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 over 400 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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1,216 Replies to “Some Practical Thoughts on Suicide”

  1. Totally not a long post. It’s something that needs to be said. Thank you for sharing your heart, Tim! I know it took a lot of courage to talk about this topic and I’m sure your hands were sweating right before you hit the ‘Publish’ button too. I appreciate you writing this because you never know who might need it. I’m sharing this on my social media accounts and personally with a few of my friends because I never know who might need to see your story.

  2. Wonderful post Tim- thanks for sharing with total frankness….I’ve admired you ever since I discovered the slow carb diet and have the greatest respect for what you share.

  3. Thank you so much for sharing your story. It came at a time when I am trying to navigate difficult circumstances with my child who suffers from anxiety & depression. I believe it was divinely brought to my inbox! Thank you, you are a gift!!! – K.

  4. The timing of your post at this exact moment in my life could not be more perfect, in more ways than one. Thank you, Tim.

  5. I really appreciate this brave and incredibly important post – not only for all the lifes that hopefully can be saved due to the inspiration you give us everyday but also for all the people who might not have to suffer loosing a dear friend or relative to suicide and are left to deal with grief, anger, guilt, shame and hopelessness for the rest of their life…

  6. Love your work, Tim. We met several years ago, and you have made a difference in the world. But this may be some of the most important writing you have done to date.

  7. Wow I am touched by your raw honesty and selflessness in sharing such a personal part of yourself Tim. I so identify with being hard on myself and pressure that school/ university/ academics puts on us as seeming like the only gateway to succeed in the world. And yet what I found is that even after achieving the academic qualification I needed something more or rather as I have come to realize , something different, and have had to have the courage to go after it. I am also moved by your post because I am a psychiatrist with a dream to help those who are depressed using holistic ways of healing with a focus on mindfulness and finding meaning in the chaos of everyday life. Your post inspired me to put my whole self into his work, despite my constant self doubts. You made me see this is more than about my fears, bigger than that, it’s about speaking up and raising awareness and showing people there is a solution, a different way of being. Loved this post, thank you Tim for being so brave, it really connected with me.

  8. Thank you for posting this! I think it’s so great that you faced this very difficult topic to help others! Thanks for sharing, you have delightful day sir!

  9. My tip – don’t get involved in comment threads or online discussions – they are almost always cesspits of negativity and conflict, and there is always going to be someone who mis-interprets what you say (negatively), or who is just a plain dick looking to make you feel bad!

  10. “I realized it would destroy other people’s lives. Killing yourself can spiritually kill other people. There are some secrets we don’t share because they’re embarrassing. But then there are dark secrets. The things we tell no one. The shadows we keep covered for fear of unraveling our lives”.

    My first interaction with suicide: July 17 2012. A guy I was dating off and on for 2 years succeeded at ending his life. I was on vacation in Tahoe. I didn’t hear from him all day and he wasn’t replying to my calls or texts. I got a text (a call would have been more respectful) that my boyfriend had died the night prior, with a news article attached. The pain that this caused was a pain that I would never wish on to my worst enemy. The questions left unanswered and the pain of not even knowing anything was wrong was unbearable.

    My second interaction with suicide: April 28th 2014 I got a call from my mother that my sons dad was in the hospital. He listed her as an emergency contact. For the next week he was on life support fighting for his life. On May 2nd 2015 he was removed off life support and passed away minutes later. He was brain dead and couldn’t breathe on his own. At that time my son was 8 years old and his dad was his hero, his everything. The hardest thing I have EVER had to do was tell my son that his dad was not alive anymore and he would never see him again. The stages of grief are: Denial, anger, bargaining, depression and acceptance. Anger was one that was hard for me to rid of, especially since it involved my child hurting and it wasn’t something I could fix.

    So back to the beginning, killing yourself can DEFINTELY spiritually kill other people. I understand that at the time of great despair someone might feel like their pain or hopelessness is so great that they can’t even think of others feelings. Guaranteed if they were to give it a day and put some more thought into it, they would understand that no matter how alone you feel… you are loved by someone and there is hope.

    Sometime we need to expose our dark secrets to understand that no one is perfect. We ALL have flaws. WE ALL have bad days. BUT it is those bad days that let us appreciate the better ones.

  11. I am very glad to see this kind of posts from you Tim. Sorely needed for your audience…

    I am not sure if you can link to it here, but if you Google “Javier Marti depression cure online” you’ll find something that can help you guys with this problem. I am Javier, the author of the series and don’t want to come as spammy but people already told me those videos have been useful to them. I just put them online for the time being so the world can benefit. It’s my form of “charity”. They may be useful for anyone depresed right now reading this, and I’d love to give back to you Tim, since you have been an inspiration for a few years now, although I guess you’re not feeling down anymore.

    Some years ago I bought two copies and gave to my brother your 4h book but he did not read it, so I asked him to give it back to me so I can give it to someone who’ll actually use the inspiration found there.

    If you’re up for a chat sometime, would be great to talk.

    Once again, well done for this honest post. Many young ones are struggling trying to make it, so it’s useful to know that their idols went through the same thing. Keep it up!

  12. Tim, you have been one of my favorite authors in the world ever since the 4-Hour Workweek. But this has elevated you to one of my favorite people in the world. Thank you for humbling yourself and writing this. There is no doubt in my mind that it has or will improve your image more than anything else you have ever written. Not that your image is bad, and not that you wrote it to for that purpose. But I’m just saying, that I see you as much more human and “just like me” than I did before.

    But again, I know that wasn’t your purpose. Your purpose was to help, because you care about people. Anyway, I strongly believe that you should publish this as a short book. Even though I love all your books, this one would become the most important, and would reach so many more people who really need to read it.

    I have someone very dear to me who needs to read this, who I have been trying to help with her depression for a long time. This post of yours has helped me to help her.

    Thank you for your strength to write this, and please consider publishing it as a book… “The 4-Hour Lifesaver”, perhaps?

  13. Tim,

    Your best post to date in my opinion. Thank you for your courage. It speaks to me on a personal level.

    In my experience, “lifestyle design” is valuable, but it pales in comparison to the value-add of psychological / spiritual healing and growth. I say this as someone who was deeply depressed while studying philosophy at Harvard College and working on Wall Street for nearly 6 years, and who has finally started to find my place in the world through therapy, support groups and spiritual practice.

    With this post, and similar ones around topics like meditation, I see you directing your enormous talent and energy towards this latter area of exploration. I hope you do more of this going forward, and in that spirit offer two resources for your consideration:

    1. “The Drama of the Gifted Child” by Alice Miller. A short, powerful book on how we repress our authentic selves as children in order to meet our parents’ psychological needs and thereby gain their love. The result of this trauma for many of us is depression (“I feel nothing / dead”), with terrible consequences. Healing comes from re-integrating the parts of ourselves that we repressed into our conscious, accepted selves. This process can be painful; however, I can say from my own experience that it is both effective and life-giving. http://www.amazon.com/The-Drama-Gifted-Child-Revised/dp/0465016901

    2. The ManKind Project: A men’s organization devoted to understanding our wounds, healing from them, and pursuing a life of purpose. We offer a powerful introductory weekend training experience for men based in Jungian psychology (so-called “shadow work”, e.g. what is explained at http://www.shadowwork.com) and a supportive community afterwards to help men apply lessons learned and grow. It is a psychologically challenging experience and is NOT appropriate for a man who is currently suicidal (that calls for focused professional attention). However, for the man who, while stable, feels something is “off” or is unhappy with where his life is at (as I was), it can be a truly watershed moment. (I guarantee you this experience would make for an epic blog post, if nothing else. 🙂 More info available at: http://mankindproject.org/new-warrior-training-adventure.

