I wrote this in 2006 after I was reflecting my first years of being a mother to my eldest child who I had at 17. Becoming a mother at such a young age didn’t make me the best parent and at times I still tried to act my age and party a lot even though I was a parent. It used to eat me up inside but I’ve come to terms that I did the best I could under the circumstances.
From February to July, I’ve continued to maintain the healthy coping skills I’ve acquired in therapy and have made even more progress. I started group DBT therapy in April and that’s also helped me tremendously. Listening to members in that group talk about their issues has made me gain a lot of perspective. I’ve also had a few obstacles along the way of course. In May, I upped my dosage on one of my meds that ended up with me having a major depressive episode, here’s a blog post about that:
A year later, I can honestly say that I’ve been successful in managing my emotions in a much better and healthier way. My growth has been phenomenal in many areas of my life due to my hard work. I’ve had incredible support from my therapists, medical providers, friends, followers, and family who’ve helped facilitate my growth by encouraging me and giving me the space I needed to be who I needed to be at different parts of this process. Sometimes that was a complete emotional mess, sometimes that was an angry and salty poet, sometimes that was a cringy mom or a moody coworker. Restarting this blog and creating content for it has been instrumental in my healing process and has been a great outlet for the inspiration and creativity I’ve had during this time. Another beneficial thing I’ve done is simplified my life by letting go of anything that doesn’t serve me. I keep my life simple with work, kids, friends, family, and writing and this is the right combination for me to maintain my emotional stability. I’ve learned to prioritize my mental health above everything else because the consequences for me and everyone are too great for me not to do so. I understand now that the “old me” before her diagnosis was trying to have “everything” and well, that extended my emotional bandwidth to the point it was detrimental to my mental health to the point that I constantly lived in a flux of emotional dysregulation. I don’t blame anybody or even myself; I did not have the knowledge or awareness at the time to do any better.
I’m not completely where I want to be because I have two areas that I still have problems with: -sticking to my boundaries especially when I feel pressure from others to bend to their will and desires -my cognitive distortions which include black and white thinking and thinking in absolutes I’ve lived with these cognitive distortions since I can remember, and it’s been really hard to break these unhealthy thinking patterns but I’m working on it.
There is a lot more to say about this journey, but I’ll save that for later throughout this year. To conclude, here are a few thoughts: To have an immense amount of progress and growth this year; I had to learn to be brutally honest with myself about things I had been lying to myself about for too long. I had a tendency to blame others when I felt terrible about my life. This year, I changed that pattern and I had to learn to hold a mirror to myself and take accountability for any harm I’ve done to myself and others and that was extremely difficult to do. It also meant facing some of my biggest fears and insecurities and that was fucking hard. Sometimes it was so much work, I wanted to give up but I didn’t. And now I’m here, at a place where I’m truly happy and content with myself and my life. And to not have major depressive episodes every other week where I’m stuck in this rut of misery feels like a type of freedom I can’t describe. To manage hard emotions like anger and sadness without it affecting my whole week or my whole day is something I always felt was impossible until now. And while I am thankful for everyone that’s been helpful in my journey, I feel the most gratitude to myself and my determination and resilience. I had always known myself but just this year I’ve finally started to understand myself and finally felt a sense of freedom to be who I really am without a need to filter out the crazy or hard parts that make me the complicated and resilient human that I am. A year later, I no longer allow life to happen to me and feel powerless and have an immense need for validation from others. Now I’m a person who lives a life with intention and purpose for my own betterment.
I wrote this in 2006 when me and my husband were in this monotonous routine of kids, work, and school. I felt lonely in our relationship and it was hard for me to express it to him.
It’s frustrating Living like this Without desire or passion The only thing that’s left for us Is to leave from here This everlasting ocean of loneliness In which we are drowning And separately swim to the shore of happiness Where we both belong
Escribi este poema en 2004 cuando estaba amarga con mi esposo. Queria separarme de el.
Ya no podemos callar En tanta tempestad Tu ya no me quieres No hay nada más que hacer Ya no hay ninguna solución Para tanta desilusión Es mejor que tomemos caminos separados Y decir adiós a nuestro dolor
I don’t remember the first time I had suicidal ideation but I remember the first and only time I made an attempt to end my life. It was the morning of December 5th of 2016. It’s hard to remember the exact events of that day but I do remember the triggers before that day which led me down that dark path. Some people might think that by writing about this I’m sharing too much of my personal life but I stopped caring about other people’s opinions this year. While it is hard for me to revisit that day and tell my story; it is important for me to share my story in hopes that someone somewhere struggling doesn’t feel so alone or that loved ones look for signs if someone near them is in trouble. Talking about suicide and its possible causes is an important conversation to have that should be normalize.
