At the age of 29, Timothy Lally died of a heroin overdose. He had struggled with depression, anxiety and panic attacks and tried traditional treatments that didn’t work. When he discovered opioid pills, it made him feel better. The opioids ran out and he turned to heroin.
His father, John Lally, an APRN, wanted to turn his pain into purpose and make meaning out of his death. He started Today I Matter (TIM), the acronym is Tim’s name. Based in Ellington, CT, Today I Matter is a family non-profit that helps reduce the shame and stigma behind substance abuse and mental illness. Erasing the stigma and changing the conversation allows people to feel good about accepting treatment and getting well.
As a psychiatric nurse, Lally Sr. is exceptionally qualified to do public speaking on these topics. As a founder of his non-profit, he makes presentations to the Department of Health, nurses associations, and schools.
With the recent death of a 13-year-old student in Hartford due to a fentanyl overdose, he’s inundated with calls from schools to speak. Over 12 schools have made requests for presentations.
He also gives trainings in administering Narcam and using QPR (Question Persuade and Refer)—which is a way to intervene when someone is suicidal. A lot of people don’t know what to say on the subject of addiction and mental illness and suicide. QPR teaches people how to reach out. Even if they don’t have the answer, they can show someone suicidal another way.
Tim Lally was avid about the arts and music. Today I Matter offers scholarships for students studying art and music.
The organization sponsors a Poster Project of 438 people who died of substance use disorder which is exhibited around New England.
“It gives a face to the numbers. It’s quite moving,” said Lally.
On April 30, the Poster Project will be displayed on the National Mall in D.C.
They offer a support group for adults who lost a sibling to substance use disorder. Their yearly fundraiser Out Run Addiction, a 5K road race, which they sponsor with two other groups.
“It’s easy to be judgmental if you think it can’t happen to you or your family and you are not aware of other’s struggles. But it can happen to everyone,” said Lally.
Addiction came on stronger during COVID because of the isolation, lack of structure and no support system for mental illness and addiction. People addicted or who have mental disorders don’t do well with isolation.
Lally has a blog on Today I Matter’s web site where he discusses topics in addiction and mental illness and stigma. There is a place for donations on their site too.