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/