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How I managed not to kill myself yesterday

I want to go on the record and say that I, Sam Lamott, am a proud member of the tribe still alive, I find existing exhausting at times…

Hello Humans,

Congratulations: you’ve survived the holidays. For some of us saying that takes on a whole new meaning. It is not a cute phrase but a literal statement that we have, in fact, survived. The holiday season can be an onslaught of commercialism and happiness (genuine or not), and although there is nothing wrong with the celebrating, it can be a painful reminder of the things we don’t feel, objects we can’t afford, and missing pieces we don’t have. It is an exercise in endurance and grit, a magnifier of all life’s shit and discomfort. In a previous blog post I named this group of people who experience these issues as “the tribe of still alive”, and if you consider yourself a member of still alive, then this love letter is for you, and I’m glad you found it.

It has become abundantly clear to me that my mind wants me dead. In the absence of a nice slow death from drug and alcohol abuse, this has turned into something less nuanced.  I’ve found merely existing exhausting at times. I have so many things to live for and be grateful for, but they conveniently escape me when I’m going through a bad stretch. I take the right action— see a therapist and psychiatrist, go to support groups, and try to take care of myself but still, there is no fool proof protection from the faulty wiring.

A few days ago I found myself on the phone with the suicide prevention lifeline, a phone number you’re either familiar with, or should become familiar with as a tribe member. This turn of events is still embarrassing to admit, as these thoughts are confusing and don’t match up with the wonderful life I actually have in front of me. I felt guilty and ashamed, and I didn’t have the strength to call anybody in my regular support network of friends and loved ones. My mind was fearful I would be a burden on them. It’s this shame and guilt that makes this such a deadly issue.  Our minds tell us to hide, to pretend it isn’t there, and not to “bother” the people we would effect if we were no longer living (and who would do anything to help us.)

I didn’t call the phone number with a razor to my wrist, or at the edge of the bridge. I hadn’t actually planned out how one should go about not existing, and to be honest, there is no option that seems very attractive at this time. My point is, you don’t have to be in imminent physical danger for these thoughts to be life-threatening and dangerous, and you can reach out with nothing more than the desire to not feel the way you are currently feeling.

Our tribe has lost some amazing members this season, and it welcomes a new batch who may be finding themselves with something new, confusing, or terrifying they may not be familiar with. I want to go on the record and say that I, Sam Lamott, am a proud member of still alive, I find existing exhausting at times, and I want to renew my membership. If you are also a member, then I am your brother, we are family, and you are not alone.

If you’re struggling with suicidal thoughts please call the suicide prevention lifeline available 24 hours a day, every day at 1-800-273-8255 or visit https://suicidepreventionlifeline.org/

 

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45 Comments

45 Comments

  1. Betsy Ellis

    January 6, 2017 at 3:00 am

    I see you and hear you, Sam. When you’re "in it" it’s too hard to do and think the right things. And shame keeps me from asking for help, too. Two days ago I checked out a podcast called "The Hilarious World of Depression." (granted it is a terrible title) It blew my mind wide open. To hear celebrities talk about their struggles with mental illness, especially the interview with Dick Cavett, reminded me and reinforced for me that this I have a mood disorder, and I need to accept that, and no amount of staying in my head and trying to figure out why I can’t cope like "normal" people is going to change anything. In fact it only increases the shame and agony. I have been diagnosed with clinical depression for 25 years, and yet I STILL need to be reminded that it isn’t me, it is the disorder, that makes my thinking the way it is. To truly get this takes away so much shame, for me anyway. (I’ll let you know the next time I’m in a depressive episode if that is true.) Of course I don’t WANT to accept I have a mood disorder. There is a certain amount of anger and grief hanging out there if I’m going to accept it. But it might mean I can finally take the tremendous pressure off of me to figure it out and handle it. I have a "radical self-care (thank you Sam’s mom)" regimen of medication, exercise, clean eating, regular sleep schedule, etc., and it still can hit me out of the blue. I’m so glad you did all the right things and made the phone call, and I REALLY understand the shame involved in not wanting to ask for help or be considered "high maintenance" or "needy." SIGH The numbers we do on ourselves! Be gentle, cut yourself some slack, rest well, eat well, wait it out, keep breathing. Know that it DOES and WILL change. Love, a fellow tribe member.

  2. Kait Mauro

    January 6, 2017 at 3:16 am

    I survived a suicide attempt almost two years ago and occasionally still get to that place in my mind. Preach, brother.

