This happy-looking shot was taken in 1999, when I almost destroyed myself.
In this post, I’m going to talk about suicide, and why I’m still on this planet.
These are stories I’ve kept secret from my family, girlfriends, and closest friends for years. Recently, however, I had an experience that shook me — woke me up — and I decided that it was time to share it all.
So, despite the shame I might feel, the fear that is making my palms sweat as I type this, allow me to get started.
Here we go…
A TWIST OF FATE
“Could you please sign this for my brother? It would mean a lot to him.”
He was a kind fan. There were perhaps a dozen people around me asking questions, and he had politely waited his turn. The ask: A simple signature.
It was Friday night, around 7pm, and a live recording of the TWiST podcast had just ended. There was electricity in the air. Jason Calacanis, the host and interviewer, sure knows how to put on a show. He’d hyped up the crowd and kept things rolling for more than 2 hours on stage, asking me every imaginable question. The venue–Pivotal Labs’ offices in downtown SF–had been packed to capacity. Now, more than 200 people were milling about, drinking wine, or heading off for their weekends.
A handful of attendees gathered near the mics for pics and book inscriptions.
“Anything in particular you’d like me to say to him? To your brother?” I asked this one gent, who was immaculately dressed in a suit. His name was Silas.
He froze for few seconds but kept eye contact. I saw his eyes flutter. There was something unusual that I couldn’t put a finger on.
I decided to take the pressure off: “I’m sure I can come up with something. Are you cool with that?” Silas nodded.
I wrote a few lines, added a smiley face, signed the book he’d brought, and handed it back. He thanked me and backed out of the crowd. I waived and returned to chatting with the others.
Roughly 30 minutes later, I had to run. My girlfriend had just landed at SFO and I needed to meet her for dinner. I started walking towards the elevators.
“Excuse me, Tim?” It was Silas. He’d been waiting for me. “Can I talk to you for a second?”
“Sure,” I said, “but walk with me.”
We meandered around tables and desks to the relative privacy of the elevator vestibule, and I hit the Down button. As soon as Silas started his story, I forgot about the elevator.
He apologized for freezing earlier, for not having an answer. His younger brother–the one I signed the book for–had recently committed suicide. He was 22.
“He looked up to you,” Silas explained, “He loved listening to you and Joe Rogan. I wanted to get your signature for him. I’m going to put this in his room.” He gestured to the book. I could see tears welling up in his eyes, and I felt my own doing the same. He continued.
“People listen to you. Have you ever thought about talking about these things? About suicide or depression? You might be able to save someone.” Now, it was my turn to stare at him blankly. I didn’t know what to say.
I also didn’t have an excuse. Unbeknownst to him, I had every reason to talk about suicide. I’d only skimmed the surface with a few short posts about depression.
Some of my closest high school friends killed themselves.
Some of my closest college friends killed themselves.
I almost killed myself.
“I’m so sorry for your loss,” I said to Silas. I wondered if he’d waited more than three hours just to tell me this. I suspected he had. Good for him. He had bigger balls than I. Certainly, I’d failed his brother by being such a coward in my writing. How many others had I failed? These questions swam in my mind.
“I will write about this” I said to Silas, awkwardly patting his shoulder. I was thrown off. “I promise.”
And with that, I got into the elevator.
INTO THE DARKNESS
“They tried to bury us. They didn’t know we were seeds.”
– Mexican proverb
There are some secrets we don’t share because they’re embarrassing.
Like that time I met an icon by accidentally hitting on his girlfriend at a coffee shop? That’s a good one (Sorry, N!). Or the time a celebrity panelist borrowed my laptop to project a boring corporate video, and a flicker of porn popped up–a la Fight Club–in front of a crowd of 400 people? Another good example.
But then there are dark secrets. The things we tell no one. The shadows we keep covered for fear of unraveling our lives.
For me, 1999 was full of shadows.
So much so that I never wanted to revisit them.
I hadn’t talked about this traumatic period publicly until last week, first in a reddit AMA (Ask Me Anything), then in greater depth on Derek Halpern’s podcast.
What follows is the sequence of my downward spiral.
Reading the below, it’s incredible how trivial some of it seems in retrospect. At the time, though, it was the perfect storm.
I include wording like “impossible situation,” which was reflective of my thinking at the time, not objective reality.
I still vividly recall these events, but any quotes are paraphrased. Please also excuse any grammatical/tense errors, as it was hard for me to put this down. So, starting where it began…
- It’s my senior year at Princeton. I’m slated to graduate around June of 1999. Somewhere in the first six months, several things happen in the span of a few weeks:
- I fail to make it to final interviews for McKinsey Consulting and Trilogy Software, in addition to others. I have no idea what I’m doing wrong, and I start losing confidence after “winning” in the game of academics for so long.
- A long-term (for a college kid, anyway) girlfriend breaks up with me shortly thereafter. Not because of the job stuff, but because I became more insecure during that period, wanted more time with her, and was massively disruptive to her final varsity sports season. What’s wrong with me?
- I have a fateful meeting with one of my thesis advisors in the East Asian Studies department. Having read a partial draft of my work, he presents a large stack of original research in Japanese for me to incorporate. I walk out with my head spinning — how am I going to finish this thesis (which generally run 60-100 pages or more) before graduation? What am I going to do?
It’s important to note that at Princeton, the senior thesis is largely viewed as the pinnacle of your four-year undergrad career. That’s reflected in its grading. The thesis is often worth around 25% of your entire departmental GPA (English department example here).
After all of the above, things continued as follows…
- I find a rescue option! In the course of researching language learning for the thesis, I’m introduced to a wonderful PhD who works at Berlitz International. Bernie was his name. We have a late dinner one night on Witherspoon Street in Princeton. He speaks multiple languages and is a nerd, just like me. One hour turns into two, which turns into three. At the end, he says, “You know, it’s too bad you’re graduating in a few months. I have a project that would be perfect for you, but it’s starting sooner.” This could be exactly the solution I’m looking for!
- I chat with my parents about potentially taking a year off, beginning in the middle of my senior year. This would allow me time to finish and polish the thesis, while simultaneously testing jobs in the “real world.” It seems like a huge win-win, and my parents— to their credit —are hugely supportive.
- The Princeton powers OK the idea, and I meet with the aforementioned thesis advisor to inform him of my decision. Instead of being happy that I’m taking time to get the thesis right (what I expected), he seems furious: “So you’re just going to quit?! To cop out?! This better be the best thesis I’ve ever seen in my life.” In my stressed out state, and in the exchange that follows, I hear a series of thinly veiled threats and ultimatums… but no professor would actually do that, right? The meeting ends with a dismissive laugh and a curt “Good luck.” I’m crushed and wander out in a daze.
- Once I’ve regained my composure, my shock turns to anger. How could a thesis advisor threaten a student with a bad grade just because they’re taking time off? I knew my thesis wouldn’t be “the best thesis” he’d ever seen, so it was practically a guarantee of a bad grade, even if I did a great job. This would be obvious to anyone, right?
- I meet with multiple people in the Princeton administration, and the response is — simply put — “He wouldn’t do that.” I’m speechless. Am I being called a liar? Why would I lie? What was my incentive? It seemed like no one was willing to rock the boat with a senior (I think tenured) professor. I’m speechless and feel betrayed. Faculty politics matter more than I do.
- I leave my friends behind at school and move off campus to work — I find out remotely — for Berlitz. “Remote” means I end up working at home by myself. This is a recipe for disaster. The work is rewarding, but I spend all of my non-work time — from when I wake to when I go to bed — looking at hundreds of pages of thesis notes and research spread out on my bedroom floor. It’s an uncontainable mess.
- After 2-3 months of attempting to incorporate my advisor’s original-language Japanese research, the thesis is a disaster. Despite (or perhaps because of) staring at paper alone for 8-16 hours a day, it’s a Frankenstein’s monster of false starts, dead ends, and research that shouldn’t be there in the first place. Totally unusable. I am, without a doubt, in worse shape than when I left school.
- My friends are graduating, celebrating, and leaving Princeton behind. I am sitting in a condo off campus, trapped in an impossible situation. My thesis work is going nowhere, and even if it turns out spectacular, I have (in my mind) a vindictive advisor who’s going to burn me. By burning me, he’ll destroy everything I’ve sacrificed for since high school: great grades in high school got me to Princeton, great grades in Princeton should get me to a dream job, etc. By burning me, he’ll make Princeton’s astronomical tuition wasted money, nothing more than a small fortune my family has pissed away. I start sleeping in until 2 or 3pm. I can’t face the piles of unfinished work surrounding me. My coping mechanism is to cover myself in sheets, minimize time awake, and hope for a miracle.
- No miracle arrives. Then one afternoon, as I’m wandering through a Barnes and Noble with no goal in particular, I chance upon a book about suicide. Right there in front of me on a display table. Perhaps this is the “miracle”? I sit down and read the entire book, taking copious notes into a journal, including other books listed in the bibliography. For the first time in ages, I’m excited about research. In a sea of uncertainty and hopeless situations, I feel like I’ve found hope: the final solution.
- I return to Princeton campus. This time, I go straight to Firestone Library to check out all of the suicide-related books on my to-do list. One particularly promising-sounding title is out, so I reserve it. I’ll be next in line when it comes back. I wonder what poor bastard is reading it, and if they’ll be able to return it.
- It’s important to mention here that, by this point, I was past deciding. The decision was obvious to me. I’d somehow failed, painted myself into this ridiculous corner, wasted a fortune on a school that didn’t care about me, and what would be the point of doing otherwise? To repeat these types of mistakes forever? To be a hopeless burden to myself and my family and friends? Fuck that. The world was better off without a loser who couldn’t figure this basic shit out. What would I ever contribute? Nothing. So the decision was made, and I was in full-on planning mode.
- In this case, I was dangerously good at planning. I had 4-6 scenarios all spec’d out, start to finish, including collaborators and covers when needed. And that’s when I got the phone call.
- [My mom?! That wasn’t in the plan.]
- I’d forgotten that Firestone Library now had my family home address on file, as I’d technically taken a year of absence. This meant a note was mailed to my parents, something along the lines of “Good news! The suicide book you requested is now available at the library for pick up!”
- Oops (and thank fucking God).
- Suddenly caught on the phone with my mom, I was unprepared. She nervously asked about the book, so I thought fast and lied: “Oh, no need to worry about that. Sorry! One of my friends goes to Rutgers and didn’t have access to Firestone, so I reserved it for him. He’s writing about depression and stuff.”
- I was shocked out of my own delusion by a one-in-a-million accident. It was only then that I realized something: my death wasn’t just about me. It would completely destroy the lives of those I cared most about. I imagined my mom, who had no part in creating my thesis mess, suffering until her dying day, blaming herself.
- The very next week, I decided to take the rest of my “year off” truly off (to hell with the thesis) and focus on physical and mental health. That’s how the entire “sumo” story of the 1999 Chinese Kickboxing (Sanshou) Championships came to be, if you’ve read The 4-Hour Workweek.
- Months later, after focusing on my body instead of being trapped in my head, things were much clearer. Everything seemed more manageable. The “hopeless” situation seemed like shitty luck but nothing permanent.
- I returned to Princeton, turned in my now-finished thesis to my still-sour advisor, got chewed up in my thesis defense, and didn’t give a fuck. It wasn’t the best thesis he’d ever read, nor the best thing I’d ever written, but I had moved on.
