Some Practical Thoughts on Suicide

timterrace___Flickr_-_Photo_Sharing_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.

Much love,

Tim

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.


Additional Resources:

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 – 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 500 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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1,223 Replies to “Some Practical Thoughts on Suicide”

  1. Hey tim. I don’t know if you will see this or not. I’m not sure how to write this. I’m out of my native country right now working on myself and getting healthy. I’m alone and away from my family wife and kid. I got a call last night from my wife telling me a close friend of mine commited suicide by shooting himself. He was a good man and we had become close working on non profit initiatives. He was a hard worker, sometimes we would marvel at how much work he could get done. (Your type a personality like u mentioned I guess)

    I’m beside myself with shock and grief. But I don’t have any real friends to confide in here and all I want to do is go home to comfort and be comforted by my wife. He left behind a wife and two beautiful young kids. I just could not understand how it got so bad that he pulled that trigger. He was a stress case a lot of times, sometimes up and sometimes down.

    But what I wanted to convey while sitting at the airport waiting to board my first flight to go back home was I came across your blog. And it helped. I can see more clearly now how thoughts can overwhelm a person to the point where he thinks there is no way out.

    The worst part is he wanted to talk to me before I left about financial troubles but we didn’t have a chance to sit down so in a brief meeting (our last) I hugged him told him not to stress and he’s my brother and we will sit down when I get back and figure things out.

    I can’t believe I was so ignorant or naive to the signs of mental depression. It never occurred to me he might be depressed or having these thoughts. It was always “well that’s just the way he is, always stressing”.

    I don’t know what I wanted to accomplish with this msg. I guess I just wanted to write and get some stuff out. So why not your blog afterall you are someone I respect so much. What are the odds I would come across this blog entry right after this tragedy occurred. Thank you for reading to everyone. God bless and let’s make this world a better place by looking out for each other.

  2. Thank you for posting this. I lost my mom to suicide and I was just thinking of how I could leave this worl behind. D

  3. Thank you for this. The sharing of both your story and coping mechanisms is helpful. I am waiting for my psychiatrist appointment reading this. Iade a vow that I would never kill myself because of my husband, I could never do that to him. One thing I have learned to do is be outside. Good weather or bad, being outside in nature can calm you.

  4. My life has been touched and changed by suicide by those closest to me – my mother, my youngest aunt – and by others close to those I love most in my life. I wish they had had an opportunity to read this before making that final irrevocable decision.

    Much love and goodness to you, Tim for being generous enough to share your story and your journey.

  5. Thanks you for your suicide story. My family endured this 10 years ago and the pain is still there. Its so important to realize how this act impacts your family after that painful decision is made.

  6. Tim, it’s strange to think of you as making a jump to the next level, because you’ve always seemed like someone who’d maxed out the game board. But you just did it again with this.

    Hearing you mention the nervousness in your mom’s voice as she asked about the suicide book from the library broke my heart. A lucky miracle for sure. I don’t know if I believe in God but I sure believe in moms.

    My prosaic-sounding suggestion to anyone considering suicide: Don’t make this decision without seeing how you feel about your situation without spending at least a week completely clean of wheat, sugar and soda (especially diet soda, which I think is more addictive and has killed more people than cigarettes.)

    I’ve been clean for a week and I’m liking myself for the first time in many, many years. I can’t wait to rip a piece out of the world. (Believe me — I was a completely different person a week ago.)

  7. Nicely done and being a mom, I loved the punch line. You did a good job on this important topic. Thank you for sharing your story, it will help others.

  8. Thanks for having the courage to share Tim and I do believe this will help others. Similar thing happened to me after graduating school at the top, then losing my job, apartment, a similar breakup situation, and watching my mom go through cancer/chemo. Was in a very dark place, but life is much better now. Funny that I had similar thoughts on the afterlife– don’t know if it will be better or worse. I’ve found exercise, a good diet, plenty of water (not so much alcohol) helps me.

  9. Tim, thanks for sharing this. While I have never contemplating taking my life, I have also dealt with depression before. It’s a very hard place to battle your way out of, but I’ve always fought to do it.

    Sometimes, I’ve found the best way to beat depression is humor. I know it’s a cliche, but laughter really is the best medicine. So, when I’m in need of a good pick me up, or to get out of depressed mood, I listen to a comedy channel on Pandora or SiriusXM. When I laugh, I feel better.

    Also, when I need motivation, I think about what my goals are, and then I go there. I don’t just envision them, I go there, when possible, and see myself being there. That’s how I got back into college after dropping out first. I went back to the campus, and I walked around every square foot of it and reminded myself of how much fun I had there, how much I missed the place, and how much I wanted to get a degree from there. After three hours of doing that, I walked right into the admissions office and applied to get back in. I was accepted right away.

  10. Tim,

    I’ve been a fan of your work for years, but your recent willingness to share your personal struggles takes things to a new level. This is going to help a lot of people.

    In addition to the tips you mentioned, the following has helped me:

    -Meditation. Having a meditation practice has been life changing in terms of my mental space. Yet, I hesitate to list it hear, because when you’re depressed, the thought of taking on a new practice can just add to the feeling of being overwhelmed. If you’re new to meditating, try instead blocking off some time just sit, perhaps with a cup of tea of coffee. Don’t involve any screens. Simply being present for a bit and not trying to do anything has a great cleansing effect.

    -Journaling. Writing about my anxieties helps me release them.

    -Music. The right music sometimes really helps me, though it has to be chosen carefully. If it’s too upbeat, I can’t relate to it when I’m struggling, but if it’s too dark, it drags me down further.

    Thanks again for writing on this subject.

  11. I dealt with depression and alcoholism for a very long time and had many thoughts of suicide. After reading four hour body, I ran across a book called “Primal Body, Primal Mind”, by Nora Gedgaudas, which discusses the importance of ketosis for our mind and body. Being on a high fat low carb moderate protein ketogenic diet as described in the book, along with transcendental meditation, has had the most powerful effect on my mental health. I feel great and have not had any alcohol in two and a half years. Tim should definitely interview Nora in a podcast and talk about depression and other mental health issues. Nora is very knowledgeable about the effects of diet on our mental health.

  12. When I was in my teenage years I went through a bout of situational depression (about six months). It was a situation which I no longer had any control over and was therefore not something I could act on to “fix.” I found a very helpful way to fend off the constant pull of depressive thoughts, though it did take some mental effort. The key was to never all these negative thoughts to carry me away. I would notice them slither up into my consciousness, distracting me, and immediately mentally push the thoughts aside and refocus on the present moment. I would do this by clearing my mind and then focusing in on my surroundings. Essentially, I constantly reined in my mind and put it to work in the present. This focus on the present made room in my mind for hope and more positive thoughts. Though I wouldn’t say this practice was the “cure,” it allowed me to function well each day and eased the healing process. It was a selective forgetting that left the memory intact without allowing it to impinge on my everyday life. My hope is that this practice could help others too.

  13. Tim, thank you for sharing your story, I can relate as I’m sure many people can, but despite that, so many of us say nothing to others out of shame. The only suggestion I’d like to add is practicing mental silence meditation. I recently started and have found benefits almost instantaneously. When one is plagued by dark shadows and negative, self-destructive thoughts, effective and healthy self-reflection can really seem impossible. However, practicing being in control of your mind and silencing those internal naysayers even if only for a few seconds at a time until you can meditate in mental silence for longer is, I believe, a step in the right direction. Free resource: http://www.onlinemeditation.org/ Your candid retelling of your experience is wholeheartedly appreciated. Thank you.

  14. I wanted to thank you.

    I’ve never left a comment here before, but I’ve followed your work for many years. I just wanted to say I think this is the most moving, personal thing I’ve ever seen you write, and I’m grateful that you were able to be so fearless in being publicly naked about the places in your life/head that make you uncomfortable.