  3. Rita Beth Kalikoff

    January 6, 2017 at 3:19 am

    Oh, Sam. Thank you. XO XO XO.

  4. Nici Derosier

    January 6, 2017 at 3:22 am

    Thank you, Sam, for putting so much compassion, insight and support into this post, and so eloquently to boot. I’ve shared it, and encouraged others to do the same. Shine on.

  5. Sarah McElrath

    January 6, 2017 at 3:28 am

    Blessings to you, Sam. I’m so glad you are still alive. Thank you for this post. I am also a member of the still alive tribe (have been for 31 years). As a Library Media Specialist in a middle school, I find there are more and more students who struggle with depression and anxiety. Hopefully, by talking honestly and openly the shame often felt when needing/asking for help will disappear.
    As for me, being the Lord of the Rings geek that I am, I have a sign in my office: Some day the dragon may win–but not THIS day!

  6. Margaret Ashby

    January 6, 2017 at 3:36 am

    Dearest Sam,
    I can be your Still Alive Sister. I was crying, feeling so alone, when I saw that you had written the next chapter. I’ve been waiting. Thank you for such truth about why and how hard life has been. I can’t change or fix all the thoughts that might make our lives better fast enough. I’m waiting, but I am selecting one thing after another, when I can, to make the world better. I clearly want it better for you and all of us. I really don’t know what that will look like but looking for it and trying seem to be enough of me to feel alive, and if I was your sister I would have a good reason to be someone new. I haven’t gotten to be a sister yet. We will find out what is next.

  7. Synnove Heggoy

    January 6, 2017 at 3:36 am

    Oh, it is so hard sometimes. Thank you for sharing your experience. The fact that you can share your feelings is huge … perhaps … a gift from your mother, who has been an inspiration to me for so long. Thank you. Sending you love.

  8. Karen Swank

    January 6, 2017 at 3:39 am

    My son killed himself exactly 4 weeks ago today. We as a family had no idea. We would have been there for him, for anything. We all thought he knew that. Maybe it was shame, depression or both . We will never know for sure as he didn’t leave a note. What i do know is the pain is unbearable! We are all in shock. So please before you commit suicide do reach out to a hotline, a family member or a friend. It can make all the difference.

    • Jeri Dexheimer

      January 6, 2017 at 3:59 am

      Oh, Karen, I am so so sorry….my thoughts and prayers are with you and all of your family. It is ghastly. I Mom was a suicide, and it is a special kind of hell, I know. Please take care of yourself now, and find a counselor who knows about this kind of thing and all of the feelings that are attached to it.

    • Paige Gardner

      January 6, 2017 at 4:00 am

      God, I am so sorry. Genuinely sorry. Lost a good friend to suicide almost 3 years ago, and everyday I think about him. Too many gone too early. Carry your son around in your heart, and live out his life with your actions and love. Thinking and praying for you.

    • Iris deV

      January 10, 2017 at 12:04 pm

      Oh sweetheart, my heart breaks for you. I am so terribly sorry. I am trying to find words but there are none, I think, that will help. Holding you close in a warm and tender hug, and sending all my love <3

  9. Katie Brewster

    January 6, 2017 at 3:48 am

    Sam, I so appreciate your transparency here. I can relate to so many of your statements. I too have found existing exhausting for long stretches in my life. I have struggled with depression and anxiety off and on for nearly twenty years. I thank God that when I began having suicidal thoughts I told my husband and he knew to call a professional for help, so I was seen and got treatment.
    I believe now beyond a shadow of any doubt in the truth of John 10:10 The thief comes to steal and kill and destroy; I have come that they may have life, and have it to the full.
    Satan is the thief – the enemy of believers in Christ – and he wants nothing more than to destroy us. But Jesus is our savior, our deliverer, our friend – He came to free us and give us life and peace.
    My mind was so sick that I could not see any good in my life, just bad. It was so broken that I could not see anything right, just wrong. It was in need of help (counseling) and treatment (medicine) and renewing with the Word of God.
    I thank Him that He did not leave me in that pit, but pulled me out and has given me that abundant life. That He gave me sisters who understand and can be here for me and with me. I cannot thank the Lord enough for Ann Voskamp’s books and blog which have pointed me to Jesus and shown me His power and love so fully and richly. Another blogger I read is Paul Tripp who makes me take stock and really evaluate where I am with Christ with his Wednesday’s Word. He is real like Ann – authentically sharing from his own brokenness and neediness and asking the questions that help me see myself as God wants me to – as a beloved daughter.
    So again, I am thankful for your openness and willingness to say: yes, me too – I fear and doubt and worry…
    but I am proud to still be alive.
    Gratefully,
    Katie
    Blessings & Peace