- Many thanks are due to a few people who helped me regain my confidence that final semester. None of them have heard this story, but I’d like to give them credit here. Among others: My parents and family (of course), Professor Ed Zschau, Professor John McPhee, Sympoh dance troupe, and my friends at the amazing Terrace Food Club.
- I graduated with the class of 2000, and bid goodbye to Nassau Hall. I rarely go back, as you might imagine.
Given the purported jump in “suicidal gestures” at Princeton and its close cousins (Harvard appears to have 2x the national average for undergrad suicides), I hope the administration is taking things seriously. If nearly half of your student population reports feeling depressed, there might be systemic issues to fix.
Left unfixed, you’ll have more dead kids on your hands, guaranteed.
It’s not enough to wait for people to reach out, or to request that at-risk kids take a leave of absence “off the clock” of the university.
Perhaps regularly reach out to the entire student body to catch people before they fall? It could be as simple as email.
[Sidenote: After graduating, I promised myself that I would never write anything longer than an email ever again. Pretty hilarious that I now write 500-plus-page books, eh?]
OUT OF THE DARKNESS
“Being deeply loved by someone gives you strength, while loving someone deeply gives you courage…”
– Lao Tzu
First, let me give a retrospective analysis of my near obliteration. Then, I’ll give you a bunch of tools and tricks that I still use for keeping the darkness at arm’s length.
Now, at this point, some of you might also be thinking “That’s it?! A Princeton student was at risk of getting a bad grade? Boo-fuckin’-hoo, man. Give me a break…”
But… that’s the entire point. It’s easy to blow things out of proportion, to get lost in the story you tell yourself, and to think that your entire life hinges on one thing you’ll barely remember 5-10 years later. That seemingly all-important thing could be a bad grade, getting into college, a relationship, a divorce, getting fired, or just a bunch of hecklers on the Internet.
So, back to our story–why didn’t I kill myself?
Below are the realizations that helped me (and a few friends). They certainly won’t work for everyone suffering from depression, but my hope is that they help some of you.
1. Call this number : 1 (800) 273-8255. I didn’t have it, and I wish I had. It’s the National Suicide Prevention Lifeline (website and live chat here). It’s available 24 hours a day, 7 days a week, in both English and Spanish.
If you’re outside of the US, please click here for a list of international hotlines.
Sometimes, it just takes one conversation with one rational person to stop a horrible irrational decision. If you’re considering ending your life, please reach out to them. If you’re too embarrassed to admit that, as I was, then you can ping them “just to chat for a few minutes.” Pretend you’re killing time or testing different suicide hotlines for a directory you’re compiling. Whatever works.
Speaking personally, I want to see the gifts you have to offer the world. And speaking from personal experience, believe me: this too shall pass, whatever it is.
2. I realized it would destroy other people’s lives. Killing yourself can spiritually kill other people.
Even if you’re not lucky enough, as I was, to feel loved by other people, I think this is worth meditating on.
Your death is not perfectly isolated. It can destroy a lot, whether your family (who will blame themselves), other loved ones, or simply the law enforcement officers or coroners who have to haul your death mask-wearing carcass out of an apartment or the woods. The guaranteed outcome of suicide is NOT things improving for you (or going blank), but creating a catastrophe for others. Even if your intention is to get revenge through suicide, the damage won’t be limited to your targets.
A friend once told me that killing yourself is like taking your pain, multiplying it 10x, and giving it to the ones who love you. I agree with this, but there’s more. Beyond any loved ones, you could include neighbors, innocent bystanders exposed to your death, and people — often kids — who commit “copycat suicides” when they read about your demise. This is the reality, not the cure-all fantasy, of suicide.
If think about killing yourself, imagine yourself wearing a suicide bomber’s vest of explosives and walking into a crowd of innocents.
That’s effectively what it is. Even if you “feel” like no one loves you or cares about you, you are most likely loved–and most definitely lovable and worthy of love.
3. There’s no guarantee that killing yourself improves things!
In a tragically comic way, this was a depressing realization when I was considering blowing my head off or getting run over. Damnation! No guarantees. Death and taxes, yes, but not a breezy afterlife.
The “afterlife” could be 1,000x worse than life, even at its worst. No one knows. I personally believe that consciousness persists after physical death, and it dawned on me that I literally had zero evidence that my death would improve things. It’s a terrible bet. At least here, in this life, we have known variables we can tweak and change. The unknown void could be Dante’s Inferno or far worse. When we just “want the pain to stop,” it’s easy to forget this. You simply don’t know what’s behind door #3.
In our desperation, we often just don’t think it through. It’s kind of like the murder-suicide joke by one of my favorite comics, Demetri Martin:
“Someone who commits a murder-suicide is probably somebody who isn’t thinking through the afterlife. Bam! You’re dead. Bam! I’m dead. Oh shit … this is going to be awkward forever.”
4. Tips from friends, related to #2 above.
For some of my friends (all high achievers, for those wondering), a “non-suicide vow” is what made all the difference. Here is one friend’s description:
“It only mattered when I made a vow to the one person in my life I knew I would never break it to [a sibling]. It’s powerful when you do that. All of a sudden, this option that I sometimes played around in my mind, it was off the table. I would never break a vow to my brother, ever. After the vow and him accepting it, I’ve had to approach life in a different way. There is no fantasy escape hatch. I’m in it. In the end, making a vow to him is the greatest gift I could have given myself.”
As silly as it might sound, it’s sometimes easier to focus on keeping your word, and avoiding hurting someone, than preserving your own life.
And that’s OK. Use what works first, and you can fix the rest later. If you need to disguise a vow out of embarrassment (“How would I confess that to a friend?!”), find a struggling friend to make a mutual “non-suicide vow” with. Make it seem like you’re only trying to protect him or her. Still too much? Make it a “mutual non-self-hurt” vow with a friend who beats themselves up.
Make it about him or her as much as you.
If you don’t care about yourself, make it about other people.
Make a promise you can’t break, or at the very least realize this: killing yourself will destroy other people’s lives.
PRACTICAL GREMLIN DEFENSE
Now, let’s talk day-to-day tactics.
The fact of the matter is this: if you’re driven, an entrepreneur, a type-A personality, or a hundred other things, mood swings are part of your genetic hardwiring. It’s a blessing and a curse.
Below are a number of habits and routines that help me. They might seem simplistic, but they keep me from careening too far off the tracks. They are my defense against the abyss. They might help you find your own, or use them as a starting point.
Most of this boxed text is from a previous post on “productivity ‘hacks’ for the neurotic, manic-depressive, and crazy (like me)“, but I’ve added a few things:
Most “superheroes” are nothing of the sort. They’re weird, neurotic creatures who do big things DESPITE lots of self-defeating habits and self-talk.
Here are some of my coping mechanisms for making it through the day:
1) Wake up at least 1 hour before you have to be at a computer screen. E-mail is the mind killer.
2) Make a cup of tea (I like pu-erh like this) and sit down with a pen/pencil and paper.
3) Write down the 3-5 things — and no more — that are making you most anxious or uncomfortable. They’re often things that have been punted from one day’s to-do list to the next, to the next, to the next, and so on. Most important usually = most uncomfortable, with some chance of rejection or conflict.
4) For each item, ask yourself:
– “If this were the only thing I accomplished today, would I be satisfied with my day?”
– “Will moving this forward make all the other to-do’s unimportant or easier to knock off later?”
5) Look only at the items you’ve answered “yes” to for at least one of these questions.
6) Block out at 2-3 hours to focus on ONE of them for today. Let the rest of the urgent but less important stuff slide. It will still be there tomorrow.
7) TO BE CLEAR: Block out at 2-3 HOURS to focus on ONE of them for today. This is ONE BLOCK OF TIME. Cobbling together 10 minutes here and there to add up to 120 minutes does not work.
8) If you get distracted or start procrastinating, don’t freak out and downward spiral; just gently come back to your ONE to-do.
9) Physically MOVE for at least 20 minutes each day. Go for a long walk, lift weights, take a free online yoga class (YouTube), anything. Ideally, get outside. I was once asked by friend for advice on overcoming debilitating stress. The answer I repeated over and over again was: “Remember to EXERCISE daily. That is 80% of the battle.”
10) Follow a diet that prevents wild blood sugar swings. This means avoiding grains and refined carbohydrates most of the time. I follow the slow-carb diet with one cheat day per week and have done so for 10+ years. Paleo also works great. Don’t forget to eat plenty of fat. High protein and low fat can give you low-grade symptoms of rabbit starvation.
11) Schedule at least one group dinner with friends per week. Get it on the calendar no later than 5pm on Monday. Ideal to have at least three people, but two is still great medicine.
12) Take a minute each day to call or email someone to express gratitude of some type. Consider someone you haven’t spoken with in a long time. It can be a one-line text or a 5-second voicemail.
Congratulations! That’s it.
Those are the rules I use, and they help steer the ship in the right direction.
Routines are the only way I can feel “successful” despite my never-ending impulse to procrastinate, hit snooze, nap, and otherwise fritter away my days with bullshit. If I have 10 “important” things to do in a day, I’ll feel overwhelmed, and it’s 100% certain nothing important will get done that day. On the other hand, I can usually handle 1 must-do item and block out my lesser behaviors for 2-3 hours a day.
And when — despite your best efforts — you feel like you’re losing at the game of life, never forget: Even the best of the best feel this way sometimes. When I’m in the pit of despair with new book projects, I recall what iconic writer Kurt Vonnegut said about his process: “When I write, I feel like an armless, legless man with a crayon in his mouth.”
Don’t overestimate the world and underestimate yourself. You are better than you think.
TO WRAP UP THIS LONG-ASS POST
My “perfect storm” was nothing permanent.
If we let the storms pass and choose to reflect, we come out better than ever. In the end, regardless of the fucked up acts of others, we have to reach within ourselves and grow. It’s our responsibility to ourselves and–just as critical–to those who love and surround us.
You have gifts to share with the world.
You are not alone.
You are not flawed.
You are human.
And when the darkness comes, when you are fighting the demons, just remember: I’m right there fighting with you.
The gems I’ve found were forged in the struggle. Never ever give up.
P.S. If you have tips that have helped you overcome or manage depression, please share in the comments. I would love for this post to become a growing resource for people. I will also do my best to improve it over time. Thank you.
If you occasionally struggle like me, these resources, videos, and articles might help you rebound. I watch the video of Nick Vujicic quite often, just as a reminder of how fortunate I am:
The National Suicide Prevention Lifeline – Dial 988 or 1 (800) 273-8255 (website and live chat here). It’s available 24 hours a day, 7 days a week, in both English and Spanish. Outside the US? Please click here for a list of international hotlines.
My recent interview with Derek Halpern – The core of the conversation is about how to overcome struggle and the above suicide-related story, but it also includes business strategies and other lessons learned. My apologies for the weird lip smacking, which is a nervous tic. I thought I’d fixed it, but these stories brought it back 🙂
15-Minute Audio from Tony Robbins – I asked Tony for his thoughts on suicide. He responded with a very insightful audio clip, recorded while in the air. It covers a lot, and the hilarious anecdote about the raw-foodist mom at the end alone makes it worth a listen. NOTE: Of course, NEVER stop taking anti-depressants or any medicine without medical supervision. That is not what Tony is recommending.
Listen in the player above, or download by right-clicking here and choosing “save as.”
