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Paolo Sambrano

is a suicide attempt survivor.
this is his story

Paolo Sambrano

is a suicide attempt survivor.

"I survived a suicide attempt."

Paolo Sambrano is a writer and performance artist from Oakland, California. He published a zine entitled You Can’t Hire Me, and was the writer/producer/star of a one-man show called Bi-Poseur about his experiences with mental illness, suicide, and the death of his mother. Here, he talks a little bit about his experiences with group therapy and mindfulness in the face of monkey mind. He was 26 years old when I interviewed him on April 4, 2013.

[My therapist] recommended I go to group therapy and I thought it was really stupid, ‘cause I’ve been to group sessions in the psych ward and it’s always very horseshitty.

Like, “If you feel sad, why don’t you listen to some music or garden or something?”

What the fuck is that gonna do? You know, really just stupid, asinine things you can do. So I thought it was gonna be like that. It’s actually been really grounding and actual, actionable skills, which I really was surprised that I’ve been using in day to day dealings.

But mindfulness, just being present in the moment and… ‘cause I think what the missing piece was for me in a lot of that stuff was sort of recognizing what you’re feeling instead of sort of being taken up in it, and realizing the patterns that take place and happen, and realizing that it’s okay. I think a lot of it is based in this weird resistance to that. Like, ‘It’s not okay that I feel like this,’ and it’s a circuit that just breaks, and then that’s when like the bad shit goes on… The turning point was realizing these feelings are okay to have. It’s gonna pass. Instead of, you know, getting angry about, “This shouldn’t be like that.”

I think that’s sort of been like the main [effect]. And basically just all variants on applying stuff like that. Just being okay with yourself, which is a lot fucking harder… I’m a fucking self-help slut and I’m only starting to internalize and absorb five percent of the shit I’ve read, you know, after years of just reading the goddamn Power of Thinking Big or some shit.

Thanks to Helen Hedberg for providing the transcription to Paolo’s interview.

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About Live Through This
Live Through This is a series of portraits and true stories of suicide attempt survivors. Its mission is to change public attitudes about suicide for the better; to reduce prejudice and discrimination against attempt survivors; to provide comfort to those experiencing suicidality by letting them know that they’re not alone and tomorrow is possible; to give insight to those who have trouble understanding suicidality, and catharsis to those who have lost a loved one; and to be used as a teaching tool for clinicians in training, or anyone else who might benefit from a deeper understanding of first-person experiences with suicide.
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Tax-deductible donations are made possible by Fractured Atlas, a non-profit arts service organization, which sponsors Live Through This. Contributions for the charitable purposes of Live Through This must be made payable to Fractured Atlas only and are tax-deductible to the extent permitted by law.
Please Stay
If you’re hurting, afraid, or need someone to talk to, please reach out to one of the resources below. Someone will reach back. You are so deeply valued, so incomprehensibly loved—even when you can’t feel it—and you are worth your life.
Find Help

You can reach the 988 Suicide & Crisis Lifeline by dialing 988. Trans Lifeline is at 877-565-8860 (U.S.) or 877-330-6366 (Canada). The Trevor Project is at 866-488-7386. If you’d like to talk to a peer, contains links to warmlines in every state. If you’re not in the U.S., click here for a link to crisis centers around the world. If you don’t like talking on the phone, you can reach the Crisis Text Line by texting HOME to 741-741.

NOTE: Many of these resources utilize restrictive interventions, like active rescues (wellness or welfare checks) involving law enforcement or emergency services. If this is a concern for you, you can ask if this is a possibility at any point in your conversation. Trans Lifeline does not implement restrictive interventions for suicidal people without express consent. A warmline is also less likely to do this, but you may want to double-check their policies.

Live Through This is dedicated to the lives of so many friends and family members lost to suicide over the years. If you would like to add the name of a loved one to this list, please email me.
Live Through This is dedicated to the lives of so many friends and family members lost to suicide over the years. If you would like to add the name of a loved one to this list, please email me.