Some Practical Thoughts on Suicide

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timterrace___Flickr_-_Photo_Sharing_This happy-looking shot was taken in 1999, when I almost destroyed myself.

In this post, I’m going to talk about suicide, and why I’m still on this planet.

These are stories I’ve kept secret from my family, girlfriends, and closest friends for years. Recently, however, I had an experience that shook me — woke me up — and I decided that it was time to share it all.

So, despite the shame I might feel, the fear that is making my palms sweat as I type this, allow me to get started.

Here we go…

A TWIST OF FATE

“Could you please sign this for my brother? It would mean a lot to him.”

He was a kind fan. There were perhaps a dozen people around me asking questions, and he had politely waited his turn. The ask: A simple signature.

It was Friday night, around 7pm, and a live recording of the TWiST podcast had just ended. There was electricity in the air. Jason Calacanis, the host and interviewer, sure knows how to put on a show. He’d hyped up the crowd and kept things rolling for more than 2 hours on stage, asking me every imaginable question. The venue–Pivotal Labs’ offices in downtown SF–had been packed to capacity. Now, more than 200 people were milling about, drinking wine, or heading off for their weekends.

A handful of attendees gathered near the mics for pics and book inscriptions.

“Anything in particular you’d like me to say to him? To your brother?” I asked this one gent, who was immaculately dressed in a suit. His name was Silas.

He froze for few seconds but kept eye contact. I saw his eyes flutter. There was something unusual that I couldn’t put a finger on.

I decided to take the pressure off: “I’m sure I can come up with something. Are you cool with that?” Silas nodded.

I wrote a few lines, added a smiley face, signed the book he’d brought, and handed it back. He thanked me and backed out of the crowd. I waived and returned to chatting with the others.

Roughly 30 minutes later, I had to run. My girlfriend had just landed at SFO and I needed to meet her for dinner. I started walking towards the elevators.

“Excuse me, Tim?” It was Silas. He’d been waiting for me. “Can I talk to you for a second?”

“Sure,” I said, “but walk with me.”

We meandered around tables and desks to the relative privacy of the elevator vestibule, and I hit the Down button. As soon as Silas started his story, I forgot about the elevator.

He apologized for freezing earlier, for not having an answer. His younger brother–the one I signed the book for–had recently committed suicide. He was 22.

“He looked up to you,” Silas explained, “He loved listening to you and Joe Rogan. I wanted to get your signature for him. I’m going to put this in his room.” He gestured to the book. I could see tears welling up in his eyes, and I felt my own doing the same. He continued.

“People listen to you. Have you ever thought about talking about these things? About suicide or depression? You might be able to save someone.” Now, it was my turn to stare at him blankly. I didn’t know what to say.

I also didn’t have an excuse. Unbeknownst to him, I had every reason to talk about suicide. I’d only skimmed the surface with a few short posts about depression.

Some of my closest high school friends killed themselves.
Some of my closest college friends killed themselves.
I almost killed myself.

“I’m so sorry for your loss,” I said to Silas. I wondered if he’d waited more than three hours just to tell me this. I suspected he had. Good for him. He had bigger balls than I. Certainly, I’d failed his brother by being such a coward in my writing. How many others had I failed? These questions swam in my mind.

“I will write about this” I said to Silas, awkwardly patting his shoulder. I was thrown off. “I promise.”

And with that, I got into the elevator.

INTO THE DARKNESS

“They tried to bury us. They didn’t know we were seeds.”
– Mexican proverb

There are some secrets we don’t share because they’re embarrassing.

Like that time I met an icon by accidentally hitting on his girlfriend at a coffee shop? That’s a good one (Sorry, N!). Or the time a celebrity panelist borrowed my laptop to project a boring corporate video, and a flicker of porn popped up–a la Fight Club–in front of a crowd of 400 people? Another good example.

But then there are dark secrets. The things we tell no one. The shadows we keep covered for fear of unraveling our lives.

For me, 1999 was full of shadows.

So much so that I never wanted to revisit them.

I hadn’t talked about this traumatic period publicly until last week, first in a reddit AMA (Ask Me Anything), then in greater depth on Derek Halpern’s podcast.

What follows is the sequence of my downward spiral.

Reading the below, it’s incredible how trivial some of it seems in retrospect. At the time, though, it was the perfect storm.

I include wording like “impossible situation,” which was reflective of my thinking at the time, not objective reality.

I still vividly recall these events, but any quotes are paraphrased. Please also excuse any grammatical/tense errors, as it was hard for me to put this down. So, starting where it began…

  • It’s my senior year at Princeton. I’m slated to graduate around June of 1999. Somewhere in the first six months, several things happen in the span of a few weeks:

  • I fail to make it to final interviews for McKinsey Consulting and Trilogy Software, in addition to others. I have no idea what I’m doing wrong, and I start losing confidence after “winning” in the game of academics for so long.

  • A long-term (for a college kid, anyway) girlfriend breaks up with me shortly thereafter. Not because of the job stuff, but because I became more insecure during that period, wanted more time with her, and was massively disruptive to her final varsity sports season. What’s wrong with me?

  • I have a fateful meeting with one of my thesis advisors in the East Asian Studies department. Having read a partial draft of my work, he presents a large stack of original research in Japanese for me to incorporate. I walk out with my head spinning — how am I going to finish this thesis (which generally run 60-100 pages or more) before graduation? What am I going to do?

It’s important to note that at Princeton, the senior thesis is largely viewed as the pinnacle of your four-year undergrad career. That’s reflected in its grading. The thesis is often worth around 25% of your entire departmental GPA (English department example here).

After all of the above, things continued as follows…

  • I find a rescue option! In the course of researching language learning for the thesis, I’m introduced to a wonderful PhD who works at Berlitz International. Bernie was his name. We have a late dinner one night on Witherspoon Street in Princeton. He speaks multiple languages and is a nerd, just like me. One hour turns into two, which turns into three. At the end, he says, “You know, it’s too bad you’re graduating in a few months. I have a project that would be perfect for you, but it’s starting sooner.” This could be exactly the solution I’m looking for!

  • I chat with my parents about potentially taking a year off, beginning in the middle of my senior year. This would allow me time to finish and polish the thesis, while simultaneously testing jobs in the “real world.” It seems like a huge win-win, and my parents— to their credit —are hugely supportive.

  • The Princeton powers OK the idea, and I meet with the aforementioned thesis advisor to inform him of my decision. Instead of being happy that I’m taking time to get the thesis right (what I expected), he seems furious: “So you’re just going to quit?! To cop out?! This better be the best thesis I’ve ever seen in my life.” In my stressed out state, and in the exchange that follows, I hear a series of thinly veiled threats and ultimatums… but no professor would actually do that, right? The meeting ends with a dismissive laugh and a curt “Good luck.” I’m crushed and wander out in a daze.

  • Once I’ve regained my composure, my shock turns to anger. How could a thesis advisor threaten a student with a bad grade just because they’re taking time off? I knew my thesis wouldn’t be “the best thesis” he’d ever seen, so it was practically a guarantee of a bad grade, even if I did a great job. This would be obvious to anyone, right?

  • I meet with multiple people in the Princeton administration, and the response is — simply put — “He wouldn’t do that.” I’m speechless. Am I being called a liar? Why would I lie? What was my incentive? It seemed like no one was willing to rock the boat with a senior (I think tenured) professor. I’m speechless and feel betrayed. Faculty politics matter more than I do.

  • I leave my friends behind at school and move off campus to work — I find out remotely — for Berlitz. “Remote” means I end up working at home by myself. This is a recipe for disaster. The work is rewarding, but I spend all of my non-work time — from when I wake to when I go to bed — looking at hundreds of pages of thesis notes and research spread out on my bedroom floor. It’s an uncontainable mess.

  • After 2-3 months of attempting to incorporate my advisor’s original-language Japanese research, the thesis is a disaster. Despite (or perhaps because of) staring at paper alone for 8-16 hours a day, it’s a Frankenstein’s monster of false starts, dead ends, and research that shouldn’t be there in the first place. Totally unusable. I am, without a doubt, in worse shape than when I left school.

  • My friends are graduating, celebrating, and leaving Princeton behind. I am sitting in a condo off campus, trapped in an impossible situation. My thesis work is going nowhere, and even if it turns out spectacular, I have (in my mind) a vindictive advisor who’s going to burn me. By burning me, he’ll destroy everything I’ve sacrificed for since high school: great grades in high school got me to Princeton, great grades in Princeton should get me to a dream job, etc. By burning me, he’ll make Princeton’s astronomical tuition wasted money, nothing more than a small fortune my family has pissed away. I start sleeping in until 2 or 3pm. I can’t face the piles of unfinished work surrounding me. My coping mechanism is to cover myself in sheets, minimize time awake, and hope for a miracle.

  • No miracle arrives. Then one afternoon, as I’m wandering through a Barnes and Noble with no goal in particular, I chance upon a book about suicide. Right there in front of me on a display table. Perhaps this is the “miracle”? I sit down and read the entire book, taking copious notes into a journal, including other books listed in the bibliography. For the first time in ages, I’m excited about research. In a sea of uncertainty and hopeless situations, I feel like I’ve found hope: the final solution.

  • I return to Princeton campus. This time, I go straight to Firestone Library to check out all of the suicide-related books on my to-do list. One particularly promising-sounding title is out, so I reserve it. I’ll be next in line when it comes back. I wonder what poor bastard is reading it, and if they’ll be able to return it.

  • It’s important to mention here that, by this point, I was past deciding. The decision was obvious to me. I’d somehow failed, painted myself into this ridiculous corner, wasted a fortune on a school that didn’t care about me, and what would be the point of doing otherwise? To repeat these types of mistakes forever? To be a hopeless burden to myself and my family and friends? Fuck that. The world was better off without a loser who couldn’t figure this basic shit out. What would I ever contribute? Nothing. So the decision was made, and I was in full-on planning mode.

  • In this case, I was dangerously good at planning. I had 4-6 scenarios all spec’d out, start to finish, including collaborators and covers when needed. And that’s when I got the phone call.

  • [My mom?! That wasn’t in the plan.]

  • I’d forgotten that Firestone Library now had my family home address on file, as I’d technically taken a year of absence. This meant a note was mailed to my parents, something along the lines of “Good news! The suicide book you requested is now available at the library for pick up!”

  • Oops (and thank fucking God).

  • Suddenly caught on the phone with my mom, I was unprepared. She nervously asked about the book, so I thought fast and lied: “Oh, no need to worry about that. Sorry! One of my friends goes to Rutgers and didn’t have access to Firestone, so I reserved it for him. He’s writing about depression and stuff.”

  • I was shocked out of my own delusion by a one-in-a-million accident. It was only then that I realized something: my death wasn’t just about me. It would completely destroy the lives of those I cared most about. I imagined my mom, who had no part in creating my thesis mess, suffering until her dying day, blaming herself.

  • The very next week, I decided to take the rest of my “year off” truly off (to hell with the thesis) and focus on physical and mental health. That’s how the entire “sumo” story of the 1999 Chinese Kickboxing (Sanshou) Championships came to be, if you’ve read The 4-Hour Workweek.

  • Months later, after focusing on my body instead of being trapped in my head, things were much clearer. Everything seemed more manageable. The “hopeless” situation seemed like shitty luck but nothing permanent.

  • I returned to Princeton, turned in my now-finished thesis to my still-sour advisor, got chewed up in my thesis defense, and didn’t give a fuck. It wasn’t the best thesis he’d ever read, nor the best thing I’d ever written, but I had moved on.

  • Many thanks are due to a few people who helped me regain my confidence that final semester. None of them have heard this story, but I’d like to give them credit here. Among others: My parents and family (of course), Professor Ed Zschau, Professor John McPhee, Sympoh dance troupe, and my friends at the amazing Terrace Food Club.

  • I graduated with the class of 2000, and bid goodbye to Nassau Hall. I rarely go back, as you might imagine.