The Prescription for Self-Doubt? Watch This Short Video (Nick Vujicic)
Harnessing Entrepreneurial Manic-Depression: Making the Rollercoaster Work for You
Two Root Causes of My Recent Depression – This article is by Brad Feld, one of my favorite start-up investors and a world-class entrepreneur in his own right. It’s just more proof that you’re not alone. Even the best out there feel hopeless at times. It can be beaten.
Radical Acceptance by Tara Brach. This book is not nearly as woo-woo as it might seem. It was recommended to me by a neuroscience PhD who said it changed her life, then by another cynical friend who said the same. It is one of the most useful books I’ve read in the last two years. It’s easy to digest, and I suggest one short chapter before bed each night. For those of us who beat ourselves up, it’s a godsend.
The Tim Ferriss Show is one of the most popular podcasts in the world with more than 900 million downloads. It has been selected for "Best of Apple Podcasts" three times, it is often the #1 interview podcast across all of Apple Podcasts, and it's been ranked #1 out of 400,000+ podcasts on many occasions. To listen to any of the past episodes for free, check out this page.
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1,272 Replies to “Some Practical Thoughts on Suicide”
A psychiatrist recommended the book “Feeling Good: The New Mood Therapy.” This helped me with feeling down and I don’t know anything about suicide but wanted to offer this title. One thing I learned from the post is the importance of kindness and I want to be careful about being harsh toward young people or anyone else. We don’t know how someone is mentally when we react in a negative way that could be what pushes them to desperate measures.
I hope you read every one of these comments Tim. You’ve made a change in the world.
Kudos to you, Tim, for addressing such a controversial subject with vulnerability and actionable advice. Well done
Hey. Read your whole article. Some thoughts.
I almost committed suicide 4 times in my life. To the point where I was lying on the bathroom floor crying. Then, I decided to make a decision. Because the bullet, or drowning, or hanging… all of it was painful. And if i survived these attempts, I would live a painful existence. So I firmly asked, “Am I going to live or not? There’s no half-way here.”
Lying on the bathroom floor, salty tear water clouding my vision of the fluorscent lights above the mirror, an image of the Harry Potter grim reaper (7th movie) faded into my vision. Then I saw it walk/float away, away, away, with the parchment paper background in its place.
Lying on the floor, I started laughing baby-cally. Smiling. Tears in my eyes. Grateful to be alive, because I was REALLY about to find a way, but didn’t. I’ve experienced extreme pleasure levels of self-satisfaction. I’ve read The Power of Now and experienced the present state over and over again. I felt that I had been ‘infected’ with a way of thinking. A way of blowing the wrong things out of proportion.
I lived with people who had no idea how to ‘manage their state’ as Tony Robbins would say. They thought fighting was perfectly OK. But when my dog comes into my room, shaking, lying on my bed for hours… only to get off of it with a huge pee stain on the bed. Holy crap. The story includes details like putting Dora The Explorer on autoplay (I was 20 years old) to keep the happy, positive atmosphere in that impossible situation.
Anyway, I would break the door, have the cops called twice. I have video evidence of this whole thing listed within Private videos on my YouTube.
But besides all this, I think there’s a solution. My parents watched 4 hours of TV a day. Of the most violent and abusive kind (you know, the good stuff. The dramas worth watching). Specifically, my mother watches a lot of Poirot, Miss Marple, and other such MURDER mysteries. On top of that, she’s a nurse. And if you understand the enneagram personality type system, she’s a “4”, which means insane levels of crime and ‘taking’. (To give you an example, Adolf Hitler would probably be a “4” on the enneagram. Not saying my mom is Hitler… but it certainly felt like that to me.)
Napoleon Hill, Maltz, Tony Robbins, Olympic Athletes, successful businessmen all know that what you regularly consume, who you associate with, where you put your focus, will affect you big time. The solution is to eliminate TV and replace with genuine, accepting relationships. I’m not a religious man (though I do have spiritual feelings and beliefs), but the religious system has a lot of credit to this effect. The images in the Bible are quite compelling, and create an atmosphere of love and warmth and necessary bonding. (Corinthians 13:4 is exceptionally powerful). Buddhism teaches us about ourselves and consciousness. I’m not an expert on this, and might sound foolish, but each of these things teaches karma.
Anyway, the solution for ME, I found, was to GET OUT. I had a car, fortunately, so I could go anywhere I wanted that $200 could get me. I’d idle in supermarket parking lots. Type on my laptop in 24-hour coffee shops. Sleep in my car at the park. Then, between midnight and 4:30, when my parents were asleep, I’d go back in, charge my laptop, take a shower, eat (my OWN food, as to remove reciprocation to the people who affected me so negatively).
There’s more to this, but you need as much time away as possible. It won’t be convenient, and it won’t be comfortable at first. You MAKE getting away comfortable by… getting away.
Anyway, removing yourself from destructive influences, while reading books like Grow Rich With Peace of Mind… and maybe studying a useful course from Lynda.com on Photoshop for Web Developers… provides extreme purpose and value in your life. Oh, and maybe fill the mind with one of Tim’s books. Tim, I don’t know if you know this, but The 4-Hour Body gave me the sexual confidence necessary to lose my virginity with an attractive girl. I had this hallucination that I was an ultimate master just for knowing the 1:00 to 1:15 position, the angled cowgirl position, and the improved missionary position.
Granted, I WAS great in bed because of that. Let’s just say I had to practice the 10-15 times to get the 15-minute orgasm down. (P.S. My first encounter with her lasted 4 hours with only 20 minute breaks in between hour long sessions).
There’s more to this, but I’m really happy you wrote about this. My friend… who I had a personal conversation with on Facebook 2 days before he died, killed himself with an overdose of sleeping pills when this genius said he had depression. (FYI: This college put his face on the billboard. He volunteered for the Red Cross. And while helping the Red Cross, DJ Tiesto invited him backstage to one of his concerts, and so on. His name is Jackson Peebles, To get a feel for his gift to humanity, his blog’s at http://www.jacksonpeebles.com/)
His very last tweet was: “Anyone know of “good” single-serving frozen meals? I keep buying them for work and haven’t come across one that tastes remotely palatable.” I wonder if he ever got a delicious last meal… 🙁
The solution to this issue is described in this post. In the e-mail you sent.
Anyway, based on the length of this comment, you can probably tell that this is important to me. That the suicide propoganda that your mind throws at you is a great lie. That the solution is changing where you’re at, who you associate with, what you watch, the questions you ask. The solution isn’t switching your current life from on to off. I sincerely almost missed this lesson, and I look forward to seeing how many people you help because of this.
Thanks a lot Tim. You deserve the best.
80/20 power GO 😀
Most powerful thing of yours I’ve ever read. Thank you! I have been staring at the edge for 20 years… This article had me crying like a baby.
My only thing when I read something like this, is my issue is severe pain. Something that is not temporary, something that only gets worse.
But I have made a big focus on gratitude… Also, your interview with the founder of AirBnB meant a lot to me.
I have hope that something will eventually come around that helps, but I know longer think “My life would be better if…”. There will always be an “if”.
Awesome post, especially the Nick Vujicic video (he’s great!). Never been suicidal, but that sure didn’t stop Georgia Tech from trying, at the time they led the nation in student suicides, and eventually I think MIT took up that macabre sceptre (no doubt all the Ivys are up…err…down…there as well). There has to be a change with schools at that level, it’s ok to have a rigorous courseload, it’s not ok to actively and systematically treat young students in a manner that adds a brick to a wall that just shouldn’t exist (hey profs, it’s ok to be nice!). Big shoutout to all students out there dealing with institutions like this, know that you are loved by God.
I think it’s important to realize that your brain must rest with nutrients to recover. Plus, taking risks is essential to set up the recovery. Rest is a slow process when the mind is racing with negative thoughts. Learn to watch the mind for longer and longer periods of time and feel all the negative feelings as they alternate between bad and not so bad. The nutrients that are essential are the complete balanced diet as proposed by the RDA. Don’t skimp on any. And boost your B vitamins and magnesium and betaine (or other methyl donors). Brain methylation is the golden ticket for recovery. Good nutrition, risk taking, and rest by observing the minds cycles … bad … not so bad … bad not so bad … breathe … breathe deeper … bad .. not so bad …. breathe … feeling better … bad … not so bad … breathe … breathe …. for 15 minutes …. then call a friend or go out and take a risk and try to make 10 new friends by listening to their troubles while opening your heart …
Thanks so much for having the courage to share your story. I have had several people close to me attempt suicide and one succeeded. I know your experience will help others!
Bless you and many thanks Tim for writing on a subject that affects so many. Suicide is a permanent solution to temporary problems. It haunts the surviving loved ones because it leaves so many unanswered questions. Your courage to share your story is greatly appreciated!
Great post Tim Tim! Way to be there for those in need buddy. Keep up the fantastic work my friend.
Mate. I wish I could step into your condo those months with a huge shield and a massive hug. Great post writing about this, I have been in that place of just writing and researching and all day only paper and footnotes and appendices and everything real happening over there to everyone else while you keep flogging your depths to flourish over the next purposeless hurdle. Exercise, martial arts and singing and dancing saved everything but only once I’d properly conked into a total shambles. The academic whose peer review journal I’d travelled round the world for, dedicated my time to, stole my work and published it as his own ‘because I don’t have a university behind me’. I literally lost the plot a bit; I didn’t know what I do or who I am if I’m not contributing this, my big helpful impressive thing. And it would mean all my dedicated 20s, all the missedout fun, normal youth, and all that focus, for nothing. I must be shitty person and a burden. Like I was a walking debt, embarassing my family. Like everyone’s jeering and throwing tomatoes. – My first boyfriend walked 8miles to my house and attempted suicide when I wanted to break it off with him. I was V unprepared. It changed how I do dating 😉 and I believe now in making sure there are no stragglers or people left behind\out. And using upsetness to problemsolve. Maybe as a distraction for me. so at my uni, a British one with a suicide\listening hotline rebranded specifically for students, I volunteered for it. Did its comms. Then there were two high profile suicides at the fancier science uni’s by inbound students from abroad so we expanded the service and did outreach. The numbers went down and calls went up. And cool firms sponsored stuff. It works. People call and they talk and they’re heard and they get routes out and to what they want. I’d like to know why is there not a little bell in Barnes+Noble that dings when certain books are bought and your kindest member of staff comes out with a little tray of coffee for all its readers and just asks how things’re going. Maybe tell them about (+ run) a frustration forum for writers and problem solvers to practise on one another’s dramas. If I ran a firm selling books I would sponsor that. – Because of your book, btw, while I was in south africa on this Masters effort when the Dr pinched my research, I also started an import export firm as a practise hustle based on your book. I was reading rich dad poor dad as well and I’d get regularly begged to by kids based outdoors, on this horrible meth substitute that was leaving 18 and 19 year olds with full parkinsons. I set up a performance related paying apprenticeship school on RDPD stuff and your book’s ideas, just so they had something to focus on. Anything to distract em from getting high on that stuff! And it’s worked, some are off it and getting effective. Basically, am trying to say that what you did AFTER you ended up not dying, has had an impact on some kids who do not now have inevitable parkinsons. A handful now don’t. You, did that. If it’s feeling unfair to the point of ‘what is the point’ I think there’s that niggling feeling that something you have to give, should be landing on the right ears. I think the ears are out there even if they’re not the ones near you. You’ve just gotta stay fit in your own mind and physically, and bide your time and send up a flare until the people like you come. Well done love! Thanks for writing your book, otherwise I wouldn’t have used it to do good stuff to sort a problem:) x ps pls excuse this longass soliloquy spamming all over yr wall x
I’m Bi Polar and I have attempted suicide before. This may sound insane but I am also working on an adaptation of the Sorrows of Werther, where the name for copycat suicide comes from… the werther effect. There’s a method to this maddness. The first intention is, of course, to tell a beautiful story, but on the side as a parable against suicide. I’m looking to donate 10% of the film sales to various suicide awareness groups, and also use the hueristic of last impressions are lasting impressions for the end of film leading others who may be to impressed to a therapist. I will also provide extra discretion than the MPAA may give by warning those who have depressive tendencies to think twice before seeing the film. A preview for the film should be commming soon.