    There was a time where I was pretty heavily struggling with depression and suicide, and it was a slow climb out of that hole– but the more open I am about it with friends personally, the more I find that we all have these secret stories, and the disservice we do to others is pretending we don’t. The result is we think we must be the only ones who feel this way, which is obviously untrue.

    As a side note, in a sort of funny twist, the thing that had the strongest effect on my ability to climb out my depression? Focusing on my health. Running. Cutting out sugar. Eating protein in the morning. Submerging myself in books like yours to try and tackle the emotionally-chemical-laden machine of my body, to buy myself inches of daylight until I felt like a sane human again.

    Sometimes the problems only seem insurmountably terrible because your body needs looking after.

    I’m really heartened by your story and I’m sure many others are too– using your platform for this is pretty incredible. Honesty inspires honesty, and we all learn more in the long run. Thank you.

  15. Tim,

    What a relief to know there are others out there that battle the same deamons. I have twice come shamefully close to ending my own life because I was feeling overwhelmed with dis pair and a never ending to do list. Thank you for posting this. I can’t tell you how valuable a tool this will be to me to reference in those times of need. I love your “routines” they seem to keep me grounded as well, and losing them often means losing perspective on everything else. In a word, thank you.

  16. This post resonates very strongly with me and my recent experiences. Personally, I’ve struggled with depression most of my life, and I’ve been in and out of therapy (with varying degrees of success) since I was 16 (I’m 27 now). Recently things had spiraled so far out that I just lay in bed for days on end thinking about how much I wanted to die. Eventually I decided that I needed to get more focused help and had myself admitted to a psychiatric hospital for treatment. It was a scary decision for me to make, especially since I knew that it would likely change a lot of things about my life, and that the hole I’d dug would still be there once I got out. It wasn’t a magic pill experience for me, and I’m still dealing with all of the same problems that sent me to the hospital in the first place, but the difference is that now I’m actually DEALING with them, with the help of some good allies (i.e. friends, family, therapist, medication).

    But if there’s one piece of advice I can give: There’s rarely a problem (or set of problems) that is too big to fix. You just have to give it time and take it one day at a time. Some days are going to be hard, and life is going to challenge you, but you don’t have to go at it alone. The world is more willing to help than you probably give it credit for. Never be afraid to reach out.

  17. Amazingly personal post! Took some guts. I hope you realize even though you have not written anything explicitly about this before, you have helped many people by teaching us implicitly all the positive lessons and perspective changes you have gained by this experience through your writing. I for one was helped tremendously by the 4HWW in gaining a broader and empowering perspective on my life. So thanks for that :)!

  18. Hey Tim:

    Thanks for the touching post (I teared up whilst reading b/c I can totally relate to your story) and for being vulnerable.

    I appreciated your tips and also want to share a resource that’s also helped me change my thought process especially if you don’t have any friends or family: Faster EFT.

    It’s helped me take control of unhealthy emotions & memories and STOP CREATING problems (we are great creators). I like this approach because it changes your mental/emotional state, and it works fast. (Please note I’m not an instructor or promoter. I’ve tried shrinks, EFT, meditation, psych books, personal development, etc., and this is the ONLY thing that has made a difference! BTW, #616 on YouTube is a good one to check out.)

  19. Whenever the topic of suicide would come up, my Mom would make a point of show us kids the supreme selfishness of such an act and the pain it causes those you love for eternity (your Point 2.) And she would mention nothing is forever or so bad that a forever act is required to fix it (related to Point 3.) As a result I’ve been inoculated against suicidal thoughts. Even at my lowest point of depression, homeless, and doing day labor for food money, I never seriously considered suicide a solution. If the thought does occur, one of the above arguments come to mind and I immediately move on. Thanks for this insightful post, Tim.

  20. Tim, thank you so much for this raw, honest and intimate sharing. When someone who is a role model for many can share a life story like you have here, it gives more of us permission to admit that we have had similar periods in our lives. Perhaps it will give someone who is currently in the throes of experiencing this permission to ask for help.

    I want to share the thing that has most helped me in my journey out of depression and suicidal ideation. Firstly, the importance of eating a diet that helps maintain stable blood sugar cannot be overstated. But the final key for me was found in a technique called Total Body Modification (TBM). Because of the success I found in this technique, both for suicidal ideation and other things, I have chosen to make it my life’s working treating patients with, and teaching, TBM. It is an energetic medicine technique and we use an energetically charged vial called the Zeta Virus Vial to treat suicidal ideation. Because the owner** of TBM also has also experienced depression and suicidal ideation, this topic is near to his heart. As a result, he created a volunteer program. Any practitioner who has taken seminars and is listed on our website has the option of offering the Zeta Virus treatment for free, they are called Zeta Volunteers. If anyone is interested in receiving this treatment, please check out our website. Go to the “Find a Practitioner” tab, and see if there is a Zeta Volunteer near you (designated by a “z”). The treatment process takes only a few minutes and is painless. You will leave with some written information about suicidal ideation, depression, and a diet that will help maintain stable blood sugar. You are under no obligation to receive any additional treatment from that TBM practitioner, although I’d recommend it if you are looking for more complete healing.

    I suspect that for some of you this treatment option sounds “way out there”. I hope that many of you will still check it out (it’s free, what do you have to loose?), as TBM has made the most significant difference in my journey from depression and suicidal ideation to having a joyful and amazing life.

    **Total transparency here, the owner of TBM is my husband

  21. I have been reading your work and following you for many years. This is hands down the most important and most impactful post you have ever written. Thank you for sharing your story, being vulnerable, and making a difference in the world. Much respect to you, Tim.

  22. Great post Tim and there are never “too long” or “too many” posts about preventing suicide. I’ve faced that demon and it’s been close in my direct family too. I’ve lost a couple of high school friends to it. Great advice and if I could add another group to check out on this it’s TWLOHA (http://twloha.com/)

  23. Hi, thank you so much for posting this article. I am a Social Worker and practical material such as this will really help in my practice. I would also suggest trying many of the personal tools Tim speaks about throughout his varying pod cast. Especially mediation and mindfulness. If you are struggling I have found Cognitive Behavioral Therapy (CBT) to be very effective with my clients. You can easily find many books and work books on CBT. I hope this helps.

  24. Thanks for sharing. I sometimes feel depressed and I love listening to you and Joe Rogan, Shit! I’ve never made plans though. However, I have thought that my wife and kids are better off with the life insurance money than me. Dam. it was hard to type that, but that thought has been in my mind. Im not gonna tap out, Im going to push though and accomplish something significant.

    1. You have courage to write that. afsp.org offers some great resources. Just know that your story isnt over yet. best of luck.

  25. Before this post I respected you as an author and entrepreneur. Now, I respect you as a man as well. A few extra tips: It’s also important to understand where value comes from. Even if you don’t go on to write best selling books or feel you have made a massive contribution to society, you have worth and are loved simply because you are a human being. Even if you were hospitalized for the rest of your life, you have worth. (For those of you who hate spiritual posts/people, please discontinue reading now). Lastly, for those of you who are wondering what life there is after death, eternity, I am 100% convinced in God and heaven. You are not an accident. He made you with a purpose and longs to have relationship with you. The reward and guarantee of this is eternity with him. Jeremiah 29:11 – For I know the plans I have for you, declares the Lord, plans for welfare and not for evil, to give you a future and a hope.