Given the purported jump in “suicidal gestures” at Princeton and its close cousins (Harvard appears to have 2x the national average for undergrad suicides), I hope the administration is taking things seriously.  If nearly half of your student population reports feeling depressed, there might be systemic issues to fix.

Left unfixed, you’ll have more dead kids on your hands, guaranteed.

It’s not enough to wait for people to reach out, or to request that at-risk kids take a leave of absence “off the clock” of the university.

Perhaps regularly reach out to the entire student body to catch people before they fall?  It could be as simple as email.

[Sidenote: After graduating, I promised myself that I would never write anything longer than an email ever again. Pretty hilarious that I now write 500-plus-page books, eh?]

 

OUT OF THE DARKNESS

“Being deeply loved by someone gives you strength, while loving someone deeply gives you courage…”
– Lao Tzu

First, let me give a retrospective analysis of my near obliteration.  Then, I’ll give you a bunch of tools and tricks that I still use for keeping the darkness at arm’s length.

Now, at this point, some of you might also be thinking “That’s it?! A Princeton student was at risk of getting a bad grade? Boo-fuckin’-hoo, man. Give me a break…”

But… that’s the entire point.  It’s easy to blow things out of proportion, to get lost in the story you tell yourself, and to think that your entire life hinges on one thing you’ll barely remember 5-10 years later. That seemingly all-important thing could be a bad grade, getting into college, a relationship, a divorce, getting fired, or just a bunch of hecklers on the Internet.

So, back to our story–why didn’t I kill myself?

Below are the realizations that helped me (and a few friends).  They certainly won’t work for everyone suffering from depression, but my hope is that they help some of you.

1. Call this number : 1 (800) 273-8255. I didn’t have it, and I wish I had. It’s the National Suicide Prevention Lifeline (website and live chat here). It’s available 24 hours a day, 7 days a week, in both English and Spanish.

If you’re outside of the US, please click here for a list of international hotlines.

Sometimes, it just takes one conversation with one rational person to stop a horrible irrational decision. If you’re considering ending your life, please reach out to them.  If you’re too embarrassed to admit that, as I was, then you can ping them “just to chat for a few minutes.” Pretend you’re killing time or testing different suicide hotlines for a directory you’re compiling. Whatever works.

Speaking personally, I want to see the gifts you have to offer the world. And speaking from personal experience, believe me: this too shall pass, whatever it is.

2. I realized it would destroy other people’s lives. Killing yourself can spiritually kill other people.

Even if you’re not lucky enough, as I was, to feel loved by other people, I think this is worth meditating on.

Your death is not perfectly isolated. It can destroy a lot, whether your family (who will blame themselves), other loved ones, or simply the law enforcement officers or coroners who have to haul your death mask-wearing carcass out of an apartment or the woods. The guaranteed outcome of suicide is NOT things improving for you (or going blank), but creating a catastrophe for others. Even if your intention is to get revenge through suicide, the damage won’t be limited to your targets.

A friend once told me that killing yourself is like taking your pain, multiplying it 10x, and giving it to the ones who love you.  I agree with this, but there’s more.  Beyond any loved ones, you could include neighbors, innocent bystanders exposed to your death, and people — often kids — who commit “copycat suicides” when they read about your demise. This is the reality, not the cure-all fantasy, of suicide.

If think about killing yourself, imagine yourself wearing a suicide bomber’s vest of explosives and walking into a crowd of innocents.

That’s effectively what it is.  Even if you “feel” like no one loves you or cares about you, you are most likely loved–and most definitely lovable and worthy of love.

3. There’s no guarantee that killing yourself improves things!

In a tragically comic way, this was a depressing realization when I was considering blowing my head off or getting run over.  Damnation!  No guarantees.  Death and taxes, yes, but not a breezy afterlife.

The “afterlife” could be 1,000x worse than life, even at its worst.  No one knows. I personally believe that consciousness persists after physical death, and it dawned on me that I literally had zero evidence that my death would improve things. It’s a terrible bet. At least here, in this life, we have known variables we can tweak and change. The unknown void could be Dante’s Inferno or far worse. When we just “want the pain to stop,” it’s easy to forget this. You simply don’t know what’s behind door #3.

In our desperation, we often just don’t think it through. It’s kind of like the murder-suicide joke by one of my favorite comics, Demetri Martin:

“Someone who commits a murder-suicide is probably somebody who isn’t thinking through the afterlife. Bam! You’re dead. Bam! I’m dead. Oh shit … this is going to be awkward forever.”

4. Tips from friends, related to #2 above.

For some of my friends (all high achievers, for those wondering), a “non-suicide vow” is what made all the difference. Here is one friend’s description:

“It only mattered when I made a vow to the one person in my life I knew I would never break it to [a sibling]. It’s powerful when you do that. All of a sudden, this option that I sometimes played around in my mind, it was off the table. I would never break a vow to my brother, ever. After the vow and him accepting it, I’ve had to approach life in a different way. There is no fantasy escape hatch. I’m in it. In the end, making a vow to him is the greatest gift I could have given myself.”

As silly as it might sound, it’s sometimes easier to focus on keeping your word, and avoiding hurting someone, than preserving your own life.

And that’s OK. Use what works first, and you can fix the rest later. If you need to disguise a vow out of embarrassment (“How would I confess that to a friend?!”), find a struggling friend to make a mutual “non-suicide vow” with.  Make it seem like you’re only trying to protect him or her. Still too much? Make it a “mutual non-self-hurt” vow with a friend who beats themselves up.

Make it about him or her as much as you.

If you don’t care about yourself, make it about other people.

Make a promise you can’t break, or at the very least realize this: killing yourself will destroy other people’s lives.

 

PRACTICAL GREMLIN DEFENSE

Now, let’s talk day-to-day tactics.

The fact of the matter is this: if you’re driven, an entrepreneur, a type-A personality, or a hundred other things, mood swings are part of your genetic hardwiring.  It’s a blessing and a curse.

Below are a number of habits and routines that help me. They might seem simplistic, but they keep me from careening too far off the tracks.  They are my defense against the abyss. They might help you find your own, or use them as a starting point.

Most of this boxed text is from a previous post on “productivity ‘hacks’ for the neurotic, manic-depressive, and crazy (like me)“, but I’ve added a few things:

Most “superheroes” are nothing of the sort. They’re weird, neurotic creatures who do big things DESPITE lots of self-defeating habits and self-talk.

Here are some of my coping mechanisms for making it through the day:

1) Wake up at least 1 hour before you have to be at a computer screen. E-mail is the mind killer.

2) Make a cup of tea (I like pu-erh like this) and sit down with a pen/pencil and paper.

3) Write down the 3-5 things — and no more — that are making you most anxious or uncomfortable. They’re often things that have been punted from one day’s to-do list to the next, to the next, to the next, and so on. Most important usually = most uncomfortable, with some chance of rejection or conflict.

4) For each item, ask yourself:

– “If this were the only thing I accomplished today, would I be satisfied with my day?”
– “Will moving this forward make all the other to-do’s unimportant or easier to knock off later?”

5) Look only at the items you’ve answered “yes” to for at least one of these questions.

6) Block out at 2-3 hours to focus on ONE of them for today. Let the rest of the urgent but less important stuff slide. It will still be there tomorrow.

7) TO BE CLEAR: Block out at 2-3 HOURS to focus on ONE of them for today. This is ONE BLOCK OF TIME. Cobbling together 10 minutes here and there to add up to 120 minutes does not work.

8) If you get distracted or start procrastinating, don’t freak out and downward spiral; just gently come back to your ONE to-do.

9) Physically MOVE for at least 20 minutes each day. Go for a long walk, lift weights, take a free online yoga class (YouTube), anything. Ideally, get outside. I was once asked by friend for advice on overcoming debilitating stress. The answer I repeated over and over again was: “Remember to EXERCISE daily. That is 80% of the battle.”

10) Follow a diet that prevents wild blood sugar swings. This means avoiding grains and refined carbohydrates most of the time. I follow the slow-carb diet with one cheat day per week and have done so for 10+ years.  Paleo also works great. Don’t forget to eat plenty of fat. High protein and low fat can give you low-grade symptoms of rabbit starvation.

11) Schedule at least one group dinner with friends per week.  Get it on the calendar no later than 5pm on Monday.  Ideal to have at least three people, but two is still great medicine.

12) Take a minute each day to call or email someone to express gratitude of some type. Consider someone you haven’t spoken with in a long time.  It can be a one-line text or a 5-second voicemail.

Congratulations! That’s it.

Those are the rules I use, and they help steer the ship in the right direction.

Routines are the only way I can feel “successful” despite my never-ending impulse to procrastinate, hit snooze, nap, and otherwise fritter away my days with bullshit. If I have 10 “important” things to do in a day, I’ll feel overwhelmed, and it’s 100% certain nothing important will get done that day. On the other hand, I can usually handle 1 must-do item and block out my lesser behaviors for 2-3 hours a day.

And when — despite your best efforts — you feel like you’re losing at the game of life, never forget: Even the best of the best feel this way sometimes. When I’m in the pit of despair with new book projects, I recall what iconic writer Kurt Vonnegut said about his process: “When I write, I feel like an armless, legless man with a crayon in his mouth.”

Don’t overestimate the world and underestimate yourself. You are better than you think.

TO WRAP UP THIS LONG-ASS POST

My “perfect storm” was nothing permanent.

If we let the storms pass and choose to reflect, we come out better than ever. In the end, regardless of the fucked up acts of others, we have to reach within ourselves and grow. It’s our responsibility to ourselves and–just as critical–to those who love and surround us.

You have gifts to share with the world.

You are not alone.

You are not flawed.

You are human.

And when the darkness comes, when you are fighting the demons, just remember: I’m right there fighting with you.

The gems I’ve found were forged in the struggle. Never ever give up.

Much love,

Tim

P.S. If you have tips that have helped you overcome or manage depression, please share in the comments. I would love for this post to become a growing resource for people. I will also do my best to improve it over time. Thank you.


Additional Resources:

If you occasionally struggle like me, these resources, videos, and articles might help you rebound. I watch the video of Nick Vujicic quite often, just as a reminder of how fortunate I am:

The National Suicide Prevention Lifeline – 1 (800) 273-8255 (website and live chat here). It’s available 24 hours a day, 7 days a week, in both English and Spanish. Outside the US? Please click here for a list of international hotlines.

My recent interview with Derek Halpern – The core of the conversation is about how to overcome struggle and the above suicide-related story, but it also includes business strategies and other lessons learned.  My apologies for the weird lip smacking, which is a nervous tic. I thought I’d fixed it, but these stories brought it back :)

15-Minute Audio from Tony Robbins I asked Tony for his thoughts on suicide. He responded with a very insightful audio clip, recorded while in the air. It covers a lot, and the hilarious anecdote about the raw-foodist mom at the end alone makes it worth a listen. NOTE: Of course, NEVER stop taking anti-depressants or any medicine without medical supervision. That is not what Tony is recommending.

Listen in the player above, or download by right-clicking here and choosing “save as.”

The Prescription for Self-Doubt? Watch This Short Video (Nick Vujicic)

Harnessing Entrepreneurial Manic-Depression: Making the Rollercoaster Work for You

Two Root Causes of My Recent Depression – This article is by Brad Feld, one of my favorite start-up investors and a world-class entrepreneur in his own right. It’s just more proof that you’re not alone. Even the best out there feel hopeless at times.  It can be beaten.

Radical Acceptance by Tara Brach.  This book is not nearly as woo-woo as it might seem.  It was recommended to me by a neuroscience PhD who said it changed her life, then by another cynical friend who said the same.  It is one of the most useful books I’ve read in the last two years.  It’s easy to digest, and I suggest one short chapter before bed each night.  For those of us who beat ourselves up, it’s a godsend.

Posted on: May 6, 2015.

Watch The Tim Ferriss Experiment, the new #1-rated TV show with "the world's best human guinea pig" (Newsweek), Tim Ferriss. It's Mythbusters meets Jackass. Shot and edited by the Emmy-award winning team behind Anthony Bourdain's No Reservations and Parts Unknown. Here's the trailer.

