Tim Ferriss on Suicide.
Back in 2015 Tim Ferris, a renowned podcaster, entrepreneur and best selling author of “the four hour work week”, wrote an eye-opening blog post about his attempt at suicide.
Apart from his family, no one else knew about this dark side of Tim Ferriss’ life. In his written piece he bears his soul to the world in an attempt to shed personal light on his experience with suicide. For those who don’t know, suicide is and has been for a long time, one of the top 10 leading causes of death in the US.
Into the Darkness, an internal dialogue.
In a succinct explanation giving cause for trying to commit suicide Ferriss describes the hell of Being stuck in his own head. He goes on to describe it as a suffering brought on by internal demons that degraded him as someone worthless and flawed. Like a self-imposed prisoner of his own making, he was trapped in his head. This suffering came together at one point creating a trifecta of conditions. As a result, he felt like this suffering was being imposed on others, including his family and friends and it was necessary to end it.
“My ‘perfect storm’ was nothing permanent. But, of course, it’s far from the last storm I’ll face. There will be many more. The key is building fires where you can warm yourself as you wait for the tempest to pass. These fires — the routines, habits, relationships, and coping mechanisms you build — help you to look at the rain and see fertilizer instead of a flood. If you want the lushest green of life (and you do), the gray is part of the natural cycle.” – The Tool of Titans.
Tim Ferriss talking about suicide on the Jocko Podcast.
1999: A perfect storm that broke him
Tim was raised well by parents that appreciated and encouraged education. So much so that Tim Ferriss attributed this to his acceptance into Princeton, a top ranked university in the world. But this is where the elements came together to create the “perfect storm” entrenching his mind in the darkness. What lit the fuse was the thesis, as Princeton is known to have one of the world’s most stringent thesis reviews on the planet. Ferris found himself trapped between writing a 60-100 words thesis and an academic adviser that bullied him and ultimately failed him in his thesis review. Add to the equation Tim’s girlfriend at the time, to whom he sought consolation and attention from his struggles. This in turn affected her performance in competitive sports which led her to ultimately break up with him. Additionally, during the same time he fails to make it to the final interviews at a consulting firm, which he thought would be his dream job.Mix this in with his inherent propensity toward depression and you have the formula for suicide thoughts and later, planning to carry it out.
A young Tim Ferriss at university. Source: Tim.blog
A family history and/or a chemical imbalance
To give thoughts of suicide an origin is always tough, whether it’s a history of child abuse, genetic predisposition, or chemical imbalance in the brain. But Tim Ferris gives a few possible reasons, one being a history of Schizophrenia and depression on one side of his family. And on the other side he attributes it to a possible chemical asymmetry in his brain causing a hormonal imbalance that infused him with that inherent depression. He goes on to offer practical advice on how to deal with these demons taking both factors into account ( see below ).
Tim’s mother saved him.
During the year off from university Tim found himself in a bookshop and happened by chance to come upon a particular book on the subject of suicide. He sits down and reads it, and realizes that he has found hope in the book, hope to fix the “problem”. Or as he states in no uncertain terms, the solution is to “take himself out of circulation”. Later he checks all the books out of the Princeton Library that the original one at the bookstore referenced. However, one of the books on the list was not there. So he requested to be notified when it was available. And here is when his plans went haywire, for he didn’t realize that the address the library had on file was his home address. So of course his mother received the notice a few weeks later that this Suicide book that her son had checked out, was available. She immediately called him and eventually she and the rest of his family carried out an effective intervention.
“ They tried to bury us, they didn’t know we were seeds” – Mexican Proverb
You can find this quote in his book “Tools Of Titans” to describe how Tim kept these dark thoughts at bay, and how he didn’t have a “release valve” to let out this pent up “self loathing” in order to deal with it.
“when you try to bury and disregard these thoughts and emotions as opposed to contend with them or deal with them in some fashion, they are seeds”. If you feel like external actors ( people ) are trying to bury you, you are the seed, and you can recover from that. There is strength to be found in the struggle.”
Instead of burying these emotions and trying to forget about them, one should deal with them. Dealing with these demons or burdens converts them into seeds. There is strength to be found in the struggle. Finding and engaging with the demons turns that into it’s a strength in its own accord by “adding fertilizer to those seeds”.
Exercise, “get out of your head and into your body”
He drives home the idea of “ body over mind” being extremely underrated. He states it in simple terms: “If you can’t get out of your head, get into your body”. For him it was going to a boxing gym; one broken nose and a lot of bloody sparring sessions later, he was fine. Since then he has made his physical fitness a permanent part of his routine. He furthers the argument that combining such self-development techniques like meditation with a regular exercise routine is the optimal method to get you out of your “monkey brain”.
Tim goes over his time dealing with suicidal thoughts and his practical approach to deal with them in his best-selling book: “tools of titans”
Where is Tim Ferriss now?
If you need inspiration look no further. Tim is the author of 5 bestselling books including “Tools of Titan” which put him on the literary map. He is the host of the Tim Ferriss Podcast that has been ranked #1 various times, with over 70 million downloads. Apart from being an extremely successful and talented author and podcast host, he is also an angel investor. This includes an impressive portfolio including being an early investor in Uber, Wework and Shopify, putting his net worth at approximately $100 million. For anyone contemplating suicide these days, read this!
Tim’s bestseller, Tools of Titans
Tim’s Practical Recommendations to cope with suicidal thoughts:
- Cold Therapy, the idea of exposing your body to extreme temperatures gives your immune system a boost, as well as your mood. Read More.
- Comprehensive Blood work ( micro-nutrient deficiencies ). Check your blood for a nutrient deficiency, such as Zinc, that might be inhibiting your hormone production levels. Something easily fixed by balancing your diet and taking supplements. Read More.
- Fasting, especially intermittent fasting has been proven to good for the brain. Read More.
- Meditation or mindfulness practice, this has been proven to give your mind balance and clarity. Read More.
Have you dealt with similar problems and found ways of coping? Comment below.