    With gratitude, respect, and love,

    Ben

  14. Thank you for writing this, Tim. My comments are both too long and too short. But here are some initial thoughts:

    “You got this. Make it happen.”

    For the past month or so I have used the Momentum plug-in per the recommendation of Matt Mullenweg when he was a guest on the podcast. If you haven’t used it or don’t remember it, a quick synopsis is that each day you are able to name your main focus and utilize a ‘to-do’ list as well as see a beautiful picture and motivating quote. Call it what you will, but several times, the quotes are precisely what I need to hear on a given day.

    After reading Tim’s post last night, I was thinking about the tips I could share with any of you battling right now. I went to the computer to re-read the post, opened the browser, and there was the quote: “You got this. Make it happen.”

    Prior to offering some tactics that have helped me, let me provide a little context for my life and experience with suicide, and more generally, grief.

    Background and the Last Year: I’m nearly finished with my second graduate degree. I’m married. I have a two year old daughter. I live in a beautiful part of the country. This is one section where Tim’s experience seemed eerily similar. Graduate school or any thesis process, is a time that can break anyone. Over this last year, I wrote my thesis about September 11 and Midwestern fiction. I spent long hours during the day writing the thesis, then I would take a break after my daughter came home from daycare, and after she went to bed, I would write for most the night into the early hours of the morning. Most of my life was in front of a computer screen dealing with subject matter that is incredibly difficult, and with little communication with friends and family. If you are spending long hours alone, without much human interaction, with little sleep, it is easy to see how mental health can deteriorate.

    As a result, the thesis wasn’t quite finished when it should have been and I had a meeting with my adviser. I went into the meeting prepared to fight for it and say I could still finish it in time. I had been staying up late and working on it; in fact, I had started getting a surge of motivation and creativity beginning at 10:30 p.m., so what is another few days of this practice? Before I could even start with my ideas of how to accomplish it, my adviser cut it down. He thinks what would be best is to postpone the thesis for a few weeks to make sure things are in order. What? No. I don’t need that. I can do it…I agree to the new plan though I feel somehow a failure. That I had let down the great and powerful timeline for thesis completion as well as the great institution of Oregon State. I had to send e-mails to my committee and tell them we had to reschedule fearing they would look down at me and the thesis. I had failed and they would finally figure out that I was a fake.

    I sent the e-mail. I waited for the response. I wondered how they would react. One by one the responses came in and a funny thing happened. They either responded with typical ‘Okay, this date works’ or ‘This date works. I hope all is well with you!” comments. Still, I wondered what was wrong with this reaction, with me. I figured out that some of it could likely be traced to grief.

    Grief and Suicide: The first funeral I went to was for a neighborhood kid who took his own life. I was 7 or so. I remember asking my mom why someone would do that, and, to her credit, she gave a very kind answer. While in a high school, I lost another person ‘in the community.’ I graduated and moved to South Dakota for college. While there, I battled with depression and grief, yet tried to keep it together, afraid of what people would say about me. As I began to break, I started telling a few close friends and my two brothers. When I began my first Masters, I officially started talking with someone at the college. Underpinning this was a time when a play I wrote was produced, I had a few articles published, and became a semi-finalist in a national playwrighting competition. I include this part not to signal the awesome things I had going on, but to say, in a frustrating, self-destructive way, sometimes depression, grief, whatever, manifests itself at times when, from the outside, there shouldn’t be a ‘reason’.

    Here is where this beast wells up. My first year of graduate school was complete, I had started a fantastic internship and then my grandfather called. He needed to go to the hospital. After a long battle, he passed away on my birthday later that year (2012). By Spring 2013, I was accepted at Oregon State University and welcomed my first child. My wife and I moved across the country and I had started doing well in the program. In November 2013, my paternal grandfather passed away. I was battling some severe darkness and had gone to a grief group on campus, with varied results. I tried medication with limited results. Both group and medication can help, but with both, figure out what works for you as well and of course, talk with professionals about both.

    Over the course of the next year, I traveled home as often as I could to visit my grandmother, partially because her health had begun to decline, but more importantly because she was one my best friends. On Christmas Day (2014), she passed away after several years of being one of the strongest people I knew. Over the past five years, I have had several family members die as well as several young people close to me take their own life. One of my favorite plays, Rabbit Hole by David Lindsay-Abaire, includes the following line about grief: “I don’t know… the weight of it, I guess. At some point, it becomes bearable. It turns into something that you can crawl out from under and… carry around like a brick in your pocket. And you… you even forget it, for a while. But then you reach in for whatever reason and – there it is. Oh right, that. Which could be awful – not all the time. It’s kinda…not that you’d like it exactly, but it’s what you’ve got instead of your son. So, you carry it around. And uh… it doesn’t go away.” At times, grief or depression will feel heavier and it is in these moments where I’ve found it is important to be kind to yourself and reach out to those you trust.

    I have little success reading books ‘about’ grief. One take away was that grief compounds. So when someone dies today, it is likely that what you are feeling is not simply sorrow for that person, but for those that have passed away prior. If you thought about suicide, as I have, this is the part you don’t hear about. In my experience, when someone dies, whether because of natural causes or of suicide, I felt a weird sense of survivor’s guilt.

    Some tips that might help:

    1. Get out of your environment as much as possible: After the thesis was postponed I traveled to Bend, Oregon. The process of leaving my usual environment was a recharge. If finances are an issue, I accomplished something similar by listening to podcasts. In the bunker that is writing, it can be an outlet to hear other people talk about their experiences, particularly hearing people you admire talk about their struggles. With any project, job, etc. it is easy to consider this ‘all there is’, remind yourself there is something else.

    2. My professor shared the poem “In Blackwater Woods” by Mary Oliver with me. And so now I share it with anyone who has recently lost someone.

    3. Call people out on Facebook: This is something I just started doing. For one week a month, I tag someone in my status and ‘call them out’ for something they have done or even a general mention that they are good person to talk to. I don’t say why I’m doing this. This works two-fold. First, if they are having a bad day it is unexpected praise. Even if they are having a great day, it is fantastic to hear praise. Second, if they see how many likes the status receives it only reinforces that praise.

    4. Seek out Help: I had mixed results with group therapy for grief. On certain days it really helped. On others, not so much. Figure out what works for you.

    5. “You got this. Make it Happen”: It is hard to remember that you got this. Nobody is free of questions of worth. You don’t really know me, and I don’t really know you, but if you ever need someone to remind you, to urge you on, let me know.

  15. This is the single Greatest post on the subject ever. (I have never left a comment but I felt i had to)

    I sincerely appreciate your work and I do Pray for you and your success.

    I know you practice Stoicism, that also has been very helpful to me.

    Every piece of work you put out is further proof that you are a great man,

    and an even better humanitarian. Your work touches me my friends

    and my family giving us hope to pursue or dreams. I can’t say thank you enough for making yourself vulnerable and sharing your abundance of wisdom with us over the years. Tim you desereve all of your sucess and I hope you continue to find happiness and meaningful experiences to share with those you love.