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1,043 comments on “Some Practical Thoughts on Suicide

    • Well said and timely given mental health awareness month. Emotional Intelligence still an underdeveloped and undervalued skill. Can Affective Computing and Emotion Analytics provide new insights into Health and Wellness?

      Tim, @vlab is hosting an Affective Computing panel talk @stanford on May 21st. We would love to get you involved. Please reach out to us. [Moderator: # removed]

      Like

  1. For me, professional help was incredibly effective and useful, especially when many of my lasting, chronic symptoms were severe fatigue that meant I was able to do very little. Talking with someone objective, regularly, about what was causing all my fears and painful emotional responses really let me react in a more healthy manner to many things that previously would throw me into despair or rage, or make me feel helpless.

    On top of this, even if you know a lot of your symptoms’ sources, that isn’t always enough to get past them, and medication can really help for a lot of things. Medication serves a role I think most people don’t quite understand, or have the experience to make a good conclusion about how to use them. First, it takes a while to work, and the first week will suck. Second, if you haven’t figured out what was causing all the problems yet first, it won’t do much for you. Medication lets you start fixing the sources of your problems, by making the response to them more bearable. Its that little bit of protection and extra motivation that you need to go from feeling helpless, to being able to get little things done again without feeling overwhelmed.

    Don’t be afraid of professional help just because of what you’ve seen in any media, none of it comes even close to reality, and medication can really help in addition to therapy. Find someone around your own age, and just start working through what you’re comfortable with.

    Liked by 2 people

    • Thank you for pointing out that professional help is incredibly effective. I too had severe fatigue, a number of endings over 2 years (divorce, moving twice, leaving a home of many years, empty nesting, breakup with new boyfriend) and was living alone for the first time in my life at age 55. I was exhausted and due to the fatigue I moved from negative internal thoughts (which I am pretty good at shifting as a very self-aware Life Coach) to an inability to ‘think’ my way out of it. In Social Intelligence, Daniel Goleman talks about the physiological response to long term stress (p. 226). My physiology had definitely changed due to the fatigue and I needed medication and rest to support my recovery.

      My 3 keys for shifting out of this depression:
      1) While I desperately wanted to die, doing that to my children made it out of the question.
      2) Surrendering complete control to God. I remember sitting on the couch one evening, crying and I prayed “God I don’t know what else to do to make myself well. Please help me.” I felt an immediate shift that started me on a long path to healing.
      3) Seeking help of a therapist and Psychiatrist (for the medication).
      4) Patience that it will take time to feel 100% again.

      Liked by 4 people

      • I worked with a good old fashioned psychotherapist. I would have liked more of a coaching approach but she gave me a structure and someone to talk to. I started with 3 times a week and took about a year. I also saw a Psychiatrist for the meds. Even when I am severely depressed I am so much more functional than 99 percent of people. I continue to take a low dose of Zoloft since depression runs in my family and while this was the worst time for me I had a number of bouts in the past.

        Like

    • The point about professional health is true, but exercise caution. A talented professional can help you like no one else, and offers someone you can talk to with with total confidence in your privacy. Medication can give you the room you need to work through your problems – it won’t (shouldn’t) disable your emotions, but it should give you space to cope with them properly.

      A less talented professional, however, can mis-medicate you and worsen problems or create new ones. If they’re tied to an institution (military or college especially) then their confidentiality rules may not protect you from consequences like required leave or a glass ceiling. They may also have a huge number of patients to deal with, and use medication as a first line of defense because it’s fastest.

      Seeking professional help is worthwhile, but deserves caution. Be careful with institutional psychiatrists and check out the rules they operate under. Be careful with people who recommend medication first, or without hearing details. Don’t give up though, just move on. It really is worth it.

      Like

  2. I too was on the very edge if suicide . I’d lost my life to alcohol. For me it was the thought of the pain and the heartbreak killing myself would cause my children and my mother ( my father had already passed) that stopped me. Since that day I have achieved so much. 14 years sober, I’ve written a best selling book that is being made into a film. Two other books about life, I’ve earner a degree ( I was an uneducated man) I now make podcasts and share my life story around the world. There is always hope in the darkness. Please if your suicidal seek help look for those that listen and talk to people that man the help lines. Do not suffer alone suffering is temporary there is light in the dark I promise and in that light lies a whole new future. If your struggling I urge you to share your thoughts feelings and emotions right now. Help will come.

    Liked by 3 people

  3. Tim, your courage and responsibility for your audience pushes you way up on my respect ladder. Thanks for speaking out and being there for your community. You make the world a better place man.
    With gratitude,
    – Todd

    Like

  4. Tim, your courage and responsibility for your audience pushes you way up on my respect ladder. Thanks for speaking out and being there for your community. You make the world a better place man.
    With gratitude,
    – Todd

    Liked by 4 people

  5. Wow, this is so amazing. Thank you so much for sharing. The impact you’ve had on my life and others is enormous, and knowing this about you only adds another dimension to who you are. Thank you for your podcast, your blog posts, and everything.

    Liked by 1 person

  6. Thank you Tim, the post was not too long. My perfect storm was in high school. That was 20+ yrs ago. It wasn’t permanent either, I survived, and have done well. I too, have kept the period of time silent, hidden, buried. Ashamed I suppose, embarrassed. Sometimes, I still find myself battling. Nothing as serious as when I was younger. Daily exercise helps a lot, and has been a savior. A pet can be a great support as well.

    Like

  7. Thank you for writing about this, Tim. I would also second that exercise/moving around each day helps tremendously. It is very difficult to talk about these feelings with anyone, but reaching out to a close friend helped me a lot. Your friends are there for you when you need them – trust them.

    Liked by 1 person

  8. Not really sure I want to share this, in case people who know me end up finding this but…

    One “tactic” I came up with a long time ago, when things were bad, was to promise myself that if I EVER start seriously thinking about ending myself, and actually make the decision, as you said, I will do one thing first:

    Sell everything I own and travel the world for as long as I can with the money. And if I still feel like doing it, only then do I have the permission to proceed.

    Not sure if this makes sense to others, but for me it does…

    Liked by 6 people

    • Sami, I quit my job and started a regimen of heavy travel (but haven’t sold everything off yet) in 2008 in an effort to find a reason to live and have enjoyed the time greatly at least most of the time anyway. There’s so much I can’t imagine never having done and new friends I’d have never met had I just ended things when I’d initially wanted to. That being said, I’m not completely certain of what the final outcome will be, but I’ve had a nice time trying to figure it out. I’ve had a vow with a friend where we’ve promised to call each other when the time might come that we cannot carry on any longer and I’ve definitely got the “what’s behind door number three” paranoia that we don’t know what awaits us on the other side, so there are definitely a lot of milestones that have to happen before I find myself tied to a millstone and dropped into the sea. I hold in my mind the haunting words of a survivor who’d jumped off the Golden Gate Bridge who’d said that he knew he’d made a mistake the moment he let go and is now happy as he can be, even now that he’s in worse physical shape than before he jumped. I believe they said that of those who survived the jump, most all had never attempted it again in the 2006 documentary, “The Bridge.” I still struggle every day but know that each day is closer to my ultimate and natural end anyway and am trying to be as grateful as I can and make the world a better place for those I love.

      Liked by 2 people

    • Had very such thought as you. Just what I have told myself I actually made a deal with God. I told him (in my mind): if you can give me an idea to find a way out of this situation I gonna do my best, live the fullest I can, if not than just take me away not to torture myself.
      I have got an answer and so far so good:)

      P.s. I even started to believe in God as before I had no faith at all:)

      Like

      • To add even Jobs embraced death as a tool to come up with something great understanding, that there is much to do before we leave:)

        Like

    • I love practical stop-gaps like this. Fact is, typically when the choice has been made and how/why is worked out, there is a sense of relief. I can see the travel option working quite well. Thanks.

      Like

    • This is very much worth posting here. Tim talks about making “vows” – I made one to myself. I’m not sure why I know I’ll keep it, but I do. It sounds like you did the same thing, and I’m glad it helped.

      My rules:
      1. No permanent choices on the spur of the moment – if I don’t want it for a week straight, I don’t want to do it.
      2. Nothing during the bad times late at night – I have to go stand out in nature, with the sun shining, and still want to do it.
      3. Tell someone – I have to call someone close to me and explain my choice to them, and let them answer me. If I’m willing to have them hear about the aftermath, I should have the courage to tell them myself.

      Across those three things, I know I won’t end my life. It doesn’t fix the problems, it doesn’t make my life any better, but I know I’ll stay here keep trying.

      Liked by 1 person

    • When I was a kid, I thought suicide was the dumbest thing ever. I had the exact same idea, if I was going to end myself, why not just buy a ticket to visit the world until I run out of money and then end it. At least get some crazy enjoyment before it’s all over.

      When I did get that depressed, I had absolutely 0 motivation to travel or do anything. Why would I go through all that work before ending myself, it would just prolong the pain and annoyance. There really was no more joy to be found in life.

      It makes total sense but that’s not how depression works, at least not for me. Without realizing that, suicide seems like one of the dumbest ideas in the world.

      Like

  9. Can you write a follow up article about how to get over close friends’ suicides? Also have you considered repressed same sex feelings as a driving force for much of the self-loathing in male society?

    Like

    • Agreed! My brother (we have been estranged for 10 years) killed himself 2 weeks ago and even though we rarely saw each other or spoke (his choice not mine) I find I am surprisingly devastated as well as thinking about all the things I could have tried to do to repair our relationship. I had no idea he was that desperate. Not only that neither did my sister nor apparently any of his friends.

      When we went to his house to go through his belongings we found 2 copies of the same book on suicide with newspaper articles going back over 20 years. Apparently he had been considering this for a long time and nobody even knew.

      I always held out hope that we would reconcile and have the relationship I always wanted to have with my only brother, but that will never happen now. I find that I miss him and the idea of a relationship with him greatly.

      Like

      • It will take time to heal . All of your feelings are normal. AFSP.org has some great support groups and resources tohelp you through this difficult time. My thoughts are with you.

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      • Scott – I lost a friend a few weeks ago to suicide. I feel so guilty that we had fallen off in the friendship. She did reach out to me a while back but I was busy dealing with my own life stresses and didn’t meet with her. I went to her memorial service, wrote a tribute to her, but it stings. I suspect it will for a long time. I’m friends with her mom and sister so I’ll stay in touch with them. Like your brother, she had been estranged from her family for three years. I think that’s why I didn’t meet with her. I couldn’t understand abandoning your family. Poor Tracy. I hate thinking of her final moments…

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      • Hi Scott, I have spent decades thinking about this kind of thing, since 30 years ago after my failed attempt. I needed to understand myself and explain to others. One of the best things I’ve read is ‘night, mother a play/movie that is on YouTube now, which is a fictionalized conversation between mother and daughter as one prepares to kill herself. Second, I think its important to realize that suicidal people don’t want to be stopped. Or travel the world, or explain themselves, or keep trying. That is the irony of suicide (or divorce!), that people seem less depressed when they start to consider suicide because it offers a sense of hope. I think almost anyone can understand when someone is taken off life support, or wants to quit chemotherapy or in some other fashion does not want to fight a painful illness. If you can accept suicide there, why not elsewhere?

        Look, I don’t know what happened with your brother, but its deeply narcissistic to think he should have lived for you, or that you could have made his life worth living for himself. I’m deeply sorry if someone is scarred by a close relative choosing suicide or estrangement or eating meat, but that’s all it is, a personal choice. It is not a judgment on you, on your happiness, on your ability to befriend others.

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    • I can’t speak to the second question (though there is quite a bit of evidence that identification in general that conflicts with societal norms is a driving factor in suicide, at least among adolescents), nor can I speak for Tim on either, but I can share my own thoughts on the first question.

      Time is the big key to moving on. I don’t say “get over,” because you never really get over it. Instead, you move on from it and things eventually get easier. Allow yourself to grieve in the meantime, but don’t beat yourself up over “what-ifs.” Could you have saved them if only…? Maybe, maybe not. The decision was ultimately theirs to make, and without them around, all the what-ifs are just speculation. Don’t let survivor’s guilt be the end of you, too.