  10. Pam Robinson

    January 6, 2017 at 4:04 am

    Sam, for YEARS, I’ve stayed in the tribe for the sake of my husband and especially my daughter. My husband and I are old, not quite as old as dirt, but we’re headed that way. My depression has robbed me of my ability to work so many times and this time, I realize I can’t bounce back again. Mental health professionals have praised my "remarkable resilience" many times. It’s just not there anymore. If a person is a Type 2 diabetic, eventually the diabetes will cause elevated blood sugar, no matter how healthy the patient’s diet and exercise. That’s what medical health professionals have told me. People with Type 2 diabetes will need medication, and most likely insulin, no matter how well they’ve followed all the rules upon receiving their diagnoses. I’ve discovered depression works the same way. I’ve reached the point of no-return with my depression, I’m thinking. My meds aren’t working, and I can’t work, no matter how hard I try. My resilience has disappeared.I don’t have an active plan for suicide. Don’t need one. People with lifeless spirits don’t usually last too long. I hope my husband and daughter will let go of their anger toward me eventually after I die from a broken heart.

    You write from your soul, Sam. I know you will get it. It’s just got too damn hard for someone so damn old. Thank you for taking no offense at my cussing. I know you grew up with it because your authentic mom was courageous and told the truth about her life. I wish you the best. Keep speaking your own truth for those of us who have used way too many words already.

    • Deb Harris

      January 6, 2017 at 4:57 am

      More words from you please Pam Robinson.
      Your family will feel so much more than anger, but that’s not the issue, YOU are, PLEASE cling on a little longer as I KNOW YOU KNOW that another up moment will come and then another…so PLEASE reach out again, however dreary this feels to those that CAN and WANT you to live xo

    • Iris deV

      January 10, 2017 at 11:58 am

      Oh Pam, my heart breaks for you. Please hold on. It WILL get better, I promise. Because that is just what it does. Sending you so much love <3

  11. Daniel R. Watts

    January 6, 2017 at 4:11 am

    Thank you for your vulnerability and honesty. You’ll be in my prayers! P.S. Forgive my copy editor’s spelling scrutiny but FYI, you mean affect with an "a" not effect: Our minds tell us to hide, to pretend it isn’t there, and not to “bother” the people we would effect if we were no longer living (and who would do anything to help us.) Feel free to delete my comment after you fix it if this is too annoying. God bless!

    • Maria Watts-Newman

      January 6, 2017 at 4:47 am

      I’m a Watts, too! From where do you hail?

  12. Sherry Long

    January 6, 2017 at 4:17 am

    Sam. Thanks for posting and for staying with the tribe. I have struggled with major depression for at least 50 years. It’s been ten years since I was in real danger of leaving the tribe and everybody else. What you say is valuable and true. Keep writing.

  13. Barb Ingram

    January 6, 2017 at 4:17 am

    Wow. This was eye-opening for me to read. It makes me realize how little I understand about this incredible struggle that so many people deal with daily…hourly. Thank you for caring so much about others that you’re willing to put yourself out there and speak clearly and beautifully about this. It makes me proud of you. Well done. Thank you so very much. I’ll be sharing this link.

  14. Carol Gregor

    January 6, 2017 at 4:17 am

    The best people I know have darkness. The creative ones, the sensitive ones, the empaths. It is odd to say you are lucky, but you are. To really feel life is painful, deeply so. It is not for the faint hearted. But this I know, bliss lives inside a dark person more profoundly too. Depth in feelings is where real beauty is and our job is to continue to seek the way we may share and be in this by doing the work, whatever that is for oneself and remember, you are not alone and that the light will filter through, it always does. Blessings for your truth and your being here.

  15. Deb McIntyre

    January 6, 2017 at 4:21 am

    You have said what I have tried to explain for years. Sometimes I was SO EXHAUSTED from trying to live. I found myself thinking how I’ve been staying alive all these years for other people. Now I’m going to do something for me. I am going to kill myself. It made so much sense. I am now on good meds, so instead of letting the other me kill me, my head blocks the ability to plan it. It’s weird. Totally blocks the next steps to killing me until my, the me that likes lots of life, has the ability to take over and kicks in.