    Sincerely

    Someone you have helped

  16. Some thoughts that might be helpful.

    Below the impulse to suicide is the feeling of powerlessness; one feels powerless to find a solution. My experience is: there are ALWAYS solutions and answers. A good stance to take in that situation and other challenging situations is: Start to look for solutions. They are there. You are looking. You talk to people. You research. You keep going until you find the solution. You weather the discomfort of not knowing the solution because you know you WILL know if you keep looking.

    One additional good resource for a place to talk that’s free is Blah Therapy, http://blahtherapy.com/

    Good books to read about what happens after we die: Jane Robert’s Seth Books, http://sethcenter.com/; Robert Monroe’s books, https://www.monroeinstitute.org/catalog/61

    Lastly, and most importantly, aspire to have an EXPERIENCE of your soul self. When you do, it will render the suicide issue meaningless.

  17. Tim, I work at a Vet Center and would like to copy your Practical Thoughts on Suicide to share with my veterans (with attribution). Is that okay? Thanks,

    Gary Heffner

  18. Tim,

    thank you so much for this post. My family recently experienced a loss to suicide and we have struggled to comprehend it. One lesson to me is to be more compassionate and realize we can never understand the pain those around us are experiencing, regardless of apparent circumstances or outward appearance.

    I truly believe that raising awareness and frank discussions such as yours can save lives. Again, thank you for caring.

  19. I am so sorry that you went through this awful experience, but really respect your bravery for sharing your story. I am very glad that your mum called and made you remember what you have to offer the world. Strangely, as a disillusioned mental health nurse several years ago, I found the 4-hour work week which has MASSIVELY influenced my thinking…. a few career tweaks later and a failed online selling experience behind me I am now training to be a cognitive behaviour therapist, the aim being to help people who experience such horrible feelings that suicide is the only way out, amongst other mental health conditions…. I don’t know about the rest of the world but in the UK we have a fantastic service called ‘Improved Access to Psychological Therapies’ (IAPT) which is free and accessible to all…..also Mindfulness is a fantastic practice for everyone, especially those experiencing anxiety and depression.

  20. Hi, I’m a nurse working in psychiatry, in Italy. I think we can work together with regard to this area and show you situations, which probably to someone that is not the job is more difficult to accept. However I shared your job and if you allow me a reflection … you have not talked anything about the religion, since the majority of suicides are people who have never had a religious culture or who unfortunately lost it.

    thanks,

    I am on LINKE ‘under the name Carmen Mironescu.

    Sorry for my english..

  21. Thank you for sharing such a personal experience with us! I love all you do and am a big fan, and I love you even more now! You have a gift for making us all feel like we are your buddies and at the same time teaching us so much! You have had such an influence on my life! Thank you for sharing information that impacts so many of us! You’re the best! xo

  22. I am reading this almost 7 years to the day from when one of my son’s best friends chose to kill himself at my house so that he could be near someone who loved him when he died. I was letting him stay in my son’s room while my son was deployed, and I woke up to silence and blood that cut me to this moment. Would that he had read this. Would that so many things… My son has PTSD and thinks about suicide pretty often. Our friend’s story is one thing that stops him, as he remembers very clearly the incredible pain we felt and still feel, every day, at his loss, and because we couldn’t do enough to save him. Please, please do not share my name on this. Thank you for writing it.

  23. I get the part about what it does to everyone else. It’s probably the only thing that’s kept me around. But how do you continue on without bringing those other people down anyway?

    1. I found that when I mentioned to certain people I trusted what I was considering and the struggles I had, each of them did two things for me. First, they made it apparent they had struggled as well and continued to struggle. Second, they made it apparent that they loved me and cared for me and they were going to be around no matter what I needed to talk about. This is a risky conversation because you don’t know what they’ll say. In my experience, people have been kind when I’ve talked to them about it, which then allowed me to feel like I didn’t have to necessarily perform around them. If I needed to just talk with someone and release some of what I was feeling, I had an outlet. Even just finding one person to have as an outlet can help. Do you have someone that you could talk to in this manner? If not, I would bet just about anyone of us that commented on this post, would be happy to help.

    2. Keiffer,

      You can ask them to help you, or you call the number Tim gave. (1-800-273-8255), or click the live chat link in Tims post. You can, and will, feel better again. You are not a drain or a burden, you are a son, a brother, a friend. You matter. There IS help available. You’ve already taken the first step! You can take the next one, too. If you want to email me I’m at cruiser42@cox.net.

      Lisa

  24. Out of all your books, emails, writings, shows, and musings this email you sent was the best and your most important. HUGE RESPECT. Hope everyone who feels depressed and reads it and takes it to heart.

  25. Tim,

    Thanks for being you. Whether or not it’s documented in the history books, I’d say you’re changing the world for the better, please keep it up.

  26. Hey Tim! I have struggled with mental health too. Here are things that save my life. Get me via @saraballen for any mental health stuff.

    1. Make all decisions with your tummy. If my tummy is full of dread I don’t go.

    2. Improve your music choices: You don’t have to be religious to be appreciate the power of, “How Great is Our God.” I am extremely affected by music. Shove positive messages in.

    3. Get a pet – This is a big one. I would never do anything that would hurt or abandon my dog. Some people say it’s selfish to get a pet for emotional support. I remind myself I rescued my dog from the streets.

    4. Taking classes in anything interesting saves my life- Curiosity is a mighty good fight for depression. I’m currently getting my homeschooled MBA on Coursera. I usually have a few going to fend off the gremlins that I’m doing nothing with my life. It’s impossible to be curious and depressed at the same time.

    5. I am in the process of joining 100 networking groups/social groups. Crazy, right? Most groups do 3 interesting things a year. I realized at some point my isolation came from this idea that we only have two – three social activities. Popularity, love, and connection is a volume game….;)

    6. No news! Some people date ISIS everyday.

    7. Stop trying to work miracles on crazy deadlines. Intensive programs to become a fashion photographer in a year, become a master jewelry artisan, or publish a great thesis have all been known to push people over the edge. When possible: opt out of anything that will judge your “professional standing,” under a microscope via an arbitrary deadline. I have never learned under terror. I attended one program that graded my photography portfolio after ten months. They had me so scared I couldn’t wrap a cord around some studio lights in the school’s fashion. I won’t be going back for more, “Become a Monet in 10 months, ” programs.

  27. Thank you for this post. I wouldn’t be where I am today in my career/life without discovering your book: The 4-Hour Workweek at a Barnes & Nobles across the street from my first job back in 2007.

  28. Hi Tim, I just started following your blog last week, and when this post alert came up it immediately held my attention. It is indeed one looonnngggg ass post but it is well worth it and much needed. Too many people are suffering in silence and shame and your post will help many people. Thank you for your courage and sharing your story. Thank you for not destroying yourself; we would have surely been deprived of the privilege of being blessed by your life. God bless you!

  29. Tim, Thank you so much for your bravery in sharing your story. I stumbled upon the four hour work week years ago and have followed your blogs, etc. every since. I listen to every podcast and am awed by your interviewing skills. I am a bit reserved by nature, just moved central VA to a new town (LA) and while very friendly, have a hard time connecting with people.

    The podcast are very informative, but I also find myself analyzing your “style” of questioning to use in my own life. You have an uncanny ability of drawing people out without being seemingly “nosy”.