      If it helps you, then resolve to make improvements in your own life. Make more time for your friends and significant other. Listen to them when they want to talk, even if you’re not interested in what they want to talk about. Be there for them when they need it. Realize that work (or school) isn’t the most important thing in the world. It may be too late for that one friend, but it’s not too late for the others in your life, or yourself.

      Also, if you suffer from suicidal thoughts or any mental illness, consider speaking out about your experiences and how you get through them. Sometimes, knowing that you’re not alone in your feelings of despair, by reading the accounts of other people, is enough to pull someone back from the pit of darkness that is a depressive episode and suicide. Talking about it also helps to remove the stigma surrounding mental illness, so that people will (hopefully) no longer feel ashamed to reach out for help.

      Like

  10. Thank you, thank you, thank you.

    This post is very informative, and very personal, and thank you for sharing it. It hit in all the right spots, and I can definitely say that everything you’ve said about depression and suicide is true. It’s especially scary because it can hit at any point in life, and many get hit when they are young and vulnerable. Listen to your kids, guys. Sometimes all they need is a sympathetic ear and the feeling that they have your back at all times. AT ALL TIMES, even when they did something wrong.

    For me, I find that journaling helps a whole lot in managing depression. Getting those poisonous thoughts out will help decompress the confused mind and perhaps stop that vicious running-around-in-circles thought process. It’s hard to get started, but the best advice I read about journaling is that no one needs to see any of it but yourself. That helps keep things in perspective and start the journey back to stability and life.

    Liked by 1 person

  11. The “funny” thing about depression is when you are aware of something that will make your state better but are choosing not to do it for some reason. Perhaps your “tactic” functions by making the illogical irrational nature of a wish to totally end it when you could have a fun trip around the world and let go of all concerns first.

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  12. Some biochemical contributors to be mindful of are the MTHFR gene, Pyrroles, SIBO, PANDAS, intestinal strep infection. carbohydrate sensitivity,thyroid and adrenal imbalance as well as unprocessed childhood trauma, all of which are identifiable and treatable.
    Great post mr Ferriss.

    Greg Doney

    Like

    • Wow, thanks for sharing. I am sure you know but this post I am sure will save many many lives for years to come. It make you think twice about the ridiculous hoops we go through (college) to be a productive part of society.

      Like

  13. Wow.

    It’s so comforting to hear that someone as ‘together’ as Tim Ferriss has experienced the darkness that is so much more prevalent than we realise.

    I lost a parent to suicide and myself have considered it countless times- it can be literally the ‘fight if your life’ and its a daily part of life.

    I used so called ‘self help’and positive literature to take my dark thoughts and it has helped.

    When you realise depression and suicide are an issue of perception and not reality, you’re in a position to change them.

    Things can turn bad of course but it’s not what happens to you, it’s what you do about it:-)

    You are never as powerless as you may feel. There’s always another choice.

    I also follow hundreds of positive people in social media so that my Facebook Twitter etc are bursting with quotes, links and uplifting stuff- there’s no escape from positivity- it’s my safety net.

    I collate everything at http://www.everydayshouldbefun.com

    I dedicate my time now to compiling positive and thought provoking things I find online. I don’t have the reach of Tim but it’s my small effort to perhaps help someone else who maybe in a dark place.

    I like Tims angle that suicide may not be the cure all you hope for – that’s a very good point indeed- as he says it’s a ‘terrible bet’.

    As always Tim you’re an inspiration to us all.

    Thanks for writing this post. It could be the most important you ever write.

    Best

    James.

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  14. Tim, I never really leave comments and I am not one to share much about myself personally. But every single word and emotion you shared in this post struck a chord with me… I am just glad that I am not alone. And that it is somewhat normal to have these downward spirals. Thank you so much for this post, and for finding the courage to share this with us. Much love Tim!

    Like

  15. This article is 100% important knowledge, 100% insights and 100% bravery & being human. That’s 300%, Tim. We owe you a lot for the quality you represent. Thank you.

    I don’t know if this was an intention as well, but this post is an important voice in the general discussion about how the society more often than not “deals” with young people. As the opposite of “raising” young people.

    One of the latest research of PhD Philip Zimbardo shows that there is more than a million “sad” children in Poland, Europe (where I live). For a 40 million people country, that’s A LOT. There’s evidence that other countries face similar stats as well.

    I was personally blessed with supporting parents who helped me through any situation I had (for example, teachers mocking my first “professional” blog that I started with my friend so we both could learn some real-life journalist skills) but that’s not possible for everybody. Since high school I became deeply interested in the psychology of why people do things, why they stop doing them and how to create an environment that enforces positive loops of feedback and motivation. Why and when people feel safe and secure and ready to grow.

    And the funny thing is: it’s not that hard. It really requires basic levels of empathy, listening to each other and some other old-fashioned words that– honestly? I’m amazed how many folks older then me (I’m in my mid 20s) forgot. And we still think that they were the last generation that supported them. Nope. Or at least not so often and not anymore.

    I’m on a different continent than you guys, but I 100% support Arnold Schwarzenegger’s mission of providing children and young adults with not money, not any means of “guarding” them but something way, way simpler: attention. Attention, even if forced, creates interest. Interest allows us to see a human being in that other person, be it a student or a teacher. And seing a human being is just an inch away from genuine empathy.

    And an empathy – both psychologically and biologically speaking – is a real-life magic. Not joking here. It changes the way our brains work, again: both metaphorically and literally speaking.

    Wow, sorry for the long post. I believe in a world where everybody can make it, so once again: thanks for writing about such an important issue and take care!

    Like

  16. Great quote from my UCLA Screenwriting lecturer: ” No tears on the typewriter means no tears in the audience.” Thank you for writing this post Tim.

    Like

  17. Oh my god Tim, this is fucking awesome. You’ve done a really good thing. People in the UK -the Samaritans are a great organisation to talk to, you can even talk via email.

    Like

  18. Solid post Tim. Appreciate your vulnerability in sharing. Been there myself in my late teens and was too scared/embarrassed to tell anyone. Looking back now I laugh, but it wasn’t funny…a mix of personal and work stress combined with a strict vegan diet low in fats and proteins left me unable to cope. Diet is such a huge part of good mental health! Follow a paleo diet now and even when going through high stress events I’m stable. Plus choosing each day to see the positive and actively express gratitude to others!

    Liked by 1 person

  19. Tim: Thanks for sharing this. I have been (and still go) to some pretty dark and disturbing places…and I think the problem is a lot more common than we’d all like to think.

    The three things I use to help me are 1) music. Since my first memory involves music, it’s a throughline for my existence. If music forms the soundtrack, then change your soundtrack and you can instantly change the scene you’re in. In other words, are you listening to more Tom Waits than Bob Marley? Might want to look into that.

    2) My work. I write…and I put a lot of my fears and darkness into my work. It’s probably why my stuff isn’t always “happy stuff.” I find the darkness is a lot easier to contend with when it’s on a page than when it’s in my head.

    3) Last resort time–whenever I’ve been really bad off, I not only do the “don’t hurt friends and family” approach, but also the opposite. Which of my enemies are going to be thrilled about me being gone? Again, not the happiest thought in the world, but we’re talking last resort time here.

    One last thing that I’ve said elsewhere: if we can lose Robin Williams and Philip Seymour Hoffman, who were at the top of their games and beloved and admired by millions, then the rest of us are well and truly screwed unless we look out for one another.

    Thanks again for “looking out” for a lot of us, chief.

    Liked by 1 person

  20. A brave post, Tim. I’m very grateful that you survived this dark period in your life, because you have shed so much light to other peoples lives, including mine.

    Fortunately I have never had to deal with a suicide in my close circles, but there have been some close calls… maybe once even my own came pretty close. Wow, writing that was more difficult than I thought. At the time all of the troubles seemed larger than the whole world, but it’s hard to see the reality when a person is so deep in the situation. Thankfully everything improved and now I’m living a really happy life and so are the people close to me, even the ones who thought about suicide.

    Thank you for writing this and using your influence for a greater cause… like you have done before. You are an idol to me and have changed my life for the better.

    All the best to you!

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  21. Dear Tim,

    I love your writing style and certainly your love of creativity has helped you heal.

    The question that I would really appreciate a reply on is, what is your view on actually finding somebody who could actually spread this message and save the lives of as many people as possible?

    I read a lot of your material but my predisposition to fear what you have written here is outweighed by the same losses that have taken two dear members of my family.

    I’m trying to launch a book that can give others hope but it’s daunting work. Could you help me do what so few others have the courage to understand?

    My blog is http://www.davidrobertson.co.za. If you were willing to help me fine tune the beast I know it would benefit MANY people.

    Thank you

    Like

  22. “I personally believe that consciousness persists after physical death”

    I’ve become concerned that I shouldn’t take the 4 Hour Body or any of your other scientific/medical advice seriously after reading this sentence.

    Is this something you believe based on faith alone, or based evidence?

    Did you publish things in your books that you believe on faith? Or only when there is evidence?

    This belief is just an anomaly and not reflective of your thought processes in general?

    I understand a lot of people have special beliefs which they hold without evidence, like religious beliefs, revelations they’ve had while dropping acid at burning man, etc. I don’t understand why they do, but they do.

    I hope you’ll confirm that the medical stuff in your books are all evidence-based, not faith-based.

    Also, thanks for sharing this story. I’m a manic depressive entrepreneur and think about suicide all the time. But, I would never actually do it.

    Like

    • From Reddit: If you’re thinking about suicide, spend your last dollars on cocaine and hookers.

      If you still want to kill yourself after that, go for it, but at least give the cocaine and hookers a try for a week first.

      “Went to Mexico to buy barbiturates for a humane and peaceful death.
      Decided that if I was gonna die anyway I might as well fuck a prostitute before it was all over. After that a cab driver offered to sell me cocaine. One thing lead to another, and I got a room above a whore house equipped with a heart shaped bed, a stripper pole, and a hot tub.

      Spent a full week snorting coke off tits, popping pain meds, drinking tequila, eating handfuls of Viagra to fight the whiskey/coke dick, and had three FFM threesomes.

      Somewhere in the midst of my coke-fueled orgy, I decided life wasn’t so bad after all.”

      https://www.reddit.com/r/casualiama/comments/2lbqym/traveled_to_mexico_to_buy_chemicals_to_humanely/

      Like

  23. Thank you so much for sharing this Tim, I can imagine that sharing your “downward spiral” with everyone was not easy……when you share posts like these we can all relate at least to some extent because the great majority of us have experienced feelings of despair, worthlessness etc. at some point in our lives, its important to remember that those feelings are only temporary and if they persist to seek professional help. I think all of your readers feel closer to you when you talk about experiences that few would ever dare bring to surface.

    When I read posts like these, I don’t think of Tim Ferriss “the best selling author, human guinea pig, angel investor etc. etc…..I think of Tim Ferriss, a fellow human being that was at one point in his life in the darkness, fought his demons….and triumphed.

    Thanks again for sharing your thoughts

    Solrac

    Like

  24. Thank you so much Tim. I have been there too. and the darkness tries to get me back every once in a while. this post comes at the right time You are an inspiration for all of us.

    Like

  25. Rules/promises can work in my experience too.
    And not only to living people. I made a vow not to kill myself (and to never use drugs) at the age of 12 when my mom died – to her…
    It was very powerful somehow. Haven’t gone even near, but have been feeling down for quite some time (now doing therapy – for me it works great, it’s hard, but so worth it! – to decide to go took me years – a bike accident helped – I got lucky and just got bruises, but being unconscious for 2 hours and waking up in a hospital got me thinking…).

    I have this talk on my phone:

    I could relate so much, watched it every day if I needed it, just so powerful and somehow made me feel not alone with this (it’s extremly hard to admit that you are depressed, it does have a huge social stigma…like Kevin says in the video).

    Like

  26. Thank you for an excellent, honest & insightful post Tim. Its all to easy to lose sight of the the fact that success is the ability to deal with difficulties rather than the absence of difficulties.

