This happy-looking shot was taken in 1999, when I almost destroyed myself.
In this post, I’m going to talk about suicide, and why I’m still on this planet.
These are stories I’ve kept secret from my family, girlfriends, and closest friends for years. Recently, however, I had an experience that shook me — woke me up — and I decided that it was time to share it all.
So, despite the shame I might feel, the fear that is making my palms sweat as I type this, allow me to get started.
Here we go…
A TWIST OF FATE
“Could you please sign this for my brother? It would mean a lot to him.”
He was a kind fan. There were perhaps a dozen people around me asking questions, and he had politely waited his turn. The ask: A simple signature.
It was Friday night, around 7pm, and a live recording of the TWiST podcast had just ended. There was electricity in the air. Jason Calacanis, the host and interviewer, sure knows how to put on a show. He’d hyped up the crowd and kept things rolling for more than 2 hours on stage, asking me every imaginable question. The venue–Pivotal Labs’ offices in downtown SF–had been packed to capacity. Now, more than 200 people were milling about, drinking wine, or heading off for their weekends.
A handful of attendees gathered near the mics for pics and book inscriptions.
“Anything in particular you’d like me to say to him? To your brother?” I asked this one gent, who was immaculately dressed in a suit. His name was Silas.
He froze for few seconds but kept eye contact. I saw his eyes flutter. There was something unusual that I couldn’t put a finger on.
I decided to take the pressure off: “I’m sure I can come up with something. Are you cool with that?” Silas nodded.
I wrote a few lines, added a smiley face, signed the book he’d brought, and handed it back. He thanked me and backed out of the crowd. I waived and returned to chatting with the others.
Roughly 30 minutes later, I had to run. My girlfriend had just landed at SFO and I needed to meet her for dinner. I started walking towards the elevators.
“Excuse me, Tim?” It was Silas. He’d been waiting for me. “Can I talk to you for a second?”
“Sure,” I said, “but walk with me.”
We meandered around tables and desks to the relative privacy of the elevator vestibule, and I hit the Down button. As soon as Silas started his story, I forgot about the elevator.
He apologized for freezing earlier, for not having an answer. His younger brother–the one I signed the book for–had recently committed suicide. He was 22.
“He looked up to you,” Silas explained, “He loved listening to you and Joe Rogan. I wanted to get your signature for him. I’m going to put this in his room.” He gestured to the book. I could see tears welling up in his eyes, and I felt my own doing the same. He continued.
“People listen to you. Have you ever thought about talking about these things? About suicide or depression? You might be able to save someone.” Now, it was my turn to stare at him blankly. I didn’t know what to say.
I also didn’t have an excuse. Unbeknownst to him, I had every reason to talk about suicide. I’d only skimmed the surface with a few short posts about depression.
Some of my closest high school friends killed themselves.
Some of my closest college friends killed themselves.
I almost killed myself.
“I’m so sorry for your loss,” I said to Silas. I wondered if he’d waited more than three hours just to tell me this. I suspected he had. Good for him. He had bigger balls than I. Certainly, I’d failed his brother by being such a coward in my writing. How many others had I failed? These questions swam in my mind.
“I will write about this” I said to Silas, awkwardly patting his shoulder. I was thrown off. “I promise.”
And with that, I got into the elevator.
INTO THE DARKNESS
“They tried to bury us. They didn’t know we were seeds.”
– Mexican proverb
There are some secrets we don’t share because they’re embarrassing.
Like that time I met an icon by accidentally hitting on his girlfriend at a coffee shop? That’s a good one (Sorry, N!). Or the time a celebrity panelist borrowed my laptop to project a boring corporate video, and a flicker of porn popped up–a la Fight Club–in front of a crowd of 400 people? Another good example.
But then there are dark secrets. The things we tell no one. The shadows we keep covered for fear of unraveling our lives.
For me, 1999 was full of shadows.
So much so that I never wanted to revisit them.
I hadn’t talked about this traumatic period publicly until last week, first in a reddit AMA (Ask Me Anything), then in greater depth on Derek Halpern’s podcast.
What follows is the sequence of my downward spiral.
Reading the below, it’s incredible how trivial some of it seems in retrospect. At the time, though, it was the perfect storm.
I include wording like “impossible situation,” which was reflective of my thinking at the time, not objective reality.
I still vividly recall these events, but any quotes are paraphrased. Please also excuse any grammatical/tense errors, as it was hard for me to put this down. So, starting where it began…
- It’s my senior year at Princeton. I’m slated to graduate around June of 1999. Somewhere in the first six months, several things happen in the span of a few weeks:
- I fail to make it to final interviews for McKinsey Consulting and Trilogy Software, in addition to others. I have no idea what I’m doing wrong, and I start losing confidence after “winning” in the game of academics for so long.
- A long-term (for a college kid, anyway) girlfriend breaks up with me shortly thereafter. Not because of the job stuff, but because I became more insecure during that period, wanted more time with her, and was massively disruptive to her final varsity sports season. What’s wrong with me?
- I have a fateful meeting with one of my thesis advisors in the East Asian Studies department. Having read a partial draft of my work, he presents a large stack of original research in Japanese for me to incorporate. I walk out with my head spinning — how am I going to finish this thesis (which generally run 60-100 pages or more) before graduation? What am I going to do?
It’s important to note that at Princeton, the senior thesis is largely viewed as the pinnacle of your four-year undergrad career. That’s reflected in its grading. The thesis is often worth around 25% of your entire departmental GPA (English department example here).
After all of the above, things continued as follows…
- I find a rescue option! In the course of researching language learning for the thesis, I’m introduced to a wonderful PhD who works at Berlitz International. Bernie was his name. We have a late dinner one night on Witherspoon Street in Princeton. He speaks multiple languages and is a nerd, just like me. One hour turns into two, which turns into three. At the end, he says, “You know, it’s too bad you’re graduating in a few months. I have a project that would be perfect for you, but it’s starting sooner.” This could be exactly the solution I’m looking for!
- I chat with my parents about potentially taking a year off, beginning in the middle of my senior year. This would allow me time to finish and polish the thesis, while simultaneously testing jobs in the “real world.” It seems like a huge win-win, and my parents— to their credit —are hugely supportive.
- The Princeton powers OK the idea, and I meet with the aforementioned thesis advisor to inform him of my decision. Instead of being happy that I’m taking time to get the thesis right (what I expected), he seems furious: “So you’re just going to quit?! To cop out?! This better be the best thesis I’ve ever seen in my life.” In my stressed out state, and in the exchange that follows, I hear a series of thinly veiled threats and ultimatums… but no professor would actually do that, right? The meeting ends with a dismissive laugh and a curt “Good luck.” I’m crushed and wander out in a daze.
- Once I’ve regained my composure, my shock turns to anger. How could a thesis advisor threaten a student with a bad grade just because they’re taking time off? I knew my thesis wouldn’t be “the best thesis” he’d ever seen, so it was practically a guarantee of a bad grade, even if I did a great job. This would be obvious to anyone, right?
- I meet with multiple people in the Princeton administration, and the response is — simply put — “He wouldn’t do that.” I’m speechless. Am I being called a liar? Why would I lie? What was my incentive? It seemed like no one was willing to rock the boat with a senior (I think tenured) professor. I’m speechless and feel betrayed. Faculty politics matter more than I do.
- I leave my friends behind at school and move off campus to work — I find out remotely — for Berlitz. “Remote” means I end up working at home by myself. This is a recipe for disaster. The work is rewarding, but I spend all of my non-work time — from when I wake to when I go to bed — looking at hundreds of pages of thesis notes and research spread out on my bedroom floor. It’s an uncontainable mess.
- After 2-3 months of attempting to incorporate my advisor’s original-language Japanese research, the thesis is a disaster. Despite (or perhaps because of) staring at paper alone for 8-16 hours a day, it’s a Frankenstein’s monster of false starts, dead ends, and research that shouldn’t be there in the first place. Totally unusable. I am, without a doubt, in worse shape than when I left school.
- My friends are graduating, celebrating, and leaving Princeton behind. I am sitting in a condo off campus, trapped in an impossible situation. My thesis work is going nowhere, and even if it turns out spectacular, I have (in my mind) a vindictive advisor who’s going to burn me. By burning me, he’ll destroy everything I’ve sacrificed for since high school: great grades in high school got me to Princeton, great grades in Princeton should get me to a dream job, etc. By burning me, he’ll make Princeton’s astronomical tuition wasted money, nothing more than a small fortune my family has pissed away. I start sleeping in until 2 or 3pm. I can’t face the piles of unfinished work surrounding me. My coping mechanism is to cover myself in sheets, minimize time awake, and hope for a miracle.
- No miracle arrives. Then one afternoon, as I’m wandering through a Barnes and Noble with no goal in particular, I chance upon a book about suicide. Right there in front of me on a display table. Perhaps this is the “miracle”? I sit down and read the entire book, taking copious notes into a journal, including other books listed in the bibliography. For the first time in ages, I’m excited about research. In a sea of uncertainty and hopeless situations, I feel like I’ve found hope: the final solution.
- I return to Princeton campus. This time, I go straight to Firestone Library to check out all of the suicide-related books on my to-do list. One particularly promising-sounding title is out, so I reserve it. I’ll be next in line when it comes back. I wonder what poor bastard is reading it, and if they’ll be able to return it.
- It’s important to mention here that, by this point, I was past deciding. The decision was obvious to me. I’d somehow failed, painted myself into this ridiculous corner, wasted a fortune on a school that didn’t care about me, and what would be the point of doing otherwise? To repeat these types of mistakes forever? To be a hopeless burden to myself and my family and friends? Fuck that. The world was better off without a loser who couldn’t figure this basic shit out. What would I ever contribute? Nothing. So the decision was made, and I was in full-on planning mode.
- In this case, I was dangerously good at planning. I had 4-6 scenarios all spec’d out, start to finish, including collaborators and covers when needed. And that’s when I got the phone call.
- [My mom?! That wasn’t in the plan.]
- I’d forgotten that Firestone Library now had my family home address on file, as I’d technically taken a year of absence. This meant a note was mailed to my parents, something along the lines of “Good news! The suicide book you requested is now available at the library for pick up!”
- Oops (and thank fucking God).
- Suddenly caught on the phone with my mom, I was unprepared. She nervously asked about the book, so I thought fast and lied: “Oh, no need to worry about that. Sorry! One of my friends goes to Rutgers and didn’t have access to Firestone, so I reserved it for him. He’s writing about depression and stuff.”
- I was shocked out of my own delusion by a one-in-a-million accident. It was only then that I realized something: my death wasn’t just about me. It would completely destroy the lives of those I cared most about. I imagined my mom, who had no part in creating my thesis mess, suffering until her dying day, blaming herself.
