I’ve been going to the university a lot this week. For one, I go to therapy there. It’s cheap and I don’t have insurance. Two, I’m still dealing with the immigration issue and the law center has law students that help you out. It’s free.

I’ve been taking a few pictures around campus. It’s made me a little nostalgic.  I miss school, miss schoolin’. I almost feel like a student again with all my creepin’ and crawlin’ around campus these days. And I’m still working on my stealth. It’s a bit difficult with the wheelchair getting in the way. I also need to take my telephoto lens next time! It would have made the pictures better had I had it with me. I’ll get better shots next time. It’s just a bit of a pain switching lenses, especially because the telephoto lens is nearly one-third my full body size.

****

I’ll post the other set later… Mouse must go swim!

This slideshow requires JavaScript.

********

addendum: The waffle bus and Bernie’s Burger Bus are a fuckin’ rip off! Don’t buy their burgers. (I never did, just sayin’)

Advertisements

Youth eyes knowingly.
I am keen, keeping his pace.
Crisp pages, leaves fall.

30 Days of Truth, Day 1: Don’t Believe P, She’s Flaky As All Fuck!

I’m not sure who began this project, it’s called “30 Days of Truth”. I’m not even sure why I’ve decided to take it up, but I’m guessing it has to do with my rampaging self-absorption brought on by my ego (brought on by a switch to fluoxetine aka the infamous Prozac, fuck, more drugs) thus causing a new found urge to tell truths about myself, or in other words, I suddenly want to reveal more of myself because I’m so stuck inside of myself. (Disclaimer: No body parts will be revealed during the posting of this post).

The first time I saw this little 30 Days of Truth blogging project was in Halfway Between the Gutter and the Stars‘ blog. She was my first follower! Back then I didn’t know people could or would actually follow my rambling. So thanks Halfway! Also, thanks to Halfway, I ran into dozens of mental health (really just mental 😉 ) bloggers who were also doing this little truth telling challenge. It’s because of her links and their links that I’ve had the pleasure of cybernetically meeting so many amazing bloggers.

****

So, here I am! I’m jumping on the band wagon y’all! So unlike me to jump in. Or is it? (oh oh borderline identity disturbance in the process here )

Whatever. I’m gonna do it! Besides, National Poetry Writing Month (NaPoWriMo) is over, and I need something else to live for. It’s also a good excuse for a blog topic.

Day one is to write about something you hate about yourself. Really? Why make the first one so hard? Do I have to choose just one thing? That’s so haaaard. And why you trying to get me to hate on myself when I’ve worked in therapy all this time not to? Hate is such a strong word too; I try not to use it in my trying-to-stay-sane vocabulary.

Man… pffft.

Alright, I realize now as I’ve grown older– and maybe, hopefully even wiser– that I no longer hate things about myself like I used to when I was say, a teenager. I no longer beat myself up about the fact that I was born with brittle and malformed bones, therefore, I no longer hate my body like I used to. I no longer hate the fact that my sternum sticks out like a third boob. I do however, currently hate the way this damn bell’s palsy has left me unable to make certain facial expressions the way I used to, but I’m working on it. I promise myself.

But has a lot of the other, non-superficial, self-hatred left me?

Sadly, no. I can still say I hate my short temper. I hate my angry, violent and aggressive ways. I can sit here and talk endlessly about how much I hate my depressive ways. I can talk about so many things but I’ll have to choose one, so I’ll go with my volatile flakiness, my indecisive and fickle ways. Can I combine those four just like that? Does it count? They are related, right?

****

Today is May first, not just May first, it is May First: International Workers Day.  <— (Click on the link, why won’t you?)

Why am I bringing this up for my first 30 Days of Truth?

Because it relates to what I hate about myself. Bare with me. No, no. May First is great! May First is the shit! I mean good shit! Not shitey shit! None of that stinky stuff. I love it. It’s got a wonderful history to it but I’ll refrain from telling it because I know this post should be about HATE and about ME, and general strikes for workers’ rights is something I LOVE, something to love, not hate. I do encourage you to look it up though.

So May First, aka May Day aka International Worker’s Day, is a day to strike for worker’s rights, this encompasses any worker rights and over the years has shifted directions, that being said, migrant workers are a big bunch.

Here in Houston, Texas, we–by we, I mean those actively involved in political movements–organize the strike into a march not only for worker’s rights but also immigrant rights because, often times, immigrants are the ones that are most abused at work, that have more work related abuses in this region. Wage theft, for example is a huge problem for the “illegals” or more correctly stated, for the undocumented workers. There is also a VAST immigrant population here, most notably Latinos/Hispanics (that’s a given), Vietnamese, Chinese, Nigerian and Indian. There are a ton more I’m leaving out. Anyway, the Latino/Hipanic communities are very much affected by the shifts in immigration laws. And I’ll talk about that later in another post.

