I wrote this poem in January of 2004 when I was frustrated with Matt and blamed him for my life going awry. Looking back, it was misplaced blame on a situation that only I had control over. At the time, it was much easier to blame Matt rather than take a look at myself and how I was responsible for the mess I made of my life.
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 April of 2002 when I was depressed and felt empty. Chronic feelings of emptiness is a trait of living with BPD. It’s rough sometimes.
I’m at a very bad place I struggle and struggle to come out of this miserable and horrible place But somehow feel confined With a helluva strong glue at the bottom of my pitiful feel Stuck to the pit of here( my life) I continue to Dream and dream The impossible dream To someday become unstuck
I wrote this in May of 2003 when I was depressed. At the time, I didn’t think about getting help. I also didn’t understand what was happening to me. No one knew because I had become a master as masking my emotions. Instead poetry was my therapy.
The sadness creeps up on me like a wild animal upon its prey Slowly but surely I become all too quickly Miserable again I ponder the question Why, why, WHY? I am young and healthy Yet I begin to feel like I’m slipping on thin ice and what scares me the most is I DON”T KNOW WHY?
I wrote this in January of 2003 about John. I’m telling y’all when I get obsessed with someone I’m like the mild version of Joe Goldberg.
You had no clue How I felt about you Because you were too hard headed to put us through the relationship test because you wanted to be free Instead of wasting your time on me It’s really sad But I’ll have the last laugh Because one day you’ll realized I could’ve been your ultimate prize But now it’s too late for you have offended your fate
I wrote this 20 years ago on November 1st right before the great breakup of 2001. I wish I could say that I get over breakups quicker now but that would be a lie. After fights or breakups with partners, I seem to always go back to the girl I was in my teens and 20s. My brain is wired that way and I’ve accepted it. It’s something called age regression that shows up in people with Borderline Personality Disorder. Fear of abandonment is so severe that some of us will feel like we are literally dying after a breakup. Some of us will stop eating, some of us will sleep for days, some of will self harm or have suicidal ideation. With each breakup, I’ve noticed I’ve acquired healthier coping mechanisms. Nowadays, I’ve learned to listen more to what I need in order to heal than what doing what I used to do to escape the pain of heartbreak. My method now is cut off all contact with the ex, exercise, write a LOT and do loads of self care. I’m careful not to fall into any quick escapes from my feelings like going on tinder and trying to find someone new. Do I think I will ever get better at accepting a breakup like a normal person? I don’t know but I hope so.While I’m thankful for all of the inspiration and growth that comes from every breakup ;it’s also very overwhelming, exhausting and draining at times.
You showed up unexpectedly in my life Like a pleasant surprise Calling and seeing me every day Making me dinner and leaving me roses on my dashboard I thought “finally, the one has come” Suddenly all of those nice things started becoming scarce The dinners, the roses, seeing me became non-existent Even talking to you on the phone has become too much of a bother of you I’m no fool, I know exactly where this doomed thing is headed Pretty soon you’ll give me some lame excuse As to why “we” can no longer be And my heart will shatter into pieces yet again There will be nothing left to say I’ll just realize once again You’re just like every other fool
I wrote this on January 1st, 2003 about this dude that I hooked up with a week prior. I was upset about John and of course wanted to escape from my feelings of rejection. So I started once again seeking validation from men and ended up hooking up with some guy from the bar.
The night I met you I was drunk and blue Because of that impossible love Who said I wasn’t good enough So I decided to drink my pain away and then you came my way With your charming and smooth manner I should’ve known you were a player But you told me everything That I wanted to believe in How you had never met anyone like me And that you wanted us to be It sound almost too good to be true But i was feeling lonely too So i decided to give in to you Afterwards you promised to call But instead you went awol And many days later I sit here In a river of foolish tears Wondering why why why I always fall for the same false lines
William Thomas Brumley’s debut poetry collection “You Might Feel This” is aptly named because every single poem made me feel some kind of emotion. As a person who has anxiety and depression the poetry in this book really resonated with me. The poet captures what anxiety and depression feels like with imagery that paints the numbness and darkness of it. Another theme that Brumley tackles is the complexity of romantic relationships . He shows the intensity of emotions that is felt during conflict or a breakup. I also want to mention that aside from the content, what I really loved about this book was the format. You can tell that the author put a lot of thought into making sure it was well put together because of how professional and flawless it looks. He even includes a page after each poem asking your thoughts about it or you’re also given the freedom to write your own poem. As someone who is always looking for inspiration to write poetry, this was a nice surprise for me. I’ve picked three poems that impacted me from this collection to talk about.
The first poem “Familiar Friend” I have interpreted as a poem about when anxiety comes to visit you. Anxiety for me feels like an annoying friend that visits at the most inconvenient times and the poet captures that when he states, “Fear is an old familiar friend of whom I’ve fallen out of touch with/Why does this shape haunt me? Can they not find another for torment?” (Brumley, 7-9) The way Brumley questions why anxiety haunts him brings a raw intensity in this poem about anxiety that’s not talked about. It indeed does feel like torment and torture at times.
Another poem that impacted me was “Stormy Nights”. I interpreted this poem about how your romantic partner distances themselves away from you because they’re on the verge of breaking up with you. I know many people including myself that have been in this situation and it’s awful; especially if you’re not ready to let go of your partner. When Brumley states, “Please, please, don’t leave thee here/I can feel your presence is near/ One more climb, one more calm/ Upon the ruckus sea” ( Brumley, 12-14),these lines draw up an image of someone pleading to their partner to not leave and to give them one more chance. Brumley did an incredible job capturing the sorrow and desperation someone in this situation would feel like.
“Trepidation” is another poem that impacted me. I have interpreted this poem as the calm you feel after anxiety leaves and questioning how long it will last. This is stated when the poet states, “May I keep this sealed up tight in a bottle?” (Brumley,9) As a person who had suffered from chronic anxiety and depression, if I had a string of good days filled with hope, I would question how long it would last. What’s also interesting to me about this poem is that Brumley addresses people who suffer from anxiety in wishing that they too get a reprieve from anxiety when he states “I wish this ship could sail/Sail far across the sea of tranquility/For it shall reach others who have been trapped under the forceful thumb of anxiety” (Brumbley,10-12) Brumley shows humanity in acknowledging other sufferers of anxiety.
Mr.Brumley presents an honest depiction of the many complex emotions felt during periods of anxiety, depression and conflict with an insightful awareness. I would highly recommend this poetry collection that will not only make you feel something but will also make you think. I’m excited to read and review his next poetry book Finish Your Thoughts. Below is a link for both You Might Feel This and Finish Your Thoughts: