Motivation & Personal Growth: I'm Thankful for Overcoming a Mysterious, Debilitating Ailment

We asked readers to tell us whether they had something special to be grateful for this Thanksgiving. Here's one inspiring story.

November 1, 1997

In 1967 Lee Carter, today a salesperson with Rinehart Realty, Lincoln City, Ore., suffered a series of emotionally painful events, including the stress of having his wife go through a difficult breech birth--resulting in both mother and daughter being hospitalized for several months.

About a month after his wife and daughter's trauma, Carter developed a series of strange, persistent ailments. He had stomach pains, chest pains, and dizziness. Medical tests found nothing. He developed claustrophobia, which made it difficult for him to ride in cars, use elevators, or mingle in crowds. He had trouble sleeping.

Ashamed and embarrassed, Carter sought psychiatric help, but it didn't seem to work.

He lost friends; his marriage fell apart; he failed at a series of jobs.

In 1990 he ended up in the emergency room with chest pains. As usual, the doctors couldn't find anything wrong. One young doctor suggested that Carter was still suffering from the aftereffects of the emotional problems he had in 1967. The doctor gave him the name of a psychiatrist friend of his. Carter was reluctant to go, anticipating yet another inconclusive result.

However, the psychiatrist found that a chemical imbalance was creating symptoms of clinical depression and prescribed a new antidepressant medication. Carter was unconvinced but took the pills, thinking he had nothing to lose.

Within 10 days, he experienced dramatic improvement. The stomach pains and chest pains stopped. After 23 years of suffering, he started to sleep better.

''The change was absolutely astonishing. I started to live again. I'm so thankful for the young doctor who pointed me in the right direction. I couldn't have gone on much longer the way those totally unpredictable 'spells' were pushing me. Life is grand today.

''I'd be delighted if my story helped someone else.''

Walt Albro is a former senior editor for REALTOR® Magazine.

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