  26. Fuck I’m sitting reading this with tears in my eyes. I can’t tell you how immensely encouraging it is to read this and see that there is life beyond the hopelessness. I am in almost exactly the situation you were in in 1999, life feels fucked up and I don’t see or feel any hope for the future. I’m in my 20s with a struggling business and now every problem seems to loom so high over me I can’t face the shame of potential failure in life. I can’t believe Tim Ferriss the beast-machine of success and productivity felt like this. I was listening to your podcast earlier and couldn’t enjoy it as I just felt despair over how “together” you have everything in life. To hear that you once felt things were this overwhelming has revived my hope. Thank you so much for sharing this, seriously, it’s the single most impactful thing you have ever put out there for me.

  27. Even expressing gratitude in this simple comment makes me feel more valuable and that’s what I needed 🙂 Thank you Tim.

  28. Cognitive Behavioral Therapy has been hugely influential in helping me overcome depression. It is proven to be just as effective as medication in treating depression.

  29. Thank you Tim. This was very courageous and enlightening. You have done a great service for all by writing this. I lost a friend to suicide almost a year ago and almost every day I wish I could have done something for him.

  30. Fuck I’m sitting reading this with tears in my eyes. I can’t tell you how immensely encouraging it is to read this and see that there is life beyond the hopelessness. I am in almost exactly the situation you were in in 1999, life feels fucked up and I don’t see or feel any hope for the future. I’m in my 20s with a struggling business and now every problem seems to loom so high over me I can’t face the shame of potential failure in life. I can’t believe Tim Ferriss the beast-machine of success and productivity felt like this. I was listening to your podcast earlier and couldn’t enjoy it as I just felt despair over how “together” you have everything in life. To hear that you once felt things were this overwhelming has revived my hope. Thank you so much for sharing this, it’s the single most impactful thing you have ever put out there for me.

  31. Thank you for this. I know how hard it must have been to write and “put out there”. We are all very silent and guarded about this subject. I’ve just lost my brilliant, gifted and very much loved 19 year old nephew to suicide in his 2nd year at University. Academically, he’d been a straight-A student his entire life, taking all AP courses and winning awards right and left. He was kind, handsome, innately talented, and we believed that he would ultimately cure cancer. Sadly, at the end, he was tormented by all those ugly demons you spoke of. A basically sober, friendly/shy and slightly geeky band kid who, after having ECT therapy recommended by his school therapist, was about to make his first-ever B, had not been hired for a job he wanted, broke up with his girlfriend, had his wisdom teeth removed the weekend before, and ran his car battery down. He died alone in his apartment on a Wednesday afternoon. Everything you wrote is true — those of us who knew him are devastated and will never be the same.

  32. Thank you doesn’t seem to begin to say it. You just reached another level in my mind and heart…I’d hug you if I could. Many, many thanks.

  33. First, Tim, great post. It always takes courage to share something like this.

    I want to reply as a suicide survivor. Maybe someone in the same shoes can get something out of this.

    My wife took her own life in December of 2013 after struggling with depression, anxiety and other emotional and psychological illness since at least 13 years old. She was 32 at the time. The final 4 years of her life were incredibly painful as every medication and therapy seemed to fail to help her. She had goals and a life to look forward to. She had just graduated with her bachelors degree and had been looking forward to a career teaching special education children, a field she had been interested in her entire adult life.

    For those contemplating suicide I want to reaffirm; if you do this it will be the single worst event those who love you are likely to live through. When they told me my wife was brain dead and would never recover the person I was simply ended at 42 y/o (I was 10 years older than her.) The next 6 months were non-stop horror and pain. I contemplated my own suicide more than once. The person I am now is not the person I was then. That guy is gone for good. And the pain has not ended. It is a daily, sometimes hourly, occasionally minute-minute part of my existence. If this will help you course correct, feel free to write it down somewhere.

    For those who have just recently had someone in their life commit suicide, here are the things I want to say;

    You can survive this. It’s going to suck forever but eventually it won’t hurt as much and it will hit less often. There’s still time, the world is still beautiful. Keep going.

    Feel all of it. Repress none of it. I get emotional repression, believe me. I’m ex-Army from a military family. Both my grandfather’s served in WWII. One of them fought at the invasion of Italy. My father retired from the Air Force after 21 years. My nephew goes to Marine Corps basic training this summer. You could say emotional repression is built into my DNA. But you can’t allow that. If you don’t express the anger, guilt, relief (yep, that’s one of them, particularly if the struggle was long) and all encompassing sadness you will be unable to answer it and it will live in your subconscious screwing you and every one of your relationships. For me, among others, I screamed Metallica’s Broken, Beat and Scarred at the top of my lungs everyday while commuting for work (“Show your scars!”)

    Lean on you friends. Use your supports. If you were the caretaker of someone with these sorts of issues you’ve likely been the supporter, the linchpin, the rock. It’s your turn now, brother or sister. Don’t try to stand on your own.

    If your supports are weak or you need more than that, go to a survivor’s group. More useful than individual therapy.

    Feel free to stop doing things that remind you of them that weren’t terribly important. I’ll likely not going back to the CA Bay area for many years. That was her place. We lived there for a while because she wanted to.

    Don’t avoid places that were important to both of you. We loved PAX. I went to the very next one after she died. I cried, I enjoyed it less, but I also felt connected to her and to my life.

    Don’t cheapen your memories of them. Try to remember them as they were. Make them neither an object of pain and pity nor lionize them as a flawed super-hero who did no wrong.

    These two resources also helped me a great deal;

    http://www.yourlifecounts.org/sites/default/files/a_handbook_for_survivors_of_suicide_1.pdf

    http://www.allianceofhope.org/blog_/loss-of-spouse-partner/

    Stay in the game.

  34. You know that phenomenon in which you encounter something new, like a new word, and then you see it everywhere? I’ve had an experience like that over the past few weeks, and it was triggered by something you posted (maybe on Facebook?) several weeks ago. You posted about sometimes struggling to respond with patience when writing emails, etc. (totally a paraphrase). Someone made a comment about not worrying about it, that emotional intelligence is overrated. That same day, I ran across this article: http://bit.ly/1GGEzeL discussing the development of the field of emotional intelligence. Then I started reading this book: http://amzn.to/1Eh4i6P about child development and the importance of character development as a predictor and/or facilitator of success. Then I saw this post of yours. I’ve not struggled much with intense depression or suicidal thoughts since high-school, though I do sometimes get that low-grade persistent sort of apathy that comes as a symptom of depression for me. But when I talk to people (a few of my loved ones) who do struggle with serious depression and suicidal thoughts, it’s usually in terms of how they develop coping mechanisms: recognizing the problem, building routines, exercise, careful attention to diet and alcohol consumption, etc. This is super rambling, but I guess what I’m seeing, from these various things that have been popping up in my newsfeed or that I’m reading or talking to people about, is that emotional intelligence, self-control, ‘character,’ the ability to withstand depressive periods, and the ability to control one’s instinct to lash out at obnoxious people, are all connected. It comes down to an ability to step back from a situation and view it on a meta-level, whether it’s an interaction with someone else or an interaction with one’s own demons. This is not “just snap out of it” or “resolve to be happy.” This is hard work on a skill that at least some of the research indicates can absolutely be learned. And since skill-development is completely your bailiwick, I wonder if you couldn’t expand this discussion and incorporate it into your larger work. Even if you never touch the subject of depression and suicide again (and I do appreciate how hard this topic can be to discuss), I want to thank you for having the courage to talk about it this time. And I want to thank you for getting me started on thinking more about this area with that first post you made asking for tips on self-control when responding to stupid emails 😉

  35. Thanks Tim!

    When I’m spiralling through a bout of depression I have a two word mantra that helps me get back on track:

    “No Judgement”

    For me, it’s the negative self-judgement that gets things sliding out of control and turns molehills into mountains. Not allowing myself this judgement puts things back in perspective.

  36. Keeping your word to Silas was both honorable and courages.

    My child, a type A-Personality got increasing depressed during her time away at college. It was completely unexpected, and it scared me.

