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Tim, this isn't my first comment on this essay. I come back to your work and thoughts on this every time I wonder if I can muster the strength to get through another day. I adore my kids, and they are the center of my life. Thinking about Blake, and your beautiful rendering of his relationship to his kids always brings me resolve. Not hope, but resolve.

Thank you again.

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A complex topic made clear by the power of words at the hand of a gifted writer. Thank you

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founding

Tim, I can't believe the seriousness of the words you have written. You are so unserious most of the time - you'll have to forgive me. Well done, man. Well done.

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author

Some things call for seriousness :)

Appreciate it.

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Jan 27, 2023·edited Jan 27, 2023Liked by Tim Miller

Thank you for sharing your thoughts on this subject, it made me understand the depths of depression the slightest bit more. I believe I’ve read Blake a few times but your kind and thoughtful words about what you describe as a kind and thoughtful man who loved his children drove me to donate to help Astrid and David. As they get older and grapple with the whys I hope they see the outpouring of support and will get a glimpse into what an incredible man their Dad was and how he “exemplified fatherhood as it was meant to be”.

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Your poignancy is erudite and heartbreaking. I'll try to explain my own experience, suicidal for years, many years ago. I know my desperation came not from depression, but extreme anxiety, though I know the two often co-exist. I was not depressed. I grew up in a situation of extreme trauma and totally believed that this trauma would never stop. The only way I could stop it was to permanently shut it down. Not a single person was aware of my daily, often hourly, obsession because I presented as a cheerful, talented overachiever. Eventually those events stopped but by then trauma was calcified in my bones and I continued on for a decade, just as before, a professional in great standing, a person everyone turned to for help and advice, with fear and anxiety overcoming me in all quiet moments. The way I survived was by telling myself, "I will not do it today because I can always do it tomorrow." I could write a book on the journey through therapy that finally exorcised my demons.

Many among us suffer quietly and never tell a soul. They will go to great lengths to hide this which is why the ultimate deed can be so perplexing. Sadly, I need two hands to count the number of friends I have lost from what seems irrational and incomprehensible but I know they kept their motives private for a long time, from everyone.

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Truly beautiful writing. Honestly one of the best things you’ve written to date. It perfectly illustrates how we can’t begin to comprehend depression for those of us that don’t experience it. Often people shy away from the subject for fear of saying the wrong thing or just because they don’t want to address the subject at all in hopes it goes away. But if doesn’t. Thank you for this article. Helped put a lot of things in perspective.

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thanks so much

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32 years ago my kids’ dad took his own life. He was a gifted and creative human being who gave those energies to his parenting. At one point in his struggle he handed me a book and said, “If you want to know what depression is like, read this.” It was William Styron’s “Darkness Visible.” Somewhere in that slim volume Styron describes being in a pit so deep there seemed no way to climb out. Styron found a way. Sadly, many don’t. Even those with children whom they adore.

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When we talk about suicide, death, grief, we bring pain out into the open, we look at it, we examine it, we try to understand, and we hopefully remove the shame and make it easier to deal with. I knew someone once who attempted suicide but survived, and her description of how she felt helped me to see how absolutely wrong my thinking is. Thank you, Tim, for your wonderful piece.

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I appreciate the attempt to make suicide of a father with young children understandable. I am trying to understand it — I really am! — but I just haven't gotten there. Maybe it's because I've never been that kind of depressed, although I've been through some pretty rough times since my son was born six years ago. When I was there (or as close to there as I've ever been), my miserable self-talk was always limited by my obligation to my wife and son. I have to take a miserable job where I literally loathe every minute of the day and every one of my coworkers? Suck it up, because somebody's got to put food on the table. Not that I'm some kind of super-dad: I'm just a boring, ordinary Midwesterner from the 80s to whom leaving innocent kids fatherless is utterly unfathomable.

I really do want to be more sympathetic. In just about every respect, I'm pretty "liberal" about people's personal choices. I strongly believe that your life belongs to you, and you should have the legal right to end it on your own terms. But in this kind of case, I can't help judging. Not that it matters, of course: I never knew the man, and I don't believe in an afterlife where maybe I might bump into him at a party for political junkies.

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Thank you for this compassionate remembrance of your remarkable friend and for sharing your confusion. I still feel shame over how I responded a few years ago to the suicide of a friend's ex-husband. My knee-jerk reaction was anger and to blurt out, "That son-of-a-bitch. How could he do that to the girls." My friend was angry, too, but she was also sympathetic to her ex. She had witnessed his dark times, had stood by helplessly as he suffered. "Imagine," she said, "the hell he was going through that drove him to do such a thing." As you so eloquently point out, it is impossible for most of us to imagine.

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I remember when the book, Listening to Prozac was published. At the time, the class of meds knowns as SSRIs were thought to solve the problem of depression. Treatment moved from talk therapy to medication management. But the promise of SSRIs was a false one and we are back to needing to know more about how the mind really works.

My family's history includes many with bouts of depression for periods of time. My father was gripped in one early in his work life. My son left college during one such period. We are fortunate that none have ended their lives.

It is important that pieces like this are made public so that the message continues to be put forth that depression is real.

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Tim, an immensely touching article! Thank you for your informative, thought-provoking, and compassionate insights on a heartbreaking topic. A lovely and beautifully written tribute to your friend. His family and all of those who loved him who are grieving his loss remain in my prayers.

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Going through a deep depression is horrific and I wish it on no one. Ever. I have experienced suicidal depression and was able to get through it with the support of my family. I also understand how someone choose suicide to end deep dark pain they are experiencing. Thank you for writing this article. Hopefully, people that are going through a serious depression (or know someone who is depressed) will seek help based on what you wrote.

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Will a recording of the live events be made available to members to listen to? I’ve so excited to hear John Favreau join the Bulwark dialogue. But I live in MN—can’t be there live. Hope the rest of us can enjoy it from afar!

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“ Put another way, suicidal depression tricks the mind into thinking that the type of pain caused by their death already exists in life.”

I have never read a better sentence on the subject. Thank you.

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A great essay on a difficult topic. My partner took his life three year ago. It never stops hurting. I feel for his children.

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