have this self-image--you're the master of the universe,' he says. 'Then all of a sudden, you are not.'

"Woeppel stopped leaving his house. Anxious and low on self-esteem, he started eating too much--and put on 50 pounds. Sometimes he sought temporary relief in an old addiction: playing the guitar. Locked in a room, he practiced solos by Stevie Ray Vaughan and Chet Atkins. 'It was something I could do just for the love of doing it,' he recalls. 'Then there was nothing but me, the guitar, and the peace.'

Through it all, he kept working to develop new services. He just hoped his company would hang on long enough to sell them. In 2010, customers started to return. Pinnacle scored its biggest-ever contract, with an aerospace manufacturer, on the basis of a white paper Woeppel had written during the downturn. Last year, Pinnacle's revenue hit $7 million. Sales are up more than 5,000 percent since 2009, earning the company a spot at No. 57 on this year's Inc. 500.

Woeppel says he's more resilient now, tempered by tough times. 'I used to be like, "My work is me,"' he says. 'Then you fail. And you find out that your kids still love you. Your wife still loves you. Your dog still loves you.'

But for many entrepreneurs, the battle wounds never fully heal. That was the case for John Pope, CEO of WellDog, a Laramie, Wyoming-based energy technology firm. On Dec. 11, 2002, Pope had exactly $8.42 in the bank. He was 90 days late on his car payment. He was 75 days behind on the mortgage. The IRS had filed a lien against him. His home phone, cell phone, and cable TV had all been turned off. In less than a week, the natural-gas company was scheduled to suspend service to the house he shared with his wife and daughters. Then there would be no heat. His company was expecting a wire transfer from the oil company Shell, a strategic investor, after months of negotiations had ended with a signed 380-page contract. So Pope waited.

The wire arrived the next day. Pope--along with his company--was saved. Afterward, he made a list of all the ways in which he had financially overreached. 'I'm going to remember this,' he recalls thinking. 'It's the farthest I'm willing to go.'

Since then, WellDog has taken off: In the past three years, sales grew more than 3,700 percent, to $8 million, making the company No. 89 on the Inc. 500. But emotional residue from the years of tumult still lingers. 'There's always that feeling of being overextended, of never being able to relax,' says Pope. 'You end up with a serious confidence problem. You feel like every time you build up security, something happens to take it away.'

Pope sometimes catches himself emotionally overreacting to small things. It's a behavior pattern that reminds him of posttraumatic stress disorder. 'Something happens, and you freak out about it,' he says. 'But the scale of the problem is a lot less than the scale of your emotional reaction. That just comes with the scar tissue of going through these things.'

"Though launching a company will always be a wild ride, full of ups and downs, there are things entrepreneurs can do to help keep their lives from spiraling out of control, say experts. Most important, make time for your loved ones, suggests Freeman. 'Don't let your business squeeze out your connections with human beings,' he says. When it comes to fighting off depression, relationships with friends and family can be powerful weapons. And don't be afraid to ask for help--see a mental health professional if you are experiencing symptoms of significant anxiety, posttraumatic stress disorder, or depression.

Freeman also advises that entrepreneurs limit their financial exposure. When it comes to assessing risk, entrepreneurs' blind spots are often big enough to drive a Mack truck through, he says. The consequences can rock not only your bank account but also your stress levels. So set a limit for how much of your own money you're prepared to invest. And don't let friends and family kick in more than they can afford to lose.

Cardiovascular exercise, a healthful diet, and adequate sleep all help, too. So does cultivating an identity apart from your company. 'Build a life centered on the belief that self-worth is not the same as net worth,' says Freeman. 'Other dimensions of your life should be part of your identity.' Whether you're raising a family, sitting on the board of a local charity, building model rockets in the backyard, or going swing dancing on weekends, it's important to feel successful in areas unrelated to work.

The ability to reframe failure and loss can also help leaders maintain good mental health. 'Instead of telling yourself, "I failed, the business failed, I'm a loser," says Freeman,' look at the data from a different perspective: Nothing ventured, nothing gained. Life is a constant process of trial and error. Don't exaggerate the experience.'

Last, be open about your feelings--don't mask your emotions, even at the office, suggests Brad Feld. When you are willing to be emotionally honest, he says, you can connect more deeply with the people around you. 'When you deny yourself and you deny what you're about, people can see through that,' says Feld. 'Willingness to be vulnerable is very powerful for a leader.'"


House of Love

"Hello, blank page. We meet again. Each blank page is like a new day, a gift that comes with responsibility. What will I make of you? You scare me, but I love you. It’s appropriate that scared and sacred are virtually the same word, because those two walk hand in hand.

The blank page feels especially scary and sacred today because I’ve decided to respond to a question that’s been asked of me with some frequency: 'Glennon,' people say, 'you were a bulimic for twenty years, an alcoholic and smoker for ten, and a drug user for five. You quit all four cold turkey, without working the twelve steps. That’s unusual. And I notice you’re quite skinny. Are you sure you’re better?'

