@loripalminteriTweets by @loripalminteri
Suicide is such an ugly word.
After Anthony Bourdain’s suicide, it just seemed to be the thing everyone brought up, maybe especially around me because I’ve earned a bit of a reputation as a self proclaimed mental health advocate (and/or just someone who is mental). Even more so because my social life is basically comedy and comedians are never ones to shy away from taboo conversations. In fact, conversations that make “normal” people uncomfortable are our favorite.
To be clear [for reasons that will become more and more clear as you read on, I feel like this disclaimer is necessary], I have a good life. I was born into a loving and funny, healthy, middle-class American family. My adolescent years were filled with much laughter and fun. Growing up in such an environment created a platform for me to pursue an unlikely dream. And while success is relative, and I would not view myself as successful, this does not mean I’ve been without wins that are a result of a combination of hard work and helping hands of good people who have been my cheerleaders. The life I live is full of wonders, and I appreciate this and ride with the high of good times.
I am tremendously lucky.
And yet, I’ll defend someone’s right to take their own life.
Yes, depression seems to be a growing problem, as suicide rates are increasing. It is a bit disconcerting, I suppose, but I spend much of my day wondering why more people aren’t off’ing themselves. While this is not a popular belief, I stand by it, albeit, I have a lot of unwritten “rules” about suicide, which may or may not just be my own bullshit [the basics are you have to be over 35 & if you have kids they have to be over 35, unless you are disabled and/or diagnosed with an illness that will kill you].
Psychologists define someone as “suicidal” or at least “dangerously suicidal” as someone who has made plans about how they’re going to off (“off” is such a softer word than kill) themselves. It’s almost shocking to me if someone hasn’t thought about killing themselves, let alone contemplated the how.
One time, a good friend of mine was venting/confessing a time when they were suicidal. She said that when she told her therapist her plan, her therapist said it was a rather altruistic plan. The plan was to go to a hospital, with a gun and a football helmet, find a utility closet, and shoot herself in the head. The helmet was to keep it neat. The being in the hospital part was so that her organs could be quickly turned over.
When told this, I started laughing. Uncontrollably. Not because it was funny, but because it was close to my plan as well (which I had kept very close to the vest), and I often laugh at things I shouldn’t be laughing at, and furthermore, I’d never heard of anyone describing a suicide as “altruistic.” No, no… usually we get “coward” and “crazy.”
Though slightly different, my plan had been to call 911 in my bathtub to tell them I was going to shoot myself in the head, and I wanted them to come asap, to harvest my organs and donate them to people in need who want to live, given that I have actually taken care of my organs and they’re likely in good condition. I would leave a note on my door so my elderly landlord would not come in, along with some money so she could hire someone to clean the mess/repair the tiles in the bathtub from the gunshot (I had not considered wearing a helmet). After hanging up, I’d play a favorite song or two to give the paramedics some time to get to my apartment so my organs would be as fresh as possible and then pull the trigger (literally). It was undecided if I should leave one universal note, or write certain people individually. There would be a lot of, “
listen, this is not your fault, you couldn’t save me, I’m not mad at you, blah, blah, blah. This is my choice, as shitty as it is…“
Disturbed? Yeah, that makes sense. If it makes you feel better, I’ve never actually bought a gun. And in making a list of people whom I’d felt I’d like to write goodbye letters to, it seemed less and less like a good idea because it’s a pretty long list.
This was my “out” plan for about three years. I’d come and go back to this idea, though, fear not, in healthier mindsets, it was foreign to me that I could ever consider such a possibility. See, that’s what really makes someone bonkers, I think: getting caught by an idea that is clearly insane, untrue, cruel, and yet it becomes your whole reality. Even if you know it’s illogical and a temporary reality, it is really hard.
