My Almost Love Affair with Death **trigger for SI**

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. 

#girlsnight
#family time
#momlife
#worklife

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. 

me in November of 2021 with another fighter, Frida Kahlo

Here are a few helpful links related to this story:

Suicide Prevention:

Therapist locator: 

https://www.psychologytoday.com/us/therapists

Depression and Suicidal Ideation:

https://www.webmd.com/depression/guide/depression-recognizing-signs-of-suicide

Bipolar 2: 

https://www.webmd.com/bipolar-disorder/guide/bipolar-2-disorder

Borderline Personality Disorder:

https://www.mayoclinic.org/diseases-conditions/borderline-personality-disorder/symptoms-causes/syc-20370237

Quiet BPD: 

https://www.healthline.com/health/quiet-bpd

Poetry Review: Visceral

Visceral by Melia Cogan

The debut collection of poems Visceral from Melia Cogan is appropriately named since it will make you feel a multitude of intense emotions internally. As a person that feels intense emotions, I loved this book. The book is divided into 3 sections titled Love, Rage, and Death. Reading this book felt like going through a roller coaster of emotions-from sexy to anger to sadness. Personally, for me, this is a good thing. I resonate with poetry that makes me feel my emotions.  I picked my favorite poem from each section. This was hard since all the poetry in this collection is amazing. 

The first section Love captures the magical feeling of what it’s like to be in love, make love, and be loved. Her poems in this section makes even the most jaded of us feel like there is a world where love is possible. The first poem “Daemon-Lover” leaves you breathless with the raw emotion and sensuality felt throughout the poem.  The second stanza is fire as it states, “With a spirit strong as seventy/As his throbbing passion sears me/ With its ‘blind encompassing throbbing power ”(Cogan, 22-25)   It makes you feel like you are witnessing passion on display. You might have to take a cold shower after reading this poem. The other poems in this section not only capture the passion of being in love but also the complexity of other feelings that come with it. 

The next section of the book is Rage, and you feel the anger and rage within this section. 

My favorite poem in this section is Women’s Inheritance which captures the essence of what’s like being a woman in the 21st century. It addresses the misogyny that our modern patriarchal society continues to administer to women. The poem also conveys the disappointment that women feel after being used and discarded nonchalantly by men. The sixth stanza captures this feeling as it states, “Finally, you who I love with my whole self / Could not display this mythical manly bravery/ To tell me the truth/ Why not?” (Cogan, 30-33).  The other poems in this section captures the anger felt with different experiences in life ranging from expectations in relationships to abandonment issues. Cogan expresses a raw truth about anger that most people are afraid to express and that is a kind of bravery you don’t see often. 

The last section is Death and I’ll just say that you should have a box of tissues by your side because it will probably make you cry. In this section, Cogan is versatile in exploring the theme of death. In this section, my favorite poem is Remember Me for the Birthdays which is how the poet wants to be remembered by her loved ones. The eleventh stanza conveys this as it states, “Remember how I filled you with the urge/to push forward and explore/To engage life, expanding in all good directions” (Cogan, 37-40). Cogan is skillful at portraying grief in a conscientious manner that’s both thoughtful and respectful. 

Melia Cogan brings a raw vulnerability and talent to her debut collection. I highly recommend this poetry collection if you are looking for a versatile collection that explores the depth of the human experience. I’m excited to read and review her next poetry book, Love Pangs. Below are the links for both Visceral and Love Pangs

Visceral: https://www.amazon.com/Visceral-Melia-Cogan/dp/B0915DH7W4

Love Pangs: https://www.amazon.com/Love-Pangs-Melia-Cogan/dp/B09PHJXX19

Poetry: Early Excitement

I wrote this in November of 2002 after meeting John. When I get excited about someone, I get EXCITED!

basically

I don’t know how you got me
to feel like this again
So happy, so free
For once, I’m excited about living
Maybe it was the way
We danced to the music
Quickly finding our own rhythm
Or the way you kissed me
Gently on my face
Or maybe, just maybe, it’s love