- The very next week, I decided to take the rest of my “year off” truly off (to hell with the thesis) and focus on physical and mental health. That’s how the entire “sumo” story of the 1999 Chinese Kickboxing (Sanshou) Championships came to be, if you’ve read The 4-Hour Workweek.
- Months later, after focusing on my body instead of being trapped in my head, things were much clearer. Everything seemed more manageable. The “hopeless” situation seemed like shitty luck but nothing permanent.
- I returned to Princeton, turned in my now-finished thesis to my still-sour advisor, got chewed up in my thesis defense, and didn’t give a fuck. It wasn’t the best thesis he’d ever read, nor the best thing I’d ever written, but I had moved on.
- Many thanks are due to a few people who helped me regain my confidence that final semester. None of them have heard this story, but I’d like to give them credit here. Among others: My parents and family (of course), Professor Ed Zschau, Professor John McPhee, Sympoh dance troupe, and my friends at the amazing Terrace Food Club.
- I graduated with the class of 2000, and bid goodbye to Nassau Hall. I rarely go back, as you might imagine.
Given the purported jump in “suicidal gestures” at Princeton and its close cousins (Harvard appears to have 2x the national average for undergrad suicides), I hope the administration is taking things seriously. If nearly half of your student population reports feeling depressed, there might be systemic issues to fix.
Left unfixed, you’ll have more dead kids on your hands, guaranteed.
It’s not enough to wait for people to reach out, or to request that at-risk kids take a leave of absence “off the clock” of the university.
Perhaps regularly reach out to the entire student body to catch people before they fall? It could be as simple as email.
[Sidenote: After graduating, I promised myself that I would never write anything longer than an email ever again. Pretty hilarious that I now write 500-plus-page books, eh?]
OUT OF THE DARKNESS
“Being deeply loved by someone gives you strength, while loving someone deeply gives you courage…”
– Lao Tzu
First, let me give a retrospective analysis of my near obliteration. Then, I’ll give you a bunch of tools and tricks that I still use for keeping the darkness at arm’s length.
Now, at this point, some of you might also be thinking “That’s it?! A Princeton student was at risk of getting a bad grade? Boo-fuckin’-hoo, man. Give me a break…”
But… that’s the entire point. It’s easy to blow things out of proportion, to get lost in the story you tell yourself, and to think that your entire life hinges on one thing you’ll barely remember 5-10 years later. That seemingly all-important thing could be a bad grade, getting into college, a relationship, a divorce, getting fired, or just a bunch of hecklers on the Internet.
So, back to our story–why didn’t I kill myself?
Below are the realizations that helped me (and a few friends). They certainly won’t work for everyone suffering from depression, but my hope is that they help some of you.
1. Call this number : 1 (800) 273-8255. I didn’t have it, and I wish I had. It’s the National Suicide Prevention Lifeline (website and live chat here). It’s available 24 hours a day, 7 days a week, in both English and Spanish.
If you’re outside of the US, please click here for a list of international hotlines.
Sometimes, it just takes one conversation with one rational person to stop a horrible irrational decision. If you’re considering ending your life, please reach out to them. If you’re too embarrassed to admit that, as I was, then you can ping them “just to chat for a few minutes.” Pretend you’re killing time or testing different suicide hotlines for a directory you’re compiling. Whatever works.
Speaking personally, I want to see the gifts you have to offer the world. And speaking from personal experience, believe me: this too shall pass, whatever it is.
2. I realized it would destroy other people’s lives. Killing yourself can spiritually kill other people.
Even if you’re not lucky enough, as I was, to feel loved by other people, I think this is worth meditating on.
Your death is not perfectly isolated. It can destroy a lot, whether your family (who will blame themselves), other loved ones, or simply the law enforcement officers or coroners who have to haul your death mask-wearing carcass out of an apartment or the woods. The guaranteed outcome of suicide is NOT things improving for you (or going blank), but creating a catastrophe for others. Even if your intention is to get revenge through suicide, the damage won’t be limited to your targets.
A friend once told me that killing yourself is like taking your pain, multiplying it 10x, and giving it to the ones who love you. I agree with this, but there’s more. Beyond any loved ones, you could include neighbors, innocent bystanders exposed to your death, and people — often kids — who commit “copycat suicides” when they read about your demise. This is the reality, not the cure-all fantasy, of suicide.
If think about killing yourself, imagine yourself wearing a suicide bomber’s vest of explosives and walking into a crowd of innocents.
That’s effectively what it is. Even if you “feel” like no one loves you or cares about you, you are most likely loved–and most definitely lovable and worthy of love.
3. There’s no guarantee that killing yourself improves things!
In a tragically comic way, this was a depressing realization when I was considering blowing my head off or getting run over. Damnation! No guarantees. Death and taxes, yes, but not a breezy afterlife.
The “afterlife” could be 1,000x worse than life, even at its worst. No one knows. I personally believe that consciousness persists after physical death, and it dawned on me that I literally had zero evidence that my death would improve things. It’s a terrible bet. At least here, in this life, we have known variables we can tweak and change. The unknown void could be Dante’s Inferno or far worse. When we just “want the pain to stop,” it’s easy to forget this. You simply don’t know what’s behind door #3.
In our desperation, we often just don’t think it through. It’s kind of like the murder-suicide joke by one of my favorite comics, Demetri Martin:
“Someone who commits a murder-suicide is probably somebody who isn’t thinking through the afterlife. Bam! You’re dead. Bam! I’m dead. Oh shit … this is going to be awkward forever.”
4. Tips from friends, related to #2 above.
For some of my friends (all high achievers, for those wondering), a “non-suicide vow” is what made all the difference. Here is one friend’s description:
“It only mattered when I made a vow to the one person in my life I knew I would never break it to [a sibling]. It’s powerful when you do that. All of a sudden, this option that I sometimes played around in my mind, it was off the table. I would never break a vow to my brother, ever. After the vow and him accepting it, I’ve had to approach life in a different way. There is no fantasy escape hatch. I’m in it. In the end, making a vow to him is the greatest gift I could have given myself.”
As silly as it might sound, it’s sometimes easier to focus on keeping your word, and avoiding hurting someone, than preserving your own life.
And that’s OK. Use what works first, and you can fix the rest later. If you need to disguise a vow out of embarrassment (“How would I confess that to a friend?!”), find a struggling friend to make a mutual “non-suicide vow” with. Make it seem like you’re only trying to protect him or her. Still too much? Make it a “mutual non-self-hurt” vow with a friend who beats themselves up.
Make it about him or her as much as you.
If you don’t care about yourself, make it about other people.
Make a promise you can’t break, or at the very least realize this: killing yourself will destroy other people’s lives.
PRACTICAL GREMLIN DEFENSE
Now, let’s talk day-to-day tactics.
The fact of the matter is this: if you’re driven, an entrepreneur, a type-A personality, or a hundred other things, mood swings are part of your genetic hardwiring. It’s a blessing and a curse.
Below are a number of habits and routines that help me. They might seem simplistic, but they keep me from careening too far off the tracks. They are my defense against the abyss. They might help you find your own, or use them as a starting point.
Most of this boxed text is from a previous post on “productivity ‘hacks’ for the neurotic, manic-depressive, and crazy (like me)“, but I’ve added a few things:
Most “superheroes” are nothing of the sort. They’re weird, neurotic creatures who do big things DESPITE lots of self-defeating habits and self-talk.
Here are some of my coping mechanisms for making it through the day:
1) Wake up at least 1 hour before you have to be at a computer screen. E-mail is the mind killer.
2) Make a cup of tea (I like pu-erh like this) and sit down with a pen/pencil and paper.
3) Write down the 3-5 things — and no more — that are making you most anxious or uncomfortable. They’re often things that have been punted from one day’s to-do list to the next, to the next, to the next, and so on. Most important usually = most uncomfortable, with some chance of rejection or conflict.
4) For each item, ask yourself:
– “If this were the only thing I accomplished today, would I be satisfied with my day?”
– “Will moving this forward make all the other to-do’s unimportant or easier to knock off later?”
5) Look only at the items you’ve answered “yes” to for at least one of these questions.
6) Block out at 2-3 hours to focus on ONE of them for today. Let the rest of the urgent but less important stuff slide. It will still be there tomorrow.
7) TO BE CLEAR: Block out at 2-3 HOURS to focus on ONE of them for today. This is ONE BLOCK OF TIME. Cobbling together 10 minutes here and there to add up to 120 minutes does not work.
8) If you get distracted or start procrastinating, don’t freak out and downward spiral; just gently come back to your ONE to-do.
9) Physically MOVE for at least 20 minutes each day. Go for a long walk, lift weights, take a free online yoga class (YouTube), anything. Ideally, get outside. I was once asked by friend for advice on overcoming debilitating stress. The answer I repeated over and over again was: “Remember to EXERCISE daily. That is 80% of the battle.”
10) Follow a diet that prevents wild blood sugar swings. This means avoiding grains and refined carbohydrates most of the time. I follow the slow-carb diet with one cheat day per week and have done so for 10+ years. Paleo also works great. Don’t forget to eat plenty of fat. High protein and low fat can give you low-grade symptoms of rabbit starvation.
11) Schedule at least one group dinner with friends per week. Get it on the calendar no later than 5pm on Monday. Ideal to have at least three people, but two is still great medicine.
12) Take a minute each day to call or email someone to express gratitude of some type. Consider someone you haven’t spoken with in a long time. It can be a one-line text or a 5-second voicemail.
Congratulations! That’s it.
Those are the rules I use, and they help steer the ship in the right direction.
Routines are the only way I can feel “successful” despite my never-ending impulse to procrastinate, hit snooze, nap, and otherwise fritter away my days with bullshit. If I have 10 “important” things to do in a day, I’ll feel overwhelmed, and it’s 100% certain nothing important will get done that day. On the other hand, I can usually handle 1 must-do item and block out my lesser behaviors for 2-3 hours a day.
And when — despite your best efforts — you feel like you’re losing at the game of life, never forget: Even the best of the best feel this way sometimes. When I’m in the pit of despair with new book projects, I recall what iconic writer Kurt Vonnegut said about his process: “When I write, I feel like an armless, legless man with a crayon in his mouth.”
Don’t overestimate the world and underestimate yourself. You are better than you think.
TO WRAP UP THIS LONG-ASS POST
My “perfect storm” was nothing permanent.
If we let the storms pass and choose to reflect, we come out better than ever. In the end, regardless of the fucked up acts of others, we have to reach within ourselves and grow. It’s our responsibility to ourselves and–just as critical–to those who love and surround us.
