I have 3 friends that are very close to me, and they know every detail of my life (and so do I of theirs), good or bad. When I do need advice, or they do, we can rely on each other to get some feedback on any thing. But I trust them and I know they will have my back, and they wont divulge my personal details.
People that don't form these type of friendships are missing out. It makes the roller-coaster so much easier, and especially when going through life changing moments (job changed, marriage, breakups, etc).
I might have to add though that I suspect the startup community is full of people that are partially inside the bi-polar spectrum. Sometimes it takes a bit of a mania to start something new or crazy, but that euphoric high is always followed by a depressing low. Adding the uncertain nature of the startups, the emotional rollacoster becomes even more crazy and magnified.
The arm-chair psychologist in me says the author might have had BPD symptoms, (borderline) during his childhood:
"I cried in private, hoping that my cries might just be loud enough for somebody to hear. I hit myself, to create physical pain that might distract from the emotional."
The OP resonated quite strongly with me, and I am neither a founder nor (currently) an employee of a startup.
IMO, the struggle that is described here is inherently universal. It's shared by anyone who has to maintain a facade of success while facing intense insecurity (often financial).
Likewise, the emotions described will ring very familiar to anyone who suffers or has suffered with depression - regardless of triggers.
> My personal bank account & business accounts both overdrawn, tens of thousands of dollars in debt to family members and my credit cards maxed out or closed. I've had no cash in my pocket and a dwindling supply of food in the cabinet.
On a smaller monetary scale, that is in fact me at this very moment. Last week I was de-facto homeless (living in a $10/day rental car). I don't want to wax poetic about my mental state at the time, but it bordered on the worst.
I was eventually able to swallow my pride and confided in some close friends and family that I was tapped out financially, physically drained and psychologically in quite a dark place.
Knowing, viscerally, that I have a support network that is in the know about my situation and willing to back me up was very powerful. If / when I move past this particular time in my life, I know that I most likely could not have done it without them.
I think I used to view that as a sign of weakness and dependence. Perhaps it is, but that's not really something that concerns me any more.