Previous to this, the other plan was back when I worked for a Real Estate company on Long Island. A deplorable depression took hold of my psyche, and while I wouldn’t necessarily say I’m great at weathering depressions now, I have a better grasp of how they will come and go like the tides. The plan then was to go to a vacant house for sale, park in the garage and leave the engine on. I had access to house keys. I even picked a house. I figured I’d make a playlist of some of my favorite tunes, have my goodbye letter (or letters?) in the passenger seat and go quietly and painlessly into the night until a realtor uncovered my car/body, and I wouldn’t feel that bad for the person to uncover me because I don’t much respect real estate agents or brokers (hahaha!). Of course, this never happened. Instead, I quit that job, got a new one in the city and moved to Queens. Besides stating this now, this is the first I’ve ever disclosed this information save for a couple of people. I didn’t seek help. No one even suspected I was that low. There was no great thing or person that pulled me out of it. You cycle in and out of it and I just cling to my rule: You can’t kill yourself before 35. You have to try. Try to create. Try. Create.
* Another Disclaimer!!!!!* *!!!!!!!!!!!!!* *Exclamation Points!!!!!*
I don’t think talking (well, writing) about this makes me brave. I am not fishing for sympathy. Nor do I want (or believe) anyone can save me. There’s no easy way to shed light on such things besides being raw. Thinking about suicide is (an unfortunate) part of my life. It’s so common, that I can’t believe it when people think it’s so fucked up to think about. In my worst lows, I do not ask for help. I do have a person I call when I feel ultra depressed. I never tell him what was up, I just want to talk. Him is not boyfriend, or ever was. He is a friend and also a comic, so usually we talk shop and he’s good at making me laugh and also he usually makes fun of me and calls me a bitch and/or a whore, which when written down sounds oddly abusive (I don’t have any normal relationships, if there is such a thing), but it’s all in jest. He is never one to pry, though knows more about my personal life than most. But he understands the depression, and usually the phone call will end with him saying quite seriously, “it’s all bullshit, Lori, you know that, right?” He will probably never read this.
So, maybe you haven’t really put that much thought into killing yourself. Since I spend far too much time on the topic, here’s:
LORI’S GUIDE TO SUICIDE: YOU SHOULD PROBABLY NOT DO IT THIS WAY
[I think “Lori’s Guide to Suicide” has a nice ring to it. Imagine a catchy jingle while saying it. C’mon guys, we can have fun with this!]
This is my absolute favorite suicide plan that would never actually be as romantic as I want it to be. In this plan, I would get a punch of pills to OD [here is the first problem, OD’ing is super tricky, and often times, horrible. As instead of going peacefully, you’ll die of choking on your own vomit and shitting yourself, and if you start regretting the decision, you’ll be immobile. Also, the risk of you not dying is high, which some people see as a good thing, but you can do serious damage to your brain, and who wants to wake up worse than when you were trying to check out?] and buy a stand-up paddle board. On a clear and calm evening, paddle way out into the middle of the fucking ocean until you can’t see land. Then, take your death cocktail and look at the stars while the ocean rocks you to your eternal sleep. I know that’s a lot to unpack. But it’s not a good idea, because chances are when you start suffering from asphyxiation, you will end up in the water. Then you will die by simultaneously OD’ing and drowning, which, thumbs down, not a good way to go.
The Credit Card Finale:
I only have two credit cards, and both companies offer to raise my credit limit all the time, because of fiscal responsibility, one of these companies wanted to raise my credit limit to $15,000. $15,000? “If I spend $15,000 in one month, you should call my mom, because I am planning on killing myself,” is what I actually said to the person on the phone. The person on the phone took it as a bit, but I really wasn’t kidding [I was laughing though, because again, I find really fucked up shit funny]. That would be a giant red flag. The problem with this plan is, if you’re out somewhere on the beach of Myanmar, running a credit you don’t plan on paying off cause you’re going to jump off a cliff or something, you have a lot of time to think about and/or regret your decision. And also, while sipping a beverage on the beach of Myanmar, you might be so delighted with life that you think, “maybe I should stick around longer. I believe in love.” Because that’s the kind of shit I assume happens in Myanmar.