You have gifts to share with the world.
You are not alone.
You are not flawed.
You are human.
And when the darkness comes, when you are fighting the demons, just remember: I’m right there fighting with you.
The gems I’ve found were forged in the struggle. Never ever give up.
P.S. If you have tips that have helped you overcome or manage depression, please share in the comments. I would love for this post to become a growing resource for people. I will also do my best to improve it over time. Thank you.
If you occasionally struggle like me, these resources, videos, and articles might help you rebound. I watch the video of Nick Vujicic quite often, just as a reminder of how fortunate I am:
The National Suicide Prevention Lifeline – Dial 988 or 1 (800) 273-8255 (website and live chat here). It’s available 24 hours a day, 7 days a week, in both English and Spanish. Outside the US? Please click here for a list of international hotlines.
My recent interview with Derek Halpern – The core of the conversation is about how to overcome struggle and the above suicide-related story, but it also includes business strategies and other lessons learned. My apologies for the weird lip smacking, which is a nervous tic. I thought I’d fixed it, but these stories brought it back 🙂
15-Minute Audio from Tony Robbins – I asked Tony for his thoughts on suicide. He responded with a very insightful audio clip, recorded while in the air. It covers a lot, and the hilarious anecdote about the raw-foodist mom at the end alone makes it worth a listen. NOTE: Of course, NEVER stop taking anti-depressants or any medicine without medical supervision. That is not what Tony is recommending.
Listen in the player above, or download by right-clicking here and choosing “save as.”
The Prescription for Self-Doubt? Watch This Short Video (Nick Vujicic)
Harnessing Entrepreneurial Manic-Depression: Making the Rollercoaster Work for You
Two Root Causes of My Recent Depression – This article is by Brad Feld, one of my favorite start-up investors and a world-class entrepreneur in his own right. It’s just more proof that you’re not alone. Even the best out there feel hopeless at times. It can be beaten.
Radical Acceptance by Tara Brach. This book is not nearly as woo-woo as it might seem. It was recommended to me by a neuroscience PhD who said it changed her life, then by another cynical friend who said the same. It is one of the most useful books I’ve read in the last two years. It’s easy to digest, and I suggest one short chapter before bed each night. For those of us who beat ourselves up, it’s a godsend.
The Tim Ferriss Show is one of the most popular podcasts in the world with more than 900 million downloads. It has been selected for "Best of Apple Podcasts" three times, it is often the #1 interview podcast across all of Apple Podcasts, and it's been ranked #1 out of 400,000+ podcasts on many occasions. To listen to any of the past episodes for free, check out this page.
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1,272 Replies to “Some Practical Thoughts on Suicide”
I understand everything you said and every feeling you felt (since I feel exactly the same right now) but I don’t know if I can make it as you did. too much depression for too long, I guess. Anw, thank you for this brave post.
THANK YOU SO MUCH FOR WRITING THIS! my 18 year old daughter committed suicide 3 years ago. I broke into tears when your mother called unexpectedly. I KNOW loved ones do not play into the thoughts of those taking their life. I was devastated by my daughter’s death and random (unsolicited) psychics have shared their (unsolicited) messages for me from my daughter (sorry if that’s too weird on your “weird-scope”) but it’s amazing how your belief system expands when you lose a dearly loved child–its like losing a limb. Anyway… All the messages always start with the same words: I’m SO SORRY for causing you so much pain… While suicidal thoughts are only self-involved, i believe there is tremendous regret afterwards when the reality of how they hurt those who loved them becomes clear. Also… You are absolutely the biggest over-achiever I have ever encountered. The thought of you thinking your life was ever worthless, at any point, truly shows how frail anyone can be at any given moment. You are truly a remarkable man. Good bless you for all you do and following your unquenchable drive to discover more. X O
I see it for the second or third time in my email… “Some Practical Thoughts On Suicide”.
Wtf? Why am I seeing this again. I don’t want to face my demons. Delete it.
Pops up again. FML. OK I need to read this. Tears begin to flow.
I’m a former Marine, I can do this right? No. Somethings happened since I left Iraq. I can’t find myself. I can’t find my confidence. I’ve flown drones in Iraq and I’ve built myself a 7 figure construction company so why can’t I leave my house? Just get up and go to your office. I can’t. I’m paralyzed by fear and anxiety which is new for me.
Why am I turning to drugs when my father tells me stories of coming home when I was a kid and my mother is passed out with a needle in her arm? I’ve worked so hard to get where I am. Statistically, I should still be in the trailer park I grew up in.
Thank you for this post Tim and thank you for being there for me when I was in Basrah, Iraq while the incoming alarms sounded and rockets were exploding, thank you for being there for me when I was at sea on the USS Tarawa for 7 months and thank you for inspiring people like me day in and day out. I couldn’t have made it this far without your writing. I would have given up on my entrepreneurial dreams a long time ago if it wasn’t for you.
I’m going to make it through this and I’m going to share this post with those that are also in dark places. Please don’t ever stop writing, you never know who is reading and how much it means to them.
Thanks for sharing this Tim. You and your work are appreciated.
The idea of a “non-suicide vow” is very cool. When I was admitted to a psychiatric hospital as I was a danger to myself (severe depressive state), I was asked to sign a note vowing I would not take my own life. Later when I sneaked some things into my hospital room and was going to kill myself, I kept thinking about that promise that I had made to the nurse and to myself. It was the one and only thing that stopped me from actually going through with it. Not sure why, but that vow was what saved me.
Reading your blog I found myself wondering if I could have used any of it to help my brother. He didn’t commit suicide, at least in a singular action of his own hand taking his life. He did it slowly, incrementally. I think he had started working on it years before- not so consciously, but through a series of decisions that denied any significance to his own existence. In the end, he had contracted aids while doing a stint in jail. He took his meds for a year or so but eventually gave up on them-not because they weren’t working but because he was giving up on himself. I remember having a four hour phone conversation with him when I was at a convention in Chicago. We went through so many arguments- his for why he didn’t want to be here, mine for why he should have wanted to be here. I don’t know if it was a failure of imagination or a failure of heart, but I could not find a way to convince him that he should want to be here. When I protested that I wanted him here, he rejected that, probably wasn’t enough of a reason to stake his own life on. In the end, I felt the only choice I had was to accept his decision. It sounds horrible to say, but somehow I felt, and still feel, that he was never going to buy into the idea of a future with him in it and he managed to convince me of that as well. I’m not even sure of what I am trying to share here, but these were the thoughts that came to me as I read your blog.
thank you for this post.
i also tried to commit suicide. three years ago. like you, i studied hard. i made the perfect plan. implemented it. it was foiled.
i woke up, from a six-day coma, pissed to still be alive.
but i was, and i saw how success of the plan would have hurt my family beyond repair. they would have persisted, but as you say–the spiritual death to parts of them would have been terrible.
today, i am glad to be alive (on a gestalt level), but given the real choice (whisper–) i’d rather take a long, eternal nap. it’s an effort to be around.
and yet, i am not off-ing myself.
because i’m here.
so, i’ll keep being here.
and, like you, make the most of it, as best i can.
i love the tools, and the overall foundation of compassion, that you portray in this post.
good for you!
only a person who has tried to take their life knows what it’s like to be past deciding, and into planning.
thank goodness it failed, on both our accounts.
here’s to living.
That is beautiful Anita. Thanks so much for sharing your experience. It makes a difference.
Thanks for sharing Tim. You provide some great personal vulnerability. I have struggled with my self worth and have seen the disarming power of openly discussing my troubles. I need continued reminders and diligence to routines to help me stay positive.
My daily activities include the following:
1. exercise daily, even if it’s 10 minutes stretching.
2. write 3 gratitudes – 3 new things grateful for
3. journaling – 1 positive experience in last 24 hrs
4. meditation – focus on now 1 thing at a time
5. random acts of kindness – 1 positive comment or email to someone
Thank you again
Thank you for posting this. I have fought suicidal thoughts my entire life, and the practicality of this made me weep. One of the reasons I haven’t always gotten the help I need is because of how much talk of suicide frightens people. This is just tremendous, and I think it will help both me and those who live with me enormously. Thank you.
Tim, I’ve been following your work for over a year now. I can’t express how thankful I am for your thoughtful words. It is truly shameful to admit what I’ve been going through in the past several months, but your words have brought me tears of joy and a regained sense of courage. For that, I am deeply thankful.
Thank you. I wold love to have tea with you one day. This really helped me and the community. You are without a doubt one of the most misunderstood people on the planet. You help a lot of people, and on behalf of them and me, we thank you. We are so grateful for your presence here on this little blue marble we all call home. You good sir are truly unique, and so are we all.
I had a son (unplanned) when I was 20 years old and because of that reason I choose to stay on the planet. Sometimes the pain inside is so bad that blasting your fuckin face off seems like the only way to get rid of it. Thankfully Tim is so right when he says the perfect storm never lasts forever. Eventually through podcasts and learning and living (i’m now 32) you figure out who you are and you learn to ignore societal pressures and conformity-thus creating your own way. Life is one hell of a journey and to quit when you’re just getting started is such a heartbreaking tragedy. Thank you for sharing Tim- ** PS- I don’t know how to use twitter yet so I’ll say it here- 5 bullet Fridays are awesome!
I had similar college experiences…actually there were 6 professors between undergrad and graduate school who tried to ruin me – literally. Those were extremely stressful times and administration was not helpful. In one instance, I had to suspend graduate study for a year because a grade appeal ultimately decided in my favor (the last of three I had to deal with as an undergrad) delayed conferral of my degree 3 weeks past the deadline for continuing into my 2nd year MFA program. It was devastating at the time…
I’ve also felt terrible depression when I was doing everything humanly possible to make it and do the right thing while the troubles of the world felt overwhelming – especially when people were doing really messed up stuff – like a landlord buying my apartment complex Sr. year and imposing an illegal 40% rent increase during the housing boom (forcing me to deal with an unlawful detainer in court in addition to GRE prep and grad school application). There really was no alternative since I couldn’t afford to move and had no one to turn to for help. Even though he was thwarted and I was able to stay until graduation without having to pay any increase (I had offered to pay 20% more prior to the unlawful detainer), I had no idea that an unlawful detainer would impact my life (via rental record) for years (contributing to other – even worse -overwhelmingly stressful experiences).
Thankfully, suicide was not an option – maybe because I felt the weight of people depending on and looking up to me. But, if that wasn’t the case, I can imagine the untruths that could have crept into my mind – not to mention what others dumped on me. I tried a lot of things to fight the funk and recalibrate. If I’d become suicidal, I never would have known the joy of waking up to the love of my life, being a mom, or a host of other amazing experiences.