Better is a troublesome word for me. Better suggests increased value, and I think I was worth exactly the same when I was a fall-down drunk as I am now: a sober, loving, creative wife, mother, sister, daughter, and friend."

"I prefer the word healing to the word better. To me, healing means aligning myself—my mind, body, and soul—with the rhythm of the world. It means relaxing into the way things are, floating with the current instead of desperately trying to swim against it. Healing means surrendering to and following the world’s truest rules, the rules created by God.

When discussing God with people of different faiths, Love is a good word to use because most people believe that Love can be trusted. It has been said that the opposite of Love is Hate, or perhaps apathy. Yet, I’m fairly certain that the opposite of Love is Fear. I think the root of all evil is fear.

Love and Fear are opposing voices, opposing ways to live, opposing platforms on which to make daily decisions, view the world, and build a life. The battle between Love and Fear is at the heart of my healing, my recovery, my progress toward heaven. My better.

There are two voices in my head. One jumps up and down, waves its arms, clamors for my attention, and generally annoys the hell (heaven) out of me. That voice is Fear. For twenty years, I heard only the voice of Fear, so I believed fear was the truth. I thought Fear was my voice. Here is what Fear said to me, all day, every day: [...]"

"There is not enough for you. Hurry. Grab food, grab money, grab attention and fame and validation and praise, and hold on tight. These things might never come your way again. The more for her, the less for you. Get what you can while you can and hoard it, hide it. Actually, forget it. Take nothing. You don’t deserve anything. And stay away from people. If anyone really knew you, they’d be horrified. There is something very, very wrong with you. Look at your life, your body, your face! Humiliating. Grotesque. You are beyond repair. You have nothing to offer. Life has nothing to offer either—nothing you deserve, at least. Life is terrible and soul crushing to weaklings like you. You will not be able to handle it. Stay quiet and hide until the end.

I followed every one of Fear’s directions for nearly twenty years."

"Then, when I got pregnant, I was certain it would end badly, because Fear told me that an unhappy ending was exactly what a girl like me deserved. But it didn’t end badly; it ended miraculously. I found myself holding a beautiful, perfect baby boy—a completely undeserved gift. And a kind, giving, gorgeous man decided to marry me. ME. And after the decades of pain I caused my friends and my family, they still surrounded me and loved my little family and wanted to help us.

It occurred to me, Could Fear be wrong? I said, Are you a LIAR, Fear? Is there another way to live? Is there another voice?

As soon as I figured out that Fear wasn’t my only voice, it faded into the background. Something else emerged. This presence had been sitting quietly and solidly, with a voice as tall and deep and wide as a redwood tree. This voice, I understood quickly, was Love. I call him Jesus, and in my mind’s eye he sits, smiling softly, still as a rock, and knowing.

I couldn’t hear Love because I was never quiet enough. Fear does not want you to hear what is said in the quiet, because Love and Truth are there. So Fear yells and jumps relentlessly, like a desperate actor on an infomercial. But Love is patient. Love waits until you are ready to tune out Fear. When I was ready, I could hear Love speak.

Love said:

Stop grabbing, sweetheart. Stop holding your breath. Breathe. There is enough. I’ve created an abundance of acceptance, attention, recognition, joy, peace, money, energy, clothes, food. I will never leave you without enough. And there is nothing to be afraid of. No feeling, no circumstance, no person. These things come and they go, and you can live through them, without running, hiding, numbing, or hurting another of my children. And did you know this, my angel? There has never been anything wrong with you—not one day in your life. You are exactly who you were meant to be, right now, as you are. You are not to be ashamed. You punish yourself, but you have no reason to be punished. You have done just fine. No one wants you punished. You can stop that now. You are free. Now listen carefully, because this is important: When you were born, I put a piece of myself in you. Like an indestructible, brilliant diamond, I placed a part of me inside of you. That part of you—the very essence of you, in fact—is me; it is Love, it is perfect, and it is untouchable. No one can take it, and you can’t give it away. It is the deepest, truest part of you, the part that will someday return to me. You are Love. You cannot be tarnished by anything you’ve done or that anyone else has done to you. Everyone carries this piece of me—this perfect Love. You are all a part of me, and I am part of you, and you are a part of each other. The essence of each of you is Love. Your first job is to know that: to float and swim in that knowledge, to believe that the Love, the spirit, the God in you and in everyone, is equally brilliant and unmarred. Your second job is to help other people know about their brilliance, their essence, their perfection, their core—which is perfect Love. When they speak to you from their fear—speak past their fear and directly to their love. Their Love will step forward eventually. It’s one of my Rules. Be patient. Do not worry. Come out of hiding, because you have these two jobs to do: be still and know, and then help others know. Since you carry me with you, you know what to do. You always know the next right thing. Be still and ask yourself, What would love do? Then get quiet, and I, I, inside of you, will tell you. You will take the next right step. Love will reveal itself one step at a time, the whole way home. Along the way, accept my blessings and give them away freely. You are worthy of giving and receiving. Believe. You are new, every moment, new. Your time, your energy, your mind, the people who come into your life—they are all gifts from me and they are infinite. They belong to you and to everyone else."