    So, back to this long-ASS post. I DO HOPE that this becomes a growing resource for people. While I have never been in a place of hopelessness (esp. not now living near the beach here in sunny CA!!!), I have two great kids who will be off to college in 2 and 3 years and am very aware of the struggles kids this age face…even at an earlier age. I am definitely going to file this and have it handy if the need arises. We all will probably know at least one person in our lifetime who we can share this with.

    Thanks. Tim.

  30. Thanks, Tim. This is a very brave post. I have struggled with despair, though not to the point of suicide. I do know others who have and hope they will read your post, as I am sharing it.

  31. Amazing post.

    Strangely my little hack to avoid suicide was – to decide to do it.

    I decided. I knew how. It was time. Decision taken. Really.

    However, if you’re going to go, why not decide to do it tomorrow. I don’t mean put it off, just set the time of the act for tomorrow.

    And now, nothing matters so much. You’re free for your last day. Free because you’ve taken the decision, and everything will stop tomorrow.

    So you get through that day.

    And when tomorrow comes, you decide to actually do it the next day after all.

    It worked. After a while, weeks maybe. I got past it. I realised that things did not matter so much and there was glimmers of enjoyment to be had.

    So I stayed. And that was twenty five years ago or so.

    I’ve since learned that I’m not the only one to have developed that technique.

    I have done many things since which filled me with joy. Things I’d never have imagined I’d do. I write this in my beautiful old house, by a lake, in a different country to the one I grew up in, with my beautiful and pregnant wife upstairs. I am astonished, daily, at where I am now. And I nearly missed it. And I now understand the utter devastation I would have left behind.

    I also found that enough sleep and consistently eating real, nourishing food kept the demons at bay.

  32. I’m in the middle of my local suicide prevention hotline training. Your post is really helpful to read and gave me ideas for new avenues to explore with suicidal callers. So you being brave enough to share your story will have positive ripples through my community, too.

  33. Dude, fantastic post! I don’t normally comment on things and honestly was ready to delete this mailer…I’m so glad I didn’t!

    Having started (and failed) with several companies, I know first-hand what getting lost in the abyss of one’s mind can do to a person. Lack of results leads to frustration. Frustration leads to loss of confidence. Loss of confidence leads to poor work product, shitty interpersonal relationships and the feeling that you’re alone in the world…making the cycle exponentially more powerful with every rotation.

    I could write for days on this but, honestly, just wanted to thank you for the reminder to keep my head up, make time for the things that matter outside of work, and press on! Godspeed bro!

  34. Thank you for sharing so vulnerably about a topic that I have also struggled with at times in my life.

    @TIM, given your profile and how high this article will rank for “Suicide” accordingly maybe you want to put the hotline number at the top of the article as well?

  35. Tim, wow. I’ve been a long time listener/reader of your work and never posted a comment before but your last email was incredibly powerful. All of the daily grind shit that people (myself included) get bogged down by seems so insignificant in comparison. I have to take my hat off to you for the courage it took to write that post! Its a difficult topic and one I’m completely ignorant of but you’ve really opened my eyes and just shows how one small act can have a significant impact on others (positively and negatively). I hope your thesis advisor reads and takes note.

  36. Hey Tim,

    Thanks for this post.

    Last year I got myself into a spiral of depression. Although I never quite reached a suicidal stage (I tend to go for the “change my name and move to the other side of the world and start a new life” option), I was definitely lower than I had ever been.

    My issues started soon after I lost my Christian faith (http://tinyurl.com/o9nde6l). This was a hugely positive change in my life, but a downside was that it induced a very strong and impatient ambition in me to make up all the time I had wasted. In my Christian life, I was taught to treat this life as a temporary existence with a single objective, shunning any “earthly” goals and desires. So soon after losing my faith, I passionately embarked on a mission to embrace life to the full. I read the Four Hour Workweek and a bunch of other similar books. I penned down dozens of business ideas and general life aspirations. I started learning as much as I could about tons of topics. I took on loads of projects and set loads of goals. I didn’t waste a second.

    The problem was, I set the bar too high. I wanted to achieve it ALL as soon as possible, which really, was never going to happen. Eventually, I started to resent all the people around me who I felt were taking up any of my suddenly highly valuable time. I started to feel trapped in every responsibility I had, even those towards loved ones. I began to feel like a total failure. It all seemed so helpless.

    Interestingly, a tweet of yours had big impact on reversing my self-imposed doom. On 3rd December 2014, you shared:

    OUTSTANDING Tim Minchin commencement speech [VIDEO] http://buff.ly/1CGoXX9 Truly exceptional rules for life.

    Minchin’s speech was great. The part which particularly resonated with me was when he described how setting huge life goals and focusing all your day-to-day effort on achieving them causes you to miss the all the life that is happening around you in the present.

    I read other things which talked about how on their death beds, people most miss the little things in life: wishing they could have one more drink with an old friend, or wishing they could go back to when their kids were young and simply be with them, doing nothing else.

    I realised my priorities were all wrong. Life goals are important, but living TODAY is even more important.

    I know I’m still vulnerable to repeating the exact same mistakes, and I do wobble backwards and forwards in highs and lows. But it’s comforting to hear that even massively successful people like you do the same thing!

    Thanks again.

  37. Hi, Tim.

    I am really proud of you that you’ve found the courage to share your experience!!! I’m sure that you’ve helped a lot of people!

    I myself will keep your writing on this subject close to my heart, as I am prone to commit suicide quite often. I am really glad that you shared the international hotlines for this subject, as I have found myself a few times with no one to talk to on my intentions. But I am now clear of these intentions, and am really glad about that. And YES, it is possible to get over it and find a better life!

    And for those who are considering doing it, I want to share that I myself have tried three times to commit suicide, all within a 30 minutes time-line, but didn’t go through with it. I COULDN’T BE HAPPIER TODAY!!!! I am really glad that I didn’t go through with it, as LIFE TODAY SEEMS MUCH MORE POSITIVE AND JOYFUL. Our mood is a choice.

    I really don’t know why I am prone to commit suicide, but I have found out that I CAN DEAL WITH ANYTHING!!!!

    And for those who consider doing it, I recommend waiting for the Sun to shine on the next day. I myself sometimes find life difficult late at night, but when the Sun comes out the next day, EVERYTHING SEEMS MUCH MORE MANAGEABLE.

    There is always a better solution, even if you can’t see it now. It shall come before you and be revealed. I know this from experience!!!

    If you seek mental power and hope, I recommend hearing Tony Robbins on YouTube. He has such an energy, that it’s contagious and gives hope for the future!

    Remember, although it might take a bit of time for your life to take a turn, how you feel you can change in an instant.

    I ALSO RECOMMEND TAPPING! it helped me through some anxiety fits.

    Remember, I’m not just saying all this as an anecdote, remember I’ve been where you are now! Be strong, and MAY THE FORCE BE WUTH YOU!!!

  38. Hey Tim,

    Thanks for this post.

    Last year I got myself into a spiral of depression. Although I never quite reached a suicidal stage (I tend to go for the “change my name and move to the other side of the world and start a new life” option), I was definitely lower than I had ever been.

    My issues started soon after I lost my Christian faith. This was a hugely positive change in my life, but a downside was that it induced a very strong and impatient ambition in me to make up all the time I had wasted. In my Christian life, I was taught to treat this life as a temporary existence with a single objective, shunning any “earthly” goals and desires. So soon after losing my faith, I passionately embarked on a mission to embrace life to the full. I read the Four Hour Workweek and a bunch of other similar books. I penned down dozens of business ideas and general life aspirations. I started learning as much as I could about tons of topics. I took on loads of projects and set loads of goals. I didn’t waste a second.

