Lost and Broken

My Journey Back from Chronic Pain and Crippling Anxiety

By Congressman Adam Smith


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.

“Early one morning in April of 2016 I woke up and seriously contemplated the possibility that I would never be able to generate the strength, focus, and courage to get out of bed. The combination of crippling anxiety, chronic pain, muscle atrophy, and the fascinating mix of pharmaceuticals coursing through my body had, I feared, finally broken me. My life terrified me. I had been fighting some combination of these battles for just over three years at this point, and I didn’t think I could do it for one more day.”

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.