    • Iris deV

      January 10, 2017 at 11:49 am

      Okay sorry, I clicked the heart button (force of habit at one point, I guess) and thought: that sucks. I’m so glad the meds work for you. I’ve been lucky – the first time I considered not living potentially preferable to living, when I was much younger, I got into a relationship with an abusive man who nearly killed me. Somehow that made me want to live more than to die. Weird kind of lucky, I know. By the time, twenty years later, I might have considered suicide again, I had a son who had no other parent left alive, and two young daughters with an autistic father. I was so lucky that I was still able to realise that leaving them was not an option, that I would be setting my children up for a life of misery if I did. So. I got to crawl out of that dark muddy hole by my fingers, breaking all my nails and a few fingers on the way – but I’m out. Teetering on the edge sometimes, wondering fearfully whether something will happen to kick me back in, but still alive. Just wanted to let you know, I don’t know exactly what really, but I think you’re really cool XXX

  16. Carol Campbell Taunuu

    January 6, 2017 at 4:22 am

    Thank you. You have beautifully written those niggling thoughts that echo in my mind. ((Hugs))

  17. Sarah Swenson

    January 6, 2017 at 4:30 am

    Thank you for remaining on this crazy planet with us. We need your intelligence & wit & wisdom so much. You are loved by so many & would be greatly missed. I too have been wondering about a next chapter from you. My heart skipped a beat when I saw this! XOXOX

  18. Katie Baker

    January 6, 2017 at 4:35 am

    Thank you for still being here. It is exhausting but I’m so glad you hang in here. I’m so glad I do, too.

  19. Maria Watts-Newman

    January 6, 2017 at 4:51 am

    Sam, the struggle is real…and all I can say is that I’ve been able to cope by drawing breath from each and every positive relationship and experience that always give me that extra nudge to keep on, keeping on! Grit and perseverance…these get one through the crappiest of times and circumstances.

    Wishing you peace and wellness!

    M

  20. Christina Rockey

    January 6, 2017 at 5:00 am

    Another proud member of the tribe here sending love to you all.

  21. Nanci Solo

    January 6, 2017 at 5:06 am

    You did good here. Thank you. I will share this with some of the most important people in my life. The fact that you acknowledge you have a wonderful life and have taken it a step further and are thinking about those you’d leave behind is HUGE. Take it from one that’s been left. They call us survivors but what I really feel sometimes is that we actually become the carriers of the belief that this is a real option and somehow we were not enough to stay for.

  22. Santa Claus

    January 6, 2017 at 5:12 am

    The "tribe of still alive." This alone is a gift, thank you for giving us something to call it that makes me feel less lonely, less broken. A sister here…

  23. marta ockuly

    January 6, 2017 at 5:14 am

    I appreciate your staying alive and sharing. Live is hard and life is precious and we need tools and tribes to helps sometimes. Thank you for sharing.

  24. Ragazzio Minestrone

    January 6, 2017 at 5:23 am

    "It has become abundantly clear to me that my mind wants me dead. In the absence of a nice slow death from drug and alcohol abuse, this has turned into something less nuanced."

    I wrote these sentences, almost verbatim, two weeks ago. I applaud your honesty and take some comfort in knowing I’m not alone in this. Thank you.

  25. Winter Prosapio

    January 10, 2017 at 3:21 am

    My daughter is 18. She too has "faulty wiring." I worry that she will have an end of the world and she’ll slip away from the tribe before we can catch her.

    Part of me accepts this. Part of me is frozen in terror at the thought.

    Today, part of me hope she will find a thread of resiliency as you have. Thank you for sharing your journey, it gives me hope. It may be false hope, but I’m going to hold onto it anyway.

  26. Stanley Weaver

    January 11, 2017 at 7:53 pm

    In the past I have gone through times of actually planning my suicide, collecting pills and finding a place in the woods where I would go. And then something would happen and I wouldn’t go through with it. Thank you for sharing this wonderful piece. It is good to be a member of still alive. We go through these times and work hard but we still sometimes are exhausted from living. I have been going through that again in the past several weeks probably starting around the beginning of the holidays, but I know I will get through this. And reading this article has given me hope and a feeling of belonging to something bigger than me.

    Thank you again for sharing. I am so grateful!

    Stanley Weaver

  27. Jennie Ambrosio

    January 15, 2017 at 12:58 pm

    Thank you for this. Just… thank you.