    She, thank God was not near thoughts of suicide, but the depression took over her once bubbly personality and completely dulled her spirit. It was as if she became an entirely different person; one that was overwhelmed, disengaged, and short tempered. The Polar opposite of her true essence.

    I’m genuinely happy you made the decision to write this post. I hope college students, entrepreneurs, overwhelmed parents, and the list goes on and on – read this AND share it. Because it’s as you said, ‘It’s easy to blow things out of proportion, to get lost in the story you tell yourself.’ I think this post will help more people then even you’d imagined.

    Thanks!

  37. Thanks for posting this. I had a really dark year in 2014 and it was some advice from a friend that got me out of it. He said, “Don’t let the things you don’t like doing ruin the things you do like.” It made me realize that I was letting the shitty parts of my life consume everything. I had stopped hanging out with friends, given up my hobbies, and in general forsaken being happy all for the “benefit” of some situations that I hated. Saying “fuck it”, and focusing on the things that made me happy made all the difference in the world.

  38. Read this in Starbucks and almost teared up. Thank you Tim for opening up with this article. This could make all the difference in a lot of peoples lives.

  39. Very interesting post Tim. I have had to deal with that demon multiple times in life. Severe depression set in around 15, and I have had it till around 50. I am retired now. Things do not always get better, I am still where I was when I was 15. Life just stopped. Dead end jobs,careers. The worst part is I just do not care anymore about anyone or anything. No depression just numb. Meds and counseling never helped. You are just on your own to make the best of it.

    Came close on two occasions to ending it, now it just does not matter.

    Took a lot of courage to write that.

  40. Sorry, Tim…I forgot to add – A very important book by a friend, Kamal Ravikant – ‘LOVE YOURSELF LIKE YOUR LIFE DEPENDS ON IT’ is a transformative piece that has helped many from not committing suicide.

  41. Thanks for sharing this, Tim. It was surprising that someone I look up to so much dealt with such similar obstacles as I did. I don’t usually comment on anything online, but what you wrote really resonated with me and I felt like sharing.

    During high school I was an extremely overweight computer nerd. As can be expected, bullying and zero self esteem contributed to severe depression and thoughts of killing myself inhabited a large portion of my day, which would continue for years after.

    I’d often contemplate what would be the best method to do myself in. It had to be immediate. No pain. I didn’t want to mentally scar the person who find my handiwork.

    A tall building – I bet if I landed on my head out would work well! Oh, but what if they had to have a family member identify my body? Messy. Scratch that.

    I’d actually get angry with myself for dragging it out and being such a fucking pussy. Just get it done. Man up. Lots of people do it. People that are younger than you. Wuss.

    I remember once being in a particularly bad state and without realising it, absent mindedly rifling through my cupboard for an extension cord in order to hang myself. Kind of like when killers say they go blank and don’t remember doing horrendous things. When I snapped back to reality, I just stared at the cord in my hand while tears poured out of my eyes for half an hour.

    Years have passed since my lowest points and while I won’t say I’m “cured” (I think it never disappears completely), I’ve definitely turned things around. The most important contributing factor for me was dropping 50 kilograms and getting into exceptional shape. I believe diet is very important too, and try to keep my food as natural as possible. Pack your body full of vitamins and nutrients.

    Also, if you don’t like your shit job, quit it and do something better. I’m working for myself now, am flat broke but have a sense of purpose and work to the point of obsession. I can’t sleep in anymore, I tend to beat my alarm clock in waking up because I want to get on with putting the next feature in my product.

    In essence, if anyone is having similar thoughts, please just know that it can get better. Invest in yourself and I promise you’ll get the spring back in your step. Looking back, I’m glad I was such a fucking pussy.

  42. I’ve never shared this but …..

    First some background.

    Found to be ‘intellectually gifted’ (or whatever the PC term is) in Grade 4. School wanted to put me in Grade 8 or 9. Parents knew not what to do. Oh yeah, schizophrenic mother, hard-drinking father, no school chums (too smart). Both liked to fight and the oldest boy (me) got to break it up.

    There was a huge apple tree in the backyard I used to climb because being above the rooftops made me feel like I was above my problems. I used to use some rope to help me.

    One evening, I escaped the mayhem in the house and climbed that tree. I don’t know how it happened but in the twilight the rope was around my neck. I remember it like it was yesterday. I looked down at my feet on the branch. I took one away. I put it back. I thought, “this will teach them”.

    Then, as clear as someone next to me was a voice.

    It said simply, “Those fucking assholes aren’t worth it”. (I’m getting emotional thinking this at my desk at work).

    Everytime I think that my life sucks and I want to check out, I remember that voice. If you are thinking of this waste of your gift, stop. Listen. There’s a voice in there that wants to be heard if only you will listen.

  43. Tim, it was actually your 1st book that saved me. I don’t know if I was ever truly suicidal (I always knew it wouldn’t necessarily get better after death) but I was pretty depressed. I was working at a depressing job, after years of success at school, dealing with an emotionally abusive parent and felt utterly alone in the world.

    Your book with its underlying philosophy- of taking control of your life, your body, got me out of my depression. The message of your book- if you don’t like it- change it, inspired me then and gave me hope that I could have the life I wanted.

    Thank you

  44. Tim, thank you for being so honest and vulnerable! Very courageous in posting this. Our society tries to hide suicide, depression, mental illness, etc but if we could actually see inside all of our stories, we would see a lot of us suffer or have gone through these seemingly impossible situations which are common to the human experience. This post will help a lot of people. I’m sure of it. Thanks for being courageous!

  45. Tim,

    Thank you for the comments. Suicide is a huge problem in the military and many of the Soldiers in my platoon have reported suicidal thoughts. I will share this with my Soldiers who are having issues and I believe it will be of great help. Thanks again.

    -1LT

  46. I volunteer in a ministry called MenSkills (there’s also a WomenSkills). Years ago my son became a drug addict not long after our divorce and my business burned down. Yup, heaps. I had no idea I was depressed until one day in the group the symptoms were discussed. What an eye opener. While I only had the thought of suicide for a moment or two, realizing I was depressed scared the crap out of me. I thought I was simply too strong for that. The realization changed my life, and gratefully brought empathy and compassion into my life for those who suffer from depression. I though depression was overcome by a simple decision. I experienced how wrong I was in my thinking. Now I make myself available to those with depression issues. I check my thoughts daily and very quickly realize the difference between what I THINK is truth and what actually IS truth. Most of the time there is a huge difference.

    Thanks for stepping out of your comfort zone Tim, I know how difficult that can be for many of us. No doubt this will take on a life (no pun intended) of its own. I hope more people will realize there is no shame in seeking help, it will change your life for the better, everyday. Make that decision like Tim did when he tool off of school and focused on his mental health.

    For anyone in the Southern California area that feels like you need help, check out MenSkills or WomenSkills at the marriage resource, online, there’s always someone to help.

  47. First of all, THANK YOU for sharing this story. Your honesty inspires others to share their own stories and ask for help.

    As teenagers, my brother and I both attempted suicide. We both survived. A few years later, when we were in our early twenties, my brother attempted again. He died.

    Eleven years have passed since my brother’s death, and I am now the mother of a son. As a survivor of suicide, in both senses of the term, these are the things I want him to know:

    1) Feel Your Feelings

    There will always be people who are uncomfortable with difficult feelings. Don’t be scared, they’ll say. Don’t be sad. Or worse: don’t cry. They’ll tell you to “toughen up.” Don’t listen. The deeper you bury your hurts and fears, the more painful they become. Instead, acknowledge your difficult feelings. Allow them to be what they are without trying to change them and trust that they will pass.

    2) Everything is Temporary

    Feelings, relationships, seasons—everything is always changing. This is one of the hardest things to remember, regardless of whether or not you are depressed. When you are experiencing a challenge, remind yourself of this as often as possible. Even better, ask others to remind you.

    3) Reach Out

    Individualism is the great American myth. The truth is that no one gets through life alone, real strength comes from honesty, and vulnerability is the foundation of community.

    Ask for help when you need it. Share your feelings with someone compassionate and supportive.

    I’m making this sound easier than it is. It’s actually terrifying. You may feel rejected or judged. If that happens, please try reaching out to someone else. It takes time and courage, but you will find the right people.

    4) Listen

    When you begin sharing your feelings with others, they begin sharing their feelings with you. You may be tempted to try and fix their problems or change the way they feel. Unless they ask you for help, the best way to support them is to listen without judgment.

    5) Tell Someone

    If you are having thoughts of suicide, tell someone who can help you: a family member, a friend, a teacher, a counselor. Then, let them help you.

    6) Ask Someone

    If you suspect that someone you care about is having thoughts of suicide, ask him/her. It may be uncomfortable, but it may save a life.

    7) Recognize Your Expectations

    You are never going to be perfect. Life is never going to be perfect. And guess what? That’s okay. The root of every disappointment is an expectation. When you are struggling with a situation or feeling, ask yourself whether or not there is an expectation attached. If there is, see if you can let it go.

    8) Forgive Yourself

    You are going to make mistakes—a lot of them. You are going to hurt the people you love and you are going to feel terrible about it. This is normal. Apologize when you need to and ask for forgiveness. Then, offer it to yourself.

    9) Trust That You Matter

    Depression has a way of making you feel like people would be better off without you. This isn’t true. You contribute to the universe in ways you can’t fathom. Believe that, even when it seems impossible.

    10) Decide to Live

    Make the decision today, and every day, that you will seek and accept whatever help you need to keep on living.

  48. Tim,

    Thank you so much for writing this. For years, you’ve been a big inspiration for me. I read your books, followed your blog, adopted your tactics. Today I truly feel as though you’ve gone a step beyond to connect and reach out with your fans.

    I went through a similar crisis this past fall. I worked my ass off all through my undergraduate degree, and was admitted to a top ten university for graduate school. I thought all my dreams had come true, but things came crashing down around me and I ended up taking a year off. In the past year I’ve dealt with crippling self doubt, a lack of purpose (seriously, what’s the point!?), and plenty of financial stress. My fitness has gone to hell, and I’m back at the weight I was prior to reading the 4-Hour body.

    At the same time, I’m confident now in what I need to do and who I am. What you wrote here today did a tremendous job showing that high performers tend to be manic messes at the same time. I’m going to move forward, knowing that I’m not alone in my experience. I’ll lose the weight again, get my head back in the game for my career, and make more efforts to stay close with those who are important to me.

    I’m keeping this short just because I know this post must be blowing up by now.

    I considered leaving my name or personal contact off of this, but decided it would be a shame given the courage you’ve shown today.

    Namaste, And thank you.

    Matt Mosquera

    PS: This comment was my one thing I had to get done today. 😉

  49. Suicide and Depression are very important topics, but almost nobody is brave enough to talk about them. What hinders most are specific thoughts in our head that are so strong, that we believe these thoughts automatically. But we don’t have to believe everything our head wants us to believe.

    Dr. Russ Harris is a pioneer of an approach of modern behavioral therapy called “Acceptance and Commitment Therapy”. He wrote a wonderful, easy to read book about this approach and I can tell out of my own experience that it helped myself and a lot of my patients (I’m a professional psychotherapist in Germany myself) to get a different view on our thoughts and feelings. The book is called: “The Happiness Trap” and today I discovered there is a corresponding website, too: http://www.thehappinesstrap.com

    So, check it out, I’m sure it could be helpful for some and not only concerning depression, but also various other “mental struggles” like addiction or obsessive-compulsive tendencies.

    Never give up!

  50. Fantastic post. I really identified with the predicament. My senior year at Brown I had no idea what I would do with my life after college, and my girlfriend dumped me, and I got caught in a downward spiral. It was tough. The question of why downward spirals happen to some people at certain points in their lives has always intrigued me. To understand it better I ended up getting a PhD in neuroscience doing research on depression. I recently wrote a book about it all, explaining what’s happening in the brain in depression and what you can do about it. It’s called The Upward Spiral: Using Neuroscience to Reverse the Course of Depression, One Small Change at a Time. Several of the suggestions in this post are also in my book, and I discuss the effects their actually having on the activity and chemistry of the brain. I think a lot of your readers will find it useful and interesting.

  51. Hey Tim – so your work to date is uber-impressive. I love that you provide a different lens for people to view the world, show them how to overcome perceived obstacles to their dreams and that you experiment on yourself. That’s all super inspiring. But it seems to me that this post right here is perhaps what all that stuff was leading to. I come originally from New Zealand where the suicide rate amongst men is particularly high, and there’s a real masculine stoicism around not wanting to appear weak or vulnerable. My sister’s father-in-law committed suicide as did a cousin’s husband. You’re someone with huge cultural clout and by giving people a first-hand account of your own struggles (all of them from just being overwhelmed to thoughts of suicide) you offer men in particular, a lifeline that shows that even the people who seem to have it all, are still human with all that entails. Men in paricular need to hear your story. That is some legacy work you’re doing there. Kudos to you.

  52. Thank you for this, Tim. Your writing has been a source of enrichment in my life for years now and this shines brightly.

  53. Fantastic post Tim. It has taken great courage and honesty to write this post. The sheer volume off comments already would tell you how relevant it is.

    As someone who went to a Tony Robbins seminar over a decade ago and was blown away by watching his interventions on someone who was suicidal in the audience, I became interested in the field. So much so I ended up volunteering for a suicide charity for over a decade and then retraining in the mental health field out of the inspiration I received that day. I really think he has something valuable to contribute to the field.

    I work with people with suicidal feelings on a daily basis. Whilst some of the work we do is outstanding for people, I often wondered if we “hacked” people like Tony Robbins and others who claim they have mastered helping people, then we would reduce suicides on a bigger scale. However work like Tony’s and other people in field such as NLP guru’s Bandler etc, make great claims but there is limited empirical evidence to back it up, hence it is unlikely to be taken seriously. There is also a lot of noise in the field with 1000s of techniques for working with clinically depressed and anxious people, but how much is superfluous. There is also a definite over-reliance on medical model.

    It would be fantastic if we could a) get this work tested to see is it more effective than current efforts b) get more of the front line staff and volunteers trained to master it, which if it worked, in theory would reduce the number of suicides and improve quality of peoples lives.

  54. I don’t know if anyone has mentioned this below, but depression and suicidal thoughts can sometimes be chemically induced – ie via medication. I had to take Dilantin for a couple of years and within six months of starting it I was hiding under the covers all day long, wishing I were dead. It turned out that Dilantin is notorious for destroying your seritonin production and causing depression, but I had no idea at the time. Fortunately I hit upon some research linking the two while doing homework about my illness, and the light bulb went off. I started taking St John’s Wort and within a couple of weeks my body chems began to normalize and I stopped fantasising about laying in front of a city bus.

    So if you are having depressive symptoms and are on medication, double check that stuff. And talk to somebody, I stupidly kept it in and probably could have been fixed 10x sooner if I’d asked for the damned help…

    peace

  55. Tim, my dad killed himself last week. Today is his birthday. We had a troubled relationship despite substantial effort to change it for the better. I’m feeling a lot, including rage. Reading your words I realize that i MUST make a vow with my brother. I’m grateful to your mother, to chance, to your courage, brain and heart, but mostly, your humanity, that connected with me today, and (obviously) so many others. Rock on, Tim. And I shall too.