    The problem was, I set the bar too high. I wanted to achieve it ALL as soon as possible, which really, was never going to happen. Eventually, I started to resent all the people around me who I felt were taking up any of my suddenly highly valuable time. I started to feel trapped in every responsibility I had, even those towards loved ones. I began to feel like a total failure. It all seemed so helpless.

    Interestingly, a tweet of yours had big impact on reversing my self-imposed doom. On 3rd December 2014, you shared:

    “OUTSTANDING Tim Minchin commencement speech [VIDEO]. Truly exceptional rules for life.”

    Minchin’s speech was great. The part which particularly resonated with me was when he described how setting huge life goals and focusing all your day-to-day effort on achieving them causes you to miss the all the life that is happening around you in the present.

    I read other things which talked about how on their death beds, people most miss the little things in life: wishing they could have one more drink with an old friend, or wishing they could go back to when their kids were young and simply be with them, doing nothing else.

    I realised my priorities were all wrong. Life goals are important, but living TODAY is even more important.

    I know I’m still vulnerable to repeating the exact same mistakes, and I do wobble backwards and forwards in highs and lows. But it’s comforting to hear that even massively successful people like you do the same thing!

    Thanks again.

  39. Fantastic post Tim, if only I have access to that number back then or learn to get help… but we all manage to make it through. I’ve gained courage from your post to write my story as well. Thank you.

  40. Thank you for posting; it is so important that more people in the public spotlight talk about their struggles with mental illness to reduce the stigma that still unfairly surrounds mental illness.

  41. I fought and fought this during college years. I chickened out of a full-ride music scholarship, and my parents really never have forgiven me for blowing “my shot” at becoming a professional musician. I had to learn to live with their disapproval, and not let it destroy me. The day I realized I hated myself more than my parents do is the day I started walking out of their huge shadow. My advice: talk to yourself like you would talk to a friend (or sibling) if they were in the same situation. Talk to yourself out loud. Tell yourself you can make it every single day, just like you would your best friend. Be gentle and compassionate, but be persistent.

  42. What a powerful, generous essay/story. My younger brother committed suicide in 1999, and it almost killed me. At the time I was just recovering from depression that followed the untimely death of my most cherished girlfriend 7 years earlier. I felt at times, and still do at times, like I’m hanging on by a thread. I am enrolled currently in Mindset Performance Institute, founded by Brian Grasso. It is an amazing program, describing at the outset the concepts of Free Nature versus Bound Nature. I TELL YOU THE TRUTH, I was driving back to work, intending to read this, since I’d shared it on Facebook but hadn’t yet read it. I was thinking how depression is Bound Nature on steroids, the worst manifestation of bound nature there is. Ive described depression as a black hole, its pull can be overwhelming. And, I was being tugged yet again, contemplating how trapped, stuck I feel in my current situation (ironically enough, as I am studying to be a Mindset Performance Coach). THANK YOU for sharing your story, it served as a powerful reminder about how warped our perceptions can get, how things are not as hopeless as they seem, and that we are not as alone as we feel, think……

    Steven Head

  43. Tim, While your tips on maintaining a positive attitude are excellent and would be very effective, I have to disagree with your premise that all suicides are bad. They do not always damage those around them. Many people are in pain and the release from that severe pain can be a good thing, especially for the survivors.

    My father committed suicide and neither me nor any of my siblings feel damaged by it at all. It was the right decision for him. I take care of many elderly people whose lives are a complete mess and they really should have the option of leaving peacefully instead of going through the agony of medical life extension.

    The reason they don’t is that absolute attitudes like yours put a terrible stigma on people who have had enough of this life and would like to be released from it. Remember: we are all going to die, it is only a question of when. We should be able to decide when. It is our life. Please stop guilt-tripping people about this choice. A life lived to 80 is not necessarily better than a shorter one.

    People need to stop thinking that death is bad. It is a natural part of life. We need to be more accepting of people’s choices around it.

    1. JJ –

      In no way was this about dying with dignity and opting out when the end will be painful and horrific. Two completely separate topics. That pain should not be forgotten or swept under the rug – we should all have the rights they have in Oregon when science and medicine cannot help.

      They are separate issues.

  44. Thank you for this great article. It will help a lot of people. Also, thank you for making it a blog post rather than a podcast. I prefer reading to listening.

  45. Some things that works: taking the time to take a long bubble bath instead of a shower. Writting\ drawing in a personal journal every day or most days. Getting out to see the sun…(Sorry for spelling mistakes I’m French-Canadian)

    Take care everybody! Isabelle Danis 🙂

  46. When you are at the very brink, a very simple and immediate helpful action step is to just take it an hour at a time. If that’s too much, then 15 minutes at a time; 15 seconds, if need be. Don’t look any farther than that. This brings you to the present and, at least, temporarily, helps diffuse the things that are overwhelming you — at least long enough to get into a better state of mind to step off the brink. The power of this increases, substantially, when someone else is just there to be with you; not necessarily having to talk, just be. This technique has been a life-saver to a loved one of mine.

  47. Great post… I am a consciousness coach and work with people (often for free) to teach them how to properly use their mind. Much like a personal trainer helps you to strengthen your muscles and increase physical stamina, I teach people practical ways to increase peace, joy and happiness in their lives by training the mind to process thought and emotion in new ways. Occasionally I will get clients who are depressed or suicidal. Learning how to use thought and emotion properly has turned their lives around. I wish that more people understood how the mind works and how thought impacts emotion – if it wasn’t for my own relentless research I might not have turned my own life around, and certainly wouldn’t be lucky enough to be helping others overcome their struggles. Keep up the great work! 🙂

  48. Much love for sharing this Timbo! From all of us at the Slow Hustle Podcast. Stuff like this is why we are passionate about helping people. Especially, entrepreneurs experiencing manic depression. So f-ing important.

  49. This is an awesome post and much needed. I’ve had a similar situation in the past and in spite of having moved past that exceptionally dark time in my life, I often find these dark thoughts make their way back during challenging times.

    Your practical guide to getting through these times and the additional resources will really come in handy.

    I appreciate how hard it must have been writing about this subject but I hope people continue to address it.

    Thanks TIm!

  50. Fantastic post. I knew there was more than one reason I stumbled upon you and your books.

    Thank you!

  51. Thank you for writing this. I and my paternal family have always dealt with depression, culminating with my aunt (whom I loved) committing suicide when I was 10. It took us a week to find her body in the crawlspace of her home. It wasn’t cool and the thought (27 years later) still makes me cry.

    I still deal with depression, so I don’t have much advice – but I know that suicide is not the answer because it hurts too many people around you. I just try to hang out with one person a day who appreciates me for who I am and with whom I can have a laugh.

    “The Buddha laughs because he understands” or something like that. Once you recognize what a big joke it all is, you realize that it’s simply best to laugh – even if you’re laughing at pain.

  52. I wanted to start out by saying, WOW! amazing! I just heard of you about 3 months ago, when my friend died taking too much heroin and was left there because the so called friends, where scared that the police would come, and they would all get caught?!(I don’t understand it..)

    I think your message needs to be heard and spread across the world. You do have a lot of followers so people listen,and your message is amazing and just so damn good..It could change a life, maybe a thousand or millions. Shift from seeing your past as a series of emotional events, to understanding them as vibrational events that had a vibrational impact on you.