    Like

  27. Thanks for writing this. It’s wonderful when people (and especially prominent people) are open about their problems – it makes people feel less alone. (I know it must have been a very hard one to write, but as a reader it comes across as a natural, honest and necessary thing to do).

    I don’t claim to have full-blown depression myself, and I can’t begin to imagine what that’s like. I do sporadically have some lengthy, pretty unpleasant stays in its foothills, however.

    Your rules are a great idea – may I share a couple of thoughts? I don’t know if these will help anyone but me (please someone tell me if they’re detrimental and I’ll take them down).

    Getting outside, exercise and connecting with people (and particularly helping them out in some way – even if it’s just buying them a coffee) are key things for me. But they’re easier said than done when you need to do them most – even getting out of bed/into the shower/out of the house can seem impossible.

    For that reason, I try to have a ‘battle plan’ when I feel symptoms coming on. Something pre-set that’s a go-to when all I want to do is stay in bed. I tidy up, make sure I have food, and physically write down all the little steps required to go out to the park, for instance. (Things as trivial as ‘get shoes on’, etc.) It sounds silly, but it’s hard to make even little decisions when you don’t feel good. I also try to change the activities in some way – for some unknown reason, getting into the shower is hard for me when I don’t feel good (I love showers!). So I try to put on some banging tunes to entice me in, etc. (As I say, I don’t have full depression, so I don’t know if a list of steps like mine would be too overwhelming for someone who does. Anyone know?)

    Talking about it is also useful. It can make you feel better and makes people aware of your problems (they’ll often keep an eye out for you). You’ll frequently find out that seemingly ‘sorted’ people have similar problems, too. And in that case it’s a win-win: disclosure can help them in turn.

    I’m also thinking about writing about my episodes after they’ve gone. I wonder if it could help to have messages from the past to tell you that things always get better.

    Sorry for the rambling comments. Thanks, Jon

    Liked by 1 person

  28. Thank you Tim. As someone with a history of self-harm and depression who is in the middle of a stressful (70h+ per week, break-up etc) period, these kind of posts are a bright candle in the dark.

    What helped for me were the following words(which you called out in this post), which echo through my head almost every day: ‘This too shall pass’.

    If you just consider the things that are happening now, the things that give you stress and sadness, remember to change the timescale in your head.

    Messed up a presentation? People will have forgotten in a few weeks.
    Girlfriend broke up with you? Remember how you are not troubled by feelings for previous exes anymore? Will also happen now.

    The list goes on. Change the timescale to longer times, and you will see that problems all fade. Thus, we best stop worrying about them straight away, because ultimately, we and everyone will.

    Good luck to you all.

    Liked by 1 person

  29. Brother killed himself followed by my best friend nine months later. I had attempted suicide before too. We all vowed not to. I’m glad I survived though. I’ve made immense progress of which I’m genuinely proud.

    Part of survival for me was turning a depraved selfishness into a healthy selfishness.

    I like these more “spiritual posts”, they’re much more valuable than your other stuff. I’d love to see you apply your techniques to hacking happiness, compassion, and general morality in the future. What more important skills could there be?

    Liked by 2 people

  30. Profound thanks for this courageous and powerful piece of writing Tim. I’ve devoured your work for years but you have just helped me more in the last five minutes than all of your other stuff put together. Which is a huge compliment btw given how much I have learned from you over years.
    Deep thank yous and appreciation for the balls it took to write that.
    Andrew

    Liked by 1 person

  31. Thanks for this post Tim. My sister recently went through a severe depression because she wanted to meet all these stupid things society defines as ‘success’.
    In the end when things were bad we sent her to a health retreat where she learned how to cope with stress, she exercised every day and ate healthy foods. After a month she was so much better and she had the tools to cope with stress so she didn’t fall back into depression. These days doctors prescribe drugs without solving the root cause which is anxiety, isolation, no goals and lack of serotonin ( from a bad diet and no exercise.) I wish the government would wake up and create a program people can follow which will equip them with a skill set of how to cope with life. Without a doubt this would reduce the level of obesity, homelessness, and lost productivity.
    Thanks again for speaking about it. Hope you come to Sydney for an event in the future- would love the chance to meet you and hear you speak.

    Liked by 1 person

  32. Dear Tim, this is kinda embarrassing but seeing as you’ve put yourself on the line (again) I think I can manage it.

    I love you.

    (I have two kids, a steady girlfriend so don’t worry, I don’t mean anything like that..!)

    You more than anyone have given me hope, have helped me to find the tools, the belief and the reasons to grow and to do meaningful work.

    I imagine that tens of thousands of others feel as strongly. Thank you.

    Liked by 5 people

      • Well said Wayne..and further to my comment above, it’s even more big ballsy to post it in the middle of the TFE media frenzy. You have changed many people’s lives today, saved their lives actually. The more real and exposed you go, the more people love and respect you because they feel your truthfulness. Big respect from the UK.
        Andrew

        Liked by 1 person

  33. Thanks for posting this Tim. I’ve been in that same dark place (I think most people have). When you are there it feels you are the only one, or that something is wrong with you for feeling that way (just be happy!), but the truth is it’s so freaking common. It’s just below the surface for most people.

    That’s why I try to be super honest about this – talking about it on interviews as well, because it’s so easy to see such a contrast between the depressed self and someone who is conventionally successfully, until it is revealed that the “successful” person was in the same boat a few years prior. It’s all about getting through it and coming out stronger. I’ve developed some unique skills that I attribute 100% to being deeply depressed for many years. There are even stories about how Lincoln was as well, and that’s why he was such a compassionate and great leader.

    As for tips, I think the best ones are extremely simple yet the most important:
    1) Take care of your health at all costs – this alone dramatically influences mood
    2) Prioritize establishing genuine deep connections with people. Most people who are depressed have lost sight of how this is more important than thesis papers, RMR, ROI, or just about anything else.
    3) Nowadays the ONLY time I EVER start to feel depressed is when I lose my purpose, and this is true despite having a major genetic predisposition towards depression. Having a purpose, a passionate project, a reason to move forward and kickass is the best antidepressant beyond exercise and red wine with friends.

    Once you get 1, 2 and 3…life tends to be pretty damn balanced and happy (most days at least!)

    My take on things anyway:-)
    – Grant

    Liked by 1 person

  34. I started blogging about my depression last year as I was having quite a stressful year and the suicidal thoughts were returning…I’ve been dealing with depression for 30+ years since puberty and also only recently started being more open about it. I love the idea of making a vow to a friend … I have just made a mental one to my kids, who are now the main reason why I couldn’t go through with it. They don’t deserve to be left to deal with the repurcussions of a mother taking her life. Noone deserves to be left dealing with someone else’s suicide. I am also ready to break the cycle because I watched my mother attempt to take her own life many times. Time for a change. Here’s the blogpost with a few of the things I do to help me deal – my year of daily gratitude in 2014 made a HUGE difference wrt my happiness and it’s one of the major things I would recommend also: https://ecstacyandennui.wordpress.com/2014/02/07/the-big-black-dog-or-things-that-really-help/

    Liked by 1 person

  35. Meds. Drugs and medication and the thing where they electrocute your brain. That’s what kept me alive. Sometimes, like now, I’m pissed off because it’s never going to go away and I’m going to live in that perfect storm forever, but it’s been five years, and the monster still hasn’t eaten me. So maybe that’s enough.

    Liked by 1 person

  36. Oh Tim, I have been waiting for you to write this post for over half a decade! This comment is less about providing tips for others than it is essentially a grateful letter of adoration for how you’ve personally helped me overcome my own struggles with depression and suicide.

    When I discovered you in 2009, you were my saving grace – there’s really no other way to put it. I was raised in an isolated, abusive, misogynistic environment, and I spent nearly half a decade of my adult life trapped/stuck in that environment, completely housebound and actually agoraphobic. In no small part due to your books, content, speaking events, and stories, I slowly gained everything I needed to free myself from that dark place. I went from being a quiet, timid, self-doubting, scared, directionless girl, to an outspoken, assertive, confident woman who loves conquering fear and challenges (and infecting people with smiles and motivation!). But, for a long time during that journey, suicide was always a very real consideration. I’ve often wanted to ask you to speak to us about depression and mental/emotional health, but the taboo of it kept me from doing so. From the bottom of my heart, thank you for your bravery.

    For what it’s worth, because of all of the skills I’ve learned from you, I now have my own business with the daily opportunity to encourage, lift up, and educate my own followers who struggle with anxiety and depression. And I’ve been able to team up with a few other women to expand our audience reach to over 50,000 awesome girls (and guys!) – from retired grandmothers, to young girls on the verge of starting high school and college. We are “planner girls”, predominantly introverts, harnessing the power of creativity and self-expression to take control of our lives and kick ass at our goals, one day at a time. Personally, paper-planning, tracking systems, and various types of journaling have helped me tremendously through recent years in gaining the upperhand on my recurring depression. Kind of a continuation of your #3-4, except much more expanded.

    Anyway, you’ve had quite the ripple effect already, Tim, and I’ve no doubt this blog post will cause even bigger, life-changing (and saving) waves.

    Much love,
    A now-outspoken fellow Type-A, language-loving, eternally-curious nerd.
    Thanks for paving the way.

    Liked by 3 people

    • Thank you so much for this comment, Chelley. It totally made my night. And…thank you for doing what you do! It’s hugely important work, and you should be very proud:)

      Pura vida,

      Tim

      Like

  37. Tim, thank you for your sincere post! It takes real courage to be such true to others.

    I want to share this Tony Robbins’ intervention video from my Robbins-Madanes coach training program. This particular case is about multi-millionaire guy who lost every cent and wanted to commit suicide: http://youtu.be/U8_N_tVR2dA
    It can help to understand Tony’s audio better and in details.

    Personally I have “non-suicide vow”. In hard times I remember Bono’s words about his close friend who killed himself: “if he had waited for 30 minutes more he would have calmed down and changed his mind”. So I meditate in my perfect storms, it helps.

    I hope I’ve helped somebody somehow.

    Liked by 1 person

  38. Beautiful post Tim! I’m sure this will help many. Something else that could help fight depression and increase general happiness is something simple as coloring, painting, sculpting (anything creative that involves using your hands) . I’ve noticed with my group (we sketch as a group on a regular basis) how happy and relax they are (they tell me too) when we sketch together. It’s been shown to help with depression and anxiety.

    Liked by 1 person

  39. as always, thank you so much for your candidness and transparency tim. it’s hard to imagine that some may have never felt the urge to not be part of this world at some point, as depression, specially circumstantial, seems an inherent condition of simply being human. i sure have had my share of very, very, dark days — and only in connecting with one another in conversation, and sharing as you did, can we help ourselves and as well as others.

    / love you. xo

    Liked by 1 person

  40. This is a fantastic and brave post, Tim.
    Thank you for sharing in such detail, with tons of advice on how to get help. I know this will save someone’s life, I just hope it reaches them all in time.

    Liked by 1 person

  41. Great post,

    That’s why I was compelled to make my website (will link if there’s interest but don’t wanna spam) that basically is a sounding board email to me for people to rant an talk to someone I they want via email. Most rewarding think I’ve ever done.

    Thanks for using your ability to communicate to a large audience for such a good topic!

    Liked by 1 person

  42. Sound advice. A couple thoughts: being isolated magnifies these thoughts ten fold. It is important to surround yourself with people who know you well. When in a downward spiral, sometimes doing something that feels good and made you happy in the past can be enough to jar you out of the funk you’ve been in, especially if it has been ongoing for awhile. Finally, reconnecting with friends you were close with at one time can be a revealing experience. I recently reconnected with a friend I served in Afghanistan with and was surprised when he told me he had been struggling with depression. I had thought I was the only one. Learning this made me feel like my problems were more normal and manageable. Sharing this struggle with a friend whom I had endured so much adversity with in the past, made it easier to overcome.

    Liked by 1 person

  43. As someone who has been through perfect storm’s and been at the ledge myself with only 1 true attempt to this day. I am in tears.