    1. Hugs, Robindf. I’m so sorry for your pain. Please understand that he didn’t know his suicide would hurt you. Unlike Tim, he didn’t have that angel who called him and woke him from his pain and plans.

  56. Thanks for this post. Good way to look at things, and as always great strategies. The hurting others is the biggest thing people forget. People really do care… Weird maybe, but true.

  57. Thank you for your honesty. Readers are sharing their stories, it’s no coincidence. You wrote, “…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” and that is true.

    I’ve gone back to meditation a few days ago and I listen to YouTube Relaxing Music – Meditation, Sleep, Spa, Zen before I start my day. I also work on a art project, to help cope with stress. Too much analyzing, too much grief, overwhelmed with stress, is never a good thing.

    Thank you for the kind words.

  58. Tim, this is the best thing about suicide that I have read. Ever.

    I will share that this is how I lost my father, and many times, how I almost lost myself. You hit the nail on the head, and I can’t thank you enough for putting this out into to the world. There is so much I could say on the topic, but you summed it up greatly. Thanks again.

  59. There are groups for the friends and family that have lost someone to suicide called Survivors of Suicide. I found this to be a wonderful resource and help after my boyfriend committed suicide 6 years ago. I truly believe that had he attended a meeting and heard the stories of those suffering in the aftermath, he never would’ve done it.

  60. Great post, Tim! It was good to see another “long-ass post” from you again, and even better that it was so honest. I’m finishing my dissertation now and I can imagine how you must have felt. Thanks for putting this out!

    PS: It was great to see the update productivity hacks list too.

  61. I’ve read all of your books and listened to all of your podcasts, and this blog has the best piece of advice you have ever given.

  62. When I get depressed, I get creative. Sounds corny, but it works. No writing at first, but painting, drawing, crochet or knit, do something that I can see from across the room. Then I can go to the writing and get the demons out.

    My last bad bout with suicide was in 2002 when crap hit the fan and my reputation was run into the mud by a man who was supposed to be on my side (my spouse). Turned out he was a “real piece of work” and I was left with nothing but my damaged pride. I couldn’t even support myself, so I tried to kill myself. Turned out he’d saved my life (my gallbladder had burst 4 weeks earlier) and I couldn’t take my life. I moved across country, cleaned up the mess inside myself and started over. Today, I just published my first book.

    Thank you, Tim, for sharing this. It’s important, and there aren’t a lot of places to talk about it.

  63. Tim,

    When I met you at the Mixergy event in SF (I’m the dude that was reassuring you your physical cranial size was in normal proportion to your body), we were discussing decision and willpower fatigue with respect to glucose and/or calorie depletion. I so wanted to make my mark with you by saying or doing something unforgettable over the top profound.

    I wanted to dig in further. Into this topic of neurological calorie depletion and decision first, will power second, and depression third in a downward spiral. However, it wasn’t the time, and there wasn’t time.

    What I really want to do when I heard you so graciously accepted Andrew’s invitation to help; I really wanted to look you eye, feel you emotionally, the real Tim Ferriss (which I was able to do), and thank you for all of the things you have done to change my life – in specifics (which I wasn’t able to do).

    I wanted to tell you about my depression, my darkest hour, my time kneeling at the gates of hell for what seemed like an eternity. (Sam Harris grossly paraphrased) I wanted to tell you how at a time when I had no hope. When I could not muster a positive outcome of any kind in my imagination. You gifted that to me. HOPE.

    How? In the form of awesome content. It’s that simple for me. Not easy, but simple! So specifics notwithstanding – know you have helped me and so many others in so many ways and this post is just you taking it right over the fucking top! Just when I thought the #TFX was the best thing you had ever done. TRUMP CARD.

    So what did I do that night instead? In some miraculous act of grandeur and spontaneity, I shifted from my needs to yours. I don’t how or why.

    I had noticed by your changing posture and stature as the post-event folly burned on, you wanted out. You needed out. At first I thought it was just time constraint but it was evident (since Warner tried to stuff us full of Carbs and Liquor 8^), kidding Dub), you were depleted and needed a hunk of protein and a break. So I differed whatever act of dipshittery that would have come out of my mouth and said something like, “Tim looks like you need get going, and get something to eat – how bout a selfie?” (I wanted to be part of the Silicon Valley Tech culture so I masterfully wordsmithed that profound statement).

    You graciously allowed me take the selfie (with your head masterfully placed behind mine to make yours appear smaller), and you said a few goodbye’s. Off you went.

    Well, suffice it to say before your entry into being a true pioneer in this giving economy we find ourselves in the midst of, and your authenticity and openness being exhibited as my example, things would have been different. Your place in the cosmos, the arrangement of things is robust, it’s powerful, and it is changing lives every day. I mean, years ago I would have forced my meaningless babble upon you expecting you to do everything to help me get what I wanted and needed. Today, that night, it is different. I am OK with just being part of the experience and soaking it all in.

    That being said, thank you for being obedient to that desire deep down inside you that empowers you to do what you do, everyday!

    I am grateful for Tim today and that’s all I got!

  64. Hiya (not giving away the fact that I lived in the UK with that opening…)

    I just wanted to say a huge big thank-you to you for posting this. It took a lot of courage, and I know that it will help me. Whilst I don’t share all of your problems, I do share many of them, and I was fortunate that on one of my most difficult moments, I had to be somewhere for lunch, so I was able to get out of the house where I was living and to a ‘safe’ place with friends, where I was able to get away with my dismal thoughts. I wish you all the best in your struggle, and I hope to utilise your suggestions to live a happier and more fulfilled life.

  65. I joined a crossfit gym. I knew I wasn’t any good to myself or my friends when I was alone. I promised a friend I would go one Saturday. I’ve never looked back. I had to learn to find ways to not be alone. It was “safer” to be around people who didn’t know me before. They had no clue to what was in my head. They didn’t judge me or look at me any different. I was safe.

  66. Heart-rending post Tim, I hope you are incredibly proud of your bravery in posting this – you should be. It’s prompted me to post something for the first time ever.

    I am so sorry to hear that you still have to fight your demons. Next time you confront one of those demons, please bear in mind that I am one of countless thousands of people, sitting typing this countless thousands of miles away, whose lives you have changed for the better forever, purely because of who you are and what you do.

    Before reading the 4HWW I didn’t really have the confidence to run my own business, take control of my own life, take a “risk”, have a baby, try living abroad, embrace who I really was, understand what living was really all about.

    All these things, and much much more, have happened to me since 2009, and that catalyst was your book and your materials. You wouldn’t have known, but in 2010 I raised a glass to you from the balcony of an amazing house in the Caribbean on a mini-retirement.

    You’re an inspiration in the truest sense of the word. I really hope that you are able to take comfort and joy in that – it’s the very least you deserve from the many people whose lives you have so massively improved.

  67. Learned Optimism by Martin Seligmen. Awaken the Giant Within by Tony Robbins. Exercise. Meditation. Gratitude practice religiously everyday. This is what works.

  68. Thank you Tim. I’ve been following you for years and kicking myself for not being as successful as you. I read the 4HWW my senior year at Yale and struck out to make my mark in the world, but 5 years and 2 start-ups later I’m still struggling. I now have my 5 year reunion and feel like a total failure compared to you and my “successful” friends. Images of suicide have flashed into my imagination so many times. This post gives me courage that I’m not broken or flawed.

  69. Thank you so much for your courageous post, Tim! That took some real effort and heart. You are spot on! If you can realize before it’s too late what your death will do to those you leave behind, I feel you won’t take your life.