Only true heroes have the courage it takes to share something like this. Thank you for doing so, Tim.
And remember there is always an answer to a question and while the answer may not be the answer we want, but it is an answer none-the-less that allows us to move on.
Having pets depending on you with whom you are bonded helps keep the darkness away.
Amazing article, Tim. I’ve been inspired by your mental strength the last year, and what now you write makes me admire you even more. Even things that appear to be tiny may unleash a shitstorm, and overcoming them is no easy task.
I work as a psychologist and try to nurture my knowledge and practice as much from personal experiences as from theory and evidence, so I feel twice as thankful for what you’ve shared.
Greetings from Chile 🙂
Hi. Over the past few years I have been pretty ill and an accompaniment to the illnesses were stress, depression, anxiety, erratic mood swings, brain fog, poor memory, extreme fatigue, constant stomach problems to name but a few. The doctors ignored all other symptoms and blamed everything on depression and wanted to treat with antidepressants. After 4 years of very poor quality of life and much arguing with doctors it turns out I have an autoimmune thyroid problem, vitamin b12 deficiency and vitamin D deficiency as well as Coeliac disease. Once these things were treated all the depression, anxiety, stress, etc disappeared. I would urge anyone suffering from any form of stress, depression or anxiety to have their vitamin, mineral, thyroid and hormone levels checked as they can all cause serious imbalances which can be easily rectified once diagnosed. Medical ignorance regarding diet, vitamins and minerals is shocking they are essential to survive but are frequently overlooked which can be fatal. I wouldn’t wish what I’ve been through on anyone so if this helps just one person it’s worth it.
Depression is widespread. I use everything you’ve preached in policing and meet suicidal/depressed people on the frequent. You’re right on with “start by helping others” if you yourself don’t know what to do with your life. This is gold to people. It helps them greatly. It also helps them resist addiction (if applicable) and zone in productively. T Robbins’ statement of “happiness is found in the idea of an hopeful future” also does well in helping others with suicidal thoughts. After all, even the most successful look forward to their next venture.
What the real challenge is, in my professional opinion, is getting those DEEP true feelings out on the surface. It’s tough to suggest a “how to guide” but once we’re able to truly uncover someone’s deep emotions, the better off. Suicide is a taboo topic as opposed to a break up for example so peoples’ motivations to hide are far greater.
As a friend, family member, etc. We have to be blunt. This is not a topic which should be taken lightly and I respect that you’ve decided to share some insight on it. There is no dancing around the topic. You have to come out and say “I mean this respectfully and I want to help, ‘do you feel like you are going to hurt yourself?'” Given the emotions and other circumstances, you should be able to sense a valid answer. Facing the issue is the only way out of this cultural issue, all too often we let our fear of potential relationship damage take over and things end up way worse.
Keep on kicking ass Tim, I love the blog. I spread the gospel as much as possible.
I look up to you. I did after I read your first book and I still do today. This post moved my heart deeply. Somehow I always knew, that you must have been through struggle in your life, looking at the profoundly strong person you are today. I wanted to share this quote which I found during my most recent episode of depression:
«The most beautiful people we have known are those who have known defeat, known suffering, known struggle, known loss, and have found their way out of the depths. These people have an appreciation, a sensitivity, and an understanding of life that fills them with compassion, gentleness, and a deep loving convern. Beautiful people … do not just happen.»
If you suffer from stress, depression, anxiety, erratic mood swings. Please ask your doctor to check your vitamin, mineral, thyroid and hormone levels. I was ill with all of this for several years as well as a long list of other symptoms which my doctor attributed to the depression. After much pushing I finally got these tested and it turns out I have an autoimmune thyroid disease, vitamin B12 deficiency, vitamin D deficiency as well as having been coeliac for over 10 years. Once I started treatment all the depression, stress and anxiety disappeared. These are serious conditions which can lead to death if untreated but are simple to treat if caught early. Vitamins, minerals and good diet are all essential to stay healthy but the medical profession tend to overlook this.
Having survived 2 family members suicides within 2 years of each other, I can attest that your suicide does not just affect you. It affects all those around you and it takes a lifetime to deal with those feelings. Just don’t isolate yourself, call a friend, reach out. There is love all around, we all need to be open to receiving it.
What a powerful article! Thank you for sharing this. I have shared it to my Facebook wall in hopes that it will help others.
I have been in the place you describe. Twice. Once after my divorce in 1998 and once less than two years ago after a false accusation of patient abuse on my nursing job caused my to lose my job (not as big a deal) and my good name/reputation (of tremendous import…I agree with Othello Act 3, Scene 3). In each case, it was only the realization of the pain I would cause others that stopped me from following through. I had solid plans. I wasn’t afraid of dying. The pain of living seemed far worse. Since then, I have made it through those circumstances with the help of God and the people who He brought into my life. In each case, no one knew the extent of the depression with which I was dealing.
I appreciate that you were not only willing to delve into a painful part of your past, but that you have shared so many great resources and tools to help those in the same situation. I thank God for your encounter with the young man seeking your autograph, and for the fact that he had “the balls” to wait three hours to speak with you. I thank God also, that you didn’t brush him off because of your schedule…that was truly a divine encounter. I believe that your willingness to share this part of your past will help many others in the future. Thank you…
This is absolutely one of the best posts you’ve written. Thank you for being vulnerable. It really helped me get through my own challenging life situation right now. Thanks again.
First off…Your PODCAST is my new FUCKING RELIGION! Your interviews fascinate and inspire me on a daily basis. Thank you.
Secondly…I get the impression that you want to do something that will matter 200-300 years from now. (Interview with Peter Diamandis and Tony Robbins).
How?…Utilize your network to HACK the MOST COMPLEX NETWORK in The UNIVERSE. (The HUMAN BRAIN/MIND). Humanity is barely scratching the surface on this front.
The current Treatment of mental health diseases is ARCHAIC and PRIMATIVE at best. Bipolar Disorder, Depression, Anxiety, Mood Disorders, PTSD and other mental health diseases are currently being treated with SHITTY systems and technology.
I’ve recently been treated for bipolar disorder and depression at STANFORD UNIVERSITY’S world-renowned MENTAL HEALTH clinic. Stanford is currently treating 1000s of BRILLIANT MINDS in SILICON VALLEY for bipolar and depression. Their process and technology for bipolar and depression treatment is the same treatment I received 10 years ago in Utah of all places. Could you imagine USING 2005 TECHNOLOGY to solve 2015 PROBLEMS…in anything!?
If you or someone you know is interested in creating Solutions/Systems/Technologies that matter in 200-300 years please let me know. I have some positive and disruptive ideas to tackle the most complex problem on planet earth…Exploration and treatment of the human mind.
Please let me know,
Thank you, Tim, for posting this and the previous post you reference (on procrastination). I love the entirety of your work, but these two posts are the most valuable to me. This one especially – I am dealing with severe anxiety and choices that intimidate the f*ck outta me. Just last week, I had the worst breakdown in my life, coupled with thoughts of suicide. I have since talked with my Dr, started medication, and am working to improve my diet and fitness regime to better cope with “life, the universe, and everything” (thank you, Douglas Adams).
Thanks, it helps to know that perfect people like you would have down times and suicidal thoughts, too.
I am a passionate entrepreneur and have those radical mood swings and self-doubt—A LOT! And…when I am not having those, I am super confident and excited about life and have had many successes (then forget). It comes with the territory. While I don’t have thoughts of suicide, there are times when I really talk shit to myself inside my head to the point where it can be debilitating. I really appreciate the section on keeping the gremlins at bay. I think the only reason I never let my brain consider even thinking about taking myself out is because of what you mentioned, it spiritually would kill people I care about. I had a friend this past month who’s wife killed herself because she had left her Phd Program at Penn State…probably a similar story to yours. My friend is devastated, as you can imagine. Suicide seems a selfish endeavor.
Brave post! As a Princeton alum and EAS major, I understand what you went through. At least one fellow classmate of mine did commit suicide. You can be sure your post will save lives… whether directly or indirectly. Bravo!
Thank you Tim and everyone that has shared!
I would like to share what helped me.
The realizations that:
1. My death is guaranteed with out me rushing it. As I’ve heard it said, “No body makes it out of this alive”
2. My inner athlete, I had not given my life my “best shot”. I resolved to strive for the best aspects of myself in every phase of my life. Essentially, I had not really gone after what I REALLY desired. In terms of personal development nor my relationships and physical reality (workk, school, etc)
3. “Luminous beings are we, not this crude matter.” I was bigger and more than, my mistakes and faults. And I could do more and become more.
Those concepts, stopped me when I was on the brink, at least twice.
These resources helped/help me:
Jim Rohn’s books and audios
“The Way of the Peaceful Warrior” Millman
“Conversation with God” Walsh
“The Dream Giver” Wilkerson
“Psycho Cybernetics” (new or old version) Maltz
“Man’s Search for Meaning” Frankl
Last and maybe most important for me,
Currently reading (suggested by my life coach):
“The Dark side of the Light Chasers” Ford (game changer)
Helping me integrate my light and darkness into my being in a powerful and healthy way.
Thank you for sharing this. This singular piece may be the most important thing you’ve written. I think most people have ventured down a dark path at one point or another–it’s part of being human–but no one ever talks about it. Thank you for the reminder that we are never alone, even in the most trying and impossible of times.
The best books I’ve read on depression and ways to deal with it:
The Noon-Day Demon, Andrew Solomon
Wise Heart, Jack Kornfield
Karma and Chaos, by Paul Fleischman
How to Meditate, Laurence LeShan
Consciousness Explained, Daniel Dennett
aw was your ivy league professor mad at you? most people would kill to have problems like that. wow. lucky dog!
this might be the best thing you’ve ever sent to my inbox.
I am contemplating suicide it has all gotten too hard. Good for you that you found your way out for me it doesn’t look like that..
Thank you for sharing this. Big thanks on the emphasis that the trigger can seem little or unimportant for other people like a school grade. That is also my experience.
What helped me in hard times is something that others cannot copy but I can share it with you anyway 🙂
When I was around 14 years old a friend of mine suffered severe depression and considered suicide multiple times. I did not know how to help him besides spending time with him and making him laugh. But it made me think about the whole concept and how it did not make much sense to me (I was very happy and looking forward to everything in life at that stage).
But besides caring for him I made a promise to myself that I personally will never give up, whatever happens, because every life situation can change within a couple of months 180 degrees. It was more complex than this, but anytime I feel low I remember this friend as well as my 14 year old self and know I cannot break my promise to her.
So I believe getting and sharing information about depression can be very beneficial even for people who are healthy right now.
Thank you for such a powerful article.
I suffered from depression for most of my life. I had fantasies not of just simply killing myself but even torturing myself before I leave. I always fantasized about getting gas and lighting myself on fire, and maybe even filming it as well. The only thing that kept me from moving forward, was the thought that I may have to live with myself EVEN after I kill myself. After all, I didn’t know what’s going to happen afterward. And THAT I couldn’t take. So I just kept searching for solutions, for a way out.