    Thank you

  53. The courage that it took to share this could move mountains. This post is extremely important; thank you so much for sharing it.

  54. Thank you for the post Tim. Without going into too much detail, I’ve been struggling a lot recently, stressed about trying to find a new job, figure out what the hell I want to do with my life, gone through a break up, I’ve been in an area now post-college where I just don’t really have any friends, I’ve been depressed and overwhelmed because I just haven’t been able to see any solutions, and probably more that just isn’t occurring to me right now.

    Not going to lie, I’ve thought about suicide. And like in your post, I then thought about my parents and what it would do to them; I’m an only child, and it would crush them. That’s really the only reason I haven’t done it, no matter how low I’ve gotten. I’ve been low enough to look up local gun purchasing laws just to figure out how I would go about buying one and tapping out, but I haven’t gone and actually done it.

    I still haven’t solved any of my problems and I’m still depressed on a pretty regular basis, but it’s got to get better at some point. I haven’t paid as close of attention to your content lately, but this post definitely got me reading. Thank you for the insight and reminder that just about everyone can go through something terrible mentally like this. It’s a good reminder of something I already knew, but often forget when I’m low, that suicide is a terrible idea.

  55. I was living in London teaching Geography. London is a tough city, losing the girl, wasting my days, and watching the approaching 7:32 from Wimbledon again. Stepping in front of that train felt like a release. Nothing could not be better that this. But then I was able to catch myself. Like Tim said, it was the thoughts of how this would smash my Mum and brother, as well as the poor fella who would have to clean the front of the train. Those thoughts stopped me. Since then dark thoughts come back sometimes, dad passed last year as another girl dropped me. Swimming, good friends and daily forgiving of yourself. I really liked Tim’s line your not flawed, your human. If you are at the bottom of the well, there are helping hands even if you don’t realize it, you are loved. if daily darkness is you then lots of sunshine, exercise are also great. Hugs to all

  56. Way to go on the url slug. Using your SEO powers for a truly good purpose! Hopefully this article pops up for those in need. Thanks for writing and sharing.

  57. The comments reveal how common the experience of depression is. Tim’s story is great. There are a lot of great suggestions in the comments. Ultimately you have to decide how you want your reality to look. The cycle of life and death is a continuum not a beginning or ending. When do you remember a beginning to your experience? And death will not be an end to experience either. You could be reborn as your sibling’s child and experience your death through him again. People who are really good at remembering their past lives remember how difficult it is when dead to hover over their lifeless body and watch people discovering the death. (http://amzn.com/031237674X Life before Life by Jim Tucker)

    This age has a culture unlike any other… the culture of hacking reality. If you are unhappy with your reality work to change it. Try simple things diet, multi-vitamins, meditation, exercise, etc. Try more elaborate things through new experiences like standing front row at a concert, living in a beautiful place, helping other depressed and suffering people, visiting a Nevada whore house, going to burning man, camping in Evolution Valley or climbing mount Whitney. Point is, there is no escaping your life so make it a life you want to live.

  58. Thank you for this post. You’re a brave man Tim Ferris! I see many of my own coping skills listed in the comments of others. I have had my own dark moments of desperation. For me, just throwing my hands up and saying “thy will be done” was what it took for me. I was too exhausted to fix my own problems. I’m not really a religious person but I knew I couldn’t do it alone and I didn’t feel comfortable talking to anyone about what was going on in my head. So I broke down and asked God to fix it. As others said, that act alone brought so much relief. I knew from that point that whatever happened, it was the right thing. I still struggle but I’m in a much, much better place today. I’m also happy to read this because I am the parent of a high achieving student-athlete. I believe for the first in his life he is truly being challenged academically and athletically. He is starting to doubt himself. With this post fresh in my mind I need to remind him that being happy is the most important thing. He is very self motivated and I hadn’t ever needed to push him. About a year ago he started slacking a bit and I felt the need to redirect him. I was afraid that getting one B would eventually turn into getting two Bs. I’m afraid I may have caused unnecessary stress. I don’t care anymore if he goes to an ivy league school or plays college sports. If makes him so stressed out that he can’t enjoy it, what’s the point? You have reminded me that all I really want is for him to be truly happy.

  59. I want someone to hear this… I have found that Suicide is a repetitive behavior pattern. It has been done ‘before.’ I am seeing profound results with my clients. I have been sharing this with my traditional colleagues, I hope it is mainstream soon. You do not need to believe in past lives, it is cellular memory (ancestors) that could be sabotaging your life. I don’t have all the answers, but I continue to look. YOU are important.

  60. The 15 minute audio by Tim Robbins is corrupt on all 3 links. I would love to listen.

    I think the most important part to remember is to take your current pain multiplied by 10 and to pass that pain onto everyone you know. Do you want to do that to them? Don’t commit suicide.

  61. Tim,

    Thank you so much for this brave and moving article which goes to the heart of stuff many of us have gone through.

    I must recommend the work of Michael Neill who has been an incredible coach for years and is now embracing work based on Three Principles or the Inside Out approach. This is his TEDx talk and his book which gives an insight into living insightfully (and not letting your thoughts run away with you) is The Inside Out Revolution. It’s a starting point for looking at things in this fashion. I hope it is of use to someone.

    http://www.supercoach.com/video/why-arent-we-awesomer/

  62. What helped me was when someone asked me, “If you could do anything, what would you do? How would you go about doing it? Just do that, then.”

    I was suicidal, loathing my daily routine, thrashed by my best friend’s recent suicide (High School). After seeing professional help for months, and getting nowhere, I was posed this question. All-of-a-sudden the strings were cut, and I was no one’s puppet but my own. I tested out of school halfway through my senior year, worked, traveled, spent time with my girlfriend, and pursued my dream of being a professional athlete.

    18 years later, I’m a dad, CEO of a company, and have a master’s degree behind me, I still sometimes get depressed. And, I would be being dishonest if I said I didn’t think about the “S” word. But, I am always reminded of this question, and the power it gave me to own myself. Now, I think that if I have the power to end it, I also have the power to risk everything on my dreams.

  63. Thank you so much for your article. I am a High school teacher and have had kids both commit and try suicide. You have a kid friendly voice I think kids would respond to- nonjudgmental and practical. May I reprint your article to discuss in my classroom with my students?

  64. two things really helped me:

    the book

    _Brainswitch Out of Depression: Break the Cycle of Despair_ [A. B. Curtiss]

    “If you or a loved one suffer from depression, BRAINSWITCH may be all you need to banish depression for good. You can’t simply will yourself our of a depression. It’s caused by a chemical imbalance in the brain. But Brainswitching works ! It’s a targeted system of simple mind exercises developed from neuroscience research and brain mapping.

    It short-circuits the pain of depression by disconnecting the message that we are depressed from one part of the brain to another. ”

    http://www.depressionisachoice.com/depressionisachoice/brainswitch/toc.html

    For me, the book worked like flicking a light switch. The way it worked so well (thoroughly and quickly) reminds me of when I coached my ex through losing 107 pounds. Before she knew the trick, it was impossible. Once she knew to get rid of empty carbs and stock up on meat, fish and non starchy vegetables, it was like falling off a log. Depression, for me, was like that. I was stuck. Brainswitch showed me a simple way to change by directing my attention. Once I was no longer stuck, I could put into action all the other great ideas (exercise, thankfulness, etc.,) that Tim mentions here.