All of the advice you offer here rings true, and I commend you for sharing. People need to know that the dark times that seem unbearable are often temporary, that there is hope. Also, depression is not something you can just snap your fingers to get over. Getting out of your own head is important and sometimes people need to seek professional help.
Thanks for this post Tim, I’m currently suffering from depression and attempted suicide after a sudden divorce. I’ve completely lost my appetite and have lost nearly 20 pounds in 3 weeks. Can you offer any suggestions to stem the weight loss tide?
I believe there is a reason I found this.post tonight. Thank you for sharing your story. I suffer from Depression, usually have a little slump and get past it pretty quickly
Lately I have been the most depressed I have ever been and can’t kick it. I think about Suicide daily. Alot of days after I put my kids on the bus I stay in my Pj’s all day laying on the couch crying. I wake up crying & go to bed crying. I keep going over in my mind everything that I am thankful for but it’s not making a dent. I’ve been going to Therapy for about a year for other issues and today she said I am so worried about you, I have never seen you like this. I have always said in the past Suicide is the most selfish thing a person can do but I don’t know if i can go on. I have no purpose, I’ve been really sick for thr past 2 years and can’t work, my husband is Emotionally & Verbally Abusive. I’m not looking for pity. It’sy fault for staying In the relationship. I love my boys more than anything in this world and they deserve so much more. A mom who isn’t always sick and who gets depressed. If it wasn’t for them I would have been gone by now
Crystal, I have no earthly idea that what I’m about to suggest applies to you, but I’m going to go on my gut. The words “emotionally and verbally abusive” leapt off the page at me. It could very well be that your husband has a Cluster B personality disorder, perhaps Narcissistic Personality Disorder. Please research this and see if the symptoms apply to him. (Names to google are Melanie Tonia Evans and Spartan Life Coach.) If the symptoms do, then you are depressed for a reason. Emotional abuse by a narcissist is akin to domestic violence. The world is full of people who’ve been abused by their narcissistic partners, and more women than men are on the receiving end. As a man who was in such a relationship, I can tell you I nearly went nuts trying to make it work. It never would’ve. The give-and-take of a normal relationship is impossible with such a crazy partner. Please, please do some research and become informed. It sounds as if you’re in an untenable situation. Your life is a precious gift, and the very best thing you can do for your sons is to determine what’s in the best interest of your health – that’s being selfish in the very best of ways – and then take steps towards what you need. I wish you the best. If you believe you deserve it, it can be yours … if you take control of your life.
George thank you so much for taking time out to reply.when you said your life is a precious gift thay really hit me and made me cry. I am definitely going to look and and research what you suggested. I don’t know if I said this in my post but my husband was diagnosed Bipolar and BPD about 5 years ago. I’ve never even heard of Borderline before. I know that without trust there’s no point in a relationship. I haven’t trusted him in years. He changed all passwords so I couldn’t see our finances, his phone is glued to him, I catch him in blatant lied yet he still denied it and tris to turn it on me. I pray every day to get healthy so can go back to work and do what I Need to do for me and my boys. I have always worked 40+ hours a week and took pride in bring a hard worker and it.kills Me to be stuck. Sorry for writing a book . I am so so sorry you had to endure all that pain and gp thru a relationship like that
You are a fighter and so STRONG for leaving and.doing what is best for you!!!! I admire how courageous you are. Thank you again!
Wow, Thanks Tim
for writing this article it was very helpful. Thank you for being brave, and compassionate.
Great contribution Tim. The key point that things are not permanent and ones future self will likely feel differently or learn new things (like a blog from Tim Ferris), along with the interrelationships that we all impact with suicide.
Thank you, Tim!
What works well for me is mindfulness meditation, goal setting, visualisation and affirmations.
What also really helped me get over a few hard months this year was a list of things I pinned on my wall so I’d do them every day:
1. Laugh every day (watch funny youtube videos if you don’t have anything else; laughing is more powerful than you might think)
2. Try new things / do things you’re scared of! (even little things like eating something new or walking a different way count, just do something you’ve never done)
3. See as many people as possible (every time someone invites you to something, say yes instead of going with your initial feeling of saying no)
4. Focus on your personal development (becoming the best possible version of yourself by meditating/ reading/ learning new skills/ volunteering..)
These really helped me get out of my comfort zone and see life from a different perspective.
Good job. I’m so proud of you.
For any Atheists out there… Jennifer Michael Hecht’s (poet, atheist philosopher, historian, and best-selling author) book “Stay: The History of Suicide and the Philosophies Against It” offers two compelling arguments against suicide. (This is not typical among atheists who tend to promote the right to kill one’s self). I interview her and it’s worth the listen.
Jennifer Michael Hecht (twitter handle @Freudeinstein ) EPISODE 41 on the SPARK MY MUSE podcast at sparkmymuse.com or on iTunes or this direct link: http://bit.ly/1Nx31hm
• We cannot let our worst mood murder all our other moods.
• Suicides cause other ones and follow social trends. (Don’t do that to others)
• You cannot control the people you will end up hurting. (the person you may want to hurt may end up getting attention and being comforted, etc and some really wonderful people will end up getting hurt terribly.)
• Your future self will be happy you didn’t do it (there are stats and studies on this)
Wow thanks for being brave enough to share this. I barely survived my 20s because I just kept failing at things and had never experienced much failure to that point. I also have moved away from dysfunctional family so was trying to navigate life with no mentors or support. It was a painful time and I have been through more stuff but that decade made me tough enough to face life. I am now 55 and looking forward to retiring. Life is difficult and what made me a small issue to us might be a huge one to others and we many times dismiss people too easily. Thanks again for sharing your struggles.
I want to thank you Tim for being unbelievably brave and sharing this important and very personal story. It gives me strength to know that you, being such an inspiration and success, have also have these struggles with depression that sometimes just seem insurmountable and never-ending. I am guessing it also gives you strength to share this story, to acknowledge it and to let go of the shame, and to help others in the process.
My thoughts about being in the dark place, which I have every now and then visited:
1) Pay attention to the first symptoms and act immediately to turn the cycle around. For me, whenever I stop looking out for the cars when I cross the road, I know I need help.
2) A therapist. For me, even when I have ended the treatment period, it has been vital to have a deal with the therapist that I can always call and go back if I feel like it. The awareness of the available support makes me feel less helpless.
3) The negative side effects of hormonal contraception. I have been eating the pills for more than a decade, trying out all the labels as my body never really settled with them. I finally got the hormonal coil a year ago and a few days later I literally felt the dark cloud settling on my head. I’ve had the cloud before but this time it was really heavy. I have never had such scary dark thoughts before than I got then. This is a recognized side effect but not talked about enough at all. It got so bad I finally had to get rid of the coil. I have been completely off the hormones for 6 months now and I am feeling much better. I very well realize it’s not the whole explanation to my depression but I am convinced it has played a role. It might not be a coincidence that I got my first depression around the same time I first started eating the pill. I am very curious what the next years will bring me, as I have no intention of ever going back to the hormones again.
4) Never underestimate the power of a kind gesture you can show to another person. I have been lifted so many times by somebody just saying thank you, you are a great person, you are important to me, etc. Hearing it said out loud makes it real, and makes me remember why I am on this planet.
Took big balls to write about this. Well done Tim. Glad your mom called 😉
Much love man. Keep up the awesomeness.
Wow, what a powerful testimony. I had no idea you went through all that. It’s only made you stronger!
I battled and won out to clinical depression in high school and contemplated taking my own life more than once. I cut myself and wasn’t able to function on a daily basis. I want to write a book on it or find a way to help others do the same. What helped me was the love and support of my family, taking good multi vitamins and Fish Oil, making a habit of sleeping a full 8-9 hours and not being allowed to oversleep anymore, exercising daily, and God.
Its a good thing you didn’t kill yourself. I always though this “You can’t avenge a family member 6 feet under the ground or in powder form.” #justsaying #theyneedmealive #justincase
Statistics by the Centers for Disease Control states that 50% of all Americans will suffer from a mental health crisis and that on average every American adult will suffer from at least two bouts of depression in their life time. (Source: CDC, NAMI).
Anxiety is actually the most common mental illness affecting 40 million American adults 18 years or older. 18% of the American population. Major Depressive Disorder affects 14.8 million American adults, or 6.7% of the American population. Post Traumatic Stress Disorder PTSD affects 7.7 million American adults or 3.5% of the American population. (Source: Anxiety and Depression Association of America. ADAA.) 5.7 million or 2.6% Americans suffer from BiPolar Disorder. (Source: Depression and BiPolar Support Alliance. [DBSA].) Obsessive Compulsive Disorder affects about 5 million American adults or about 2 to 3 percent. (Source: Psych Central). About 1 in 20 individuals live with Borderline Personality Disorder. (Source: NAMI.) These statistics are from those that seeks help, and obtain a diagnosis. Imagine what the numbers might be with those who don’t seek help. Mental illness is now being called the “silent epidemic.”
The good news is that these mental illnesses can be treated and recovery for many mental illnesses is not only possible, it occurs. Unfortunately there is still a stigma associated with depression and other mental illnesses and often people don’t seek help. Often because of fear of being out-casted to even shunned due to the stigmatization associated with mental illness. This stigma needs to stop. Stigma is caused because of the lack of education, knowledge, wisdom and empathy about mental illness.
If you are someone who is suffering from depression, anxiety, or activities or lack thereof, interfering with normal activities or know someone who is; ask for help, or if someone you know is suffering or showing long periods of sadness extending more than a week, help them get help. Don’t wait. Talk to them and by all means listen to them. Often an empathetic and caring ear can go a very long way. There are many resources of help. And in America, it is now affordable to seek help for mental illness. And there is no dollar amount that is too much to help someone with depression and even possibly save a life. No matter how hopeless you or someone you know may feel or think their situation is, there is hope, and there is treatment.
The other GOOD NEWS is that Jesus Christ also offers that hope. He took upon all our sins, and our mistakes. He told us to cast our burdens upon Him. Seek Him, and know and understand His hope written in his word and seen in the beauty of creation and the life that you have or could have. If you are saved and know that hope, tell others. Don’t delay. God is stronger than a stigma, or a person’s mental health challenges.
Once the clouds clear with research, education, treatment and/or therapy you or this person will realize there are so many reasons to be happy. That there is recovery and you or this person doesn’t have to live in the darkness.