I dabbled in personal development stuff, spirituality stuff, and health stuff. What made a difference the most for me was the health stuff. I applied as much of the personal improvement and spirituality things I learned until I was blue in the face. I did yoga, meditation, productivity tricks, rising early, green tea, exercise, dating, journaling, eating “healthy”, and NOTHING worked. And I really genuinely attempted to make all of those things work and gave them time. But they were fruitless. Just a waste of money and time.
To make a long story short, what I found out was that depression is really mostly just a symptom of bad mental health, which is in many cases a result of toxicity from mercury from dental fillings, and overall toxicity from chemicals in the environment. Many people have dental fillings that are leaching mercury into their body and their brain all day long, and that has been found to be a cause of depression and suicidal tendencies. I NEVER overcame my depression and feelings of anxiety and hate towards myself and life until I got rid of my dental fillings and detoxified mercury from my body, which wasn’t a quick nor an easy process.
I still feel a little down whenever I have a really bad day, but I no longer have feelings of depression and negativity that govern my life, and I actually feel gratitude and joy, even ecstasy, most of the time, something that I never even knew before. And the only thing that made this difference was removing my fillings and detoxifying my body from heavy metals.
Many people still think this is quackery, but it is not. It is all based on real, legitimate science. If you do the research you’ll find more than enough evidence. Just search for “mercury dental fillings suicidal tendencies” and look for legitimate research. But, most people just choose to not look where it’s uncomfortable. Big Pharma companies have more money than God, and have successfully brainwashed us to believe that doctors and pharmaceuticals like zoloft & lexapro are the only way to go, and anything else is quackery, snake oil, mumboo jumboo, voodoo, black magic, or “woo-woo”. But, all you have to do is look around and ask, how successful have we been so far? We are so far gone that we’re now reading articles about how to not kill ourselves on our iPhones.
This research document here, on the FDA’s website, citing over 500 studies, does a great job at compiling all the research related to mercury dental fillings and their effects on health, including depression and anxiety: fda.gov/ohrms/dockets/dailys/02/Sep02/091602/80027dde.pdf
Here is a relevant quote from it:
“Mercury can cause depression and mood disorders through increased neurological problems related to lowered levels of neurotransmitters dopamine, serotonin, noreprenephrine, and acetylcholinesterase . In such cases mercury has been found to accumulate in and affect the function of the brain limbic system. The reduced neurotransmitter levels in those with amalgam appear to be a factor encouraging smoking since nicotine increases these neurotransmitter levels and a much higher percentage of those with amalgam smoke than in those without amalgam.
Some of the effect on depression is related to mercury’s effect of reducing the level of posterior pituitary hormone(oxytocin). Low levels of pituitary function are associated with depression and suicidal thoughts, and appear to be a major factor in suicide of teenagers and other vulnerable groups. The pituitary glands of a group of dentists had 800 times more mercury than controls. This may explain why dentists have much higher levels of emotional problems, depression, suicide,etc. Amalgam fillings, nickel and gold crowns are major factors in reducing pituitary function. Supplementary oxytocin extract has been found to alleviate many of these mood problems, along with replacement of metals in the mouth.”
And another quote:
“Animal studies of developmental effects of mercury on the brain have found significant effects at extremely low exposure levels, levels commonly seen in those with amalgam fillings or in dental staff working with amalgam.
Chronic mercury exposure has been found to be a significant factor in many neurological conditions including Alzheimer’s, Dementia, Parkinson’s, MS, etc. Neurological problems are among the most common and serious problems caused by mercury and include memory loss, moodiness, depression, anger and sudden bursts of anger/rage/violence, self-effacement, suicidal thoughts, lack of strength/force to resolve doubts or resist obsessions or compulsions, etc. Many studies of patients with major neurological diseases have found evidence amalgam fillings may play a major role in development of conditions such as depression, schizophrenia, bipolar disorder, memory problems, and other more serious neurological diseases such as MS, ALS, Parkinson’s, and Alzheimer’s. A large U.S. CDC study found that those with more amalgam fillings have significantly more chronic health problems, especially neurological problems and cancer.”
I have been researching and learning about this topic for nearly 10 years, and I am yet to go through all of the research on it. And yet, almost every doctor & health expert out there will still say that “there is no valid scientific evidence”. There is. We just prefer to live in the stone age. All the best to us…
You’ll find many “detox” protocols out there that claim to rid the body of heavy metals, like chlorella and cilantro supplements. Unfortunately, many of these products don’t really work, and even though a few of these products can help, they are not nearly enough for someone who is about to off themselves, to really overcome depression and suicidal feelings, heal the brain, detoxify it from heavy metals, and reverse the long-term damage made to it. The closest thing to an effective mercury & heavy metal detox is the protocol put together by Dr. Chris Shade.
Also, just so this comment is not only focused on mercury and dental fillings. Other things, health-related, helped me tremendously with my depression and my overall outlook on life. Getting off all junk food and garbage, cutting off sugar completely for a year and then staying on a very low sugar diet (fruits included), avoiding foods that didn’t agree with me, and avoiding anything that is potentially toxic, have played a key role in my recovery. But they wouldn’t have been enough had I not addressed mercury & heavy metal toxicity.
I have written very extensively on my site about my experience with depression and mercury & heavy metal detoxification, and about what I had the most success with when it comes to overcoming depression with detox and diet changes.
I hope someone finds this helpful.
Had some extremely difficult times a few years ago and it was only thinking about how it would impact my family and how this was necessary in the greater scheme of my life that kept me from doing anything drastic, but it was a pretty constant thought for a while. I had a very public and embarrassing arrest. it was in all the newspapers, TV, and internet (which never goes away). Everyone i had ever known my whole life knew the biggest mistake i had ever made and it was absolutely crushing, devastating. I don’t even know how to properly describe it. I shaved my head, couldn’t stand to look at myself in the mirror, afraid to go outside, afraid to associate with anyone but close family. I absolutely hated myself with everything i could hate with. If it wasn’t for my family, my wife and my daughter i don’t think i would be here. i couldn’t do it to my parents and family, couldn’t do it to my wife who was still with me because of some blessing i will never understand, but most importantly for my daughter who was 2 at the time. if i gave up, if i let the pressure and shame and eventual prison term get to me and couldn’t show her perseverance in the face of the worst kind of shit storm to be in, one that you made all by yourself, she may never learn it.
One thing i kept thinking over and over again was imagining going through one of those terrible tornadoes in the Midwest and having everything of monetary value destroyed forever (house, car, clothes, etc.) but everything you needed still being there (family). I could take everything I had learned in my 32 years and rebuild but with all the knowledge and information I didn’t have when I was starting fresh out of college 10 years earlier. Build a stronger house with a better foundation (this one with a storm shelter!)
I was at absolute rock bottom. the only positive about being down there is there is no place to go but up. if i could get through this horrible darkness, this storm, what could I not get through in the future? i would come out of this with a suit of armor on. i knew it couldn’t possibly get worse, which meant it could only get better.
This is exactly the case where I would love to see something like ALS challenge happening. Movement against suicide and depression.
Thanks for the post. Transcendental meditation has been a game changer for me. It’s been very effective for reducing anxiety – 20 minutes in the morning, and 20 minutes at night.
I really appreciate you sharing your story and all the resources. I was in a similar situation last year: feeling depressed about my life, my singlehood despite of my efforts at online dating, and graduate school – so much so that I started fantasizing about committing suicide. In my heart I knew that I have so much to contribute to the world outside of graduate school/academia so I decided to leave. The amazing thing is: three months after I left graduate school, I met my wonderful boyfriend. My health seems much better: I experience comparably mild cold symptoms nowadays, unlike in grad school, when my colds would last 2-3 weeks. I am currently in another anxiety-inducing situation: looking for work and figuring out my next career goal(s). But I think I made the right decision by leaving academia. Overall, I am a proactive and problem-solving type person (e.g., seeking professional help, reading and listening to self help). But I’ve found that sometimes the best thing to do is to remove yourself from a situation that’s not right for you -whether temporarily or permanently. Listen to your body for clues, everyone!
Thank you, Tim. Thank you for your openness and allowing others to see your venerability. Such an important post.
As a person who is thinking about committing suicide, I would like to show how I think about the reasons that kept Tim alive and why they do not convince me. Perhaps the arguments can be improved by initiating this discussion. Do not take your life after reading this please. Instead I challenge you to tell me where I went awry.
1.- This is not really a reason not to kill oneself. It is true that other people and helplines provide different ways of looking at things but ultimately you have to convince yourself. The reasons they give in these calls, in my experience, is anything that will keep you on the phone or alive regardless of their truth.
2.- If I am willing to kill myself, I do not place any value in life. Any life. The lives of others included. Making others miserable is therefore irrelevant in my decision.
3.- My particular point of view is that death would stop my consciousness. Tim claims that since we ignore what the afterlife will be like, that we should not kill ourselves due to the fear of a “Dante’s inferno” scenario possibility. If we are going to accept the continuation of consciousness into the afterlife then we must accept pleasurable scenarios as well. In other words, it is just as likely that death could be 1000x times better than life. Since we do not know, paradise is just as likely as hell. Personally, I do not believe that one should make life decisions out of fear or desire of something you ignore.
4.- As Tim acknowledges, this is closely related to number 2. So I would use the same counterargument. Since I do not value life, I do not care about the life of the person to whom I am promising not to take my life. This is what gives the oath its power. The value you believe the other person has. This belief affects the measure to which you accept their point of view as your own through the vow.
I would like to continue the rejection of those arguments with some thoughts on life. This is potentially not useful for improving Tim’s arguments so feel free to skip the paragraph.
Some people say life is the universe becoming conscious of itself. Others say that life is the opposite of entropy. My life provides the universe a service to know and organize itself and in exchange the universe provides me of existence and biology. I reject this arrangement. From the point of view of what I get: I do not take pleasure in existing. At best, pleasure and happiness is just entertainment, a mere pastime. From the point of view of what I give, my curiosity is not enough to keep me investigating and organizing the universe.
Right now, only the physical pain associated with the methods of executing myself I can think of keeps me alive. I cannot find any logical reason that keeps me here other than my own cowardliness and laziness.
Please do not take this as arguments to take your own life reader, just as discussion to kill boredom until we die of age 🙂
Thanks, Tim. I won’t say, maybe I can’t bring myself to say, anymore than that right now. Just thank you. Thank you and bless you. I have a hug waiting for you if we ever cross paths.
This is on point and timely – I have been swirling around the drain for this the last month – I figured I am down to a two week window; I am completely out of money, no support system, and my most positive prospect is an Ak-47 and a full mag – I have a full course of f*ck it, I don’t care. (I am in Ukraine – you can get an AK here nearly as cheap as bread)
I have spent the last five years trying to get a successful job or my business idea off the ground – but when you are a nobody – Nobody listens, and surely nobody will return my call. I can handle rejection – I eat that sh*t for breakfast – what I can’t handle is the passive aggressive cr@p – that doesn’t even warrant a response. Recruiters and HR are so f#cking proud of themselves for only looking at your resume for six seconds. It is a spiraling fail-nado of worthlessness – I mean they can’t even hot key a damn auto response saying – We aren’t interested in you; I am apparently not even worth that – wtf. They don’t return phone calls, don’t answer emails, and social media for them must be playing candy crush or angry birds.
