Poetry: Caught Between

I wrote this 2001 when I took a break from writing angry breakup poetry-lol. As an immigrant that grew up here, I’ve struggled with my identity for most of my life. Issues with identity are also another trait of BPD. I think this was a time in my life when I was especially reflecting on this part of my identity because I was become aware that men were fetishizing me.

me in 2001 around the time I wrote this poem

Caught between two worlds
what am I made up of more
hopefully I won’t ever have to choose
sometimes I wish to just cut loose

Too Latina for the American side
Too Americanizada for the Latino side
So what is the politically correct term for someone like me?
Not American, not born here
Not fully Latina either
for I lack that latin allure

So I’ll call myself one of a kind
a girl with much Latin beauty and an American mind
like a delicious half and half cream
whose taste is an amazing mixed dream

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

Poem: Strength

I wrote this poem in January of 2020. Maybe I was mad at the patriarchy or just feeling weighed down by the expectations that society has on women. I know that for me, it has been a huge burden at times to constantly keep up an appearance that I am put together balanced woman even if I am falling apart.

me in January of 2020

The strength we have to carry as women

  is obscene

Endless expectations weigh on us

   generation after generation

We are buried in the burdens 

  that society has placed on us 

  since before we are born

Be sexy but don’t show your body

Be smart but your opinion is not wanted

Be motherly and nurturing

  but still a productive member of society

It is a never ending nightmare 

 to try to reach 

  the ridiculous standards

 of beauty, wealth, and motherhood

Some of us seem to do it with grace

Some of us are barely hanging on by a thread

Quite a few of us would rather die 

  than continue with the facade of the myth

  of the balanced and beautiful woman

Reflection: I Am America

It’s been 4 years since I took an oath to become an American citizen. I took an oath specifically to Trump which makes me nauseous typing BUT I also took an oath because of Trump. Before making the decision to become an American citizen, I had never really cared about politics but that was until Trump got elected. If you were a POC or immigrant or both, you felt the shift in the racial tension in the U.S right before the election but especially after the election. Racists overtly made their ignorant beliefs known that immigrants were not welcomed in this country. DACA was in the process of being repealed. DACAmented kids who should have been protected were being deported and there was a rise in deportation for undocumented immigrants as well or well the media made it seem like that. I felt that as an immigrant with LPR (legal permanent resident) status, I could possibly be next. In February of 2016, I sent my paperwork to USCIS to solidify my relationship with America. One could say that for better or worse, I finally decided to make a commitment to this country. Here is my blog post about the process:

What has changed in the past 4 years since becoming an American and what does being American mean to me now?

Well, I’ve voted in 2 elections since I’ve become an American including the national election in 2020 (yay, no more Trump). In October of this year, I applied for my passport and have received it. Now, I can take a trip out of the country without any worries or concerns. While it is an immense privilege to be an American citizen since I  now have a whole new world of opportunities opened up and I can travel anywhere; I feel that I haven’t really changed on the inside. I still see myself and identify as an immigrant  but now I also call myself an American. But to be honest, my idea of being an American has changed. I used to think I needed a piece of paper to say “Oh, I’m American” but  for better or worse, America is and has been ingrained in me since that hot September day in 1986 when I set my foot on American soil at the age of 5.

I was an American when every morning at school I would say the Pledge of Allegiance in my broken and terrible English at the age of 6 and 7.

me in 1987

I was an American when I went back to Peru at age 9 to get my resident alien status solidified with my family.

me at age 9 in Peru during my trip with my family to get our LPR status

I was an American when I met my childhood best friends in Hawaii at age 11.

me with one of my childhood best friends from Hawaii

I was an American when I had my babies at ages 17, 24, and 30.

me with my three kids right after their births

I was American when I started working for the government at the age of 18.

me at the age of 18 in 1999 working for the government

I was an American when I got my college degree in 2009 from the University of Georgia .

me in 2009 with my parents at my graduation from college

I was an American in 2016 and early 2017 when I attended protests and marches for immigrant and women’s rights.

me in January of 2017 at the Women’s March in Washington D.C

And I was an American when people told me, “my english is good for being a Mexican” or I’ve been discriminated against or oppressed in this country by the people that don’t want “my kind” here.

I used to believe that I didn’t belong here because of the racism, prejudice, and ignorance I’ve encountered but that’s no longer the case. This year, I finally let go of those beliefs because I’ve embraced that I am America and America is me. My life may have been harder in many aspects because I wasn’t the average “American born” citizen but I will tell you that I wouldn’t trade my experience as an American to be average. I I feel that working harder than the “average American” for my success has made me appreciate my success so much more and for that I am thankful. My parents had no idea of the many hardships they would endure making the decision to immigrate to this country but I am glad they made that journey. It’s taken me 35 years to get here but today I can honestly say that I’m proud to be an American. 

me in November of 2021 telling my crazy story about being an essential worker

 

Poem: Racist Jerk

So I wrote this poem in 2000 when ex my boyfriend Mike said something super racist about immigrants knowing I was an immigrant myself. Talk about cognitive dissonance. Lol. He also had a super nice red sports car….and yes he was making up for something. Haha. Looking back, the dating pool in the hick town I was living in was super limited. I honestly can’t say that this had to anything to do with me over reacting because of BPD…this dude was just an ignorant asshole.

My new boyfriend
What you said really hurt
I never thought you were a racist jerk
I don’t know if I can get past your words
Staying with you would only make it worst
With time I could become like you
And to tell you the truth
That scares me to death
So now I wish we never met
And that I didn’t have to tell you this
I hope I won’t be missed
I wish you a good life
I hope one day you become wise

Poetry: My Sister y Yo

I wrote this poem in January of 2020. This is about me and my sister being polar opposites on almost every level in life. We’ve never really have had a close relationship and there have been times when we’ve had fights that have lasted for months . Recently, as we’ve grown older, we have been better about accepting each other for who we are and getting along much better.

me in January of 2020

She’s American

   I’m an immigrant 

She loves Trump

   I’m a borderline socialist

She believes in money and brand names

   I believe in love and poetry

Born from the same womb

  But living in different worlds

She’s the clean upper middle class

  I’m the gritty working class

She forgot everything she once was

  I remember and continue to live it

She’s Latina when it’s trendy or when it suits her

   I’m Latina every single minute of my life

She’s the definition of assimilation

  -and I-the forever brown girl trapped in a white America

She’s the American Dream

  And I’m the immigrant activist

She’s the Doña

  and I’m cabrona

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.