  28. Audrey Christopher

    January 22, 2017 at 2:10 pm

    Wow I am also one of the tribe thank you for writing this it says exactly how I have felt at times I’m glad I’m not the only one

  29. Abigail Morales

    January 31, 2017 at 8:50 am

    This is such a beautiful post. Thank you, Anne and Sam.

    Just wanna recommend a book, it’s War of Art by Steven Pressfield. It’s an inspiring book that helped me fight resistance and get back in life, by pursuing my dreams. It’s also filled with beautiful lessons that helped me during the times when I felt lonely and isolated because I was afraid to reach out to my friends, ashamed because my life was in a rut. And I don’t want them to think that they can’t count on my anymore because of that.

    But that’s not true. Those moments are exactly the times when you really need a family/friend to help you out. Even if you just talk the problem out.

    So I hope this will be a blessing and will help anyone who’s going through a hard time in their life.

    May God bless us all.

  30. Abigail Morales

    January 31, 2017 at 8:52 am

    This is such a beautiful post. Thank you, Anne and Sam.

    Just wanna recommend a book, it’s War of Art by Steven Pressfield. It’s an inspiring book that helped me fight resistance and get back in life, by pursuing my dreams. It’s also filled with beautiful lessons that helped me during the times when I felt lonely and isolated because I was afraid to reach out to my friends, ashamed because my life was in a rut. And I don’t want them to think that they can’t count on my anymore because of that.

    But that’s not true. Those moments are exactly the times when you really need a family/friend to help you out. Even if you just talk the problem out.

    So I hope this will be a blessing and will help anyone who’s going through a hard time in their life.

    May God bless us all.

  31. Jaime Testerman

    January 31, 2017 at 1:54 pm

    I can deffently relate, when I was 13 years old my mother killed herself. I went on to become just like her, the only thing is I’m still alive! She was an addict, and so am I. I’m in recovery, after getting a great concection with my higher power. I realized why she did it, she couldn’t stop using. After countless rehabs institutions, finally for her the only other way out was death. Little did she know how much I loved her or how much her family cared. She’s no longer here and I long for her everyday. Your story reminds me of hers. Please fight, this disease wants to kill us, it don’t matter who we are, what color we are, or how much money we have in our pockets. Its serious and I’m amazed what recovery has done in my life. God has been my guidenence. To they own self be true.

  32. SJ Mitchell

    February 17, 2017 at 6:41 am

    Well, Sam—as much as I love & quote your Mom– you’ve offered up what is now one of my new favs for 2017.. The "Tribe if Still Alive’. I do believe I’m a card carrying member… thanks

    be well…

  33. Queta González Lizardi

    February 22, 2017 at 1:14 am

    My brother left us behind 5 years ago (still hard to say). I’m a mexican and the disease here is so unknown and there’s still so many taboos about mental health. My dad is an alcoholic (he was sober for 4 years, he fell into his addiction again early this year.
    I also have an amazing life, but the last few months I have had two or three depression / anxiety / panic strong attacks having suicidal thoughts, that after my family record I decided to get some help, read more about this and look for solution; I ran into this article and thank you Sam – literally you’re saving life just by sharing your experience.
    If anyone here, is looking to create something to inform and prevent suicide in México please reach out, or if you know anyone I should be talking about any initiative that I can bring to México, please again, reach out.

  34. Margaret Ashby

    April 14, 2017 at 2:04 am

    Still thinking of this family here, and especially you Sam! I hope you are being held and cared, especially by you! It seemed like hard work each day but when I look back to when you wrote this I see that I have changed. My family hasn’t changed much, still lots of loud, and silent, yelling. But I’m not a little sister anymore. I have been alive thinking, and feeling, and doing some things. Now that Spring is coming I will be able to think, feel, and do things outside my house. Things really change a lot out there. I still can’t make things change much but at least I know they will and I wanted to tell you that they will.
    I hope you can hear me today.

  35. TJ

    July 26, 2017 at 3:54 pm

    I re-read your post today. Because I too was on the phone with "Ann" at a suicide prevention life-line. I promised to call "Ann" back after I called my support team, and I although I was only able to leave a message for her, I was grateful I had the energy and presence of mind to say thanks to a faceless voice out there. Sam, I hope you see this today, and know that another member of the tribe is calling out. xo

    • Sam lamott

      July 26, 2017 at 4:05 pm

      Members of the tribe are always welcome to consider me part of their team 🙂

      Hello@new.hellohumans.co

      Best,
      Sam

  36. Nicole Lopez

    August 3, 2017 at 3:23 pm

    As a member of the tribe, this so speaks to me. Thank you.

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