Everyone of us have talents and gifts to offer this world. You are never alone. You are important and you do matter. Troubles and times of grief will happen, but this too shall pass. Never give up.
life saving post Tim Ferriss
and great video suggestion: https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=6P2nPI6CTlc
Tim, I’ve been reading your stuff for a long time… this is your best work. I sincerely mean that. I’m not sure how I haven’t read it until now. (better late then never). THANK YOU!
Very nicely written. Mesmerising. I don’t know how I’d explain my reason behind my eventual end. It’s too twee.
Tim Ferris this is piece a kindness. Bless x
Anyone who is going through depression should without a doubt download Jon Kabbat Zin’s MBSR guided meditations, or follow the course on palouse mindfulness.
An 8 Week Course that is truly Groundbreaking.
Some things that have helped me. I made a list for the desperate times. The list included names of friends and relatives that I could call when I needed contact with another human. I asked them if they would be on my team of helpers and if I could call them when I felt like I was drowning. Other things on my list: a four line breathing meditation by Thich Nat Han, Buddhist monk, that always calms me down, “Breathing in, I calm my body and mind/Breathing out, I smile/Dwelling in the present moment, I know (inhale)”/This is the only moment (exhale); also a list of favorite short stories that are uplifting and beautifully written; a walk in nature for as long as I have (five minutes or two hours); writing or drawing in my journal which I keep in a sketchbook; baking cookies or muffins; a soft stuffed animal to hold. Playing with little kids is a great tonic for me. They are so in the moment and unjaded and full of the wonder of living. Hope some of this helps someone.
It is nice seeing the success of someone who feels like they would be a great friend. Love the humanity, Tim!
Thanks for sharing, Tim. We need more people to talk openly about self-caring, both physically and mentally.
I used to struggle with depression and panic attacks. Now I use meditation and other means (proper diet, regular exercise, etc) to manage depressive symptoms and anxieties. Meditation has particularly helped me learn to handle negative, nervous thoughts. Meditation is quite helpful in distracting myself from fixing my eyes too much on the bad situations, and come back to present.
I highly recommend this free meditation app called “Stop, Breathe & Think” which offers multiple versions of guided meditations. I love using the “welcoming the day”, “falling asleep”, “mindful walk” and “dealing with anxiety” These meditations only take fewer than 7 minutes. A little bit of time investments in the beginning of the days boost my productivity by a lot!!
Thanks for this Tim
My son and is 9 and he has trouble self-regulating his emotions so if he is hyper and turns out something he made a mistake, he will quickly spiral in to thinking that death is a solution. To keep it a bay besides reminding him about the pain he will bring to me and his grandma helps him snap out of it. I started reminding him about the light wolf and the dark wolf. This is what keeps us both afloat.
The one that wins, is the one that we feed. We try our best to keep feeding the light wolf.
We live in Singapore, where sadly a lot of kids and young people feel that their world will collapse if grades are not met. It is difficult to understand how this kids are feeling like this.
Because I’ve felt this pain myself I started trying to help others to see that there is another way, that we are all creative, we will figure out how to make it work. We do need a little bit of help. But finding the words of encouragement could make a difference. So I started having workshops to create notebooks or coasters with inspirational messages. Words can mean a lot during the dark moments. Learning how to be kind to ourselves is a way to feed the light wolf.
Thank you for writing this. I have staved off suicide multiple times. My love for my family and need to protect my children from the loss of their mother is really the only thing that has gotten me through. I’m in a much better place mentally these days, but still get the urge to “off myself” when upsetting things happen to me which I feel I have no control over. I hope to be able to reprogram my brain and get away from these thoughts completely. Your blog has some really great tips for helping with this. Thanks again ~ Rebecca
I love you even more for this Tim. You are an exceptional human being and have taught me so much in my life…and I don’t even “know” you. Thank you for your courage…and though the details are different, your story is a me too for me. It’s been a battle for as long as I can remember…just wow and thank you for the generosity of what you shared.
“And when the darkness comes, when you are fighting the demons, just remember: I’m right there fighting with you.”
This quote alone really touched me. Thanks for sharing, Tim.
HI Tim: I am considering writing my own blog. I was suicidal yrs ago and now my life is fantastic. Recently I learned of an acquaintaince who killed himself. My nephew committed suicide 15 yrs ago. I am grateful for my life and want to give back and help others to live. I want to write about my process from suidical thoughts, to life and love of myself. I was looking to see what other blogs are out there. I might need help as to how to set this up, especially including videos, audios or pictures. I am not tech savvy, up until now or near future. smile. I enjoyed listening to your recordings. Thanks, so much. Liz
Wow Tim, what a great (and much needed) article turned resource for all of us. I’ll be sharing this with my wife, two sons (21 and 15) as well as my community of husbands, all of whom will at some time thought about, or been touched by suicide and depression. Your post was shared with me by a close friend and collaborative partner in the coaching arena. Her and I have done some amazing work with entrepreneurs (some of the personalities that suffer most from doubts every day) in the relationship space, one of the front lines of darkness. Thanks for your great work, as a “4-Hour” fan, this may be your best writing yet bro. Bravo. I’m sure glad that library threw that wrench. And I’m glad your Mom caught it. Thin threads, eh? Keep sharing Tim. I’ll be ratcheting this discussion up on my podcast as well as in my day to day talks. This topic is super important. With much gratitude, Rick
Tim, this post saved my life. P.S.- I am a second semester senior writing my senior thesis and searching for jobs.
thank you tim. i needed to read this today, tonight. reading the posts of peoaple i admire are–were–part of my plan. thank you, and know you have made a difference for at least one person tonight
Thank you for having the courage to post this. Peter Sage explained suicide in a way that resonated profoundly with me; he has done a lot of suicide intervention with Tony Robins as well. Peter said (and I may have it a little wrong) ‘people commit suicide when they feel there is no other option’ – it resonated with me as that is how I had been feeling the last few years after some life experiences. Happy to say it has passed, but it came close.
Productivity Hacks is a life tool, it is so important.
Thank you for writing this and sharing your story. My father took his life Feb. 25, 2016 (after two previous attempts years before) and you are so right about the devastation suicide leaves behind. Thank you for bringing awareness and accessibility to this topic given for your audience and beyond.
I wasn’t sure the best way to thank you but I figured leaving it here would be appropriate.
I found you and this article last year as I felt like my life was imploding (divorce…blah blah, details aren’t important). I forget how many times I have reread this article and also how many times I’ve pointed people towards this article also. Too many to count. Things I kept telling myself was the thing about giving the gift of pain to friends/family x10 that is one of the things I kept thinking about as I made my plans to make the pain go away.
I did call the number one night as I curled up on a couch wishing for the pain to stop. That operator along with your article and countless of other things since then have all saved my life. So thank you. I pass your words on to anyone who needs it. Hoping it will be their light in their own darkness.
It is fate that happen to be listening to your book and mid second chapter decide to search your web site and happen upon this posting in your blog. A friend and co-organizer in a group I am very involved with committed suicide two days ago. I cannot express the range of emotions and I have been experiencing. I would like to share that the one primary thought that would prevent me from ever taking my life would be my children. How they would feel, how it would impact them, how it would affect them.
Thank you Tim for writing this. I find myself revisiting this post every once in a while, especially during a downward-spiral.
Like Silas brother and many others here we look up to you and just by knowing that the struggle is not a lone one can give you strength.
Once again thank you and I appreciate you sharing this experience with us. I really needed to read this today.
I was suicidal for nearly two decades (and I’m only 32). A couple of additional things that helped me:
1. Set a goal and suicide on it. I wanted to study so I decided I’m just going to write out checks without coverage and study whatever. I took Dutch language course, some International Commerce course, disappeared from work, asked for outraged salary expectations from potential employees, threatened to kill myself 3 times and was eventually hospitalized for one month in a mental health institute where I was able to receive a scholarship from the welfare and began to study for my BA.
Now I’m an MA student and try to figure my enterpreneurship ideas. The actual ability to decide you are going to suicide on your goal helps you invest all of your power on winning even if it seems to have no chance. You just put yourself in the “I’ve nothing to lose” position guess what, nobody wants to f**k with someone in the nothing to lose position. It’s invincible.
2. Understand one sorry thing: If you really want to die you have to be successful. Now, chances are you want to die because you feel a failure. It sounds like a 22 catch, and it may as well be, but if you are a failure don’t try to kill yourself because you will only fail and increase your own suffering (as well as everyone elses), and if you believe you can change your failure state (what have you got to lose?) try and find people who can help you achieve your goals or even finding ones. If you do believe you are able to kill yourself efficiently and successfully (not end up in hospital half dead half dependent on others to help you shower and pee), then it means you are successful, stop bitching and get to work on your goals. You are wasting your time planning death. Translate your success to all fields that bother you, think what you did to succeed there and see if the same trick can work elsewhere.
3. If you are like me you need constant challenge and a sense of value: try to help other suicidal people. Sometimes helping others is easier than helping yourself and then you can make this tricks work for you, or at least save some lives on your way out of this world.
4. use what you don’t want to define what you do want. Write your requests from the world/universe/god/atheist-god down. When I went to therapy I told my psychologist on my first meeting “I want to want to live”. I’m pretty fuckin’ a live today 😉
5. Understand that your brain is biochemically wired to derive contentment from whichever sensation it is used to. Changing your mental state will mean exposing yourself to other kinds of sensations and let your mind/brain absorb and become addicted to them. Constantly change “addictions” until you are happier (example – suicide wishes to sports to connecting with people, to laughing with people, to changing your circle of friends to one that fits your goals to transforming yourself and your goals.
6. If you’re suicidal and trying to quite: read success stories. Seek people who healed from suicidal tendencies or are more stable and study them carefully, ask questions – you will help not only yourself but them.
Tim, I don’t know if you’ll ever read this, but your post got me to think for myself how did I make it out of suicide and I never thought I’d be able to spell this out. I’m copy pasting your advices together with mine and will try to help young suicidal people if I’ll ever run into them 🙂
man, i love you! i love that you say fuck and that you are humble and smart and raw. i love your show and i love every word you just wrote. thank you!
I can’t believe I’ve come back to this post again but here I am and this time I don’t think I might get through. My fiance was diagnosed with serious health problem and they said he would not have much time left. So he decided to break up with me. thinking that’s better for me but I know this decision killed his heart. We were even planning about our house, our babies and a shared career. And now, there’s nothing left.
HI. Great post. Its such a pity that we live in a world where discussing these things are so hard (and the more famous you are the harder it seems to be!) Pity it is that way and thanks for sharing – makes it just that bit easier for everyone else.
It was number 2 that stopped me from killing myself on a number of occasions. The thought of either my sad children or sad parents is a fantastic motivator NOT to kill yourself. And its those ongoing relationships that keep me strong. I’d love to one day read a book on the 4 hour relationship (or the 4 hour guide to better understanding whats actually going on inside your head!).