Here’s where I get to hating myself. In the last three and a half years, I’d been heavily involved in organizations and activist groups, some of which organize the city’s May Day March. But because of my flakiness, my indecision, my fickle ways which stem from anxiety, identity disturbances (which further stem from self-esteem issues and self-doubt) and of course depression, people have gone from seeing me as a “community leader” within these organizations to someone they do not call to organize events with because I’m unreliable.

I know I may view this in a distorted way–black and white thinking and whatnot. I know that’s not always the case. I have been contacted this month, a little. I know that if I pull away from people and groups, I can’t expect others to include me in things the way they used to, right? It’s only logical. But the depressive, the bipolar or the borderline does not see logic in these cases!

The last two years I had been involved in the May Day March planning. Two years ago, in 2010, I came up with the idea of making t-shirts for a student group I was involved in.

“Hey guys! We should make shirts that read ‘NO PERSON IS ILLEGAL’ and sell them after the march to save up for our trip to Detroit!”

my t-shirt, i kept a small one for myself.

“Yeah P. That’s a badass idea!”

I smiled smuggly at myself for thinking up of such an idea, an idea people actually liked! And that idea turned out pretty good once we sold enough shirts, $3.00 to $5.00 a pop. The march turned out well too (even though a self-proclaimed Minuteman almost hit me with his American flag pole while screaming at my little group to “Go back where you came from! Go back home!” and I ended up having a panic attack, but more on that some other time).

Then, for last year’s May Day, I designed a banner for a non-profit that works with wage theft abuses as well as other worker related abuses (that’s the org that called me the week before last). I also designed a poster for another student group, this was a group I’d actually helped found. The poster was based on the ideas I came up with on these sketches I did.

mayday-amp-voice-1 mmm/paz 2011

© mmm/paz 2011

Last year however, I was in a deep depression around this time. And once I finished the posters, I sent them out to everyone and crashed. I did not return phone calls. I did not send anymore emails about the location and time of meeting. I did not coordinate with anyone to get a ride for the day of the march. I vacated completely, inside and out.

Vacating and emptying out completely is something I tend to do after I take on too much.

“Oh I’ll do this and yes, I’ll help out with that and don’t worry guys, I got that too!  And that! Ooooh, I wanna do that. Yeah, I’ll get it done in a week….” [two weeks later] “Guys, give me another week. I promise!”

I do tend to finish the bigger, important things, but all of the little promises placed in between get shoved around; I re-prioritized other things in the utmost illogical fashion and thus, I lose what I intended to get at in the first place. Those big things only get done with excruciating effort. I even go as far as making promises I know I should NOT make because trying to keep them all would be senseless, would only make my stress levels rise out of proportion and thus make my anxiety explode. All of a sudden, EVERYONE starts asking for favors. “P, can you do this? P, can you do that? Oh, yeah, just call P, here’s her number, she’ll design that for you!”

And I CAN’T SAY “NO” to others! Even those weaseling fuckers I don’t know. “Who are you? What’s your name again? Oh really, so-and-so told you I would design that for you? Ok.” Then I want to scream at everyone: “FUCK YOU AND YOU AND YOU. FUCK YOU ALL! FUCK, YOU ALL ARE JUST FUCKIN’ USING ME! ESPECIALLY YOU, YOU LITTLE UNKNOWN WEASELING FUCKER WHO’S NAME I DON’T EVEN REMEMBER! And on second thought, NO, I WON’T DO THAT DESIGN FOR YOU!”

Then I’m. No one will see or hear from me for weeks. I run from it all. I roll out of there as fast as my wheelchair can haul me (usually speed #5, if it’s fully charged). I leave myself with no other option left. Well, that or combusting in front of everyone, and no one wants P guts all over them.

****

Last year, when the day of March 1st march came rolling in, I got a call from Mansie, a friend from the Students Against Sweatshops group.

“We are renting a van and heading out. Do you want us to pick you up?”

“Yeah, sure thing! Thanks Mansie! Un beso!” I said. But I wasn’t feeling it. My anxiety was at a pain and vomit-inducing level.

“Ok, we’ll call you back in an hour. Try to be ready by then P.”

“Ok. I definitely will.” Note how I said definitely, of all things.

Here’s what sucks. I didn’t get ready. I didn’t answer her calls. Instead, I left a text that read, “I’m not going to be able to make it. No need to pick me up.” before she even had a chance to tell me what the plan was.

I was also angry at my group. The group I’d started and designed the flier/poster for. “Why did the Sweatshop kids call me and intend to pick me up but not my own group?”

