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 favorite comfort 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 legal resident 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 former coworker 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. I would 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 excessive to 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:
Depression and Suicidal Ideation:
Borderline Personality Disorder:
I wrote this in December of 2002 after I had a one night stand with this dude I met in a bar and he didn’t tell me he was married. I found out a few days later when a coworker told me. I felt shame, guilt, and like a dirty whore for what happened even thought I knew that this time I was an unwilling homewrecker. It was rough.
This was a mistake
I wish I could unmake
I didn’t mean to kiss you
And I didn’t mean for us to screw
But the alcohol got to my head
That somehow led me to your bed
And now you have to understand
Our destiny has been written in the sand
You will never be the man I dream of
Who will deserve the best of my love
So now it’s about time
for you to open your eyes
What happened between you and I
Was chemistry I could no longer deny
So stop trying to interrupt my life
And just go back to your wife
Me and Valentine’s Day have a history – well a sordid kind of history full of trauma and drama. Since I can remember I’ve always wanted a Valentine Day where I had the perfect day with my special someone. To me that would feel like a hallmark movie. This hallmark movie would include chocolate, flowers, lots of hand holding and kissing in, romantic dinner and a grand romantic gesture from my partner. The gesture would be so thoughtful, it would make me tear up with happiness. Yes, my expectations were high on this day but hey don’t blame me – I grew up on 90s rom coms and Telenovelas. Let’s talk about my history with this day.
At 14, I was super hyped about this day because I finally had a special someone to celebrate this day with, my first boyfriend, Jude. We went to the Valentine’s Day Dance at the school where we slow danced to the most romantic 90’s songs. Picture Boyz II Men and Mariah Carey playing in the background as I feel myself falling in love. Jude even bought me a rose and unexpectedly gave me this nice sterling silver bracelet and I teared up. I felt like wow, this is so romantic and magical, is this real? Is this too good to be true? Well, ha-ha it was. A week later he broke up with me around my birthday because he realized we were better off as friends. Also, he needed the bracelet back, it has been his mom’s that he had stolen to give it to me. It would be my first taste of drama and trauma surrounding this holiday.
In my late teens and early 20s I was always single on Valentine’s Day. Because of that I would get salty as all my partnered coworkers would get flowers delivered to their office or talked about their stupid romantic plans. One day me and my close friend/coworker Mary- said fuck it, we’ll be each other’s valentine. We’ll send flowers to each other and go out to lunch. It was a great Valentine’s Day that year. We had our own kind of Galantine’s before Leslie Knope made it a thing.
After that, I was with my co-parent/roommate, and this is what I wrote about that day in 2014:
“Valentine’s Day is a waste of a day for older married couples with kids. I suppose that sounds slightly bitter and biased based on my own experiences. I don’t ever remember my parents celebrating Valentine’s Day and they’re still married. So much importance and consumerism is given to this particular day it makes one wonder -how did we as a society eat up all the hype concerning this particular holiday and regurgitated it with “oh so much love, kindness, flowers, chocolates, cards, etc.” The world would be a much better place if love and kindness was practiced more often. It could be part of the new movement called “love and kindness” awareness and it could be marketed with T shirts, pins, and don’t forget the Bumper Stickers” Somehow I think this already happens with the movement “make America kind again” after the last brutal election. Anything can be marketed and consumable by the masses if it makes them feel good about themselves. And that’s why Valentine’s Day is still such a big deal. People that celebrate “their love” can now prove their awesome love by snapchatting or instagraming that shit. Valentine’s Day is just another symptom of the curse of consumerism. `
I was obviously very bitter and jaded when I wrote this. To be fair to my coparent/ roommate, he did try his best some years to fulfill my unrealistic expectations of the day and well- he couldn’t. I do have to mention that one day-I was pleasantly surprised that he bought me a coach perfume, I mentioned wanting it as a joke. I didn’t think he would get it for me, but he did.