Poetry: False Stability *trigger warning*

I wrote this in March of 2020 as I was reflecting on my suicide attempt in December of 2016. I don’t remember writing this poem but that could be because it was a crazy time for me since I was an essential worker during COVID.

me in March of 2020 when I wrote this poem

Appearances were kept well for 15 years
the husband, the salaried job, the 3 off springs
I pretended like everything was fine
And yet there were ominous signs
I never felt like my authentic self
and always felt false
I tried on this so called suburban bliss
and mediocre routines
but knew it just wasn’t me
So I ended up in profound misery
And one day I wanted to forever sleep
To forget my mediocre reality
I took 15 numb feeling pills
one for every pseudo happy year
I wanted to slip into a forever dream
to never wake up to my false stability

Poem: My Sleeping Poem **trigger warning**

I wrote this poem in December of 2016 after my almost love affair with death on December 5th. It’s strange how aside from my journal entries from that month, I hardly remember that month. I just remember feeling so broken inside and like a failure after that happened that it was so hard to get up every morning. I do know that writing saved me during that time because I started journaling way more consistently. I would learn years later after being diagnosed with Borderline Personality Disorder that up to 10 percent of people with BPD die by suicide. Five years later, I’m glad that I had people by my side that prevented me from becoming one in ten. I’m glad that afterwards, I was able to slowly come back from this even if I was mostly depressed the year after and it was a fight to get up every single day.

For more information about the high risk of BPD and Suicide, here is a link from Psychology Today with info about it:

https://www.psychologytoday.com/us/blog/where-science-meets-the-steps/201512/the-destructive-power-borderline-personality-disorder

me and one of my best friends in December 2016

I wanted to sleep

Sleep beckoned me

Like a magical place

Where I could forget

Forget-

The burdens and responsibilities

Forget-

The performance reviews, the report cards, the bills

Forget- 

The husband, the kids, the friends

I wanted to sleep

So I planned my journey there

Call in sick, act natural,

Take the bottle of xanax

I wrote love letters 

To my children, my husband, and friends

Just in case I fell in a forever dream

I wanted to sleep

Selfishly, without interruptions 

I wanted to sleep

So I didn’t have to think 

About my mediocre and suburban reality

My lost dreams of greatness

My wastefulness on this earth

I wanted to sleep

But I was interrupted

By my husband shaking me

Halfway carrying me 

To the couch, forcing coffee

Down my throat

I wanted to sleep 

But I had to wake up

And endure the reality of life

Poetry: Ghost of Mamacita

I wrote this poem in 2018 shortly after the death of my maternal grandmother/mamacita. My grandmother lived in a time where her opportunities were very limited by society’s rules about what a woman should be.

The ghost of my grandmother 

  hangs above me 

Her spirit swallows and 

  Envelops me-

It tells me to live

  a life full of passion and love

Without self imposed boundaries

It tells me to stop 

 being afraid of my promise 

  and potential

  and takes risks and 

  Go for my dreams

  No matter how many 

    obstacles stand in my way

It tells me that I only 

 have one life left to live

And I need to start 

living it fully instead

 of standing on the sidelines

Waiting for something or someone 

to rescue me

It tells me 

Stop waiting

Now it’s your turn

Poetry: She Flew

I wrote this poem in February of 2006 when my mother in law passed away suddenly. I knew for a short time but she was one of the most gracious and kindest individuals I ever met.

She flew one afternoon without warning

To a place unknown 

Why did she have to fly?

Was it really her time?

And now everyone left behind 

has  puddles dripping from their eyes

Why did she have to fly?

Was it really her time?

Regrets and remorse

Have become our two worlds

Why did she have to fly?

Was it really her time?

No fancy words could ever express

How it feels to lose your best

Why did she have to fly?

Was it really her time?

Poetry: In the ICU

I wrote this poem in 2018 when my grandmother passed away. She was in the ICU for about a week before she passed and it was tough on the family.