    The second thing that made a big impression on me was, believe it or not, watching Bill Murray in _Groundhog Day_. I never knew it was a movie about suicide until I watched it. Can’t give away the plot but it is a feel good movie very much like _It’s a Wonderful Life_. Very empowering and psychologically astute.

    To anyone reading this: keep looking for tools. One of them will work for you. Another really good one to inoculate yourself against depression is to take time to pay attention to and offer kindness to someone who has suffered a grievous loss. Gets you out of yourself and gives you a healthy perspective.

  65. Thank you Tim for having the courage to raise the issue and talk about your personal contact with the ‘Black Dog’ as Churchill called it. The more celebrities like yourself that open up the easier it will be for the averages like me to talk about it.

    My ‘gut’ feel is that we’re being poisoned by our food chain. I have no scientific evidence and don’t know how to avoid it anyway.

    Thanks again.

  66. Hi,

    I also want to thank you for this post. I was one who considered “opting out” and ended up volunteraily seeking professional help. I learned tools that helped me to think rationally which can all be found in the first 6 chapters of The Feel Good Handbook by David D. Burns. In conjunction with Tim’s practical tips, it would be a great set of tools for anyone to have in their kit. Thanks again for the post!

  67. Great post Tim, thanks for sharing this *very* personal story. I also love that you linked to your other article, immensly helpful.

    I have a ‘fragile’ brain as well, and whenever I’m at a train station my brain immediately thinks about jumping in front of it. I don’t know why, because I don’t even want to commit suicide so I consciously don’t.

    However, I’m afraid that when I’m not in control, like with alcohol or drugs, something might happen. How do you deal with this or do you not experience this at all? Any input from others is also appreciated.

    Marc

  68. Thank you for posting this. As someone who has gone through the same thoughts, it helps to know that there are others out there like me.

  69. Thank you, Tim, for sharing this publicly. I think it’s really powerful, and I shared it with my family, boyfriend, and friends, and hope that they share it with others as well. Also, to Silas, I am really sorry about your loss. Thank you for having the courage to talk to Tim.

  70. Hello Tim,

    First thank you for your profound post. I could feel a very loving attention behind the words.

    From my humble experience of depression and what I remember the most, I would say that you made a good point by asking why are we possibly thinking of suicide and what would be the consequences if we did.

    One of the reasons I choose the path I am living today is that because I love so much my family (even if they could be harmful sometimes). I asked myself, we’ll they be happier if I do this or we’ll they be hurt ? I thought they could be harmed or even devastated. So starting from there, I choose to live even if I had to get through undescriptible times.

    Second, at this time, I had the chance to have someone of trust that I could get around with, just to chill and respectful of who I am. I decided to stick with him as more as possible because he was not judgemental whatsoever. When you are very sensible mentally speaking, it is critical to be surrounded by the best people.

    Thirdly, I put my energy into something I love. In my case, it was handball but I think any extra scholar activities with social links and entertaining purposes can help to get through depression, as well as teach you great lessons on yourself.

    As Tim Ferriss and other great speakers said, we all have gifts to share to the world.

  71. Tim,

    Nice Post, but you didn’t quite explain how you worked on your body and mind for that year. Could you talk further about it?

  72. What does one do when your friend tells u he’s planning it? I tried to talk to him but doesn’t seem to help. I’m not getting the message across. I feel helpless.

    Any suggestions? RF….

  73. As far as the depression goes, one thing I always notice is that friends who are group oriented tend to have less depression/mood problems. Maybe it is self selecting, but I do also think humans are hardwired to be part of a group. Traveling and being very individualistic and not community oriented seems to do bad things for us biologically speaking. Fraternities and close-knit groups (jiu jitsu school affiliation, etc) catch flak but I do think they have a place until we change our biology. I think choosing the 5 people you surround yourself with can sometimes backfire, as leaving some behind because they don’t perpetuate your life/career/whatever may set some up to do the same to you in the future. I question this advice, but do get the idea behind it.

    I also think attempting to dive into biochemistry is worthwhile. I think some of your 4HB ‘advice’ is just flat out bad (PAGG, etc). I have gone to the pains of taking pre-med course at my college to get a deeper, regimented understanding of human metabolism, etc. Now you seem to have gotten better at saying “not a doc, consult med practitioner first” etc., but your book still remains in circulation and people take your advice or experience as hope, and you do come across as an authority. Ray Kurzweil is an example of this too. Good example of the body being an organism and not a machine, and biochemical markers can be misleading (although still worth testing and trying to piece together). So much that goes into a vitamin D level aside from the vitamin D intake from food and sunshine.

    Would be cool if we actually had personal interaction though. I think we all end up feeling like we know you, but the reality is there are a million of us and most tweets or communication probably just disappears into oblivion. I think maybe your paradox is that you want a bunch of very intelligent followers. If you want people to take your advice to heart, maybe they need to stop looking to you for the next new thing, or the new content. Maybe they need to become you (in the sense of discovering new ideas, thought processes, things), as opposed to just checking out your new vimeo recs, or book recs, or whatever. I guarantee you that you have quite a few young fans/readers who wait for your every blog post, tweet, periscope whatever, podcast, etc. and that seems quite antithetical to the person that you seem to say you want to create. Sounds like the kid who committed suicide was one of them. Food for the thought. Might be better for your revenue stream, but probably not good for the individual.

    Anyway, didn’t mean to ramble here, the honesty is in the best of intentions and it is something I would tell you to your face, not trying to be a troll or anything. Lots of things I like about you which is obviously why I frequent the site and buy the books, so hope that is duly noted as well.

  74. Thank you, Tim, for this ballsy post. So many of us want to maintain the illusion that we have it all covered and we are doing great. But life is cycles on cycles on cycles. Up and down, around and around. More like spirals, really. There are great times but to pretend there are no down times is something most of us do. But there are, dark times, and there will be again, but trusting that there is another side, like a new dawn, just waiting around the corner. Acceptance and faith that a new dawn will, once again, rise. Thank you for sharing on this important topic with such compassion and clarity. I trust it will help many. And hopefully make those not in a dark place be more aware of those that may just be. And how a small gesture such as a phone call, a coffee and chat or a hug can make a world of difference. Well done.

  75. There’s also texting based suicide hotlines for people too anxious to speak on the phone, or if nervous about being afraid. I’d also suspect there are similar options online which can be of help to someone who wouldn’t want the text logs.

  76. Thanks TIm.

    There are more suicides than homicides. I am glad someone of your stature talks about suicide. Whenever I feel down I always remind myself that this will pass, everything passes. The only thing constant in life is change.

    And there is help out there. Most people dont look for help. Not sure why, the stigma, the lack of energy, the lack of hope?

    I hope your post helps people. No one really wants to die, they want help.

    ~R

  77. Thank you so much for having the courage to post this! I was a suicide hotline volunteer for several years and it was one of the most rewarding experiences of my life. Based on that experience, I’d also like to recommend that if you ever think that a friend or family member might be struggling with depression or suicidal thoughts you should just ASK them about it directly – i.e. “are you thinking about hurting yourself or suicide?.” You are not going to put the idea into their head and this simple question can show that you are open to discussing whatever is on their mind. Then, you can also encourage them to contact the hotline or other resource for help.