"In one of my favorite books, Traveling Mercies, Anne Lamott quotes William Blake: ‘We are put on this Earth to learn to endure the beams of Love.’ Enduring Love burns at first. The Love voice is nearly impossible to accept, because it seems too good to be true.

But I really wanted Love to be true, so I decided to give her a chance. Love promised that I didn’t have to run or hide or numb myself from life anymore. Love told me that I could live through my feelings with her help. I decided to test these promises one at a time. I stopped smoking, drinking, bingeing, puking, and drugging, all at once. I read somewhere that 'the truth will set you free—but it will piss you off first.' That certainly proved to be accurate. I shook and sweated and cursed Love for two weeks. Eventually, though, I stopped shaking. The world became brighter and clearer. I saw my first sober sunrise in decades.

After I gave birth to Chase, I felt myself loving my baby, giving myself to him, caring for his needs, as if I had something to offer. I wasn’t sure I actually had something to offer him, but it felt like I had to pretend I did. So I just pretended. But he responded to my offering by loving and needing me. Me. And I knew he wasn’t pretending because he was just a baby and babies haven’t heard fear yet. The love between Chase and me became very, very real. So I tried loving my husband too. Loving Craig, a real live grown-up, was harder—but he responded too. I could tell that he was starting to love me back.

These two people, they needed me. Me. If two such good, kind, full people needed and wanted and loved me, could I really be so worthless? Suddenly it seemed that there might be parts of life that were beautiful and good and that were meant for ME. I became even more suspicious of the bastard from whom I’d been taking orders for twenty years.

So I started listening harder. I looked closely at people and nature and read books about God and Love. Without all the bingeing and purging, my skin cleared up and my cheeks, bloated from years of broken blood vessels, flattened out. As the tobacco loosened from my lungs, I was able to take deep breaths again. I needed those deep breaths. I felt sad and terrified and angry, and with nothing to dull those feelings, I learned to just let feelings be—because eventually they pass. I learned that all things pass; that life is hard to endure but not impossible. I discovered that after the enduring, if you choose not to run away, there are prizes. Those prizes are wisdom and dignity. I learned that Love and I, We could do hard things.

Next, I tested out Love’s claim that I had nothing to be ashamed of. That promise was the hardest to swallow, but since Love had not lied to me yet, I had to try. I started writing and publishing all of the secret thoughts and feelings that Fear had promised I’d be shunned and despised for having. I published my insides on the Internet. The Internet is read by many, many people, you know. Many people whose anonymity allows them to be especially vicious. Still, I did not become despised. Very few were vicious. It turned out that sharing my secret self made me more beloved by others than I’d ever been in my life. Then I saw that when I allowed Love to set me free through my writing, my readers decided to set themselves free too. Another miracle: people wrote, not to say that they were disgusted or horrified by me, but that they saw themselves—their own battles and triumphs—in my experiences.

And I realized the secret of my writing is this: the voice I use to write is not really my voice. It’s Love’s voice. I say what she says; I write what she prompts me to write. And that’s why you recognize the voice. Because you have the same voice inside you. My love voice speaks directly to yours. We are the same. At our core, we are exactly the same. We are Love. The heart rejoices when it hears the truth. Namaste—the divine light in me recognizes and honors the divine light in you.

Next, I decided to test Love’s claims about giving. Craig and I gave away all of our money, twice. Once to an orphanage and again to our mortgage company. With nothing, we were happier than we’d ever been. That’s the thing about losing it all. You realize you’re fine without it. For the first time in our lives, we felt secure. It was a miracle. When you give it all away—the stuff—you learn that it is impossible to lose whatever it is that you cannot live without. Love was right. The thing you need is unshakable, untakable. What you need is not in things, it’s in you. It’s Love."

"The more fiercely I believe what Love says and the more boldly I live out her promises, the healthier and stronger and realer I become. So, for me, it’s not a question of better. It’s about a daily choice: the constant battle to listen to Love and silence Fear. Of course, even though I choose Love daily, I can still hear the reverberations of Fear’s voice, like a bell that keeps echoing even after it’s been stilled. Right now I am neither Fear nor Love, but the one who chooses between them. However, I have a feeling that after years of choosing Love, after decades of ignoring Fear and tuning into Love, I will turn into Love. I pray that she and I will become one, that eventually all the words that come out of my mouth will be her words. And that when I slip into the arms of God, it will be as if there were no break at all in our eternal conversation. When I die, God will look at me and say, 'Now where were we, Darling?'

But for now, I feel myself rising, rising, rising. I am free. I am healing."