Me with my Grandmother in 2015 or 2016

She lies between this world and the next

She can’t decide between her husband 

 Or her kids 

She is tired, she is drained, she is 94

She lies between this world and the next

She needs to let her body decide a final rest

But her spirit wants to stay 

withinIn the cocoon of her family

She lies between this world and the next

She slowly feels her ancient and battered body 

Give up…. 

It is tired of the endless pain

And her spirit

slowly agrees

And 

Lets her leave in peace

Poetry: The Jungle Part 2

I wrote this about the PULSE club shooting in 2016.

Everyone claims prayers thoughts

For those they sprouted 

Hatred against (just a few days ago)

Only because of their untimely 

Deaths.

If they had gone 

On living -they would 

Have continued to be 

Hated by most–

Now they are loved 

And remembered and

Prayed for in the their death 

Because they are dead.

It’s too late for you

Prayers warriors, you

Religious zealots and

bigots , your prayers 

And love falls on 

Angry ears, ears of 

The victims families , ears 

Of their loved ones, ears

Of the LATINX,Puerto Rican, 

LGBTQ Community

People who weren’t  

Given two fucks about 

Or treated with hatred 

Because your Bible told 

You so. 

Unexpected: Pregnancy Loss

On July 27th, 2010 I  was in the room with the ultrasound tech and she put the gel on my belly. I was there to hear the sound of my baby’s heartbeat for the first time. I had waited a whole two weeks to hear it since I had booked the appointment. My boyfriend had dropped me off at the doctor. I was alone and the anticipation was killing me. The ultrasound tech was moving the wand every which way and had this weird look on her face. I asked her if everything was okay. She told me, “I really need to get the doctor”. I pleaded with her to tell me what was wrong. And she said, “I can’t find the heartbeat” I was in shock and numb. Then she told me to go out to the waiting room and the Dr would come get me. I remember how the waiting room was full of pregnant women and I started to sob hysterically. Thankfully a receptionist took pity on me and took me to another sparsely populated area. The Dr came and got me and told me the embryo stopped growing at 8 weeks and I was supposed to be 10 weeks along. She showed me the ultrasound. She also gave me a choice -either a D&C or let the miscarriage come naturally. I had just started a job in June and hadn’t accumulated much sick leave so I opted to have the D&C. I had all of these feelings of shame and guilt because I had seriously thought about terminating the pregnancy and I wondered if I had wished it true. I felt guilty because I had gotten blackout drunk a day before finding out I was pregnant. Also, I felt like a failure because my body had not done what it was supposed to do. I felt like somehow I deserved all of this pain and that God was punishing me. Getting through the rest of that day and putting up my facade of strength and having to tell my 2 kids along with other family members and friends was horrible. 

The next morning I went to have a D&C and I woke up crying from the procedure. The nurse that was next to me told me that everything happens for a reason and to trust God. “Everything happens for a reason” and “Trust in GOD” and “It wasn’t the right time” would be among the  few sayings that I would get from well meaning friends, family, and co-workers. I buried my grief in exercising and eating healthy irrationally believing that it was my body’s fault that I had the miscarriage. It didn’t help that my boyfriend was kind of blaming me as well because of that whole blackout drunk incident early in the pregnancy. Even though the logic in my head told me that pregnancy loss is a common occurrence that happens to 1 in 4 women with no real rhyme or reason for most of those pregnancies;my irrational thoughts took over for a bit. What helped me through the grief other than exercising was joining a support group and being able to process that grief and feel validated in my feelings with other people that had experienced the same thing. An experience like this changes you in a way that you remember who you were before the experience and after it.  Obviously I’ve healed from that experience but I still experience some sadness on that day. One interesting thing that happened 3 years ago when I came to work on July 27 was that there was a random “Happy Birthday” balloon by the entrance of my office building. I took it as a positive sign from the universe. 

