“You never seem depressed.”
That’s what my boyfriend said when I told him about Anthony Bourdain and Kate Spade’s apparent suicides. I confronted him with the fear that one day that would be me. Yeah, I never seem depressed because I learned to pretend like it’s all good. Like I have my shit together. Like I’m strong. Whenever I read about a celebrity, or local, suicide it brushes its hand against my soul recalling the times, since I was 16, that I wanted to be part of that club.
There are people who, or have been, in my circle that have either witnessed my attempts or have heard about them. And the responses vary. My family responds with insults about being selfish. “How could you even think about killing yourself?! You have a family. You have a daughter who needs you.” True. But the thing about suicide is that thinking about the people you love and the shit damage you’ve caused them is further evidence that you’re better off dead.
On the other hand, my friends try to help me. A woman who was a close friend of mine would let me spend the night at her house and we’d watch romcoms and drink wine. She’d make me vegan food and she showed me how to be mindful. That did help. I have another friend who I’d call whenever I felt the dark thoughts looming. He was a lifeline for sure.
I can only speak for my experience. I have no idea what Ms. Spade or Mr. Bourdain were feeling when they decided to remove themselves from this world, but if it’s anything like what I have felt in my darkest hours, well, then I know. I know that pain.
Perhaps the reason treatment of clinical depression is a challenge is because there is not really a one-size-fits-all cure. Sure, there are the medical terms psychologists know. The years of studies that can identify someone who has issues. I can’t pinpoint where these thoughts started for me. I only remember being a lonely kid. From the time I was five up until about middle school the whole town was pretty white, Baptist and not very inviting to outsiders. My parents are from Mexico. I wasn’t the standard of beauty. I’m dark. The pretty ones were blonde and blue-eyed. I was bullied. I was harassed. In junior high I escaped with the black kids. They understood the struggle.
High school was stressful. I was too smart. Too skinny (in a time when skinny or Latin wasn’t cool). It was a health class that seriously introduced me to the possibility of suicide. The teacher, who was a part-time coach, talked about the signs. You know, like giving away your possessions and withdrawing from friends and family. We were put in groups and had to do a scenario. A week later, I found my mother’s pain pills and took as many as I could. My dad found me crying on the bathroom floor. But he thought I was drunk or ‘doing drugs’. I got yelled at and sent to my room where I slept it off. This happened a lot until I ran away to Mexico my senior year (that’s another story).
The reality is, I was actually a good kid. I made really good grades. All my teachers loved me and I was known as a polite and sweet kid. But inside there was this little monster, this little voice that said, “hey, you totally suck and should die”. I kept feeding that voice. Agreeing with it. Taking it out to lunch. I got married, had various careers and a beautiful daughter. I should have been happy. But my marriage was difficult until my ex decided to run off with his high school sweetheart and take my daughter with him. I lost it all. Hit rock bottom. Did things I didn’t think I would ever do to survive. And now I am here.
Last October I was in West Cork, Ireland during that big hurricane. I was staying with a friend, and he took the day off to run some errands (because we were in the middle of nowhere and this was after the hurricane hit). We had no internet and he is a film producer who had emails to check. I was left there in the big house reflecting on how pointless my miserable life was. And I did it. I tried to kill myself by putting a bag over my head by the fire, coaxing the carbon monoxide to release me from the pain. But my friend got home.
Honestly, the only medicines that have temporary released me from the prison pain is ayahuasca and a damn good therapist I have back in Dallas. I’d love to give credit to my daughter or boyfriend, but anyone who suffers from this knows, love only adds to the misery. I know. It’s a quagmire. But I’m constantly afraid that I will completely lose their love. Or that something will happen to them. Or any number of things that run through my head constantly throughout the day.
My own worst enemy is myself. I know this. It’s the thoughts that creep in my head. It’s the giving in to the constant throbbing pain in my chest. And for those of you reading this who have never had any thoughts of suicide or have felt this kind of pain, the only way I can describe it is a soul cancer. And I’m not sure what the cure is. Because at the end of the day, the only enemy we face is ourselves. And the only protection we have is ourselves.