In 2010, Cesar Millan went through several life changes that broke his heart. In the preceding years, he had become the world’s most famous dog trainer and the CEO of CMI, which was estimated to become a $100 million business.
It all came crashing down in the beginning of 2010, starting in February. Daddy, his pit bull and companion, who Millan called his “mentor,” died of cancer.
Shortly afterward, his wife, Ilusion, filed for divorce. They had been married for 16 years.
Around the same time, Millan discovered that some bad business deals left him with almost nothing, despite his TV successes. To make things even worse, he felt his sons blamed him for the divorce and thought their lives were better without him.
To cope with it all, he stayed with his brother, attended church, and visited family more. Nothing seemed to make things better for him.
Even his dogs were becoming distant from him, Millan said, because he was unstable and they trusted him less. In May of that year, he had reached his lowest point.
While he was at his wife’s house, he took a combination of pills including Xanax in the hopes of ending his own life. The next thing he knew, he was awake in a hospital psychiatric ward.
His response was incredible. He knew that since his attempt failed, he must still have a purpose.
“I better get back to work!” Millan said to himself. He went right back to training dogs, including his new sidekick, Junior, a 3-month-old pit bull.
“I couldn’t have done what I do without Daddy,” he said, “and now I can’t do it without Junior. There’s always a pit bull there supporting me.”
Millan continued clearing brush, digging roads, and planting trees on his newly purchased 43-acre land that he would use for training dogs. He also cut ties from his company because he believed they were driven purely by money, and he was driven just to help people and their dogs.
“Some people turn to cigarettes and alcohol when they have problems,” he said. “I use hard work.”
His suicide attempt was his lowest point, but he was thankful he was able to learn so much about depression and suicide. He also learned how to look for the signs and his own way to cope with depression: hard work.
“You hear this sentence, ‘What doesn’t kill you makes you stronger,’” Millan said. “That became real for me. It made me closer to people.”
Cesar Millan was blessed to receive a second chance at life, and he did not take that for granted. Now he is using his life to continue helping people and their dogs, and he hopes to help others out of their depression.