    As I type this this past week I’ve been making some fairly intricate plans to end it. The thing you said about others is why I’m still here typing this and not dead already. I’ve thought about calling those numbers but……never have.

    It isn’t something I talk about or share with anyone and in the past when I had shared it with someone I basically was told I was full of it and that “really suicidal people don’t talk about it and they just do it” In fact this above phrase was repeated to me this past week as well.

    Liked by 2 people

      • AY,
        Awesome comment. If you don’t have it in you, you just can’t muster the courage to call the line 1-800- 273-8255 (best choice) – Call someone; Call anyone or me (724-3791 in the 208 area code in the US) my name is Christopher – You have shown a remarkable act of bravery and courage posting your feelings – picking up the phone takes courage too but you have proven you can take a step – great work!

        Just one situation that I had convinced myself of – had me so anxiety and depression ridden I was curled up in the fetal position alone in the bath tub and in the dark. Had I possessed the guts to kill myself, (which I didn’t thank God) I was so physically debilitated, I wouldn’t have been able.

        Moreover this happened over and over again (sometimes or no reason at all that I could identify and believe me I mind chattered myself to insanity trying to find out). Till I finally mustered to courage and reached out to ONE person, just one call, to one person that had offered help. And it kicked a series of events that finds me recovered today. What a relief!

        My name is Christopher and I am just another person, just another one of us who has fallen victim to the Depression. And as result wants to help – Just like Tim does every single day! Oh, and if nothing else I’m really fuckin funny. Who knows, maybe you’ll get a laugh, levity is great medicine.

        I don’t know how you feel exactly, nobody can; exactly. I do know one thing FOR SURE. If you have one ounce of willing left to do something, just one miniscule ounce, which it sounds like you do, IT IS GOING TO BE OK. THINGS ARE GOING TO GET BETTER.

        If you just want to tell someone what you’re going through that is completely ok – I want to listen.

        I’m not a physician nor do I claim to have the answers – quite the contrary – I still need help every day. But I have found that helping others when they need it most always, and I mean always – helps everyone involved.

        So many people did this for me and it saved me. I am so fuckin grateful today – so I want you to know what my promise is to you – you can call me anywhere, anytime, for any reason if you need to talk through this if you just can’t fathom calling the hotline or a friend, or for any other reason. 724-3791 in the 208. You don’t even have to tell me who you are just AY from Ferriss’ circus will do.

        Liked by 2 people

    • Dear AY, as you see even on this blog you’re not alone.
      I know exactly where you are. Just stick even to little things everyday.
      Even 1 squat or push up or any exercice you like. Just 1 every day and stick to not lose contact.
      As Tim said, any exercise is the fastest way to improve the mood.
      Keep your sleep hours protected too absolutely.

      9 years ago I had the final day and definitive decision to end it.
      As dentist I had unfortunately all materials to even end it “easy way”.
      Was lucky my dental assistant at the time saw unusual materials ready despite the last patient was gone. Called my GF who without telling it, called me and was “missing me so badly that we had to meet immediately…”

      That wasn’t the only day… and years after still have days when it seems as solution to at least stop things which are tortures for years and for weeks and months I don’t find one single day that I didn’t hate myself and felt useless…

      In worse weeks, I just try to stick even to one single little thing to not sink deeper. Just 1 exercise. Just shaving.

      And mostly, even if someone is in prison for 20 years and has absolutely no family and anybody who would care… Still there is someone inside to answer the question: Do you accept to lose? Do you accept to quit?
      What bigger than “life” to accept to lose or quit?

      Am sure you hear the voice inside who answers No I don’t accept to lose. No I don’t accept to quit. And as you repeat that No I don’t want to lose, just walk, move and shake your body.
      Listen to audio of voices of people who fight and started at zero.
      Who say simply strong ideas.
      (examples of Schwarzenegger or Muhammad Ali… or whoever you feel good with the voice, and who say it simple short and loud)

      For example in my worse days I avoid Tim Ferriss voice, because when you feel already shitty, Tim’s rhythm of achievements make me feel even less than nothing.
      So Tim podcasts are for learning and tactics in my good days, and Schwarzenneger “6 rules”😉 for worse days.

      Before Foreman fight is a period where you have the best of Muhammad Ali talks. He lost it all at the time and no way to listen and stay passive to his voice of hunger to come back.
      When a journalist asked him how scared is he after the way young Foreman destroyed Frazer,
      Ali answered “scared…!!? scared of what? and again repeats “what…!? scared of what?”

      Simple 3 words with a tonality which is contagious.

      You already know there are always millions in worse and millions in better situation than each one of us, so it isn’t even the question of how many problems we have…

      We feel good when there is progress.
      So don’t accept to lose in worse days and stick to 1 single movement of your body. Just your posture.

      And in other days, focus on the very first hour of the day.
      Don’t use it in usual breakfast shower in semi conscious way.

      No, use those very first 60 minutes in 1 single thing that you finish, and the rest of the day you can remember as proud you did that.

      When we’re vulnerable, there’s hypersensitivity and how we start our 60 first minutes condition disproportionally the feeling of the day.

      And lastly for “problems” that you already know everybody have at every level:

      Just start.

      Cut the “wohohoo scary problem” in small pieces and just ask yourself which little piece you can act on.

      Take the smallest and easiest action, just start to act and finish just that action.

      Immediately you feel how actually you can, and there is any problems which deserves being scared of. It creates momentum and feel of it’s moving forward.
      And in any days, ask to that voice inside, who answers No, I don’t accept to lose.

      We’re all in the same road, and you’re not alone. We stick too in worse days, you just don’t see worse days of others 😉
      Much love.

      P.S. sorry for my english (am french so natural slow language learner😉 )

      Like

  44. I have friend who didn’t have kidneys. Just the though of his time running out, it drove him in deep depression. He took anti-depressive drugs, but instead of being cured, he felt he was becoming dependent on it. So he scoured the web for an alternative, and he found taichi. Every morning he did taichi exercises. After a few weeks he was drug free, and he lived for 11 years without kidneys.

    Like

  45. I am exactly where you were in 1999.

    Right now I’m a final year undergrad at a top world university, and after all the rejection from firms like Bain and McKinsey my self-esteem plummeted and I buckled under the stress of it all. I had to take time out and won’t graduate until next year. I’ve put myself in a position of total isolation and for the last week all I have thought about is my need to die. What’s kept me hanging on is (like you say) the thought of breaking my parents hearts.

    This post is what I needed. To know that I’m not alone and that there is light at the end of the tunnel. If you can go through this and comeback stronger and build a solid life for yourself then I know there is hope for me. It’s time to turn things around.

    Thank you for sharing.

    Liked by 4 people

    • Gina, thanks so much for posting this. Please hold tight. As you said, I’ve been there. The fact is: you’ve proven you can win at the game of life by getting to where you are. These are just hiccups. They seem like earthquakes right now, but you’ll look back and thank God (or yourself, or the universe, or whatever) that you didn’t do something horrible.

      Please give the phone number from this post a ring. Just chat with them for a few minutes. Give a fake name if needed, test ’em out and kick the tires. There’s no harm in it.

      Harming yourself would destroy your parents. Don’t do it. Not worth it.

      Hang on!

      Tim

      Liked by 2 people

  46. I am exactly where you were in 1999.

    Right now I’m a final year undergrad at a top world university, and after all the rejection from firms like Bain and McKinsey my self-esteem plummeted and I buckled under the stress of it all. I had to take time out and won’t graduate until next year. I’ve put myself in a position of total isolation and for the last week all I have thought about is my need to die. What’s kept me hanging on is (like you say) the thought of breaking my parents hearts.

    This post is what I needed. To know that I’m not alone and that there is light at the end of the tunnel. If you can go through this and comeback stronger and build a solid life for yourself then I know there is hope for me. It’s time to turn things around.

    Thank you for sharing.

    Liked by 1 person

    • Gina, thanks so much for posting this. Please hold tight. As you said, I’ve been there. The fact is: you’ve proven you can win at the game of life by getting to where you are. These are just hiccups. They seem like earthquakes right now, but you’ll look back and thank God (or yourself, or the universe, or whatever) that you didn’t do something horrible.

      Please give the phone number from this post a ring. Just chat with them for a few minutes. Give a fake name if needed, test ’em out and kick the tires. There’s no harm in it.

      Harming yourself would destroy your parents. Don’t do it. Not worth it.

      Hang on!

      Tim

      Liked by 1 person

      • Gina,
        One of things I found from my hours (after I was able to look back) was the power of our own beliefs to not only destroy ourselves, but to act as a filter to the amazing things to what we are capable. It is an oddly twisted proposition that when we need hope the most, we focus and imagine on the worst outcomes. Intellect at this point can serve as a detriment as we tend to manufacture elaborate worse case scenarios. I think Tim’s suggestion is powerful. This forum is amazing and its anonymous if need be so give it a whirl. The HOPE and LOVE you desperately need may be right here in this forum! Hang in there Gina things are going to get better!

        Like

  47. Thank you for sharing Tim. What helped me were two things: Julia Ross’s book the Mood Cure and weight resistance training (kettlebell swing).

    Liked by 1 person

  48. Hey Tim,

    Long time fan and follower. Never really leave comments cos I know you’re usually probably overwhelmed with them! But in this case I thought I would. Thanks so much for writing this. I have experienced this exact same thing and its always accompanied by guilt and a feeling of worthlessness, like failing at the mosy basic of tasks; simply existing. Its great to know (in a kind of fucked up way) someone I look up to a lot has been through the same thing and has to keep it at arms length as well. Thanks again mate, keep up the great work :)

    Liked by 2 people

  49. Thank you for sharing this, thank you for finding the courage to write it.
    It’s so majorly important to realise that each and every one of us is or can be susceptible to suicidal tendencies.. No one is spared… The only thing that differentiate between the tendency, the thought and the action is the frame of mind… Something that might be considered utterly trivial by someone, it might mean the tipping point for someone else..and their frame of mind, the perspective it’s the only difference .

    Unusual for me to comment on a post, but I felt the need to thank you for tackling this major issue. So, again, thank you!