Thank you for posting this information. I have struggled with these feelings and thoughts too in my life. This post really helped clarify things for me in a positive way.
I doubt you’ll reply to this, but thought I’d give it a shot.
I’m in the thick of it now. I actually just finished a conversation with the local suicide line earlier today. I’m tired of hurting — it’s been like this off and on for as long as I can remember. I’ve had a childhood where my parents provided for me but I lacked positive encouragement. My parents’ way of “encouraging” me (as far as I can remember) was by constantly telling me how rotten of a daughter I was. I had the sort of parents who, no matter how many A+s or Bs I had, they’d focus and harp on the Cs and Ds I got.
Painful spankings and put-downs were to be be expected when I stepped out of line (which usually meant whining about wanting to play with my cousins for a bit longer).
The most severe spanking happened when, in junior high, I helped a classmate cheat in an exam. My parents found out and I got a severe spanking, got hit on my face by my father (don’t get me wrong, I love him dearly to this day and he’s one of the only reasons I’m not killing myself), and was told by my mother that I was the devil.
Fast forward to adult life: two failed marriages, another couple of long-term relationships that didn’t work out. Got my severely broken by the last guy I was with (the one I thought was “the one”).
The list goes on, and on, and on. I’m overly simplifying everything because I don’t really have the energy to write, nor do I think it matters to anyone reading this, anyway. I feel stuff more than the average person. It’s been a long time since I actually woke up feeling glad to be alive. I had an accident recently and I wish I had died right there and then.
Am in debt (partly because of past clinical depression and anxiety), am single, and honestly after over 38 years of life, I don’t see how my life will every get consistently better.
I read your blog post and all I could think of was “yeah, well, that’s Tim Ferriss… that’s not me… and inside himself he had the inner requirements to get himself out of this… whereas I don’t.”
A., Hang in there. It can take time, and it can be hard to find the energy to continue, but I swear it is worth doing. When you consider your comment about Tim that “that’s Tim Ferriss”, he wasn’t then the Tim Ferriss he is now, and might well have denied himself the opportunity to grow and evolve and share his knowledge and experience with others if he had surrendered to suicide. Out of darkness can come greater strength and more passion and enjoyment in living. We can never know how much better things can become. It can be small steps that don’t require much energy to get the ball rolling in a new and better direction. I’d encourage you to read Childhood Disrupted. I think it will resonate with you.
A., In reconsidering my comment above, I feel like I should add that these aren’t abstract sunny concepts I have about things getting better. It’s been a couple decades now, but I was suicidal for three years. During that time, I couldn’t imagine life ever being better, or ever reaching a point at which I would be able to feel differently about my life of myself. It took work, and chipping away at a variety of things, but staying the course paid off. I have been loving life more than most people I know for the past 15 years or so. As odd as it may sound, I am very grateful to younger self for hanging on. Please let yourself find that too.
Hi forgewater, thanks for recommending “Childhood Disrupted”. It does sound like a book that might help me.
What I meant by “yeah, well, that’s Tim Ferriss”, is that I think that there are some people who have an innate inner strength, an inner psychological and mental composition that positions their moods and brains to overcome the dark times.
There’s a significant part of me, however, that suspects that I’m too sent sensitive, with too many cards stacked against me: insomnia, on/off anxiety and depression. It’s a sort of melancholy that is always, always there in the background, regardless of what I try.
Thanks for caring and for your response…
Hi again, A., Thinking of you and hoping you’re doing alright. You may not feel like you do, but I believe you have the internal resources to feel better. In fact, that high sensitivity you don’t like could actually be what helps open the door to feeling better. There’s an interesting part of Childhood Disrupted in which the author, Donna Jackson Nakazawa, references the Sensitivity Hypothesis. Basically, about 15% of the population have a variant of a behavioral gene, 5-HTTLP. It regulates serotonin, which influences our ability to bounce back from trauma and distress. There are three different variants of the gene, and people who have one of them are more sensitive to what goes on around them or happens to them. They are also more likely to be experience depression as adults. BUT, the important flip side, is that this same sensitivity also means they are more deeply affected by positive influences. “The same plasticity of the brain that makes sensitive children highly reactive to stress also makes them more intuitive and receptive, more easily shaped by what is good and healthy in their environment, too…Even later efforts in adulthood to reshape and rehabilitate their own brains may bring them greater healing results.” I understand you are depressed, and that things haven’t been going well for some time. From what you shared about your childhood though, it sounds like early trauma might have set the stage for the depression. There are things you can do that can help. Believe me, it’s so worth it. Be kind to yourself.
What was the suicide book you rented from the library
Can you check your email or letter receipt to let people know what book you had borrowed? Please and thank you
As someone that was affected by the suicide of my best friend, I appreciate the post Tim. One thing I’ve used over the years, being prone to depression and swings, are endurance sports. Now they are time consuming, but Ironmans, Ultras, Marathons, they give you far reaching goals and a sense of community. I’ve found it VERY helpful along my own path. A great film on the subject you might enjoy would be http://www.fiftythemovie.co.nz, incorporating trail running and mental health fundraising.
This is a bit late, but one thing which permanently removed any ideas of suicide for me in spite of constant struggles with depression – I suffer from a bad case of seasonal affective disorder, live in a country which is fully above the 60th parallel and have spend my whole adult life unable to finish studies to the point of getting a degree, or to keep any job which would require the ability to fully concentrate on something through the winter, and the combination also tends to push me way too easily into “normal” clinical depression from time to time – was studying near death experiences, occult, channeling etc. And traditional religions.
And one thing common with most of those, no matter how much they may differ otherwise, is the idea that suicide is a mortal sin. They may have different explanations for the why, but in general it seems that the one thing that will doom you in your afterlife is cutting your life short on purpose (a few good excuses seem to exist in some ideas, but they usually include things like sacrificing yourself for somebody else, perhaps like in a situation where you are in war and about to be tortured in order to reveal something important which would doom others on your side… nothing most of us are likely to face in our normal lives). And in those ideas which include reincarnation – you may have come here in order to fulfill some task or learn some lesson. And like in school, if you don’t you have to repeat the class or retake the test, and one way to ensure you will have to face all the same shit again is to run from it like that…
In other words, you CAN’T RUN from this. You are not allowed to. Either you will go from the frying pan into the fire (in some religions they think literally and for good) or maybe you will be tossed right back into that frying pan.
I don’t know if there is an afterlife or not but I damn well am not going to take that risk, would suck too badly to expect oblivion only to realize you were wrong and made a very bad mistake and now things are even worse. No matter how bad things may seem and how much I hurt. Just stick with it. It will be over naturally sooner or later anyway, and my chances of actually escaping will be at least a bit better if I have endured all of it.
This post means a stinkin’ lot to me. Tim, thank you for referencing it regularly enough that I was finally forced to come read it. I guess I’ve been depressed for about two years now and have isolated myself pretty thoroughly. I depend on my regular podcasts to keep me company. I was already so grateful to you for discussing the things I think about, for being curious, for information and ideas and stimulation, but I never expected to have the dark, embarrassing core of me pulled out and spat onto a page by someone I admire. I assumed I WAS flawed. I assumed that was supposed to be hidden. All of you are so brave–the talking matters so much.
Thank you. I’m at my lowest with a loving spouse and mom to twin 5 year olds who adore me. And I can’t get it together. Traumatic childhood and sooo many regrets and failures. I got through another day because of your post. I don’t want to cause anyone pain. Ever. But I’m in a hole. Thank you for writing your experienced.
Hey Rachel, it sounds like you need some encouragement! Every single hole, no matter how deep or dark, has an openeing that you can reach. I promise you that your family needs you and they want you to be your best self! You want to watch your twins graduate and go through all stages of life! I have gone to counseling and it really helped me! I’m sure your spouse would love to listen and help you in any way he can! You have so much to look forward to, and so many people who are relying on you and counting on you to be there for them! Find the sunlight, and start with appreciating what you have. An attitude of gratitide will do wonders! All the best! Much love!
Ways to Avoid Suicide:
MyLifeIssues . org / ways-to-avoid-suicide
I couldn’t agree more with what you’ve written! I was in very similar situations; only I hated my undergrad degree becuase I chose a small school that offered no choice on courses and I didn’t know that Mathematics would be so grueling…I would have been better stuited for a business field (applied math). Nedless to say, I was diagnosed with depression and took medication for four years…the world was against me. My Mom also saved me, I told her after a fight we had, that I had considered driving into oncoming traffic the whole drive home. She called me selfish and that’s when, I too, realized that suicide is likely 1% about you ant 99% about others. My counselor told me, “Whopty shit, you had a fight. It’s ok!” I can’t thank her enough for her simple yet profound statement. Everyone can climb out of their own dark holes no matter how deep they are!
Once I changed my mindset, I saw beauty in the world again and valued people in a new way. I now teach Calculus in China (I’m from Canada) and I couldn’t be more grateful. I wake up everyday happy to be alive; and to know that I’m making an impact and that I can help students who also feel this way is truly humbling. Stay with us, the world needs you! <3
Thank You! F’n needed this…..
My emails were hacked and I am unable to retrieve them… 20 years of my life and legacy erased… That being said… I am suicidal… for that plus 10 other reasons… No one from yahoo, hotmail, gmail or Apple has been able to help~ Every waking moment I am tormented…
I’ve been listening to your podcasts for some time now. In an interview with Chase Jarvis, you mentioned that you thought that this post was your best piece of writing so, weeping, I looked it up.
Last year, at the age of 17, my handsome, athletic and clever nephew took his life. My sister-in-law and her husband are wracked with guilt and remorse. Their marriage is ending.
His friends were shocked, horrified and devastated.
As you say above, the spiral of pain swirls ever outward.
I’ve survived episodes of clinical depression. Your suggestions of employing exercise (for me it was returning to dance) and connections were two things that made a life changing difference. As did finding one thing, however small, to be curious about. From curiosity comes passion and a sense of purpose.
Thank you so much for writing this post.
With profound respect,
Tim, what you do matters. Plain and simply. Thanks for being so transparent and courageous in everything that you do.
Thank you for this post. I fight chronic depression and type II bipolar illness, and I find writing a great help. In my blog about inspiration for seeking happiness, I’ve written about one of my coping methods here: [Moderator: Link removed]
As someone who struggled most severely with suicidal ideations in my early 20s, and still struggle to a much less extent in my later 20s, from the bottom of my heart I thank you for this post. The last two days have been rather trying for me, and the timing of coming across this could not have been more fortuitous.
