First off, in case you don't know; I am a suicide attempt survivor. Actually, I'm a survivor of multiple suicide attempts. I've been in and out of more mental hospitals than I'd ever want to admit to. I used to try to answer questions about why, and how did it feel. Others would struggle to comprehend my answers. Many times I would be angered when I heard people call suicide a cowardly or selfish decision. Now, I'm glad when others don't understand. Because it means they've never felt as emotionally low as I have. There is no need to convince them of anything. I simply ask them to appreciate that suicide makes no sense to them. I let them know I'm envious that they can't grasp these dark sensations.
If you've never felt so bad that you seriously contemplated ending your life or took actions to do so, you won't know how it feels. There aren’t enough words, interviews, or media sound bites to get that horrid feeling across to someone who hasn’t experienced it themselves.
Good. I want to live in a world where fewer people know those dark feelings and impulses. But we can all allow others to feel however they do without falling to name calling, labeling and blaming. Offer some compassion to those struggling with issues that you are not familiar with.
Suicide and depression isn't a character defect or something someone just decides to turn off/on when they feel like it.
It is senseless, not selfish.
It is hopeless, not cowardly.
Sometimes, it just is.
When I was suicidal I thought friends and family would be better off without me. Sure, I knew there would be some initial pain, shock and grief, but I believed that over time everyone would be in a better place without gloomy old depressed me around. It did not feel selfish. I had a distorted perception that I was helping others by vanishing.
If you can't fathom, feel, or even empathize with depression, anxiety or any mental illness - it's OK. Be glad. Celebrate that.
But please don't argue with or put down people doing their best to live with it, or those that can't manage to live with it.
What is the point of arguing over something you know nothing about?
When I was 18 years old, I was certain that anyone who said they were happy was lying. I believed that anyone who took an honest look at the world and at their lives would see that life sucked. Often times I tried to convince people that suicide was the only logical thing to do. I was wrong. I am thrilled to have been so wrong.
Nobody’s beliefs change by being badgered and argued with. Our perceptions change over time, based on our experiences, based on what works and doesn’t work for us. We can all choose new beliefs, but arguing with someone over their beliefs or yours is a fool’s game.
What is more important to you, to be right or to be happy?
You can disagree with me. You can mock this post.
I don’t care if anyone thinks I’m right, I’d rather be happy.
To all my fellow attempt survivors, to everyone ever labeled with a mental illness, I invite you to not try to explain the unexplainable. Do not attempt to convince, justify, or defend actions rooted in pain and hopelessness. That merely drains your time and energy. Instead, be glad that someone else doesn’t know your pain. I understand that this isn’t easy, but give it a try.
If you hear someone call Robin Williams a coward, or if you read an article or post saying that anyone who has killed themselves or tried is selfish, don’t try and prove your views are right or change theirs. I encourage you to say to yourself; “They’ve never been there, they don’t get it. Good for them.” And move on.
Be good to yourself.
With love and respect,
Need help? In the U.S., call 1-800-273-8255 for the National Suicide Prevention Lifeline.
As a suicide attempt survivor, I share my feelings about the passing of Robin Williams. Otherwise known as "Over Sharing With Andy."
It is horribly ironic that one of Robin's most amazing films, and not a comedy at all, is "What Dreams May Come" which has a plot centered on the suicide of a spouse and a journey into the afterlife. It is quite a beautiful and striking film.
If you are struggling with depression, don't hesitate to reach out for help.
No matter what problems you are dealing with, we want to help you find a reason to keep living. By calling 1-800-273-TALK (8255) you’ll be connected to a skilled, trained counselor at a crisis center in your area, anytime 24/7.
Today I learned that an old friend had been identified as the body found in a pond in Deerfield, Illinois yesterday. We had last talked in February. He contacted me because he was very depressed and had been experiencing suicidal thoughts. We talked for a long time. He was unemployed and about to lose his home. We talked about the reality of his situation as well as the self-defeating assumptions he was making about it.
We had met in 2001 when he became my manager at work. We quickly became friends outside of work too. He even had roles in a two short films I made. A couple of years later, he looked out for me at a time when I was extremely depressed. I was often bawling in my office cubicle. He would get me out of the office, take walks with me, make plans to get together on weekends, visit me at home... he was a great and caring friend and certainly one of the coolest bosses anyone could ever hope to have.
For the last month, I kept having the urge to reach out to him. I wanted to see how he was doing, but I kept putting it off. I'm disappointed in him. I'm also disappointed in me. I ignored my intuition. That is why I'm disappointed in me. I didn't want him to feel like I was checking up on him and decided to let him reach out to me if he wanted to talk about anything. He didn't. He knew that he could, but he didn't. That is why I'm disappointed in him.
For anyone like me that walks a path that has them meeting depressed and suicidal people, you know you can't "save" everyone. I knew when I decided to be open about my experiences with depression and suicide attempts that I'd meet people who would never embrace life. But I never thought it would be someone who had helped me so much when I was so low. I feel that I have failed horribly in returning that favor.