    My dear friend Sharon took her life and I was hurt and angry for many years. Why didn’t she come to me? Why didn’t I know the demons were winning the battle? I firmly believe that successful suicidal people reach an emotional point where they cannot think of anything (or anyone) else – just gotta stop the pain. But if you can get a glimpse of the pain and suffering of ALL those you leave behind, I think there’s a better chance of getting help. Thanks for telling your story. You were a rock star before – now you’re an AWESOME rock star!

  70. Thanks for writing this Tim, I hope it helps as many people as possible. Your work is what helped me overcome my depression in the past. Of course I still experience those storms, but I’ve learned to deal with them, even if I still have a lot more room to improve.

    Of the many things that helped, something you’ve mentioned many times: routines. Without a routine (or other goal) to keep me organised I can easily slip back into negative habits and thinking patterns.

    Exercise is a massive component and also making time to disengage, be it reading fiction before bed, using a foam roller/lacrosse ball, time with friends or just some solitude to write or walk in nature. All things you’ve recommended but have such profound effects.

    Taking time to step back, reflect, rather than rush through life overwhelmed with the amount we try to take on is so important. It helps clarify what’s really critical and how significant the worries in your life really are.

    1. A massive thing that’s helped me is limiting my access to electronics and media. Mindlessly consuming informational “junk food for the brain” felt good, but was ultimately a distraction from addressing the situation I was in. Taking the time for clear thought and reflection instead helped not only with my depression but so many aspects of my day-to-day life.

      Restricting media in the mornings is the most important time of all. It’s fine in smaller doses, but the more infrequent the better I feel.

  71. Thank you for your vulnerability – your story helps everyone. What helps me is anything by Byron Katie- her website: Thework.com….The Work is a process involving 4 questions and a turnaround…allows us to question our negative and stressful stories and transform them. There is a free hotline to connect with a facilitator to help anyone through the process. As Katie says “Reality is kinder than the story we tell about it”

  72. Very nice post Tim, thank you for sharing.

    I will say that you were a great source of inspiration and one of my shining lights out of dark tunnel for me years ago and I have nothing but the utmost respect for you and what you do. I have mentioned my weight loss journey previously on other threads but not in the context of this topic.

    A little over four years ago I was in one of the darkest times of my life. I weighed nearly 360lbs, I was only a couple years out of school and struggling to keep terrible paying job while working for a boss who was not good for me and my growth. My life was falling apart around me, I hated my job, my marriage was in full on crisis mode, I felt useless to my two little kids who depended on me and this terrible paying job. I was traveling back and forth across the state to find a new job and see my family who had already moved over and were waiting for me. I was in a position that I could not fix and everything around me was falling away from me quicker than I could handle. That state was just too much for me at times and my thoughts became very dark. I never contemplated or made plans around suicide, but the topic of suicide was on my mind constantly and I finally started to see how people could do it and why they come to that decision. It all made way too much sense in that time for me. I never thought about doing it, but the constant thought of it on my mind really scared me internally and I was afraid at what my own self destructive thoughts would of ultimately lead me too if I had not started to see little steps back up to level ground.

    Just when everything seemed to be stacked against me and my downward slide was getting to full speed and as I sat in a lonely house while my family was across the state I happen to give myself one night of something I enjoyed instead of worrying. I started catching up on Random Show episodes. I was watching an episode where you and Kevin were talking about your new book, the 4 Hour Body and as I listened to you explain the diet it finally clicked in my head “Hell I could do that for the rest of my life.” A diet I could follow finally made sense to me, that Ahh Ha! moment if you will. I finished the podcast, ran to the store and bought what I needed and started the diet the next day. I don’t mean to say the diet saved my life, but it was the positive step I needed to get things back on track. It was the match that lit the “Get off your ass” fuse and I followed it.

    My rise up from that dark time started to finally move, not fast but it was enough over time and I got little steps every couple of months that kept me going. I lost 25lbs that first month and was hooked that this was the diet for me. The new weight loss was motivation to get back into my work, and my life. I kept going with the diet which in turn gave me new confidence and motivation to keep struggling through this time. I spent the next year losing a total of 80lbs and a year later I got a new and incredible job and could finally put my family back together.

    The darkest spot was behind me but not gone. Once I moved across the state, starting my new job, continuing to diet and moving to make things better for myself I started to really come out of that dark spot in my life. Since that one night, that first little step toward a brighter path I have lost, and continued to keep off a total of 160lbs. I love my new job and have amazing coworkers I love working with and most importantly my kids are happy and my marriage is doing extremely well, we are happy again and the dark spot is long behind me.

    In all of this there was no one moment that solved it all. I found one little step and that was a tall enough step that I could see the next small step ahead.

    I took notice of the little things that mattered to me and tried to carve out time for myself. I still struggle with a million things but the perspective I have surround all of them is much better than it was before.

    It’s tough to see that you matter to others when you are telling yourself that you don’t matter at all. I had to get out of that mindset and find ways to show myself that I mattered to not only others but to myself.

    Today I do many things to keep my mind right and keep things in perspective. My main reason for living is my kids. I thought about them and how they would handle me gone and those images made me promise to never leave them by choice. The second is my wife, good times or bad she is and always has been a cheerleader for me and I never want her to have to explain anything to our kids and I always want to be here to help her in any way possible.

    After those two main things I also do many things that keep my path current lit up. I enjoy waking up an hour or so before everyone and having a cup of tea or coffee. A very simple yet enjoyable thing. I write in a gratitude journal, four months strong now and I just received a Five Minute Journal that I started this morning. I have been lifting weights for a little over two years now and that is another escape to a beautiful place for me, my development and my over health. Also taking time to just sit next to my kids, not other distractions and just do what ever they want is very rewarding and always puts me in a positive mind state.

    After all I struggle with I would say do not over look the little things, the individual puzzle pieces that make up your life. It can sometimes seem like nothing, but they add up to quite a beautiful picture when you see them put together.

  73. Thanks for the courage to write this Tim. I myself went through a long period of deep depression, incarceration, suicidal ideation, and intravenous drug use. During my stay in jail I was in solitary confinement for a month and came to realization that I have alot to offer the world and came up with the mantra “My life will not become a tragedy”. I heard the horrible lifestories of other inmates and saw how my situation wasn’t nearly as hopeless as I thought. My background and friends in martial arts and support from family ( mom) also was huge in showing me that I meant alot to many people. I am now in a position to reach alot of people with my story through my work ( martial arts instructor) but am still very embarassed and hesistant to do so. Seeing you bare your neck like makes me feel more comfortable talking about my past, thanks again. End rant.

    1. And your books were crucial to my recovery and re-adaptation to regular life. It gave me the organizational skills I lacked my whole life and the know how to make the right decisions to be kicking ass again 🙂

  74. THANK YOU for the post. You will never know the number of people you have helped and will help with that post. You will be the spark that allows a person’s mind to have the elusive epiphany that life is worth the battle. With respect & appreciation, w.

  75. I’ve fought my own battles, Tim, and I’m passionate about increasing conversation about depression and suicide. Thank you so much for using your platform to share this story. It’s so important that “heroes”, “icons”, and people with status (like yourself!) share these things. It helps us all find more grace for ourselves. It helps us see that “if Tim Ferris has been there and can be who he is today and do what he’s done, maybe I can too.” In short, it gives hope. Thank you.

  76. Coming from you, this is such an important message to hear.

    Millions of people out there view you as a productivity machine, and seeing this human side will help so many realize that it’s okay to feel lost sometimes and not always live up to the grandiose images we have of ourselves.

    When I first read the 4HWW, I walked away from my civil engineering career — with no savings — moved to a city thousands of miles away where I didn’t know anyone, and started a social impact business. Needless to say, I was a bit overconfident.