    Liked by 1 person

  50. Bit of a long post but bear with me:
    Two of things I really enjoy when feeling down is the philospher Alain de Botton with school of life and Zenpencils. Zenpencils does cartoons based on quotes, like this one by Stephen Fry http://zenpencils.com/comic/89-stephen-fry-ultimate-self-help-book/. And whilst I’m glad you succeeded in getting over your difficult times, some of us have different problems. I really truly am glad for you because your writing, your art, is fantastic and inspiring.
    But I really relate to Stephen fry because he, as I, carries with him a problem that will never go away. I can get out of a depression only to have it remain on the sidelines, it never really goes away, and eventually it takes over again. So I use other emotions to control myself, I use anger extensively because it works as a driving force and if I slow down during hard times, the sorrow will swallow me, it’s like a swamp. And I don’t mean anger AT anything, just that rush you get inside you with anger, channeled fury. Aimed anger, at others or yourself, will hurt you.
    But with time one learns to deal with it, to accept it. It’s just a part of who I am and a disability I’ve learned to anticipate and deal with when it turns up, even if it is a struggle every time.
    I’ve been depressed for as long as I can remember, it started when I started school as a child as I never really fit in. Suicide was on my mind a long time and when I was 14 I stood on our homes balcony, ready to jump. I had figured that if I grab the rail just right and flip myself before letting go I should land head first and that should get it done. But as I grabbed the rail I remembered my mother, who was going through rough times as well, and I stopped. I just couldn’t do that to her. No matter how much I hurt, I could never hurt the ones I love. Now our family wasn’t a perfect and happy family and circumstances had led to me having to grow up really fast.
    Escaping suicide didn’t solve the issue though, it just let me live a broken life and fall into alcoholism and cycles on lighter and heavier depression. And as such I never did well in any school, I did good in math and physics and the like as I had a head for it but what does any of it matter when you’re in that sate? So I drank and did some drugs from around 18 to 22 when I finally hit a floor where I couldn’t speak to people anymore so I stayed in my flat feeling sorry for myself, and so very embarrassed. I don’t know of others but my sadness led me to have an extremely wide perspective.
    Who am I to feel so sad? There are kids with leukaemia, wars happening around the world, famine, natural disasters, human trafficking, families being torn apart by disasters and all the unspeakable horrors in the world happening all the time. And my education suffered, my credit went bad as I wasn’t paying bills but what did it matter? In the grand scheme of things who am I? A small insignificant boy of a man living in north european country, I can even pull of school, I couldn’t even get into the school I wanted. I felt ashamed, lonely and barely keeping myself alive. Finally some teachers in the school I was going to, learning goldsmithing, got me to come to school and helped me get professional help. That was a gesture of kindness which made me cry when I got home, because what I so very desperately needed was help, but asking was far too terrifying in so many ways.
    I had a wonderful psychologist who helped me, with the help of a bit of anti-depressants as well, talk out the issues inside me. I eventually moved out of that town where I was studying back into Helsinki, the Finnish Capital, but didn’t seek more help here. A mistake I tell you! As I fell back into my hole with no way out, until after a couple of years, with the help of what I had learned from my psychologist, I aggressively fought against my mind and soul by forcing myself to talk to people. And now I’ve got myself back into a good mindset. Winter especially brings me down into self-loathing and depression and it never really seems to go away, even after all this time.
    But you know what? I’m okay with it now. With age came acceptance of myself, I’ve found good sides with my depression as it really increases my creativity. And using similar tactics to the advice above I keep on doing my best to stay happy with whatever is happening in my life.
    Most important of all, after my last long term relationship ended, during those years I learned to be happy being alone. If you NEED someone in order to remain happy and balanced? Then maybe being alone is a lesson you still really need to learn. It’s a very important skill to have, being able to be happy alone. I’m now in a relationship again, it happened a bit by accident but everything is going pretty well especially because i love and appreciate her, but I don’t NEED her in order to feel good. Demanding someone to help upkeep my sanity is actually a pretty huge demand to put on a relationship and it will never end well, trust me.

    Bit of a word vomit but I started and had trouble stopping, this is an important issue for me as I really want to help with problems similar to mine, or dissimilar, if I can in any way be of help.
    If someone you know is having a rough time, remember to offer help or even just someone to talk to. Even if the help is declined the fact that you showed interest can be a huge help.
    And if you’re feeling bad, let me tell you that you’re awesome. Of all the possible things to happen, you were born and you’re alive here now. To achieve greatness is not a necessary goal for anyone. The greatest success for you is to find happiness. Remember the cashier you saw? or the cleaning lady? their jobs might or might not bring them happiness, but their lives might be full of joy. We humans are social animals, happiness comes from being helpful to others, feeling useful. Enjoy your hobby! talk to people! try not to judge others unless you understand their circumstances and in remember to be kind to yourself. You are all wonderful because you are capable of amazing acts of kindness. I don’t know who you are or where you are or what your circumstances are but I wanna tell you this, you are worthy. You are worth of love and appreciation and dreaming and asking for things! Here’s a corny end but I love you, you beautiful bastard, because I know you can be happy and make others happy.
    Loving regards
    Max from Finland

    Liked by 1 person

  51. Thank you for your brutal honesty. It’s brave enough to talk about having considered suicide, but to detail that period of your life like you’ve done here is what makes this post so striking and – for lack of a better word – convincing.

    The Tony Robbins clip is incredible as well.

    Like

  52. Steve Blampied As a therapist I promise you PSTEC is the single most powerful thing I have ever used with my clients when it comes to suicidal thoughts.

    It seem strange but it really works. Tim, you need to feature it.

    Like

  53. Well done Tim for having the courage to speak up. If you suspect someone you know is suicidal, ask them. Don’t say “are you OK?” or “are things tough?” but say it directly, no mistaking the truth, as in: “Do you want to kill yourself?” – no one lies when confronted with that question. If they answer no, then let them know you’re concerned for them, how it’s making you feel and say “tell me what’s going on for you” and then listen. Really listen. If they answer Yes, (they do want to kill themselves) say “tell me what’s going on for you” and be there, in the moment, listening. 80% of what people in the “caring” community do is listen. Anyone can listen. Sometimes that is all someone needs to keep them here in this world. Have the courage to speak up. You may just save a life.

    Like

  54. I was skeptical of this post at first because so many 21st century online ‘guru’ types are arrogant pricks and I have also unfairly mixed you in with them; even though I’ve bought two of your books and enjoyed them – the other ones who pop up in youtube advertisements rub off poorly on the good ones – such as yourself. Having said all that – I quickly found out that this post is legit.

    Thank you for sharing this Tim, it’s important to talk about it and I can relate all too well.

    Merci.

    Like

  55. Tim, I’ve recently been through a scary, anxiety-related episode with someone close to me. We’ve come through it but I wish I’d had this blog to refer to.
    Aside from this post, you have changed (and are changing) my life.
    Because of you I gave up 20 years of corporate life to start my own business. I have time to exercise and be with the people I love. Time to breathe. It took 3 months before I didn’t feel wired all the time. I am now creating a better life for others.
    All this because your Mom was brave enough to call you … and you spoke at TED and my husband watched and told me about this smart guy, so I read 4HWW and got the idea that life could be better. From the bottom of my heart, thank you for being here to share your gifts with the world.

    Like

  56. Hey Tim,

    I’m commenting under a false name, due to personal shame. This post undoubtedly is bringing to the comments everyone who currently wants to kill themselves, because they can get attention quickly through this post. Which as Tony said in his audio is easier than killing yourself, so we complain and flail about in comment sections like these. And that’s what I’m here to do. Because I’m at the end of the ropes. It’s just so intense man, it all is. So damn intense. I know you feel it, I can see it in how you react to things in videos – you are a very intense person. We all know that. So how do you handle the intensity of everything – just every emotion can get so caught up in your head tumbling around like a monster storming out of control. Is it meditation?

    I’ve started meditating this week, on and off. I can’t stick with a habit for more than literally 3 days. Any habit bike riding, meditation, brushing my teeth (how insanely pathetic is that). I am so bad at everything, yet I am “accomplished” in work and in my career. Really frustrating and upsetting. That doesn’t even scratch the surface of the frustration I feel around money, which psychological I understand all my problems. I have read the Millionare mind. I just need to take the time and really build the anchors to all of my bad habits to get them to stop. If I build positive anchors I can maybe break them all. On top of that I masterbate 3 – 7 times of day WHILE working from home after intense meetings. It’s so insanely stupid. Everything is just too much and I honestly am not sure how to handle it anymore. I take on more than I can handle just to stay above the water financially. All the while sitting in my office stressing the fuck out of my mind whilst DOING NOTHING OVER AND OVER AND OVER AGAIN. How insanely psychotic is that? Heh. First world problems, for sure. But fuck are they rough. I used to be a heroin addict so my addictive bad habits never went away, they just switched. I got clean about 2 years ago and my career took off, but now idk. My life is falling apart and I cant fnid the right thing to help me get it back together.

    This post has no purpose though, just like the other pointless flailing to get attention. I too, am trying to get attention. Because if someone looks and reads this then I know at least they care, even if by accident, long enough to read this. And that maybe is enough.

    Thanks
    – A coward

    Liked by 2 people

    • That has taken courage even to write this reply. You are as important as anyone else on this site and the fact you managed to come off heroin and you got your career off the ground shows there must be some unbelievable mental strength and resourcefulness. You obviously have a lot of strength and intensity, that may be the qualities that will get you through this tough period. Hope you find some inspiration from this blog and all the brilliant comments.

      Liked by 1 person

  57. Thank you so much for this. We don’t talk about suicide enough. Not like it’s a fun thing to talk about… But it’s happening to so many people and it’s so awesome to see someone really talk about it. Thank you.
    Suicide has touched my life too many times and it’s just too heavy of a burden to bare. You were so authentic and real and I really appreciate it as I’m sure so many others appreciate as well. You are going to help so many people with this. A million thank you’s
    Andrea

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  58. Excellent post. I’m certain it will help a lot of people.
    I’ve had my own issues with depression and I thoroughly endorse Tim’s advice – particularly the importance of exercise. Two additional hacks which may help people:
    1. Positive self-talk: Even if you don’t feel happy – talk happy – say positive things to yourself out loud. Its a way to trick your unconscious into being happy. You might feel ridiculous doing it the first few times but I know from experience it does work. Also a useful motivational tool for when you’re not depressed. I thoroughly recommend the book ‘What to say when you talk to yourself’ by Dr. Shad Helmstetter.
    2. Psychedelics: Not for everyone – but I know Tim blogs about the benefits of these quite a lot. Google it – there is considerable evidence that they are an extremely effective treatment for depression in both the immediate and longer term. I have only done two ‘trips’ in my life – after the second rather intense one I found that I just couldn’t channel the old despair any more – I genuinely believe it fixed something in my brain. It is shame that they are illegal or difficult to obtain in many jurisdictions.

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  59. Very important post – thanks for having the courage to talk about this. You’re tactical advice on routines has helped me tremendously. It’s been 3 years since I first read 4HWW, and I am in my second year of working from home. I’m very close now to leaving “employment” behind forever, but am still miserable as hell (even though I am right where I want to be). Reading your stuff helped me realize that MANY people feel that same way, and it’s something that can be overcome with routines and a smart approach. And this –> value of this quote can’t be understated:

    “Months later, after focusing on my body instead of being trapped in my head, things were much clearer.”

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  60. Tim, thank you for sharing, man! I just want to let you know that I, personally, am so glad that you did not complete your plan. You are an inspiration to a ton of people across a wide range of interests, and this post and its resources will make a difference for years to come. Thank you for the courage to admit to having been there, and thank you for the tips on how to avoid the abyss.

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  61. Thank you for sharing. Your authenticity and honesty are as heartfelt as they are brave. I have been in dark places, as well, so shining the light is powerful.

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  62. It took true courage and compassion for others to write that and i respect you hugely for doing so.

    Life is struggle but your books give people hope, your a bright star in a dark dark night.

    Tim ferris… I salute you !

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  63. Thank you for sharing this, Tim.

    I’ve been to some very dark places myself over the years, and your advice, especially about diet, exercise, and focus, is spot on. Managing those three things has helped me tread water and eventually swim to shore during my toughest times.

    Also, thank you for sharing in such an open and unfiltered way. It’s a shame that people who experience depression feel they need to hide it from the world because of the stigma that comes with it. Hopefully, more people like yourself and Brad will come forward and share their experiences so that as a society, we can have an open and honest conversation about depression and suicide and empower the people who have been afraid to seek help for fear of other people finding out.

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  64. I found what helped me get through tough times was to keep a journal and focus on all the good things in my life. When I felt down I would get a pen and write a list of all the positive things and people in my life (it was always a hard process and even if I ended in tears it helped me get through)

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  65. Having lost a sibling to suicide I can speak to the importance of sharing stories such as yours. You may never know the good you’ve done… A very heartfelt thank you, Tim.

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  66. Thank you mate , on behalf of anybody who needs this , you are an amazing person who gives so much to the community you have created

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  67. Thank yuo Tim for writing about suicide. I was never actually suicidal but i suffered from depression. I used herbal medication such as St. John’s Wort, visited a psychiatrist and used anti-depressent pills. But the best help i found was the self-help book Feeling Good by David D. Burns. I still refer to the book when i feel down.

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  68. It’s important that we recognise that we all have mental health in the same way as physical health and that it’s a spectrum that we constantly move along. Just as an unexpected fall can break a bone, we see from Tim’s post how easily an unexpected series of difficult events can lead your mind to a dark place before you have time to regroup.

    Notice patterns in your behaviour during both good and bad periods and if you’re lucky enough to have support networks, trust them to highlight when you’re beginning to spiral.

    When you have a negative thought about yourself or your situation, think of a friend or colleague (or even Mr Tim) and imagine yourself saying that thought directed towards them. If it feels uncomfortable or unjustified then try to realise how unfair and demanding you’re being to yourself.