Don't wait. Don't delay. Don't take ANYONE in your life for granted. When somebody crosses your mind, get in touch with them. Better to find it was nothing than to learn you ignored some silent cry for help.
God bless you, Brian.
Love and Light,
-- Andy Grant, January 5, 2014
On this January morning I was looking out my home office window and had one of those amazing little moments. One of those moments of insight and introspection that may mean nothing to anyone else, but which brought tears to my eyes.
I looked out my window seeing the grey, gloomy sky, then gazing higher above, almost straight up, I saw clear blue sky. Such a gorgeous expanse of limitless blue with white puffy clouds zooming by. The clouds were moving so fast it looked like a time lapse film that compressed the cloud movements of an entire day down to seconds. I looked back at the horizon - the grey clouds sitting there motionless.
In the peripheral vision of my right eye, I could see dark, ominous trees. I turned to them to see a field of leafless, dark shapes with translucent rays of light poking though, giving the branches ominous highlights. It was rather eerie and menacing, a bit of a traditional Halloween scene.
I realized all of this was happening at the same time. All of these scenes, these views, were real; and my mood, my emotions, my outlook, changed depending on which one I focused. The overall scope was too grand for me to see all three aspects at the same time. I had to choose what I wanted to see; what I wanted to focus on. I got to choose what I wanted to experience.
The sky is always blue. It is the clouds that are sometimes grey. The sun is always shining, we just don't always see it.
Life is always good, we just aren't always aware of it. Sometimes we are deceived by the filters, the clouds, the temporarily leafless, scary trees. It is all good.
--Andy Grant, November 1, 2013
I recently discovered a very cool website, TalkingAboutSuicide.com, working to remove the stigma of suicide attempts by allowing people to openly share their stories. The site was created by Cara Anna, a journalist and suicide attempt survivor, and has dozens of frank, open discussions about depression, suicidal thinking, attempts and what comes after.
You can read my full interview here.
I'm sure you have heard of gratitude; being thankful for what you have, but are you aware of how powerful the thought and emotion gratitude can be?
My first online course, "The Power of Gratitude: Learn how to improve the quality of your life with an attitude of gratitude", is based on my in-person gratitude workshop, but it ended up being longer than my live event (over four hours of content!) and it is cheaper than attending the live event too. Plus, you decide when to take it, what speed to go through it, and you'll always have access to it. I decided to launch it at the amazing price of only $37, but I want reward my people with a special deal of only $19. That's right, use the link here and you get this 4 hour+ course for less then twenty bucks!
"This course is incredible. It really made me stop and think about so many things I take for granted each day. I enjoyed doing the exercises that were included in the course. Your energy and enthusiasm are contagious!" ~Sue
"Loving Andy Grant's wisdom and humor." ~Karen
In this course we will explore gratitude from a spiritual, energetic, and scientific perspective.
Whether you've been keeping a gratitude journal for years, once had a gratitude practice but have stopped, or even if you think the notion of gratitude having any effect on your life is utter nonsense I invite you to join me. You will take part in a number of journaling exercises and learn simple rituals you can use on a daily basis to bring about an attitude of gratitude in your life. I'll share my story later, but let me say up front that everything I'll teach you is something I used to think was a ridiculous waste of time - that is until I tried it.
I will share with you scientific studies from the field of Positive Psychology proving the amazing power of gratitude on your health, happiness, relationships and well being. You don't have to believe I word I say, just be intrigued enough to put some of the practices I'll share with you to work and then decide for yourself. Sign up now!
A couple of weeks ago a friend referred me to an interesting project, LiveThroughThis.org, a site collecting stories from suicide attempt survivors. Stories told in their own words and using their full names. I had seen other sites where people shared their stories of depression and suicide, but it was anonymous, which made it seem like something to be ashamed of; like it was a horrible secret nobody should know about. It's been years since I've gone public with my suicide attempts, so I had no interest in projects that seem to imply it was something to hide.
I love the "Live Through This" project because everybody is being completely open and transparent. There are great shots of beautiful people sharing a bit of their most painful times. I contacted the photographer, and attempt survivor herself, Dese'Rae Stage and told her I was interested in being interviewed. It turns out she had an upcoming speaking engagement in Boston, so on September 30, 2013 I visited the MIT campus (for the first time even though I've lived in Massachusetts all my life) and heard Dese'Rae's presentation on the project. She's interviewed and photographed 50 people so far, and has a list of over 150 more who are willing to share their stories. I'll be doing my interview sometime in early 2014 when she visits Boston again. I may even be speaking at MIT myself next spring.
You can also check out the project on Facebook - https://www.facebook.com/livethroughthisproject
Check out the site and read a few stories. Let me know what you think. Perhaps your view of who attempts suicide will change.