This isn’t the first time I have contemplated it – I was such f*cking miserable failure that slitting wrists, poison, drug overdose, and alcohol poisoning didn’t work – had I had a gun; well sh*t – I wouldn’t have had 30 years of failure to add to the resume.
So there it is – what is life worth? 3-5 bucks for an AK, 3 cents for a round, .675 seconds to pull the trigger and 756 m/s for the travel – pretty cheap when you look at it.
so what was my life ?
15 years Military Reserves
15 years health care experience
10 years in sales
A Bachelors in International Studies
A Masters in Health Care – Yes – I read the entire PPACA and thesis to match
And speak a foreign language
So f*cking what. – an errant fart in a galaxy of flatulence gets more response.
I burst into tears reading this post. I needed it in the worst way. Thank you so much.
Wow. Good work Tim. Here’s a TED talk on the subject I liked a lot.
This is a very powerful video on how suicide effects those you may not think of.
Thank you for sharing. I am a fellow Princeton alum who has written about staring down the suicide beast and coming out alive (thanks be to God). I wasn’t prepared for the sense of relief I encountered among relatives and friends of people who had committed suicide who felt guilty about not having been able to keep that special someone alive. Please keep telling your story. You’re doing a great service for countless pain-wracked souls in your sphere of influence and beyond.
“What is most personal is most universal.” – Carl Rodgers
Other people feel the same feelings we hide. Other people carry secrets similar to ours. Sharing our stories with each other heals us and others.
I have fought depression since the 80s. At three different periods, I have been at the point Tim was–where the decision had been made.
Every time I hear someone say they have also fought depression, it encourages me.
Not only do I put time aside everyday to count my own gratitudes, but I also ask at least one other person. Gratitude has changed my life.
I’ve been there during a certain time of my life, I was so unsure and anxious and I felt as if I were made of glass and everyone could see what was inside.
One thought that helped me, when I look back, was that I’d allow myself to leave, but only after I’d have given myself another year. Another year to live and to try what I could, to be there and learn what I could learn, to become who I could become. After that time, I thought, I could re-assess my situation and then if I still wished…
It was long after that year when I thought back and remembered that time, and I found that I had grown and changed, as well as the way I saw the world. It was no longer my wish to leave.
Best regards to you Tim, thanks for writing this, and my best wishes to all of you that are at this deep end.
Lost a childhood friend this way. Interesting how, in the walls of busyness, a door is left open for the sadness to step into the room. We had just begun renewing our friendship. Upon getting word, I pulled off the road. Tears flooding my eyes prevented me from continuing for some time.
My own battle has come because of overwhelming pain, that leads to the feelings of uselessness, which begs the question, what do I contribute? Prayer has been the key to continuing. My prayer has been something like this:
God, if this is my lot, fine. Just give me the strength to endure and help me be a blessing to someone. Honestly, doesn’t always help the first time. But, I think God doesn’t mind me repeating myself. Focused meditation and breathing exercise have also helped a great deal.
Thank you for being real.
This is definitely an interesting and helpful read to some extent. For some people, though, when you’re going through this, any type of positive change can seem far out of reach. This is my personal experience, and something I’m still dealing with today. I am leaving out some small, but important details because I’m not comfortable sharing everything.
I had a series of terrible things happen in my life over the course of about 3 months, including losing someone close to me, my stepfather and boss, I lost my high paying job overnight, almost lost my father, and a really terrible breakup where I was tormented by her for months after.
I spent the following months doing my best to gain composure and get my life back. I was doing well, until I ended up losing my apartment, living out of a motel for 3 weeks, and ultimately moving back in with a parent- for the first time since I was 19 (I was 24 at the time, I am 25 now).
This combination of things, combined with never having had the chance to grieve my beloved stepfather and still having issues concerning my ex, I had a severe bipolar mixed episode. I was both manic and depressed simultaneously. Down and depressed, unimaginably compulsive, and a drive to do whatever thought crossed my mind. I became reckless staying at my mother’s over the course of probably less than 2 months. I ended up getting kicked out with $200 in my pocket to live out of my car or live with my semi estranged father.
Only one choice made sense to me, to end my life. And in my bipolar state, the urge to end my life was stronger than anything I have ever felt in my entire life. I ended up buying drugs and alcohol and had everything planned out. This wasn’t going to be just an attempt. I tried to go to the hospital and asked them to send me to a crisis center- a place not as intense and scary sounding as a mental hospital. They didn’t have room and I was discharged (though I lied about having the means to kill myself). My friend pleaded with me and cried for hours after, knowing what I was going to do but being unable to change my mind. So I did the only thing that made sense. I went to the most beautiful place I knew with a folding chair, and started drinking and taking pills. I had already written about 6 or 7 suicide letters to my family and friends, and though I was conscious of the effects my suicide would have, it didn’t bother me, and still doesn’t to some extent today (something some people experience). I called my sister, the one person who has always been there for me, to say goodbye. At this point i was about halfway through the things i was taking. As soon as she answered, I couldn’t help but bawl my eyes out. She ended up talking me out of it, and I made it to the hospital, and after that, 3 days in a mental hospital.
Skipping forward a year, I now have severe social anxiety/borderline phobia. I used to be the most outgoing extrovert in the world. I am getting help. Medicine *and* therapy are a must- I need medication to stay stable and therapy to help me move past my pain. I live with my father, and we still rarely talk. I am in a better place, though I still think of suicide from time to time, and how much work and time it’s still going to take to get my life back and finish college. I lost all but my best friends and my sister. None of which live close enough to visit regularly. Life is difficult, and even having an end goal in mind doesn’t always help. But I’m still alive
For anyone struggling, I say this to you: the first step is getting help. Professional help, any way that you can. I know the healing process will be long, and the pain is deep, but if I can make it this far, so can you! I’m learning to deal with my past, and it is helping immensely, and though I may never be the same person I used to be, I’m alive today.
Thank you for finding your courage to bravely share your struggle, you had me in tears. I KNOW WITHOUT DOUBT, you have offered someone reading this a pathway to chose life, through relating, empathy and a practical plan back to confidence and strength. I have feared for my children at times, you’ve helped by using your powerful forum. Much love Tim, thank you.
I think we all suffer from depression at sometimes in our lives, but some unfortunately get too deep into it, and it’s like a well, unless there is someone to help, it’s very hard to get out. Prevention is always the best remedy and your story about getting this way over a college education is a great example and resonates with me.
Why do we really need those good grades? Is it just to get a job? Working somewhere that’ll you’ll likely leave because the grass seems greener somewhere else.
In this new age of the internet, we are all capable of self-employment and the irony is, those that are destined to get a solid degree are the ones who would find this path the easiest. But the ‘system’ is still based around getting into a great college so you can work at a ‘fortune 500’ to pay off your college debt quicker. Or am I missing something?
It’s a strange path and one I no longer can sit idle and let people believe that is there only one choice to greatness.
In hindsight you probably wasted those college years, and are now making more impact than you could have in a ‘Fortune 500’ anyway.
How about writing a book titled ‘The 4-Hour Guide to Skipping College and Still Being Successful’
That one might help save a few lives in the process, because I’m sure your experience isn’t unique.
You are producing great work, so keep it up and I hope the right people find you, before they know they need you.
Beautifully written and bathed in love for humanity.
My darkness-repellant hacks:
I treat myself like my best friend, loving, compassionate and neutral about my quirks. In fact, I call myslef “Sweetie” and think “Oh how cute!” When I do something nutty.
I pre-forgive myself and others. On a good day at least 5 free passes. On a darker day: 10 or more.
I have notes on my monitor to remind me things that are important like “Focus on unconditional love” and “Creator, whisper to me what you want me to do.”
Meditation with my man
Urban hikes with the pooch and appreciate her comedic genius
Take myself less seriously
Remind myself that to live in victory is to live in a constant state of surrender. What that looks like is my response to stimuli is “OK!” or “That’s interesting!”
Thank you so much for writing this, Tim. I have been there, over and over again for the past 20 years. (I first remember thinking of taking my own life when I was 13. 13! I shudder to think of it now.) I have fought with the demons of depression off and on throughout my life and still do to this day. It can be exhausting, but I’m still here, trying to take good care of myself and break my family/genetic cycle with the disease. Thanks for sharing this and for all you do.
Tim – good on you for writing this! I’ve had similar battles for a few years but getting on top of them now. Things that’ve worked for me:
1. Seeing a psychiatrist and getting put on anti-depressents. I’m normally against medication if I can avoid it, but this really helped me climb out of the hole I was in pretty quickly, and then I could start to pursue the other things below before transitioning off them. I guess I’m at odds with Tom Cruise on this one…
2. Get genetic + blood tests done to find out if any nutrient deficiencies that effect neurotransmitter balance. See http://mthfrsupport.com and http://www.walshinstitute.org. I found I’ve got a genetic mutation which effects my ability to absorb vitamin B6, so I now supplement for that.
3. Meditation. Headspace app is great for making it a habit.
4. Following Mark Sisson’s advice re living primally – e.g. sunlight, etc. [Moderator: link removed]
5. Taking time out and away from your normal environment for a break.
6. Limiting alcohol… tough for an Aussie but its been worth it.
7. Then all the stuff you’ve mentioned – low carb diet, exercise, hot/cold water, sleep hygiene, remembering to do things that are fun, etc.
Keep up the great work Tim!!
Thank you very much, Tim. My dog helps me tremendously. I feel that my animal is a precious gift.
I can’t thank you enough for the thoughtful and revealing treatment of the subject. I will revisit this often–lost my sister to suicide over 10 years ago and I just didn’t realize how her seemingly idyllic life could be a veil for such profound inner torment.
Excellent post, thank you for sharing. For people prone to depression it is important to get a good night’s sleep. If I’m feeling depressed I know it’s time for a rest. A 20 minute nap can completely change your perspective. I also have a rule that I never make a decision larger than “Do I want ice in my drink?” when tired or depressed. The major decisions can wait. I also pre-plan most types of decisions when I am not depressed. Just in case I have to make one when I am depressed.
Thank you for such a well-written article!
Years ago, as a teenager, I tried to commit suicide. In addition to a suicide attempt, I was a very self-destructive teenager. I was also very divergent, which had the tendency to lead to conflict with those I had relationships with. I had a few friends who did commit suicide and although their deaths sent waves and earthquakes into the worlds that known them, in a small sense, I longed for an end to my suffering like they got. One friend who committed suicide left me with a deep sense of grief for years thereafter. Lots of mixed feelings!
Thankfully I am still here. I never new that I would have gifts to share with the world, children to birth, a wonderful man to marry, beautiful mountains to hike, and there is so much more I love about life! I had no idea when I was younger that life is sooooo full and beautiful and miraculous. I don’t want to ever leave it now.
I go through doldrums every now and then. One thing that really helps me is to always have projects to work on. I’m very hands-on, so gardening, crocheting and knitting help me a ton! Plus, I make yarn things for people in need, so it helps me to serve. Owning a business helps me too. All of these things give me a sense of control, even when I might find myself in situations that I cannot control very well. And these things give me a greater sense of purpose, besides other things.
Also, I think constantly about what I would do in worse case scenerios (that could likely bring on some depression). What would I do if I lost my business? Or my house? I do plan a bit against some things that can go awry, but anything can and will happen in life.
Surrounding myself by supportive friends and family helps also.
If you are contemplating suicide, don’t do it. A better life is ahead. You still have so much more to do and there are people who love you very much. Ask for help. Call the suicide hotline.
