Cesar Millan decided to share the experiences of the overwhelming depression that almost killed him. He has opened up about his depression and attempted suicide in the hopes that his story can help other people who might be facing similar problems.
The 43 year-old dog whisperer said that in 2010, he hit what he calls “rock bottom” after the death of his favorite dog and the end of his marriage to wife Ilusion Millan . He was so distressed that he attempted suicide by taking an overdose of pills.
But before his suicide attempt Millan certainly seemed like he had it all together. His television show was phenomenally successful and it aired in more than eighty countries worldwide. His first three books, including Cesar’s Way, all became New York Times best sellers and have cumulatively sold two million copies in the United States as well as being available in 14 other countries.
In 2009, in conjunction with IMG, Millan introduced a monthly magazine titled Cesar’s Way. The The Wall Street Journal reported at that time that half of American consumers would recognise Millan if they saw him. With his former wife, Ilusión Millan he founded the Cesar and Ilusión Millan Foundation, which has since been renamed the Millan Foundation.
Then, according to Cesar, it all started to go wrong. First his beloved pit bull Daddy died. Then his wife of sixteen years told him she wanted a divorce. Following these two events, he realized he had neglected his finances, and was now in big trouble financially. Millan felt that he had no option left but suicide. He felt everything was his own fault.
Of course the death of Daddy, who was Millan’s favourite of his many dogs, helped to set him up for the depression that almost killed him. Daddy, was an American Pit Bull Terrier vital to Millan’s work and his television series, Dog Whisperer. Despite the bad reputation that the Pit Bull Terrier has for viciousness, Daddy was known for his calm temperament; his tolerance for smaller dogs and his capacity for empathy.
Just prior to Daddy’s death in February 2010 at age 16, Millan selected another pit bull puppy, Junior, as Daddy’s protégé — to apprentice with Daddy and learn his temperament.
But while the death of his favourite dog set him up, it was the divorce and the financial situation that delivered the final “one-two” punch of depression that left the dog whisperer feeling that he had no other option. When he made the decision, he did it quickly.
Cesar talked about how he felt about the string of events that lead to his attempted suicide. He said, “It’s like, ‘Okay, I’m a failure.’ The reason why this has happened is because of me.” He told of how almost three years ago he tried to end his misery. He said, “I just made a decision, took a whole bunch of pills, and tried to kill myself.”
Fortunately for Cesar, his two teenaged boys found him, and called an ambulance immediately.
Since then Cesar has worked to turn himself around and he sees life and himself in a more positive light. He said, “What makes you wise in life is not the successes. It’s when you go down and come back.”
Cesar is using his experience to help other people who might be facing similar low points in their lives. He talked to The Tampa Bay Times this week and said that his divorce and attempted suicide helped him to re-focus on the important things in life.
He told the Florida newspaper that, “You hear this sentence, ‘What doesn’t kill you makes you stronger.’ That became real for me. It made me closer to people.” Millan also said that he hopes his experience will help the ones he loves to avoid the same struggle with depression.
The 43 year-old dog trainer went on to say, “I’m happy I went to rock bottom and now I know the symptoms. As a father I want to see the signs before my kid or anyone around me in my life has any kind of depression, sadness … My faith got stronger.”
Cesar Millan isn’t the first celebrity to open up about his depression and the price he almost paid for it, but he is hoping that people can learn from his example and see that, like him, they can survive the bad things that happen to them just as he survived his divorce and his suicide attempt.
By Michael Smith