Obviously, I’ve crawled out of the quicksand of suicidal thoughts, and fully intend to stay here. Or at least to continue to crawl my way out when I find myself back there in the future because this evening, I made my non-suicide vow with my sister. Thank you for that tool.
For anyone reading this for another helpful tidbit to fight the darkness, I recommend the following mantra when the suicidal ideations strike:
“Suicide is a permanent solution to a temporary problem.” Write it down on a piece of paper in your wallet, or in the back of a small notebook. Make it a habit that whenever you think “I want to die,” your automatic thought is then this mantra. It may seem inconsequential, but it has been powerful for me.
Doubtless you’ve heard this sort of positive feedback countless times, but I want to add my voice to the chorus… You’re doing important work with your podcast. I have a hunch they’ve saved my life keeping me awake on epically long drives.
On a more meaningful note, they have helped me in my own mental health journey. I quit medication in 2013 (unsupervised, I know not advised but what the hell, I was over it), and have since been on a quest to re-wire my brain. It’s taken me to a Vipassana retreat, up the side of El Capitan, taking and quitting a job managing a rock gym, reading many books, and very VERY notably, voraciously consuming your podcasts.
The thing is, there isn’t much sense to life (especially if you even casually entertain simulation theory). We have to impose mental order on an otherwise chaotic world. Your podcast and books have armed many with the tools to build our own mental fortresses. In my case, I can say for certain that you have in no small way impacted my habitual thought processes, and thereby helped me cling onto this life.
So many quotes from your work drift through my mind when adversity strikes, when depression knocks down the door, when I need more motivation… Discipline = Freedom. Take risks and you’ll get the payoffs. Learn from your mistakes until you succeed. It’s that simple. Go First. I am an old man and I have known a great many troubles, but most of them never happened. What’s on the other side of fear? Nothing. Learn, experiment, test and educate yourself.
And the list positive habits you’ve helped me create… Re-committing myself to a meditation practice (I’ve failed SO many times), making my bed (you finally sold me on it), Jefferson Curls, journaling… The list goes on.
Tonight, as part of my gratitude practice in my journal, I give thanks for you Tim. For your decision to not kill yourself. You’ve helped me, and certainly many many others.
Keep up the good work,
Brave post. Suicide was dated with a deadline, like a goal for me, since I was in my 20’s. The thing that keeps me alive is my son. Always has been. I just can’t burden him with that. The thing that keeps me going on the daily is being in love with someone. I still don’t get the “love yourself” message that people talk about. I’m in therapy for years, practice TM and qigong, exercise everyday, am hyper vigilant about
my food and health. If I’m here I’m going to have a quality of life. Totally agree that you don’t know what’s on the orher side. Another consideration for me is karma. Supposedly you’re here to learn and if you give up maybe you have to come back and keep paying this debt. I just don’t want to do this all over again. I always wonder what some others did in a past life to have it so good in this one. I keep giving back. Who knows. I just keep growing and learning as much as I can. If you post this please only use my initials. Thank you for all you do. Your podcasts motivate me in many ways. I’m a huge fan.
Thank you. This is incredible and you are making a difference. Ironically I am currently reading four hour work week and I am a huge fan of Tony as well. I spiraled into a depression and somehow by miracle came across this page which incorporates two of my favorite people. This saved me.
I am sending you my autobiographical story of my attempted suicide at 10 years old with hopes you may use it in your teaching. If my story can help even one pewrson, I will be thrilled!
I am submitting a true story about my childhood and attempted suicide at 10 years old with the intention of opening up the topic for parents, youngsters, and professionals to prevent children and teens from feeling a need to end their lives. I hope that I may be able to help even one child, teen, or adult to stop feeling alone with such a traumatic childhood, and to realize that if they get help they will certainly smile again.💜💜 Please add it to your website if it can possibly help those people who may be holding onto to a thread of life. 💚
I was a social worker for 12 years providing services to families and teen parents and also as a Special Education teacher working with detained juvenile boys and girls in separate programs. It was a constant source of pain to learn about the increased numbers of young people attempting to end their lives and some sadly succeeding in suicides, especially heart-breaking when the youth were familiar! I have used a pseudonym, Kathy, for myself in the story because my brothers and my mother are not comfortable with sharing our sad story.
Thank you, Pat Ouellette
[Moderator: Personal contact information removed]
Kathy’s Silent Cry For Help…..a true, painfully true story.
Kathy was a ten year old girl who lived with her parents and three younger brothers in a middle class neighborhood, but their home was a haunted one. Unfortunately, the house had a father ghost, but this one was still alive, a sick and frightening presence for all of the family. He was supposed to be an everyday husband and father, but everyone avoided eye contact with the big man with the face of a devil who moved around like a monster! Kathy and her young brothers honestly believed their father could read all of their thoughts because he had convinced, practically brainwashed the children into believing he had such powers.
Kathy’s father was an extremely sick and dangerous man who had been legally diagnosed by several medical professionals to have paranoid schizophrenia AND manic depression (as it was still called at the time.) He thought the neighbors were talking about him and in many cases they were because of his “wild behaviors.” The Father would walk around the neighborhood with toilet paper rolls attached to his hat. He searched for anyone in his path that he could harass. Father Monster also believed his family was trying to poison him by putting something lethal into his medication. He also suffered from epilepsy and this infuriated him, but in his distorted thinking this gave him a perfect excuse for his abusive behavior. He refused to take any responsibility for hurting his children and usually told them as they were being outrageously punished that it “was Mother’s fault!!” This was never the case at all!
As a result of his fear of possibly being poisoned, he began to skip doses of his medication resulting in increased paranoia, erratic behaviors, and cruel punishments for Kathy and her brothers. Often punished for innocent “kid stuff” his forms of punishment were close to being torturous! The children cried and cried, but never let the Monster father see their pain fearing more hurt would follow.
Father had major delusions of grandeur, and I know it may seem like I’m spouting psychiatric “mumbo jumbo” but believe me, during my adult years as a counselor and Special Education Teacher I sadly learned so much about abnormal psychology and terms related to Father.
The Monster was often busy writing letters to the president of the U.S. and to CEO’s of major corporations, always giving them his advice about running the government and their companies. Father truly believed these people would value his input and write back to him promptly. He spent many days scribbling all over the kitchen walls, but his writings usually only made sense to him…what a mess! The children would continue to cry, but no one would dare to wash any of the craziness off if the wall…they feared death or worse!
Father could never keep a job because he would always argue with his employers and “act out” often causing a need for police to become involved. Many adults were also afraid of this 6 foot 2 inch monster with the face of EVIL! His employment was always short-lived. As a result, the family was poor and the children were made to wear old worn out sneakers picked up at the Salvation Army…and eat canned Spam meat from the Welfare made into as many different meals as possible! Old sneakers and government food were easier to live with than the constant fear of the Father’s “crazy” punishments.
Kathy and her brothers lived in fear every day because no one knew what would set off the Monster! For example, Kathy wasn’t feeling well after school one day and was teary-eyed as she entered the house. She was immediately slapped across the face and punished for not wearing a smile!. Father would often cut all of his children’s hair so short that they were laughed at by their friends. Kathy sat and sobbed as he gave her sort of a pixie cut when all other girls were wearing long hair. Her crying angered him even more. Monster buzz-cut her brothers’ hair so short when other boys wore their hair a little longer at that time. If the children showed any sadness or tears for the terrible haircuts he would then punish them for that display of negative emotion. Several times he forced them to spend hours sorting out huge piles of screws, nuts, and bolts while sitting on the cold concrete basement floor and they were up until all hours of the night only to have to get up exhausted for school.
The children talked about what they could do….they had no answer because remember the Monster could read their minds and they were so frightened ALL OF THE TIME! Mother couldn’t help….so sad! When all of the pieces in the basement were sorted, Monster would dump them out to mix them all up again! Kathy and her brothers thought “We could run away…well no, guess we better not because he will kill us for sure!”
Father’s punishments were so cruel and unusual that the children were too petrified to share any information about the abuse with school staff. They knew they were all alone! Monster would tip over the children’s beds and dressers, throw their clothes in a pile outside in the snow….he would purposely break favorite possessions and of course, God help them if they cried because he smashed another television! 😪 Father seemed to enjoy kicking in the front of most of the family’s TV’s, as if it gave him some sick pleasure! Again, no one dared to look sad, frightened or show tears.
Since Kathy was the oldest sibling she was forced to watch one of her brothers being struck repeatedly because he had trouble learning how to ride a 2 wheeled bike for the first time…who doesn’t have such problems? She was 10 years old at the time. Her brother was crying as he tried to keep the bike up and fell, was hit, tried again and fell, and was hit again. His crying ripped her heart out and made her want to kill the Monster! She was so young, but her mind was filled with nightmares during so many sleepless nights during her young life during which she tried to murder the Monster in so many ways. That day watching her brother’s pain, Kathy felt she could take no more. She climbed up and looked in the medication cabinet, quickly swallowed 12 Tylenol pills and went to her bed, hoping all the pain would soon be gone forever. Poor little 10 year old….so sad that her life was horrible that she wished for it to end….😔.
She felt so sad when she awoke later, and much to Kathy’s surprise, she was ok, just nauseous. She really wished she hadn’t woken up to live again in this house of horrors! What a horrible feeling to hate being alive!
A few years later Kathy was forced to go “on dates” with the Monster father! Kathy was shocked and wondered WHY she was getting dressed up to go to one of her father’s company parties. She wanted to say no…she felt so disgusting and close to vomiting! How could this be right? Why does she have to go with the Monster? It is supposed to be her mother, not here…she was only a child! At the parties everyone stared at her as she was forced to dance with HIM! Kathy tried not to look at the people and wished for the night to be over soon! She was also forced to go out for coffee or lunch and again felt so physically ill every time. 💔
There were so many other forms of punishment and humiliation that the children endured living in that haunted house with the Monster father, but fortunately today they are all functioning adults with families doing their best. Sadly they all still bear multiple physical and mental scars, in the forms of anxiety and depression, and PTSD.
It would take many more pages to describe everything the Monster did to his innocent children.. Kathy thought ” maybe someday my brothers and I will write a book about the pain and be very proud we had the strength to endure so much abuse and still be here to talk about it! They all hoped their story would help others open up about pain and traumatic childhoods in order to begin a long overdue healing process. Kathy and her brothers agree that even as adults much more healing is necessary to continue living somewhat “normal” happy, peaceful lives. ( then again, what is NORMAL…really?)
Kathy is 62 years old and has been in therapy for about 20 years and is still on medication for panic disorder and clinical depression. She does not feel good about herself and has low self-esteem even to this day, so definitely plans to continue cognitive therapy and medication. Some days are easier than others, but Kathy continues to have occasional nightmares about killing the “Monster Father!” Although he passed away, he seems to live on in her mind.
