That time I really wanted to die, but almost no one knew
If you saw me in November 2017 you’d probably have thought everything was just fine. Maybe even great. I’d just raised $1.5m for my company and gotten accepted into Y Combinator, the most prestigious startup accelerator in the world.
I lived in a beautiful apartment in San Francisco. I had two amazing kids. I had a brilliant group of friends.
But I was not doing well. At all.
In October I returned home from an AI conference in Toronto and was told by Chris (my partner of 3.5yrs and cofounder of 8mths) that he was ending the relationship and moving out.
I remember sitting on the kitchen floor feeling like a bomb had exploded. I was suddenly surrounded by the wreckage of my life. My ears were ringing. My heart was pounding. For brief moments throughout the next few days I felt on the verge of literally passing out.
My hair started rapidly falling out from the stress of what lay ahead — telling my two kids, sorting our possessions, and figuring out what to do about the fact that we were running a company together.
Nearly every day for the next month I felt like I wanted to die.
I cried until my body stopped producing tears, and I routinely passed out at night from emotional exhaustion.
My heart was broken and I felt like an utter failure. A deep and persistent sense of hopelessness permeated every moment.
My sleep went to shit — I’d wake up at 2am in a panic. Then again at 5am.
My thoughts raced all the time.
Will the kids be okay? What will happen to my company? How will this impact my community? Will I always feel this way?
I only told my closest friends. I didn’t even talk about it with my family. Mostly because I wasn’t sure that it was permanent — I figured there was a chance that after a few weeks he’d change his mind and I didn’t want to create a big fuss if we ended up back together. But, as the weeks wore on I realized that wasn’t going to happen. He was gone, for good.
I kept showing up to work and social events: smiling and laughing on the outside, even as I felt a deep & dark situational depression on the inside.
Thankfully, I had access to an amazing support system — and I used it.
My best friends rallied around me. Literally sleeping over and spooning me during my worst nights. But they also came over to simply talk, watch Netflix, eat, and hang out.
My dearest friend Paul Robinett, who lives on the other side of the country, cleared his calendar to spend countless hours on the phone reflecting love & compassion to me. Reminding me that I have everything I need inside of me. Reminding me that I am worthy of love, even when my inner critic told me this was the ultimate proof that I wasn’t.
My therapist reached out between sessions with email check-ins to say that my feelings were normal and this darkness would *not* persist forever.
My financial and work situation allowed me to spend 1–2 hours a day healing my mind, body and heart through yoga & SoulCycle.
I also refocused my efforts on eating protein and healthy fats to give myself the fuel it needed to process my thoughts more clearly.
Having the means and space to care for myself provided a release to the anxiety in a physically & mentally healthy way.
I won’t lie — even with *all* of that support — I sometimes struggled to keep moving forward.
A part of me wanted to collapse completely. To disappear. To never wake up again. To simply stop feeling those tortured feelings.
So, when I see stories about celebrities like Anthony Bourdain or Kate Spade committing suicide — even though I don’t know their personal circumstances or brain chemistry — I get it. I get how it happens.
Anthony Bourdain Dead at 61 of Apparent Suicide
Anthony Bourdain, the chef, writer, and Emmy-winning television personality, died Friday morning of an apparent suicide…
Medical Examiner Says Kate Spade's Death Was a Suicide
Ms. Spade, who built an accessories empire, had suffered from severe depression, her husband said.
The feelings, pain and challenges we (too often) silently carry can literally kill us. Even those of us who look as if we’ve got it altogether.
Because here’s the truth: no one has it altogether all of the time.
What’s worse is how alone you can feel when you open up Facebook or Instagram and see the best, most curated moments of other peoples’ lives playing out.
Everyone seems so happy, which only amplifies the experience of isolation and depression.
*Am I the only person struggling this hard??*
No, you’re not. I promise you that.
Thankfully, my brain chemistry wasn’t working against me. I can only imagine how much tougher my journey would’ve been if it were.
Depression, whether situational or physical, is a very real threat to our lives.
I’m eternally grateful for the people who held and loved me through my dark days — especially Jenn, Aaron, Tibet, Grant and Infinity.
For those who are in the midst of it — whether it’s because of struggles in a relationship, your career, or because your hormones / chemicals are a bit out of whack — I’d encourage you to keep reaching out. Keep fighting.
And for those of us lucky enough to be in a genuinely good place — it’s our responsibility to love the hell out of the people in our lives who are experiencing depression and anxiety, which lies and tells them they aren’t lovable.
My belief is that the best way to disprove the lies is by persistently showing up and showering that person with the love and resources they need.
We’re a communal species and we can’t survive on our own. We have a deep need to be cared for by each other.
I promise, being there for each other matters. It’s what made the biggest difference in the midst of my own suffering.
All in all — it took about 2 months for my depression to fully lift. But it did. By the start of 2018 I was feeling more like myself again.
In time I saw that Chris made the right decision. We weren’t the right partners for each other anymore and instead of holding on, I needed to fully let go. It was sad and difficult, but I did it. And I can honestly say I wish him all the best.
I learned a lot of valuable lessons during our time together and through our break up. Even though I wouldn’t have signed up for that much pain ahead of time, I’m grateful for the wisdom its brought me.
In the 8 months since everything happened I’ve found an incredible amount of peace and a rebirth of my self-confidence.
Although my hair is still regrowing, I’ve had fun with it and am playing with solutions to cover the bald spots.
I’m proud of who I am. I’m passionate about my work and deeply appreciate my team and our investors.
I feel truly loved, by so many wonderful people.
The kids are resilient and thriving. And I now know that I really do have everything I need in life — within and around me.
Today I am more excited about the future than I’ve ever been.
So, depression — you did not win this time.