Lots of love and blessings!! <3 <3 <3 <3 <3
I absolutely love that you wrote this. I have struggled with anxiety and depression personally for as long as I can remember. At the age of 12, I was suicidal and am beyond grateful that I had some strength to think of my family and not go through with that decision. However, I have seen it around me and it’s always devastating and affects me tremendously because I understand the thinking behind it. I also feel sorry that they don’t know how to deal with their pain in another way.
I am now a Transformational Life Coach who gives women hope to release anxiety and depression naturally. This year I am focusing more on getting my story and HOPE Method out into the world to give others hope.
I appreciate your unique and valuable approach to this topic. Thank you for sharing.
[Moderator: link removed]
I’m sorry, but as a combat vet I cannot understand how almost not finishing a thesis at Princeton make one think of suicide? Go to war and I guarantee you’ll see how easy your Princeton days look in comparison. Granted you’ve put in a lot of hard work to get to where you are today – and bravo, by the way..that’s the American way – but if my parents had paid for my college ride then I wouldn’t be a combat vet with almost 15 years of overseas tours in various things. I’ve never once contemplated suicide because I’m alive, dammit! Unlike my friends and colleagues who didn’t come back, I did. So I live for them. If I ever get that depressed then I’ll sell everything I own, hop on my motorcycle, and wander the U.S. seeking out what’s left of the real America. Not trying to be rude, just trying to put this into some sort of perspective that I can relate to. Apparently like most things in America after I returned, I just can’t relate to it.
As usual, you are thought provoking and helpful. This is a topic that should not be ignored and nor minimized for young adults navigating the end of their journey in high school, college, or the insanely over-exaggerated success posts on Facebook. I’m sharing this blog post with my daughter who called me today in a full on stressed out funk out about all the same requirements for graduating another prestigious institution in June. It doesn’t help that she’s genetically predisposed to depression.
Professional counseling and effective medication can also be extremely helpful when I’ve felt like the hole is so deep and dark that there’s no way out. Hopeless is a terrible feeling and it is possible to overcome with help.
Thank you for a soul bearing and courageous read on an important topic.
Humbled by the bravery of this post! You’ve saved lives! Wish my brother would have seen it!!!
I found strength in realizing I needed help and got it, that is so important not to be afraid to do so.
I never planned suicide, because I’ve never been convinced things would be better if I did, BUT staving off demons….my ongoing work. I struggle to maintain routine…it can trap me. But your courageous account illuminates what I suspected; mental distortion is especially acute in very bright people and that the academic culture promotes anxiety, which heavily informs the population at large. Pain is pain. Comparing pain is a pointless exercise …if you “feel” life might not be for you…you are suffering. May all beings be pulled through their suffering to the well-being that is the essence of life.
Thank you for showing yourself so openly. I’m inspired to do the same.
This is one of the most helpful suicide prevention articles I’ve ever read. Thank you for sharing your story with us.
Tim, I’ve read your books. I too struggle with depression. I say struggle because I have recurrent depression. I have had at least 8 episodes in my life. Probably more. With recurrent, two episodes gives your 90% probability of recurrence/relapse. On a regular basis, I start down the road with the sign that says the bridge is out. These days those thoughts, the practical ones about death, have become road signs. “Not a Through Street”. “Dead End”. It’s good if I don’t get to the sign that says “Do not Pass, Bridge out” with a chasm beyond it. It’s kind of like learning that speeding past the police is a bad thing….a little bit of caution is warranted.
People say, it will get better, you’ll recover. No, No I won’t. I have recurrent depression, in remission (which means that I always have residual symptoms) I can’t let myself think that things will get better, because then I start to hope, and the next episode is that much more difficult to cope with. If you don’t have hope, but rather radical acceptance of the episode to come, you can’t lose hope. I strive for peace. For calm. For a quiet mind that sees the sunset as a miracle, and the sunrise as a gift.
It’s a humble desire. I am okay with a humble desire. Humility allows us to experience the world in a way where you stop and extend the moment to rest that part of the brain that’s always going
When I get to the end of the day, and I realize that it was a good day, that the moments flowed quickly one into another, that I did not see road signs, just open highway. That’s a good day. Two in a row is cool, 3 or more is cause for celebration.
Then there are the days that I am afraid to walk out the pier, or go to the rooftop cafe, or be alone, because that big black dog is sitting next to me, and I can’t afford to be in a place where there’s one step between the Dead End sign and where the bridge is out.
Am I okay? Yes, I am okay. Today, I got overwhelmed with what I needed to get done. My mother came over by chance and I talked through it all with her. It really helped to have her talk through it with me, and I was able to get through a good bit of it in not so much time.
Tomorrow is a new day and every night is a factory reset.
Thank you so much for sharing your story with the world. Suicide is a sensitive subject, but something that needs to be talked about. It’s courageous of you to address the issue and hopefully help someone else in the process.
I didn’t have any experience with suicide until the day before you posted this, when I found out that a dear friend in Mozambique had just committed suicide. He was an amazing, caring person who had actually made his way out of poverty. I met him while I was a Peace Corps Volunteer. He had graduated from High School and got his driver’s license (two HUGE accomplishments for people in his village). He was driving home late that night and crashed his boss’ minibus that he used to drive people around and earn an income. He didn’t die in the crash, but was so devastated after destroying the car and realized that he would now have no way to live and support himself and his wife who was 8 months pregnant. So he took a cord that they use to tie up goats and hung himself. I was shocked. He was one of them that escaped poverty, but in an instant he felt like he was hopeless again and took his own life.
Life is precious. It can be gone in an instant. I’m realizing that more needs to be done to bring opportunity and hope to those who feel hopeless. Thank you so much for the work you do.
I appreciate your vulnerability in sharing this. While I’ve never dealt with depression or suicidal thoughts, there is still much wisdom to be gleamed from this post.
Right post, at exactly the right time.
Hug a tree. Seriously nature somehow gives you hope. I have battled with suicidal thoughts for 20 years. Meditation and tree hugging are the only things that helped me. My psychologist fell asleep while I was baring my soul so needless to say psychotherapy is not for me. The meditation course I did was Vippassanna, it’s free, worldwidely available in beautiful settings and changes your life. Not saying I do not get depressed anymore but keep repeating to myself. “This too will pass”
Thank you for writing this piece.
Depression is part of our experience as we go on in this life. Even from being a kid till we grow up, It is still there. But all those experiences are not fully just negative emotions, We also sometimes had fun, joy, happiness and its the positive side that we should care about because those negative experiences we had are the experiences we needed in order for us to become a better person. So live life to the fullest.
“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.”
I quit my good paying job to launch an ebook about high paying jobs in demand, because there is many people who don’t know what to do with their lives to get money guaranteed. (the irony now I’m 29 because although I get money I’m unfulfilled because of all the crap I read in books). I’m not getting sales from the book. I wasn’t fulfilled in my job I needed more, more passion, but now I’m not fulfilled (because I didn’t influence almost anyone) and I’m not getting paid.
If you never try, you never know. I’m not thinking about killing myself but what the fuck am I doing here just working for money? I was supposed to be a sports athlete. Never had any disease or injuries but never really attempted because of lack of support (family, friends). Now the only thing close enough to my dream, is to chase big swells all over the world to become a professional big wave surfer (is this suicidal??). And I don’t do it either because I don’t have any support or guarentees that my investment will lead to anything, maybe I will spend my money, catch a big wave and nobody is watching or filming and I go home empty handed with less 2000 euros in my bank account… I spend my days frustrated thinking just grab a plane ticket and go. I have a girlfriend who films me and is supportive but she will not come with me (because she has a low paying job and doesn’t want me to pay for her trip) and I don’t know anyone willing to go.
So my dream life (travel the world during 6 months per year and don’t care about a thing, went to “try to make your own business and influence people and spend the fucking day in front of a fucking computer screen”). I sabotaged myself because of all the self-help books making me aware I wasn’t doing something meaningful. When I could be just traveling and fuck the routine.
When I’m surfing I have no problems. When I’m in front of the computer thinking of ways to get passive income to follow my dreams, I just get frustrated with all the people making it, and I’m just letting the days pass by, and spending money on trying to get people to notice my “masterpiece”.
Great post but fuck it I was better if I didn’t read a book in my life, and be an ignorant and be happy just to get my paycheck and get 6 months vacations per year. Becoming aware of all this “follow your dreams” fucked me big time and made me feel frustrated because I didn’t do it when I was supposed to. I was already getting the Mini-Retirements you talk about, because I worked 2 months on, 2 months off.
I guess now I will have to work the rest of my life, but now with the conscience that it could have been different. The curse of knowledge. Many thanks. My book is called “Jobs, Time and Money” and you can check it on Amazon. Help me out with this project if you feel is something good that can help people.
Hey John, I hope this gets to you. Lately I’ve been thinking a lot about this “lifestyle design” (as it’s called) craze that our generation (Millennials) has run after. I read “The 4-Hour Workweek” when I was a senior in high school (almost 10 years ago), and it profoundly impacted me and how I spent my college years, trying to find a way to get myself set up to enjoy a flexible, location-independent lifestyle once I graduated.
That is to say, I’m a big Tim Ferriss fan, and I’ve been following this movement for a long time.
However, lately some things are crystallizing for me.
1) As the market gets more and more saturated with people like you and me, (people who would like to have flexible jobs and location-independence so, theoretically, we can travel more) that means that it’s getting harder and harder to be heard above the noise of >everyone< else who's trying to do the same thing. According to an Intuit report, by the year 2020, 40% of the American workforce will be freelancers. That means a little over 127 MILLION Americans (just using 2014's population numbers) will be trying to work from home, to presumably have a flexible lifestyle. The competition for work for these types of jobs, therefore, will be fierce. It's possible that you're already feeling how fierce it is becoming, and how much louder you'll have to shout to be heard over everyone else, if you're going to pursue this kind of lifestyle.
2) You said, "I sabotaged myself because of all the self-help books making me aware I wasn’t doing something meaningful," and "Becoming aware of all this 'follow your dreams' fucked me big time and made me feel frustrated because I didn’t do it when I was supposed to."
And that's another pitfall I'm seeing with this movement. Making us question if our work is "meaningful/fulfilling/passionate" when honestly, we're just content having a job and don't really care if it makes us so happy that we poop sunshine and rainbows, is an argument that doesn't apply to the majority of people. Maybe some of us ARE under-utilized, harassed, deeply neglected and unappreciated at our current jobs–in those cases, I'd say those people have a right to look elsewhere for employment.
But some people have a regular, decent, generally happy job. Sure, they're not traveling the world, they're not developing solutions for poverty-stricken regions, or they're not making blog posts while swinging in a hammock on a beach somewhere, but their coworkers are nice, the boss is reasonable and gives good praise, the work is challenging but not overwhelming, but yeah, maybe it's not exotic or of world-altering importance.
You're right, it's unfortunate that people in the latter category (decent, happy jobs) get this bug in their minds that there's something "wrong" with them if they don't pursue something that makes them wildly excited, "doesn't even feel like work," allows them to "travel all the time and live their dreams!", and whatever else.
I thank Tim Ferriss for the work he did–I think this change in mindset about our jobs was something I absolutely needed to hear, and there are elements of it that I will carry with me for the rest of my life–but when I hear stories like yours, John, and can see how upset you are, it makes me wish that there was a disclaimer on the front of the book: "WARNING: Not for people who are already content and happy in their current jobs." (Joking, of course, but you get what I mean.)
