A Field Guide To Losing Your Friends - Tyler Dunning
It’s ok to die. Here’s why. TEDxTeen opening music by Madijuwon.
People often tell Tyler they’re jealous of his adventures—how he first left Belgrade, Montana at nineteen to tour the country as a professional wrestler (yes, the Hulk Hogan type); how he lived out of a van for months at a time while speaking to thousands of students across the United States as a traveling representative for the social justice organization Invisible Children; how he spent a summer in Israel as an archaeologist via his religious studies background; and his ongoing goal to visit all the U.S. national parks (having been to fifty-three of the fifty-nine).
What people fail to recognize, however, is that these pursuits were always a means of distraction. At fourteen, Tyler first started noticing his clinical depression, an illness leaving him to ruminate on debilitating thoughts of meaninglessness and inadequacy. He turned to travel as a self-harm survival technique, always looking for the next distraction, yet suicidal ideation lingered.
It wasn’t until Tyler started treating his mental illness as a gift that he began to understand the darker recesses of his own creativity. He put pen to page, no longer as a prisoner to the stigma of his affliction, but as a confessional essayist dragging hard emotional truths into the light of recognition. He’s since written a memoir, A Field Guide to Losing Your Friends, and produced a short film of the same name.
Tyler encourages people to protect their hearts and explore their demons. His goal is to create literature that helps with both.