    Negative thoughts are like clouds, sometimes they’re all you can see, but you still know the sky exists above.

    If this post triggers anything, good or bad, let’s talk.

    x

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  69. Good man! This is how it needs to be spoken of more. This is exactly the kind of thinking that helped me out of a rut years ago and helps me enjoy life more overall. I think when you put suicide in perspective you realize how easy it is to be happy and can enjoy a richer life.

    Good man! You’re doing great things Tim, it is fantastic to see someone grabbing life by the balls and sharing so much.

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  70. Like (way too many others) this is a topic that is painfully close to home for me, too, and I wanted to thank Tim and all the amazing people commenting here for working their arses off to be part of the solution rather than the problem.

    I won’t go into our personal backstory, but I would like to say that myself, my partner, and two of our three kids are now using Nutrient Therapy, and it’s been phenomenal to manage assorted labels attached to us. It’s worth a good hard look at (and then actually read the science yourself!).

    Also, diet IS important. High five for eating real food.

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  71. oh just thank you. I have tears in my eyes. just got out of my therapeutist and this text is perfect timing. your problems resonate with me and i think indeed we must realize and remember we are all at this game fighting together. all making mistakes, all being weak from time to time and all in need of love and support no matter how strongly we deny it. thank you. Much love for you, Natalia.

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  72. What if you have no loved ones who you could make that vow to? What when you know that you are on the outer circle for everyone you know? It’s funny how people always assume that everyone has loved ones. I guess us forgotten people are not the target group of this post.

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    • Helen,
      It has been half a year since you posted this comment, and I really hope you are still alive and somehow reading this.
      I don’t know your life. It might be true that you actually don’t have people close to you. But depression is a cruel bitch, it makes you feel absolutely sure that no one actually cares about you and you are not important to anyone.
      This is, in the vast majority of the cases, not true.

      But well, as I said, I don’t know your life. So I’m here, and if you are still alive (and whether or not still contemplating suicide) let’s make a mutual anti-suicide vow.

      I start. Helen, I promise you, under no circumstances will I commit suicide.
      Your turn.

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  73. Thank you Tim, you’re a hero. I know how difficult it is to write and share about this sort of thing, let alone with hundreds of thousands of people publicly. I hope some of the things I mention here will help some people, as it’s taken me a long time to work this thing out. Over the years I have managed to get a better grip on depression and suicide, but this post has re-injected some “positivity”, as it’s far too easy to slip back into dark corners of the mind…
    I had a similar scenario during my undergraduate years, and spiralled into a deep and almost unshakable place of negativity (drinking myself into oblivion and taking drugs), I was close to ending it all on a handful of occasions… I have no idea how I managed to come out the other side with a degree but over recent years things like meditation, and philosophy (particularly Eastern) has massively changed my perspective on life, and where I once allowed myself to be trapped in my own self-esteem issues, I can now ‘return’ to a more positive frame (that I’ve created and nurtured over recent years) when I find myself slipping back into negative head space.
    I think depression often arises from a friction between the way the world is and the way you ‘want’ it to be. Once you let go of external expectations and begin to truly value yourself (you have no reason not to – you always have something to offer) you can climb out of destructive thought patterns. Certain ideas from Buddhism, such as “you create all of the suffering in your life” teaches that you *always* have a choice. You choose how you respond (not react) to any particular situation or environment. Once I realised this it was hugely liberating, to know that I was in control and I, at any given time, am able to shape my response to particular situations. Another part of Buddhism or meditation is simply the act of ‘acknowledging’/accepting something. You can’t control your emotional/physiological reaction to certain things per se, but you can acknowledge those feelings and manage them as they move through you.
    I am strongly against medication as a long term treatment. I feel that the majority of us have the capacity within ourselves to shift perspective. One of the biggest hurdles I went over was the acceptance that maybe depression can never truly be removed, and that simply we must learn to manage it when it arises and mitigate the damage it can potentially do, while staying strong until it passes – because it does pass. There are so many other factors you can adjust to maximise your efficacy in this area. Aside from the inner healing and searching you can do through meditation and reading up on spiritual philosophies, the more practical things such as exercising (trust me – swimming for me is one of the most therapeutic and grounding activities you can do – it forces you to breathe in a particular way – basically meditation/yoga in water), as well as eating well (remove all that shit from your diet – sugar, most wheat/gluten, caffeine reliance etc. – PLUS omega 3 fish oil, extremely good for treating anxiety etc.), as well as good sleep (your brain requires deep sleep to replenish dopamine/melatonin – happiness chemicals), and human social contact. It’s easy to slide into deep and rigid periods of isolation and this is toxic because you get more and more into your head. You need to get out of your head, spend time with friends, people, bring back your experience into simply experiencing life, rather than allowing your experience to be dominated by your own self-created problems. Sorry for the essay, hope that was helpful for someone…

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  74. Sharing this is like taking a sacred piece of your soul and throwing it out to the world to see and ultimately judge. People have so many fears about talking about the most important thing there is to talk about and we think we are better off for pretending it’s not there.

    You have helped a lot of people and this will continue to help people who read it in the future. It’s a perspective we don’t often hear and it needed to be told. You are a good person.

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  75. Big blessings to all who will read your story, thanks for your leadership in this most important hack yet. Excellent piece, Tim. One tip and one thought. The tip: acupuncture helped me find an anxiety free baseline, so I can know how my choices and experiences move me closer to sustainable peace, or further away. I return for a reset when I feel too far off center to recover with my usual grounding forces. I would not have survived without this. The thought: Gloria Steinem noted after the death of her only husband, a man she married in her seventies and who died within the year. Now, she said, she knew there is a difference between appropriate sadness and depression. Our culture increasingly confuses the two, stifling emotional processing of sadness that contributes to depression.

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  76. Tim, thank you so much for posting this. I broke down just after reading about Silas. I made a pact (like the one your friend made) with a friend many years ago, and last August, I told him that I could no longer promise to keep the pact. It was the first time since highschool that I’d been suicidal. It was right after Robin William’s death (that was a major trigger for me).

    I grew up in a fanatical religious cult (I left almost exactly four years ago, at age 22), and I’m in the very beginning stages of writing about it, after having quite a few people ask me to. I’ve had so many friends kill themselves, and I’ve come close a few times myself. People need to know how common religious cults are, what they are, and most importantly, what kind of intense psychological damage they do, especially when one is born into the cult.

    I’m absolutely terrified of the repercussions of writing about my past, not excluding the inevitable reaction of my so-called family. Recently, I haven’t written anything, and it’s largely because I’m so scared of what people’s reactions will be (mostly from the people that I know). I know that people need to hear what I have to say, so I’ve been feeling guilty and ashamed that I haven’t gotten further along with the writing process. My hope is that my writing can help people…people like my friends that killed themselves, and people like me who thought there was nothing else in life than how we were brought up.

    I’ve cried several times while writing this…this isn’t stuff I’ve admitted to very many people. I just wanted to say thank you for writing this piece. I have a great amount of respect for you, and even more so now that you wrote this.
    I genuinely appreciate how raw and genuine you were in this piece; it really had an impact on me. I feel like if you can have the courage to admit what you have, then I need to find the courage to do the same. I plan on taking the advice from your books, in hopes of making my own books best sellers as well, so as to reach a wider audience, and to hopefully help people who are in the same position that I was, just a few years ago.

    I don’t know that you’ll even see this, I just wanted to say thank you from the bottom of my heart. I cannot tell you how much I needed to read this right now. Thank you for having the courage to speak up and write. I’d say you don’t know how much it means, but I have a feeling that you probably do.

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    • Sweetmprecious, I was also born into a religious cult about the same time as you were. Luckily, my family took the big step to officially leave what seemed to be the mother of all bad cults shortly after I was born. However, the psychological scars and patterns that were prevalent in this cult carried over into much of my upbringing, and the void that was left by leaving the cult was often filled with other less-fanatical version of the same sickness. I believe that many of the patterns that are prevalent in cult ideology quickly turn into the path of a downward spiral when a disharmonious thought is added to the mix. In other words, it works until it doesn’t. With relation to suicide, the cult mindset thrives on many toxic mindsets that create a similar path of toxic thoughts that lead to depression, paranoia, anxiety, and ultimately self-destruction.

      1) The cult mindset teaches you to have a mental filter that poisons your perception. This represents a distortion of reality where negatives are dealt with an inordinate amount of attention. Being part of a cult injects a primal fear that you will be separated from the cult and become a pariah, or in my case become a “back-slider”. I would dwell on the imperfections of myself that could only be cured by “drinking the kool-aid”. This proved to be very dangerous because when the rug was swept out from under me when I rejected the cult-like ideas I was still left with the habit of dealing with the negatives with an inordinate amount of attention, and I did not have the common salve of the cult to fix it. The cult mentality seems to me a sinister master of marketing. They create idea that you are the problem, and then offer the solution.

      2) The cult mindset also states that your future is often pre-determined. The laws of cause and effect leave little room for ambiguity or exploration. You follow the path that is given to you without asking inconvenient questions. Like the mental filter, this works until it doesn’t, and is designed to make you feel powerless apart from the cult.

      3) Your personal accomplishments mean nothing, except in how they relate to the promulgation of the cult. This mindset seems like it goes through several cults. The personal identity is crushed and accomplishment can only be judge as how it relates to the ideology.

      4) Manipulation of Guilt — If you feel guilty then you are guilty. I have found that cult leaders are often masters of manipulating guilt. This ties into making oneself neglect reason and place an inordinate amount of the decision making process on the emotions.

      5) Everything is Black and White. You are either for or against the cult.

      6) All of these blow things up out of proportion. The extreme example is that a small misstep can lead to an eternity of pain in the afterlife or Armageddon- event.

      7) They label short comings with things that are really meaningless.

      8) The Plague of Should. Every action is staged against a moral backdrop that leaves no room for moral ambiguity. None of your actions are ever enough and you should always be doing more. You are taught to “should” on yourself.

      9) You become responsible for things that you were soley liable. Often a cult leader will enact a punishment that does not fit the “crime” — Look what you are forcing me to do.

      10) Setting you up for failure. The cult puts impossible standards up for you to achieve, and you inevitably fail. Your only redemption comes through submission, once again, to the poisonous ideology.

      Many of the mental distortions became clearer to me after reading the Feeling Good Handbook by David D. Burns, MD. This book is where this list of 10 distortions is based. The mental distortions that the cult capitalizes on to enforce control are actual common to the human experience. It’s like mental distortions on steroids.

      When the cult’s “foundation” of dealing with all of life’s problems was taken away from me, I found that the distortions became overwhelming. In my early twenties it felt like I had to create a process for living start all over again. It was a daunting feeling. I threw furniture across my apartment and walked a mile to a bridge where I pounded the cement until my fists bled. Part of me really wanted to jump. All of the distortions felt like they were crashing down on me and I was going into an unmanageable whirlpool of chaos. But I crossed that bridge in pursuit of beauty to a friends apartment where I was able to find a quantum of solace. If she had not reached out to me earlier, and noted that she saw my internal struggle and had not offered a listening ear, I could imagine a path where I would have met my fate at the bottom of the Tennessee River.

      However, I am happy to say that I did not follow the path of self-destruction. Although I continued to struggle with suicidal thoughts for the next couple of years, moment by moment I was able to make progress out of the pit of despair. Some of it came through reaching out to friends, seeking professional help, reading self-help, philosophy and psychological books. Listening to Bach’s Suite One for Cello was an incredible anchor for me to have, as well. It was a reminder that there was beauty in the world worth experiencing. In many cults, you are told not to fall in love with reality as it presents itself, however, this is one of the most profound ways to experience being human. If I resign to this, then I feel like my soul has been amputated.

      Please, write your thoughts. I know that the backlash can seem really bad and painful. But, I would encourage you to do it out of love for yourself, an idea that is often rejected in the cult mentality.

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  77. Good on you Tim! Good post, got me in the feels. Having been to the dark place many a time I am glad that you’ve taken this Step to reach out to such a large audience, you never know who you have just helped x

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