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Tommy Dreamer’s story about dealing with depression after ECW closed is terrifying

More people are telling the world about their personal experience living with mental health issues. It’s part of efforts to reduce the stigma of dealing with things like depression, anxiety, bipolar, and addiction. It can be incredibly helpful both for the people who hear the stories, and for the people telling them.

Tommy Dreamer dedicated the latest episode of his House of Hardcore podcast to talking about his depression, where it’s taken him, and how he got through some of his darkest bouts with it. The whole episode is definitely worth a listen, but it does live up to his warning it will be “truly deep and dark”.

His story about what was going through his mind in 2001 after ECW closed and before he signed with WWE is the one grabbing headlines. It’s definitely a “scared straight” kind of tale - something so jarring it might make people seek help before they have to deal with their own mind suggesting similar ideas to them. It’s also a story about how human interaction is many times part of the solution for people struggling with depression or other mental issues - even when the person reaching out doesn’t know what the sufferer is going through.

Here’s Tommy’s story (h/t for transcription):

“When ECW went out of business I was 29 years old. I had a lot of my money, my parents money, trying to float the company. Paul Heyman, who I thought me and him were super tight, he screwed me over big time. He was in the WWE, the whole time. I had turned down hundreds of thousands of dollars to go to WCW. And now was unemployed. I went from a $750,000 offer, and Paul Heyman crying to me, that if I leave ECW, it will go out of business. Meanwhile he was getting a paycheck from WWE. I don’t begrudge him, but then I did. I was depressed as depressed can be. I had women, I had fame, I had everything and yes it was the worst time of my life. It really was. I was doing indies, making decent money on the indies. But, I lived at home…

This is crazy for me to admit it, but I am doing it for a reason, just like I admitted to other things previously. WrestleMania Houston (X-7) Paul Heyman told me I was going to debut. All this stuff, when they had TLC and Spike Dudley came in, and Rhyno came in, and Lita came in. That was supposed to be my spot and then uh, that got ixnayed. Then there was gonna be a hardcore 24/7 thing, that was gonna be ‘all about you’. That was when I was supposed to debut. I remember I did a show there, and I saw a sign that said ‘Guns Welcome’ and I was in Houston. I did an indie show, and I said ‘What is this? I’m from New York, what do you mean ‘Guns Welcome?’’ and they said ‘Oh you are allowed to bring a firearm into the venue.’ I was across the street from the Astrodome. When I tell you it resonated in my head so, so much. That I’ll tell you what I wanted to do. It’s sick that I think this. At WrestleMania, I was gonna hop the rail and I was gonna whack Paul E. in the back of the head right at the announce table, then I was gonna whack myself. The ultimate martyr, I was gonna hit my pose crack, boom, pull the trigger. Because I was that insane. Don’t know if I would have went through with it, but that’s what I was thinking about everyday. I was like ‘I will go down in history.’ Pop, boom. First they’d think it as an angle until I shot him. I was so severely depressed and so mental with rage, I needed help. That help came from a phone call from Jim Ross. Randomly I get a phone call from a number I didn’t know… I didn’t pick up, and I remember having these thoughts, and it was bad. I had a gun, I was psssh man. Could you think about the horribleness that I would have done for my legacy? I would have ruined WrestleMania, which I love WrestleMania. For everybody. These thoughts were so so crazed in my head. How dare that person, he screwed my parents over and I come from a mobster mentality. In my head I was like ‘I would become infamous.’ Which is famous for the wrong reason. I’m glad I didn’t do it. But when that phone call came from Jim Ross. Again, just said leave a message. It said ‘Hey Tommy it’s Jim Ross, just want to let you know, we are still thinking about you, we are gonna get it done, just got to hang tight. Thank you.’

Think of how stupid I would have been, how dumb and how messed up my thoughts would have been if they would have come to fruition. I am so happy I didn’t do it, I am so happy that I did get that phone call, from someone who was a stranger, I barely knew the guy. There was another day, there has been a lot of other days.”

Dreamer’s shared some pretty out there stories before. He’s also been open with his concussion history, and depression is a symptom of brain injury. None of that changes the fact that this kind of ideation isn’t uncommon for depressed people. The call from JR derailed Tommy’s train of thought. Maybe your next kind interaction with a friend, family member, or colleague could help them, too.

If you or anyone you know is thinking about harming themselves, head to or call 1-800-273-TALK (8255).

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