Unfortunately, as an adult she has been hospitalized in psychiatric wards three times for intense and real suicidal thoughts. In her 20 years of therapy, Kathy has worked with at least 6 different professionals, some with whom she felt comfortable, but also some who she was unable to relate to at all. It has been a long road of ups and downs, with many days that rendered her unable to leave her bed, but Kathy tries to hold on…..one day at a time.
Her painful fight with Ovarian cancer and long months of chemotherapy, her wonderful supportive daughter and son-in-law, and her 3 year old granddaughter have given her life NEW meaning, so whenever she feels she is slipping into that dark place again, Kathy is thankful she beat cancer (so far), spends time with her daughter, and visits her “sweetie pie.” Thank you my girls! ❤️❤️
Thank you, Kathy and the boys! 💙💜 Pat
This was absolutely beautiful. Thank you for baring and sharing!
– I am glad that you stayed a little while longer with his!
– I appreciate you sharing. I am beginning to believe that everyone has suicidal thoughts at sometime in their life.
“Killing yourself can spiritually kill other people.” — I can vouch that this could happen. My spirit hasn’t died, nor has it been wounded. I’d rather say that it has been tainted and if only the corruption could be washed off as easily…
After seeing my cousin kill himself and not being able to stop/save him, I feel that life is hollowing out of me. When the numbness takes over, the images of him killing himself are played on repeat and my back is burdened with the weight of the ‘what ifs’.
One day I will write about my experiences and hopefully it will help those left behind. for now I am just glad your mother called you before you hit a point of no return.
Fascinating post. Thank you, Tim! Touching and insightful.
What a much more wonderful world it is with you in it. Thank you for your vulnerability and honesty.
Tim. I respect mucho all you do and continue to learn and teach. Chances are you won’t even read this. I know you are a life hacker extraordinaire and also must wonder what is the ultimate secret to win this game of life? You go have done it …partially… one of the secrets. Transcendental meditation. You said u do it 1x day. Why? Let’s have a no strings attached convo. I’ll come to you. JOSH. [Moderator: phone number removed] Dallas tx. Miss it you miss the perspective you seek
Wow, I am feeling a lot of gratitude and empathy right now. I see the courage it must have taken you to write this. Thanks for showing your personal experience as a way to help others in this situation.
I am going to share this with my students today.
I got out of a spiraling depression after my brother took
His own life himself… one way I did it was I realised I had a pattern…. every time I would hear a sad song I would cry…. little did I realise majority of my music playlist at that point in time was sad music… I made the decision there and then to remove all that music from my Playlist and replaced it or left it with all my upbeat music 2-3 weeks later I started to improve… I hope this helps anyone if you really do give it a try 🙂
Thank you. The most impacting read today. Tons of respect for your honesty.
Id like to add
-if you feel like you are getting depressed, do not hold off seeking professional help.
-within that help, if one doctor isnt working try another. Being restricted to one gp is fine for coughs and colds, but mental health is so much different.
-when you feel like hurting yourself, just think, how am i going to look at these scars in several years time? Nothing is worth permanent damage.
-just remember, even if you think no one cares for you, people do. Whether it be your parents, your neighbours, your friend, even the shopkeeper at your local iga. They will help you if you ask.
-you cannot heal if you do not want to. I know it sounds obvious, but i went a long time thinking i wanted to heal but ignoring advice from my doctor.
Thank you so much for this. This changes something.
Thank you for your story. The most unlikely of us with severe depression for what most people would describe as first world problems is fraught with guilt and negative thoughts on how you are such a self absorbed worthless piece of flesh. The only thing that kept me alive until I finally (after years of planning my death ) got professional help , was the fact that my Mother needed the $500/ month I sent her to afford to live in her home . And the thought I may ruin my daughters life. Being older with suicidal thoughts is easier to overcome I think if you have people who depend on you. It’s so much harder for the young. My heart goes out to people living with so much pain . Once I started to heal with professional help and exercise! Friends I had never really put any energy into maintaining , just reached out in so many ways. I am astounded to this day that these people loved me. And they truly enjoyed my company. I have the best friends in the world.
Stumbled upon this blog recently. Your words ring true and are timeless. Here’s a blog entry I recently posted about managing depression.
Very recently I felt my heart shatter in to a million pieces, I felt the very being of my existence escape me. It was painful and instantaneous. I gulped for air that wasn’t there, I cried out for relief that was not available. I questioned why? Why must we exist simply to endure this kind of pain? I wanted to die, right there in that moment. Fortunately I did not die but unfortunately the pain did not lift either. Intellectually I knew that this too shall pass but that did little to comfort me. I took every step one can think of in moments of despair. I prayed, I cried, I reached out for my loved ones, I called a therapist. And guess what? None of it helped. I still hurt, I still wanted to die. HOWEVER my past experiences with this beast have taught me that this will pass and I will feel better again, some day…..
In the meantime I do everything I should: I spend time with family and friends, I find distractions, I talk to therapists, I practice gratitude, I pray and pray and pray. This keeps me alive, keeps me going, keeps me hopeful. You see even in the throws of despair – I KNOW I WILL ENDURE and I will kick the shit out of depression. It may be winning today and the days to come, but ultimately I will be the victor and it will be very sorry it messed with me. I will use my experience to inform others that ESCAPE is possible and depression DOES NOT always win.
This is not my first battle with depression albeit it has been quite some time since our last encounter. I didn’t even recognize it at first. I had kicked its ass so bad, it hadn’t even attempted to rear its ugly head for years. But alas when I am down, it has found its way back in to my psyche. It has used my ultimate weakness (as it always does) to lure me back in to battle. I have fought and won before just as I will again. I have tools, I have experience and I have support from the voice of other fighters. So here’s me holding up my middle finger and shouting “Sayonara Depression – not this time!”
Respect for sharing this!
Maybe one thing you forgot is, that we’re afraid to talk about depression and suicide-thoughts because we and society often think of these as weakness, when they are “just” a disease.
Thank you for sharing your thoughts. I listened to this after a friend killed himself nov 28. Nobody had any idea that the happiest person anyone ever met was struggling deeply.
How nobody could see it is astonishing. There are ways to reach out confidentially, without judgment or blame. If for whatever reason, you are one of those people too ashamed to talk about inner demons, you are loved and the world wants you in it.
Hey have you ever wondered if porn might be a contributing factor for depression?
A good read. Thanks for having the courage to post this.
Thank you as always. There is a book that is great and I would highly recommend. Stay: A History of Suicide and the Arguments Against It [Moderator: link removed]
I hope and wish your destructive demons have left you forever..It sounds like you truly understood things … because you’ve got a strong soul…Have you reached out and made a vow to someone? God Bless your heart and soul Tim!
Thanks for the post it helps knowing your not alone. I’m in that 10X friends and family category.
Please don’t feel ashamed to admit your weaknesses. That is where courage is found which becomes the foundation of our strength.
Thank you for sharing such a powerful message and allowing us in one of your most vulnerabl experiences, you are a gift to the world just by shining light on depression and the stigma surrounding it, ty Tim! Forever a fan
I have shared a full on hug with Nick Vujicic after listening to him speak live in the past. He seems like an awesome soul! As for some of my personal experiences getting back on track, I have reread the Art of Happiness by the Dalai Lama when I was really struggling about life as well and it really helped me a lot. Also, creating a “bucket list” of 100 and looking at it consistently kept me motivated again. Ticking them off is so exciting! Thanks for writing this 🙂
This is just a scratch on the surface on the subject.
Your story Tim is very mild compering on what people go through in life.
I think it would be great if you did some research on the subject, it would also solve mean other problems that humans face along the way
Thanks Tim, you’re a champion for so many people. This article feels like the ultimate “Tools of Titans” handbook for those who struggle with debilitating depression. Though all my friends and family would describe me as eternally optimistic and vivacious – Like many, I’m drawn to your content because it brings sense to the nonsense of my own OCD, anxiety and occasional feelings of lack of meaning in life. Simply sharing this feeling with others helps me to pull back up into a positive space. Thank you.
I would like to say I’m sorry for any misspellings, I’m writing this on my phone so bare with me. After reading this I understand the downward spiral you went through as I have too gone through the same thing. I was a junior in college when mine happened. I ended up in the hospital because of it and given a diagonsis of schizophrenia. See the thing that makes the difference in people who are able to get through the storm of mental illness is their strength and ability to bounce back. Some people do this more quickly than others but if you can keep the storm short like your toolbox does then you can use that same tool box for anything. Mine includes meditating and breathing exercises which helps me too. But for some they make might need medication. I take medication everyday to be able to keep on the tracks. Also going to bed and getting plenty of sleep helps too. I’m a rare case because I was able to go back to school in six months and graduate two years later thanks to the support of my friends and love bed ones. Many don’t and this is a shame. It takes strength to ask for help because your not always gonna want to be t understanding yourself helps know where the bonderies can be pushed and where they can’t. Overtime and with a lot of help I truly believe anyone can recover. I hope this helps.
Fabulous. Thank you for this work of love. Should be required reading, for parents and teachers first.
I think I’ve lived with the thought of suicide for 25 years. Not every day, but at least 3x a week. Sometimes every day. And I’m a gun owner. In the safe, 4 steps from by bed, is my deliverance from all of this pain and sorrow and uncertainty and failure.
I haven’t been able to do it because I don’t want to ruin the lives of my friends/family/fiancée… but there is some part of me that’s fairly certain that someday, maybe far in the future maybe not, but barring some sort of accident, when I leave this earth it will be by my own hand.
“Certainly, I’d failed his brother by being such a coward in my writing. How many others had I failed? These questions swam in my mind.”
Amen. This is such an important reminder. Time to stop being such a coward. Thank you, Tim.
As you’ve said, what keeps me here is those I would hurt if I carried it out. Thanks for the suggestions and for your latest book!
I wanted to try micro-dosing as means to conquer depression, but I have no idea how to start. I’m on anti-depressants and they’re not working. No doctor I’ve talked to agrees with micro-dosing right now. Maybe when it’s “approved” by the FDA.
Tim hello my name is Jeff and this might seem bizarre but I just finished my novel. The name of it is The Haunting of Jeffrey. How I made it through 47 years without killing myself . It is very bizarre but it is good. It shows of my plan from a young age to future state on a plan and an excellent plan on how and why I wanted to do this . The story is about how I got through an average day with finding that high on how and where I could off
Myself in a fantastic way it is and it isstill a game to me. It is the hunt on an average day on writing my own obituary