July 4, 2014
In 1998, my ignorance about mental disorders, coupled with my own beliefs that reinforced the stigma associated with mental illness almost cost me my life. In late 1997 I was a successful business systems analyst based in Manhattan who was about to be accepted into UCLA’s MBA program. While on a particularly challenging assignment in Toronto I began to experience insomnia for the first time in my life. My mental health deteriorated quickly over the next few months as my five closest friends all coincidentally left New York, and I began to ruminate over what I was doing with my life. At the time, I knew very little about mental illness in general and even less about major depression specifically. Unfortunately, even though I knew I needed help, I was afraid to ask for it. I was ashamed of what I thought needing and getting help for a behavioral health condition meant. After three months of sleeping between zero and three hours a night, I came as close to killing myself as a person can come, and still live to tell about it. Over sixteen years later it is very clear to me that I nearly died because of my own ignorance and stigma reinforcing beliefs.
By publicly sharing about the circumstances leading up to, and the lessons learned since my suicide attempt, I hope to reveal insights about the suicidal mind specifically, and mental illness in general that may provide, at the very least, a modicum of understanding and peace to those left to mourn and remember loved ones who have died by their own hand. Furthermore, I hope that by sharing the deeper truths behind this true story about how I nearly destroyed myself, that I will help people going down similarly self-destructive paths, avoid many of the mistakes that I have made. Lastly, I hope that by openly sharing the truth about my past, with the intention of reducing the stigma surrounding behavioral health disorders, that I will enable myself to sustainably enjoy a sense of freedom going forward, that has eluded me for the majority of my adult life.
Earlier in my career I worked for a breakthrough-thinking, management consulting firm based in Springfield, Pennsylvania. This firm hosted an annual conference called Leveraging Genius: The Language of Extraordinary Performance. At the heart of the Leveraging Genius concept is the idea that the thinking that results in extraordinary performance can be distinguished and utilized by others to achieve remarkable outcomes. While Albert Einstein is best known for his theories of relativity and their resultant transformation of humanity’s conception and understanding of the world we inhabit, he is also celebrated for his creative views on many subjects outside of theoretical physics. On this site, I will seek to leverage the genius of Einstein in service of two goals:
1. reducing the US suicide rate
2. catalyzing the transformation of behavioral healthcare in the US to be patient-centered