I share this story because it is important to fight the stigma associated with pregnancy loss. It is also important for others to feel like they can share their stories without being judged.

Letting Go and Moving Forward-Drunk Edition 2020

It’s really hard to be vulnerable in this space but somehow I feel safe. Maybe it’s the lack of carbs along with almost a bottle of champagne and the almost anonymity. For the first time in a long time, I’m doing pretty good in life. I’m making this busy life of working almost 80 hours a week work for me with 3 kids, a great potential partner, a soon to be ex who’s my best friend/roommate, and the best friends any gal can find. I’m not failing at both of my jobs. In fact, I’m killing it and even had some “unusual” success at my second job. The guy that’s been my in my life for almost the past 4 months, has slowly moved from friendzone to something more last month and well he’s being very patient with my skittish behavior and my busy schedule. The second date and the last time we saw each other, he looked at me like I was magic and to be honest, it scared the shit out of me. So much of me wants to run away because I’ve never encountered someone that just wanted to really know me. Usually dudes, just put up this pretense of wanting to know the “real me” because they really want to be laid by someone “exotic” like me. Even, my soon to be ex husband pulled this trick. Haha. Do I blame them? Nah, It’s human nature to want to get laid, especially for guys. But, “A”, new dude, he’s different. He checks all of my potential great partner boxes and yet, I want to run. Maybe I’m scared of happiness finding me because I know how fleeting it can be.

Which leads me as to why I’m writing this post at midnight while kind of drunk as I listen to the saddest and cheesiest pop songs ( Hello Selena Gomez, Camila Cabello, Adriana Grande and my favorite, Ariana Grande…etc-you get the point-haha). I finally said goodbye tonight to the fuckboi that has been haunting my life for almost 2 years on my own terms. To explain our story, well, you can look back on other posts and angst ridden/love poetry. Two words to describe our long term situationship, intense and toxic. It’s a cliché but I never knew I could feel such intense hate and love for someone until I met him. I was F.Scott and he was my Zelda, my muse, my long term obsession. The last time we had a falling out, he ghosted me for 3 months and you guessed it, he came back the day after I had my second date with “A”. It’s like he senses when I’m happy or almost happy and comes back to cause chaos in my life. And my masochist tendencies went to see him even though I know our story always ends up in devastation for me. And even though, I was angry with him and I hate him, somehow I still wound up in bed with him. I knew that night like I knew the first night I was with him, I love him and part of that is that when I’m with him, he makes me feel like I belong to him. I’ve never felt that with anyone. It’s intoxicating and addictive and hard to give up, obviously.
However, the sex, the chemistry, the love I feel for him will never be enough for us to make things work, for him to change into the partner I deserve. I’ve known this for a while but hung on to hope looking for signs that maybe he would change if I “stayed” long enough tolerating his narcissistic bullshit and the awful way he treated me. It’s amazing how love can make one so foolish and dumb. I recognize and am aware in my own part in this toxic mess we both ended up making for 2 years. And even though I recognize the toxicity of whatever I have/had with him, it’s still hard to let go. It’s hard to let go of the fact that maybe I won’t feel this with anyone else. But then I tell myself, I don’t want to feel like this with anyone else. It’s crazy, toxic, and makes me lose all of my common sense. So tonight after I texted him “Goodbye” for the last time, I allowed myself to drink, have a mini breakdown, and isolate myself from my friends. I’m not even grieving him or the potential of the great love story we could have been, I gave up on that idea a long time ago.

Tonight, I’m allowing myself to just really move forward from him and start a new chapter where he no longer takes up space in my universe. Tonight, I allow myself to feel that I do indeed deserve all of the success professionally I encounter. Tonight, I allow myself to acknowledge that I do deserve someone like “A’ who values me more than just a girl he can fuck. And even if things end with him, I can hold on to the hope that there is someone out there for me that really sees me and believes I am indeed magic. I’m never again settling for kinda half ass effort just because the connection/chemistry is off the charts.