To friends, family, and coworkers, I’ve always tried to maintain this image of having an almost perfect life of suburban bliss. Relatives from Peru, the country I immigrated from have told me that I’m the American Dream. Looking at my social media, this image is perfectly crafted with pictures of me with my family and friends.I specialize in posting those candid family shots at some event in town #momlife, me with friends downtown #girlsnightout, and me at work #bestjobever. You get the point. I’ve crafted this image of being this perfectly put together woman who has it all and does great at balancing all of the expectations and responsibilities thrusted upon her by society. People close to me call me strong, amazing, and awesome. They see this confident woman that manages to handle life and almost every obstacle thrown at her with grace. I remember being 17 after announcing my unplanned pregnancy to friends and one of them telling me, “ I can’t believe how calm you are and how well you’re handling it, I would be freaking out”.I smiled at her and told her, “Well, it’s done now. I just have to deal with it the best way I can”. Even at the tender age of 17, it was ingrained in me to suppress my emotions and show others this facade of being a strong woman. Needless to say, there’s always been a lot of pressure on me to maintain this image. This pressure almost killed me.
In the winter of 2016, my life looked perfect from the outside. I worked from home as a Bilingual Child Support Agent making more money than ever, I’m married to a doting husband, I have 3 wonderful and amazing sons. I even lived in a quaint but nice 3 bedroom house on a street named Candy Ct in a relatively quiet neighborhood. And don’t forget, I still had time to have the occasional girls night. So hashtag perfect life right? What people didn’t know at the time was the following:
–My oldest son, who was a senior in high school at the time and an excellent student, was struggling with one of his classes and I was starting to get calls and emails from the school about it.#failingasmom
–I realized my marriage was unsalvageable and there was nothing either of us could do to save it. #mymarriageisafailure
-I was gaining weight because I was stress eating. #lowselfesteem
–I hated my job as a Child Support Agent and it was taking a major toll on my mental health. I did not handle being yelled at all day with clients well.#Ifuckinghatemyjob
–Also, the political climate was changing for the worst for immigrants and people of color after Trump was elected. #fuckAmerica
And, I was binge drinking at night with my prescribed xanax to deal with all of it. I was also taking Lexapro in the mornings. #selfmedicatingtocope
In November of that year, I was starting to fall into the pit of despair that is depression and while I knew it was happening; I was in denial. I had been here before having PPD with all four of my pregnancies. I kept telling myself that I could keep a handle on it, I didn’t have the time or the luxury of having a mental breakdown. Even though I was making more at my new job, we were still a low income family since I was the only main provider. I had no family to call on or fall back at all if I was to go to a psychiatric institution. Plus, my children needed their mother to be there for them. So I tried to bury any feelings of despair deep within me with the help of alcohol and Xanax.