    Then the 2008 crash happened. I struggled mightily for the next 2 years and started living off of credit cards. Family didn’t understand. I (sadly) couldn’t afford to hang out with my friends anymore. Having a relationship was out of the question. Finding another job felt nearly impossible — forget getting back into engineering, I got rejected by Starbucks and by a janitor position. Didn’t know how I was going to pay rent in that final month. And slowly, I began waking up in the middle of the night, glorifying what it’d be like to jump off the roof of my apartment building.

    It felt like I had thrown away everything good in my life, and had nothing to look forward to anymore. But the worst part was feeling all alone, and like it would only get worse.

    Years later, I’ve pulled myself out of that hole, and am so fortunate that I had some good people in my life who helped me weather that storm. It’s never truly as bad as it seems at the time. It also gave me the courage to write the book I wanted to write for years, and without this experience, I wouldn’t have had my first chapter.

    At the darkest moments, the thing that got me to hold on was the realization that since I’d already accepted that I was going to die, every moment after that was simply extra time that I wasn’t supposed to have. It was all house money. I realized that even if I had no hope of ever being happy again, I could still dedicate the rest of my life to serving others, rather than having it go to waste. The thought of going far out of my way to give other people moments of joy is what saved my life. It led me to rediscover how to feel joy again.

    Thank you for creating this resource for people. I hope it will help others realize that when we’re in that tunnel vision moment, we really do have so many other options to reinvent ourselves for the better, even though the mind (ego) tries to block it out and resist change with all its might. It will pass.

  77. Thank you for writing this and for sharing your struggle along with your excellent advice. I lost my sister to suicide 5 years ago this month. I wish I would have had some of your very practical advice to share with her when she was struggling. I too struggle with depression and will be using some of your tips when the darkness starts to close in on me. Thank you again.

  78. Thank you for sharing your story Tim. Few people have courage to talk about suicide. The good part of this story is that once you get through these tough times, life is beautiful again.

  79. I experienced an extremely traumatic life event that resulted in an almost uncontrollable depression; I myself wasn’t aware of that being something I had. I knew I was hurt, but the pain became normal. I moved to a new city and state after being signed as a model hoping this turned leaf would fix everything. I had nothing and was barely making it by. It was worse than before. Someone who worked at the agency stepped in. I was lucky for her to see in me something was wrong, that I had so easily lied, denied, and pretended to be happy and perfect about. She told me she her self had struggled and no questions asked of me, told me to make an appointment with a doctor and she’d take me. I did. A few days later she drove me to the hospital we didn’t talk at all in the car. She waited for me in the lobby. I sat on a spinning stool and took a questionnaire in the doctors office, I thought these questions were silly, I wanted to lie and I didn’t want to admit my feelings. The doctor came in and sat on the other chair a few feet away. Looked at my responses and said he’d be back. Moments later he came back in, pulled the chair closer to mine, sat down …he said my name in the sincerest way and asked me a question no one had ever asked me…”What happened?” I collapsed in my chair hunched over in tears. I had never told anyone. He held me for an hour. Between sobs, snot bubbles, hot tears, and nose tissue. I told him everything and he listened. We talked and he helped me start to understand what it was that was happening.

    I was prescribed medication which I did take, but it didn’t fix how I felt, just how I physically reacted. My private sporadic breakdowns in bathroom stalls stopped, but I felt something deeper that still had a grasp on me. My diet wasn’t healthy and to keep my energy up I was drinking 6-12 shot lattes several times a day. I worked with a spiritual woman, who was suggested to me by the same friend who took me to the hospital. Laurie, the spiritual woman would meet me 3xs a week and we walked in a park and talked. Laurie helped me change my diet and cut way way down on caffeine. She peeled every layer I had and wouldn’t let me hide from the scarierest of parts and would call me out on my bullshit when deflecting her guidance. I was able to get my life together. I got off the medication under doctor supervision. I worked with my feelings to understand them and control them.

    It’s been 7 years since I stood at the ledge of a building. I’m glad I stepped back. It took me years to be okay with me and develop a relationship with myself. When I understood me and who I wanted to be, everything fell into place. I have a wonderful boyfriend, whose family has become mine. I’ve been a career gypsy, traveled parts of world and experienced much joy and will continue do so. I don’t let the past hurt me anymore. I have moments of being overwhelmed, but I see how far I’ve come. You can live a happy life. You just have to participate in it. I think if your depression results from being a victim of something, you have to see there is an otherside of the coin. There is a victor and that victor is you.

  80. Thank you Tim! A very heartly post.

    In my experience of coping with a very deep personal crisis I have found one thing to be of use – stubbornness. Even if the live isn’t the way you think it should be now for you – don’t let these thoughts take over your soul. Things will be as you want them to be sooner or later. Just keep living and moving forward. Everything changes. Prepare yourself for the change and help things arrange in the way you need them. It might take some time and most often it would. There is no guilt feeling until you stop. It doesn’t matter how many times you fell to get back up. All that matters is this:

    Will you get up one more time?

    The other point that helped a lot is a friend. Just a buddy whom you most definitely will not let to change your decision but you will listen to just for your friendship’s sake. He might give you another point of view in a blink of an eye, the one that might totally reshuffle your emotions about the situation and give those extra times to think again.

    As one smart guy once said:

    “After all you will just turn back and laugh at this why wait?”

    Hope it might be useful for all those know-it-alls smartasses like I used to be before I have learnt the powers of patience, silence, will and focus.

  81. Thank you for putting this out there. I lost my brother to suicide 10 years ago. I wasn’t educated to even begin looking for signs. I’ve been talking about it ever since with whomever will listen.

  82. Tim… I’ve never said this about any celebrity, author, or person of interest… You are my new hero. Your post was long and I read it to the end with a passion. Thank you so much for having the courage to talk about this subject that is still too tabou today. Your story is a great example of how depression can affect anyone and your explanations, tips and resources are just great. Thanks for spreading the word… It happens but it does not make a person less of a human to struggle this way. Everyone is capable of contributing to society… No matter how dark some dark times can become sometimes. Thanks so so much for this post that brightens my day. You are an inspiration to us all!

  83. A few thoughts on the existential crisis and the choice to live or die.

    I already thanked you for a great post in an earlier comment, Tim. Your thoughts have been running in the background as I continue to work my muse. I am currently seeking A round funding to bring a product to market. It wouldn’t have happened if it weren’t for you.

    Before becoming a startup entrepreneur I became a meditation teacher. I was confused for years about my meditation practice and why I was getting results I didn’t see in others until I came to understand that I teach meditation as the anchor process in a life changing transformational continuum. I have little interest in calmness and stress reduction although I certainly am more calm and I have far less stress than I ever had despite often insane levels of external stress from the new business coupled with a three year old in the house. Meditation done correctly is a transformative tool. It is not an opiate, rather it is the exact opposite. Few teachers understand or explain this well including some of the most famous. Calmness may sometimes happen but if you are doing it properly you may very well experience a shredding of self and the re-creation of old unprocessed anxieties until meditation eradicates them.

    If the depth of the transformation you undergo is sufficiently profound you will enter a period in which the question of life or death has to be answered. It can arise in any of a myriad of ways but, in the end, a crisis or a series of crises are reached in which the meditator/transformer must choose. It appears as though the choice must be made without reason or support. Each person has to decide which way to go and no external reason will/can suffice or affect the choice.

    I have seen this more than once in others as well as experiencing it myself. It is a truism within the darker parts of the various spiritual traditions. The 40 days in the desert has to be borne and the choice must be made by each individual to return.

    I suspect that underneath your superb post offered today to the public with great love, affection and courage there may be a deeper unspoken personal crisis that is being precipitated by your meditation practice. I’ve been at this long enough to not need much information to see it happening. A tiny comment here, a throwaway quote there. I am sometimes wrong. If I am correct know that you are loved and supported by many including a few who have already walked that path. Good luck.