Throwing Yourself In Front Of A Train:
Don’t do this! Don’t! Trust me when I say, I get it. Trust me when I say, I’ve thought, “will it hurt, if I jump right now?” ten thousand times on a subway platform, and if you haven’t had that thought then you are not truly a New Yorker. But don’t do this because New York will hate you. And I know, I know, trust me, you’re already suicidal so you don’t care for yourself, what people think of you, and doubt anyone thinks of you at all (and they probably don’t!), but if you hurl your body in front of a train, you are really inconveniencing a lot of people. Of course, your suicide is going to hurt people who care about you and they’ll never really understand, that’s a given. But don’t be the person who delays the metro for everyone in New York. Don’t do it!
The thought makes me woosey. I don’t know how people do this. Though I specifically remember slicing tomatoes when I worked in the nursing home, thinking; I wonder if it would hurt? I wonder if this knife is sharp enough? Of course slitting your wrists in a nursing home would be terrible, because they’d have all the right tools to save you… plus, then you’re stuck there longer, and nursing homes are hell on earth and I will kill myself if I ever make it to the age where it’s considered I be put in a nursing home, that’s a fucking promise. But bottom line here is that I just don’t like blood (or nursing homes).
It feels like I shouldn’t have to write this one down, but just to be clear, it is NOT OKAY TO TAKE SOMEONE WITH YOU. OH GOD. WHAT A MONSTROUS IDEA. Your life is your life. Take it if you must. Leave other people out of it.
Jumping off a bridge:
Eh, this is a maybe. A building is a bad idea, because then someone has to wipe your guts off the sidewalk or a car, or whatever you land on. I’m not against jumping off of a bridge into water, actually, I see the appeal. However, if you don’t die on impact, your bones will break, and then you’ll be drowning with a bunch of broken bones and that sounds remarkably awful. Drowning is really fucking scary, take my word on this [I know, I know… trust me, I remind myself all the time that the times I was very close to dying were the worst].
For me, this would be a very long and painful death because I don’t weigh very much, so there’d be a long suffering/swinging period. Never thought this a good way to go. I don’t like choking (not even in a kinky way, which… well, another blog, another time… maybe). Almost drowning made me really scared of dying in certain ways (specifically, drowning). Which is ironic, I know. Though if we’re being really truthful, suicide is a means of control. That’s a factor of the appeal.
Suicide is always going to be a tense topic. Anyone who has lost someone who died by their own hand feels not only grief itself, which is a cycle of dread, there’s a level of guilt. But this is what I am trying to say to you… this is what I want anyone to understand, whether they’ve lost someone they loved, or merely perplexed by a celebrity ending their own life, let go of any guilt or feeling of control. You have none and you are not liable. Which sucks and hurts.
I believe there will be two overall reactions people will have when they read this. The first group will be disturbed and curious. They won’t be able to fathom that anyone, let alone someone who has a decent life, would obsess over ending it. It will make you sad, perhaps a little angry? And you’ll think I’m melodramatic, if not pathetic, mental, and worst of all pitiful. I laugh at posters for suicide awareness walks or marathons. I know you guys have good intentions, but this is a man vs self issue. If you can never empathize, then I am glad. I hope you don’t fully understand. Truly and really.
The second group will read this and nod. Maybe even laugh at points (you know who you are, you sick fucks, I love you!)? You’re the person who goes in and out of daily life, and whether it’s your job, your partner, your environment; something is not clicking. Something is not satisfying. And everyone thinks you’re okay, and you are, really. You are okay. But there’s a darkness that makes you think this way. And I’m not going to tell you that’s okay. Even though I am one of you, you’re still a fucked up piece of shit, and you ought to love something or create something, because thinking about your suicide is a waste of time. If that’s how you die, it’s how you die. No need to obsess over it now. Writing a blog about it is a self indulgent waste of time… you think I don’t know this? But it is MY BLOG, which is self indulgent in itself. I didn’t ask you to read this.
There’s a wire that’s frayed in your brain if you have suicidal depression. There’s a difference, between regular depression and suicidal depression and it’s like a switch in your head, it just goes off. It sucks. There’s no super hero action you could do. There are a lot of tricks to help keep that feeling at bay, but there are no concrete answers. I know a lot of people would disagree with me when I say that if there is nothing but peace in death, then those people have saved themselves in what may be the only cure. Don’t hate me for saying it. Don’t hate someone for doing it.
Do you feel any better reading this? Because I honestly do. I feel better.