  78. Your concrete list of todos is especially important because among younger people, suicide is generally not a response to depression, it’s the result of a lack of problem solving skills. Even following a couple of the steps may be enough to break the pattern of thought for many people.

    Having had to rip up an entire floor’s worth of carpeting because blood really doesn’t come out, I remind people who might be contemplating suicide that that someone is going to have to deal with their actions after. It might be the least of their concerns, but while they might not currently have regard for their own life, they might feel bad about what they are about to do to someone around them and reconsider.

  79. You beautiful human being. I wish I could package all the love and compassion I feel for you right now and send it…. hold on a second. I can! It’s love! By the power of quantum physics… brace yourself… Boom.

    Tactics.

    1. Meditation has saved my life. To deeply know from experience, not just as a concept, that you are not your thoughts gives you awesome power over them. Space from the negative self talk is essential to start to see that you have a choice. There can be pain without suffering.

    2. Reach out Within 5 minutes. I have a code with my best friend for those times when the bad stuff feels very, very real. I call her and tell her I’m having a wobble. She reminds me that that’s ok, but she is ruthless about leading me back to the truth. Call that friend within 5 minutes of the first sign of danger. Call when it is still just a wobble.

    3. Never drink alone. Are you crazy?! Well, yes, exactly, so never drink alone.

    4. Exercise. Exercise. Exercise. And while you are doing it, let your focus be wide. Try not to engage in self talk about how well you’re doing your work out, let your body do its thing. It really doesn’t need your help. Occupy your mind by letting your circle of awareness be as wide as you can manage. Take in everything. If you realise you’ve been chatting to yourself or fixating, that’s ok. Just pick up the game again and play it gently.

    The thoughts that you are consciously aware of are just a tiny fraction of the information coming at you from the universe at any given time. If things look bleak, know that it’s your filters that need adjusting, not your life status. ♡

    **Tim, I’d love to give everyone a couple of exercises that can stop the down ward spiral and give people a rest from their own stuff. Can I either write a massive comment or , and this would be a better way to teach this stuff, make a video and link to it here? No sales. No website. Just a YouTube link of free helpful stuff.

    Thank you for this post. Everything you’ve ever lived is to help someone else though it someday. Well done for reaching back. And down. And through. And over.

    You fucking rock.

  80. Your most important piece to date. Hats off to you Tim. Thank you for your courage to make a difference.

  81. This gives a lot of great information. Even for those who feel simply trapped in their present life circumstance. They may not feel suicidal at the moment but perhaps further down the spiral they may. What you laid out here, I feel will help them create a healthier state of being.

    I know for myself just getting out and moving helped as well as being around friends. However, I think that who you are around also helps. Meeting new people who you wouldn’t normally hang around with really helped me out of some dark times.

    Time you made a great post here. After reading your account of your thesis, I don’t feel so bad about mine now. I almost completely bombed it as well.

  82. Thank you- it is another step toward opening up the “hushed” world of suicide, this needs to be talked about and shared so that everyone who sufferes can find solice without judgment or shame.

  83. This was a tough piece to read but it made me think about someone in my family who I haven’t reached out to in a long time but who I know is going through a rough time with legal problems and other personal issues.

    So after I read this, I went for a walk and called him.

    We talked for over an hour. It was the most meaningful conversation I had with him in the last 5 years. I started by telling him that I was worried about him but didn’t know how to bring this up and talk about it. I was a coward for not doing it in the past. Then I told him I hope he wasn’t thinking about offing himself (terrible choice of words). He that said wasn’t but he is in a down and depressed time in his life.

    I talked with him about my own thoughts of suicide (just hopping in front of a train in NYC) and my parents, especially my mom, being fucked up kept me from ever seriously considering it. I tried to tell him that a lot of people, especially his mom would be upset if he was gone. I hope he believed me.

    Anyways we had a great talk and this incredibly deep and vulnerable post inspired it. I’m so glad you did this. I feel like your blog and writing has become progressively more vulnerable and this emotional stuff really fucking matters to people because so many feel it or experience this but nobody ever talks about it.

    A recent book I read and highly recommend, like one of the most significant books I’ve read, is Daring Greatly and talks about how to be vulnerable and why it’s so important and brave it is to have conversations like this one.

  84. I have been in the same situation when i was bullied at school as a teenager, then latter when i lost both my job and girlfriend.

    The first time, thinking about my family, especially my baby sister, prevented me from doing something extremely stupid. The second time too, but then there was a turning point. I remember crying in front of my mates after way too much Jameson and how pitiful i was. They felt horrible for me, and were good supportive mates, quite surprised to see me like that. I felt worse.

    Nevertheless, it was eye opening, i felt so shameful and angry at myself the next day. I had hit the bottom of the pit.

    Some people might say you dig deeper in such a situation but i decided to, somehow, live a more meaningful life. That started with pursuing the job of my dream. It wasn’t exactly in my engineering branch and i had been a salesman for the last year but i had a clear vision.

    I listed the companies in my area on an excel sheet and call each one of them. It was frightening, but people were nice, i finally got an interview, got the job then got fired for obvious lack of skill (even if hard working) after 3 weeks. It didn’t felt bad this time. I had my vision.

    I eventually went back to school for one year of bachelor specialised is the area i wanted ( Thermal efficiency& Mech Engineering for buildings), got an internship for a small consultant near my home and quickly graduated from intern to project manager, happily doing insane hours.

    Then i moved to Australia (i’m French) to pursue my childhood dream to design skyscrapers under the sun (which i’m doing right now as we speak).

    When i look back at what saved me, i would say 3 things, in a particular order:

    1) When i was at my worst, thinking about my FAMILY helped me hold on

    2) When i humiliated myself in front of my friends, my PRIDE and SELF RESPECT helped say “Enough!” and decide to stop being shaken around by the world and decide of my direction. Look in your past to see yourself at your best, and don’t accept pain and sadness.

    3) Finally, my VISION helps me everyday to keep a profound sense of duty and happiness and not fall back in my old bad thoughts. Actually, my live has gotten harder&more challenging than it was when i got depressive. But a good vision (Arnold Schwarzenegger talks about it way better than me in Tim’s podcast No 60) has a life of it’s own and when you feel down, or unsure, it will carry you through anything.

    Btw my father has depression and i must carry the wrong genes as well. I don’t think a predisposal will decide for you what your life will be. About depression, habits are key. I highly recommend Tony Robbins excellent material, and Napoleon Hill’s “Think and grow rich” that were excellent tools to come back and set my goals (btw, Hill’s book is “rich” is the broad side, not only about money).

    Thanks Tim for sharing your story, it moved me, and remind everyone that hyper achievers are just humans, like everyone else.

  85. I admire and appreciate your courage in posting this, Tim. As someone who has come close to the brink more times than I’d like to admit, your words really resonated with me. In my case, it’s been ten years of dealing with chronic debilitating medical conditions that have all too often driven me to the edge.

    After seven years, I was finally diagnosed with Lyme disease &c., and in the last couple years of treatment I’ve made a lot of progress, but it’s been agonizingly slow and painful. You’ve mentioned having a recent bout with Lyme yourself, and in your recent interview with Amanda Palmer you said her book inspired you to finally ask for the help you needed to get it taken care of. In the same spirit, I’m asking for your help. If you could do a blog post like this on how you finally managed to rid yourself of this crippling illness, it might mean as much to many people like myself as this one. Anything you can do to help people figure out how to get through this, or even just to raise awareness, would just as surely save lives.