In 2018 we opened our marriage and started hooking up/dating dudes. I was also going through a period where my hypersexuality was very intense. I was at a social event drunk, and I got the bright idea that I needed to hook up with someone, anyone that night. So, I met this random dude at the hotel room. I met him from an app, and he had no pictures-and that was for good reason. Ugh, he wasn’t attractive at all, but I was drunk, wanted to have sex, and I was too cute to be alone on Valentine’s Day. Drunk me + hypersexuality +God Complex =no standards for hooking up. Anyways me and this guy have incredibly hot sex and he’s talking dirty. This is all normal except then he starts saying weird things like “I could picture spending my life with you” or “I can see us really falling in love” as he’s ramming me every which way. I don’t want to ruin the mood, so I just figure its weird kink and go with it. I don’t want to ruin the mood and figure, maybe this dude is just lonely or whatever. So, after we have this hot sex, we both go our separate ways. I don’t expect to hear from him. Well, the next day, he blows up my phone wanting to hook up again and I respond telling him “No, it was a onetime thing”. He responds, “we had good chemistry and I’m falling in love with you”. I responded, “I’m not looking for anything like that”. After that what follows are texts, slut shaming with every name in the book “whore, bitch, slut, while also trying to convince me that according to him “we could be so good together”:” I do call him out on his misogyny, but he doesn’t want to hear and says he doesn’t care and continues to insult me while trying to convince me to see him. I’m confused and think “wow, this happened to me as a consequence of my own actions, maybe I deserve it, Idk”. I do proceed to block him. It could have been a nice memory of hot sex of Valentine’s Day but once again it’s marked by trauma and drama. Will I ever have a nice Valentine’s Day? I just want to feel loved and be loved on that day? Why is it so hard?
Fast forward to last year, when I was in love with my recent ex, the second Andrew. That year I had all of the ingredients for my hallmark movie like Valentine’s Day, right? We celebrated V-day on Feb.13, the Saturday before it because of my hectic work schedule. It was really close to perfect. There was good food, wine, butterflies in both of our stomachs cause we’re in love, and dancing. He even makes a grand and thoughtful gesture and I’m so touched I’m almost moved to tears. This is my Hallmark real life movie. Fucking finally, right? I’m so happy and I feel so loved, I share that happiness out in the world with a tweet. Now my relationship with the second Andrew is polyamorous so I’m careful that I don’t tag him and make sure his other partner Sharon is not following me on twitter. I don’t want to hurt any feelings. I ‘m just so grateful to feel loved and be loved by this wonderful man, it’s important for me to share it out there in the world. Among everything crazy and chaotic in my life, I have this perfect memory of love. It’s almost too good to be true right, and it was, a few days later, I hear from him how Sharon’s feelings were hurt by my tweet. I told him about how I made sure that she didn’t see my tweet, but he tells me I’m accountable because my twitter is public. So, to smooth things over, I felt forced apologized for tweeting out my fucking happiness. It was great (insert sarcasm). I remember afterwards feeling this incredible sense of shame and guilt for Sharon’s feelings being hurt by my tweet and at the time I wrote in my journal, “maybe we should break up so she can have him all to herself, I don’t have the time or energy to fight for a man”. I didn’t of course but maybe I was starting to see the cracks in my relationship with the second Andrew. There is a lot more to this story about the second Andrew, but that content will be shared much later this year or next year. I could say that I wish I hadn’t been informed about Sharon’s feelings, but I’ve learned to accept that it happened, and it is what it is. It was just annoying that it was once again another Valentine’s Day followed by drama and trauma.
This year, I decided to flip the switch and rather than feeling sorry or pity for myself to for
being alone; I’m turning this day which is traumatic into a triumphant one. I have declared it my self love day where I’m my own Valentine. I’ve made it so that the only one that can ruin the day is me. Lol. My plan is to take the day off and do the following:
- Wake and exercise.
- Buy myself flowers.
- Watch an episode or two of “You” because I need some time with my king (Joe Goldberg).
- Listen to the Queens on vinyl and write.
- Drink wine and eat tacos while I watch “Kill Bill ” and other violent movies.
- Do all this while I wear my red lingerie and take gratuitous selfies for some sexy self-care later. Wink, wink.
It looks like I’m finally getting my own romantic movie starring myself after 25 years. Except we won’t call it a Hallmark movie, it’s more of an Indie film. I will post an update on how it all went on next Valentine’s Day.