After weeks of feeling this way, on Sunday, December 4th, I felt a new low that night. I don’t know why I didn’t reach out to friends. I had isolated myself from everyone in a lot of ways. I kept in contact with people close to me but it’s easy to keep a facade of being “okay” when I’m not. I’ve been doing it since I can remember. Gotta love that Quiet BPD. I remember feeling like a complete failure because I was raised by my mother to always be strong or at least keep that façade of strength on the surface to show everyone that you’re not weak or crazy. There had been a couple of “weak women” with mental illness in my mother’s family who were looked down upon because of this. I grew up with this stigma that those with mental illness were “weak” or “not right in the head”. Also, I felt very privileged compared to my mother and aunts who came to this country and had way more hardships than I ever did. I remember thinking that night how nice it would be nice to fall asleep and never wake up. Waking up meant facing my reality that I was a failure at everything in my life that defined me: a mother, a wife, and a worker. The next morning, I woke up around 6:30 am and I felt numb and dead inside. I didn’t want to face my depressing and horrible reality and I made a decision. There was no point in living if I was a failure at everything. Feeling like a failure is worse than death to me. I texted my supervisor and told her I was sick and couldn’t sign in to work, I wrote love letters to my sons, my husband, my parents, and my closest friends trying to explain what I was doing, and I got the coffee from the kitchen counter that my husband had prepared for me and took the xanax bottle that was on the kitchen table to my son’s bedroom where I had been working at. I sat down on the recliner in that room and swallowed each of the 15 pills one at a time. I remember that right after, I got a call from my oldest son’s counselor concerned about him. I vaguely remember the conversation. Right after, something in me made me send a text to my friend Janet from college that lived 10 minutes from me. I honestly don’t remember what I texted her, all I know is that I finally fell asleep. I was woken up from my sleep as my husband shook my shoulders, he was telling me something and I vaguely remember that it had to do with my friend calling him. He wanted me to go to the living room but my legs felt like lead. So he half carried me to the couch in the living room and forced me to drink coffee. I fell asleep shortly after. I remember waking up and talking to my husband but I can’t remember what I said, all I know is that we both made a decision that I needed to quit my job and that afternoon, I emailed my two weeks notice letter to my supervisor. And my friend Janet came in the afternoon and took me to a Mexican restaurant to eat tacos, my favoritecomfort food and we talked for a long time about what had happened. I also remember my friend Janet talking to my husband about me. Since I was a legalresident permanent alien at the time, going to a psychiatric hospital was not an option for me. The application for citizenship specifically asks about whether you have been in a psychiatric hospital. Me, my friend, and husband knew that I couldn’t take a chance on my future petition of naturalization being denied. You see, that famous poem on the Statue of Liberty by Emma Lazarus “Give me your tired, your poor, Your huddled masses yearning to breathe free, The wretched refuse of your teeming shore” is really a lie in this case. What America really wants are these almost perfect and model immigrants but that’s another blog post.
After this happened, I fell into a deep depression. It didn’t help that I had also withdrawn from my mental health meds without the advice of my doctor. If it wasn’t for the fact that I kept a journal after this event, I wouldn’t know half of what happened during what happened during that time. I call this time period of my life, “The Great Depression” of 2016 and 2017 that lasted until November of 2017. During “the Great Depression”, I kept my journal religiously, and I gave myself a month before looking for another job, and reached out to a formercoworker and friend who referred me to her ex husband for marriage counseling. I also completed and filed my paperwork for naturalization. I also eventually found a job with the school district as a parapro. I even got a tattoo of semi-colon in February to remind myself that my story isn’t over. Even during the great depression, I still tried to be as productive as possible. I also kept this list with me-It was a list of important events (birthday, anniversaries, graduation) that I needed to be alive for. I also kept a list of reasons why I needed to be alive (my kids, parents, husband, friends). I kept these lists with me at all times because that’s how bad my depression was at the time. It was a really dark period of my life.
I reflect on this 5 years later and I feel like this was a lifetime ago. Since that time, I’ve been diagnosed with Bipolar 2 and Borderline Personality Disorder. I’m also on three different kinds of mental health meds and am going to therapy. Depression still visits me from time to time, especially when life gets overwhelming or something drastic happens in my life but I have way better skills to cope with it now and not let it get to an extremely bad place again. Iwould never tell anyone that I’m cured of depression because that would be a lie but I will say I’m much, much better at not letting it take over my life like it has in the past. Writing my story and sharing it with world may seem excessiveto some but I’m sharing my story in the hopes that someone reading this comes to an understanding that people that die by suicide or attempt it are not selfish or cowards; we are people that feel this immense and excruciating pain and we want to escape from it by any means necessary. I also write my story in hopes that if there is someone out there struggling with suicidal ideation and depression; I want them to know that they are not alone and it is possible to get to a better place #youareworthit.
Here are a few helpful links related to this story:
I wrote this in January of 2003 about Lucas. I was doing what I normally do, obsessing over past love because I was lonely. At least I wrote this poem instead of trying to track him down.
My dear Luke I Still miss you Even after your unexpected departure My heart feels a terrible torture Of not having you by my side I wonder if for me, you ever cried Why couldn’t you stay? Instead of leaving on that dreary day Why did you have to go? Nobody else could’ve loved you more I know my letter may seem strange to you But my heart finds it hard to replace you I have tried so hard to move on But it’s impossible to go on I guess I should say goodbye Before I start to cry But before I do this I gotta tell you my wish that you find what you need Even if it’s without me And if you ever find yourself in love Understand that you’re enough and that you fight for it Don’t run away from it So now I say goodbye my friend Maybe one day I’ll see you again