I'm writing you all of this to encourage you to NOT beat yourself up for trying, and to not be upset that you didn't "make it." I started a business right out of college that, over the course of probably the 3 years it was open, earned me less than $10,000, without factoring in its start-up costs. While I could call that a flop, I am REALLY thankful for all the lessons I learned from that venture–how to not market, how to not set prices, how to not network with people, how to not negotiate, how to not be run over and taken advantage of, how to not choose partners, and a whole host of other mistakes, flops and other idiot/rookie miscalculations that taught me so much. I am even more confident now that if I decided to start another business today, I would be WAY more ahead of the curve than I was then!
Your book was a learning lesson, not a flop, and your leaving your old job was merely a mistake, not a life sentence. You'll make a lot more mistakes, but if you treat every mistake like it's the end, then you'll never rise up, like so many other entrepreneurs have done before us. I like Chalene Johnson's words: "It's not my best attempt, but it's my FIRST attempt."
You got the first attempt out of the way, just like I got my first attempt at business out of the way. Thank goodness it's over! Now either try again, or find another job and simply learn a life lesson from your mistake: Never let someone tell you that you're discontent right where you are, especially when they're trying to sell you something.
Best wishes, and I hope you can catch more waves soon :).
WOW! I wish I could put my episodes of depressive pain into words like you! You so elequently summed up what truly keeps me safe. I will not be the suicide vest bomber in a crowd that would destroy my love ones (children, spouse, and parent), friends and peers! I appreciated you sharing your daily tips! Thank you – Danielle D.
WOW! You so elequently wrote about what keeps me safe from my thoughts of self-harm. I especially like your example of suicide being like putting on a suicide vest and detonating it surrounded by those you love and whom love you most! Also during my darkest hour I stumbled on the semicolon project on the web which really helped remind me my story is not complete yet and I can be the hero of my own story. It inspired me to obtain a semicolon tattoo as a visual reminder of this fact when thoses feelings try to creep back in.
While I am sorry to say I had never heard of you until the American Female Veterans FB share of your blog, I noted you help start-ups. Please consider helping The Semicolon Project and their message is so important and simple like your thoughts on self harm. We have to get more awareness about suicide and the unfortunately more common than not “perfect storms”.
Also sorry for the duplicate posts. The first was when I was just waking up and I thought it did not go through. Feel free to delete the first post.
Thank you so much.
this article if read n acted upon by enough people could have an incredible impact upon the statistics of those suffering from depression. Pls ensure your action plan advice is spread world wide. Our health n social care providers need this!!!
Just… Thank you. You are truly beautiful: to voice your personal story with such courage and vulnerability and as pure as you do. Wow…
I’ve just discovered that I have been suffering from depression for almost 10 years. It took an emotional breakdown to figure out that I was suffering from one. Here are the things that helped me the most:
1. Getting professional help (a psychiatrist and a therapist). – They will confirm if you have depression or not.
2. Taking anti-depressant (if prescribed by a psychiatrist) and continue to do cognitive therapy with your therapist – depression is both biological and psychological. You need both to get yourself out.
3. Reading Martin Seligman’s, MD “Learned Optimism” – his book explains the root of depression – pessimism – and how you can learn optimism to battle out your depression.
4. Reading “Search Inside Yourself” by Chade-Meng Tan – he teaches a very easy way to understand meditation. Being aware of your thoughts will help you battle out pessimistic thoughts that contribute to your depression.
Rinse and repeat. My therapist said practicing what I’ve learned through the therapy and the recommended books will help me get out of depression. I just “got out” of being depressed but I still continue to use anti-depressants, do meditation and practicing to be optimistic.
Please do contact me if you have any questions! I hope this helps somebody.
This is an incredible post. Thank you for sharing with the world.
Thank you for this post. I’m a psychologist at Napa State Hospital, and I run a group called “Current Issues in Mental Health” for a number of high functioning patients. I’d like to share this post with them. This post is invaluable for two reasons: First, it shows that even ultra successful people are susceptible to psychiatric issues. Second, it help them understand how a shift in perspective – towards goal oriented work, a focus on fitness, etc. – can make all the difference in matters of mood and functioning.
I wonder how many lives this post will save?
I’m so glad you didn’t do this. Tim, I have to say as I am busy building a business your podcast is one of the things I truly look forward to every week. You’ve become one of my “1 hour” mentors. Your death and the spiritual death to your family and friends would have extended well beyond you….but also to people like me who haven’t even met you yet. Thanks for sharing.
Tim, thank you. I lost my younger sister, a brilliant PhD nurse, to suicide about 11 years ago. Yes, that is truth you describe above. Suicide is a bomb that blows up and shatters everyone around ~ including her then 4 year old son and 6 year old daughter, who get to deal with those shrapnel shards forever.
Yet the moment my mother told me Bette killed herself, I physically felt a caress across my broken heart, heard OUT LOUD “I’ve got her, she’s MINE,” and the indescribable peace permeated my being. There truly are no earthly words for that Heavenly experience.
Never before or since have I felt the hand of God, heard Him speak out loud or experienced that incredible peace that “passes understanding.”
I pray this brings comfort to someone else who has to live with the after effects of suicide. I would have believed the world’s words ~ I’m so sorry she’s in hell. Oh, she committed the unpardonable sin, etc.
I actually looked up suicide (and unpardonable sin) in all (50+) English translations of the Bible to see what is said about suicide there. Simple ~ I had to KNOW. It talks about the people who commit suicide, yet NOT ONE TIME in any English translation does it say they went to hell.
I KNOW where she is now. My Father told me He’s got her … and He does not lie.
Thank you, Susan, for your comment. This brings me deep comfort as I just lost a friend in Mozambique to suicide. I hope that he is in a better place now and at peace.
Excellent excellent post Tim. Thank you
Thank you for being brave enough to write this. To be honest, I haven’t really cared for much of your writing or “experiments” but I sincerely applaud you for writing this piece. It may have changed my mind about you just a little. 😉
The subject of depression and mental illness needs to be out in the open. Once and a while it peaks out, and gets discussed in the news for a few days only if someone as large as Robin Williams decides to leave us. It needs to be explored, researched and talked about much more. I do remember many years ago when people didn’t much like to talk about cancer. It was all pretty hush hush. And are those who are diagnosed with diabetes or any number of diseases made to feel ashamed? No. If you have a mental illness you more than likely are, or have been. Compounding what you are already going through. One in FIVE people are diagnosed with some form or mental illness. Honestly, I’m fed up feeling that I’m “less than” anyone else just because this disease has affected every part of my life for the last thirty years. I struggle with it. I sometimes manage it. Sometimes it gets the better of me… and then I start all over again. But I can tell you this. I’m through trying to hide it.
Thank you again, Tim.
Tim, that was very generous and brave to be willing to be that vulnerable. I too was suicidal but came to the same realizations about it destroying others and that crossing to the other side was no guarantee. And great that you added your action plan for A-types! Yes, types like us do have these swings as part of our genetic hardwiring. Very helpful to frame it so simply like that. God bless.
Thanks a lot for sharing this. Kind of helpful in my current state of mind.
What a post. Thanks for sharing this and talking about such an important topic that affects so many people, Tim.
It does take ‘tricks’ to get your mind going in the right direction.
The way I explain it to people is that there are days that I just don’t want to take the time to get the “best shave.” But then I remind myself that when I leave the house, I may run into the person that’s going to change my life. And I certainly want to look my best for that, right?
Lots of little habits make for massive change.
Thanks for the insight.
I want to thank you for one of your latest blogs “Some Practical Thoughts on Suicide”. I suffer from Bipolar II and funny enough I have already been following and directed others to the advice you gave in your previous blog and short podcast “”Productivity” Tricks for the Neurotic, Mani-Depressive, and Crazy (Like Me)”.
I spoke to a publishing agency about two months ago about a book idea which is a lifestyle guide for those with mood disorders.
Your blogs and podcasts have had such an influence on my lifestyle which has led to greater stability I am motivated to put something together that includes similar strategies along with others that I have experimented with or discovered in my extensive research on mood disorders.
I was wondering in all of your reading and interactions with people is there one book and/or one person that you can think of that could help me in some way with this project?
I know you are busy, that is an understatement, so if you don’t have the time to reply it understandable. At very least I hope this note let’s you know how much your work has helped one person who has been challenged with mood stability live a better life.
Once again thank you for all of your work!
For everyone here I would ask you the same question. Could you let me know a book and/or podcast you would recommend to help me with this project of developing a lifestyle guide for those with mood disorders?
If you are interested I do have a few pieces of writing that some have told me has helped them in their journey. If you are interested let me know and I can send you the links.
Tim, I applaud you telling your story. Talking is healing. I however, am troubled that when you venture into advocacy and advice to a mass platform you make the statement. ”
” There’s no guarantee that killing yourself improves things!”
What you done is told someone who may be suffering that there is a chance committing suicide will improve things” When you venture into advocacy that brings with it the responsibility to not make such irresponsible statements. Suicide does NOT improve anything. End of story. Please think these things through before you throw them out to such a large platform as advice.
You’re truly far from weak. This blog took strength and courage. Respect!
Tim, Powerful stuff! There is real power in being vulnerable, sharing our struggles and discoveries. This is such an important topic. Kudos to you for shedding more light on it. Right on!
“The chemistry of joy” helps to find natural balances for brain chemistry to foster good brain health. Also in combination I’ve found alternative therapy like Xi Gong and Reiki to be very helpful. The kindness of a practitioner can make all the difference in the world.
Tim, this is an amazing and important post. As someone who’s also struggled with suicidal feelings and depression, it’s reassuring to know I wasn’t alone.
Things that helped me:
1) A very good therapist. If you try therapy, but you don’t feel a connection/the person doesn’t get you, look for a different therapist. Give it a shot until you find one who clicks.
2) Medication. As noted above, not a cure-all, but there is a biological component to depression–you literally don’t have enough of the right chemicals in your brain, and medication can help with that and provide a floor you don’t dip below.
3) Off your recommendation, Tony Robbins’ audio CD set Personal Power II (available for free at many libraries). Really good at building in physical triggers you can use to change your mood and identifying limiting beliefs.
4) Two books: REWIRE, by Richard O’Connor, a doctor who struggled with depression, his mother’s suicide, and his own suicidal thoughts: http://www.amazon.com/Rewire-Overcome-Addictions-Self-Destruc-Behavior/dp/1594632561/ref=sr_1_1?s=books&ie=UTF8&qid=1431107547&sr=1-1&keywords=rewire+change+your+brain+to+break+bad+habits+overcome+addictions+conquer+self-destructive+behavior
and THE ANTIDOTE: HAPPINESS FOR PEOPLE WHO CAN’T STAND POSITIVE THINKING by Oliver Burkeman.
If you can’t afford 1 & 2, def. check out 3 and 4 from your nearest library.
Also, I found a way to trick my brain into doing stuff: If you’re lying in bed, feeling depressed/miserable, and you don’t want to get up and go for a walk, don’t tell yourself it’ll make yourself feel better–that only causes a negative spiral; tell yourself “yeah, I know going for a walk won’t help, but I’m going to be equally miserable walking or staying in bed, so what’s the difference? Might as well walk just for variety’s sake.”
Bravo for this vulnerable, courageous post. I cannot imagine what it took for you to write it and then press “share.” Trust that your personal public service message will reach and teach more people who need to hear it than you will ever know.