What sucks is that I actually cried all afternoon after sending that text because I’d spent the entire hour debating on whether I’d go or not. What’s worse is I fell into a self-loathing moment of ,”Why do you have to be so indecisive? Why do you change your mind so much? Why do you drop out of events last minute? You let people down!”

And not only was I angry at myself, I was frustrated and hurt by the ones who hadn’t called, though it wasn’t their fault if I never gave them a definite answer, right? I couldn’t just simply be glad at the fact that the other group had offered me a ride with them!

I was depressed. I was flakey. And when I’m depressed it becomes ten times more difficult to decide on ANYTHING. Depression leads to low self-esteem. Anxiety leads to indecision leads to flaky, fickle ways, leads to self-doubt which leads to self-hatred which goes back to depression. Beautiful circle isn’t it?

mayday-amp-voice-2 © mmm/paz 2011

****

A few weeks after that, it was Mansie, Sweatshop girl’s, birthday. She invited me to her birthday party one day when I was over at her apartment. “Yeah, I’ll be having a party here soon, in a couple of weeks, and I want you to come!”

Well, she never invited me the DAY OF. I felt so hurt. Why did I need her to invite me the day of? Why did I feel hurt? Why didn’t I make plans to go? Did I want to go? Yes and no. And guess, what? Had she invited me again the “day of” I probably wouldn’t have gone anyway. Fickle. Indecisive. Flaky. Self-doubting. Socially anxious. That’s why.

*******************************************************************

addendum: Today was a bit sad remembering this. I hope this year’s march was a hearty one. I really should get involved again, which reminds me: This past November I was well underway helping establish a new group, community based. We’d been working at creating a scholarship fund for undocumented students. Up until last year I was also an undocumented student (I’m still undocumented), but I was an undocumented student that was fortunately able to go to university because of private scholarships–one church-related (funny story there) and another academic based–that didn’t fuss about immigration status, and those are VERY hard to come by guys. I can’t even begin to tell you how hard it is for an undocumented student to get any kind of scholarship and there’s no such thing as Financial Aide. Forget it, no FAFSA, no nothing. That’s what me and my friend and a few others wanted to give to our younger peers, so we started yet another organization. And guess what I did when the depression came hurling back mid-December of last year? Yes, I dropped out. The only things I’ve managed to do in these last months is create a basic site for our organization on WordPress. I haven’t kept any other promise except that one. Thank you WP! You helped me not be so flakey with them this time. You helped me keep at least one of my promises! Hey. 🙂

Have I scared off all of my non-mentally disordered bloggers? So soon? 😦

*********************************************************************************************************

May is Borderline Personality Disorder awareness month.

Penumbras

February 3, 2012

Penumbras

They are the ghosts

Of your bitter wishes.

Drawn by your insecurities.

Magnified by your frustrations.

Don’t stare at them.

If your gaze lands,

They will begin to

Crawl. Don’t follow them.

When your sorrows grow,

Floods of them will

Swarm and form a

Haze of darkness. And

Before you know it,

They will surround you.

Like thick, hungry ticks,

They will penetrate you.

Gnawing at each vein,

They will bleed you.

Don’t cultivate their need.

Because if you feed

Them and nurture them

Each night, they’ll surprise

You when you wake.

From corners and crevices,

They’ll guzzle each one

Of your uttered curses,

Your reckless, dark desires.

Attention is their sustenance.

It makes them bold.

Soon enough, they’ll chase

You down and rob

You of your peace,

Those sly, shady devils

Will have you prey.

Eat or be eaten,

Is what I say.

That’s why girl, keep

Your sight on lighter

Things.  Become the shadow

Eater, if you must.

© PAZ 2009

_____________________

This was actually an assignment for one of those creative writing classes I took in college. I don’t do well with prompts. The prompt here was to write four words per line. I found it yesterday as I was organizing some folders whilst  having a sudden urge to get really fucked up on benzos and narcos. But then I thought, “Hey, I’m going to use the end of this as a mantra for the day”. Really, I think I’m going to use it for the upcoming weeks since I haven’t had an urge like this (at least not this strong) in a very long time. And it’s a bit worrisome. I’m still feeling that urge to take something that’ll just knock me out good. I no longer have the Ambien nor money to get a refill either. But I do have some very old benzos (no strong narcos though), and then there’s some of that Hydrocodone left… See here I am contemplating the beauty of pills that give the wonderful gift of not feeling… No, I don’t want to go there. I know where that leads back to–crushing, blending, parachuting, and snorting painkillers with benzos, and any pill really.

I need to help myself curb away from the urge. I’ve never been an addict per se, not with narcos at least (and I suppose it’s a good thing I’ve never had a full, steady supply). With alcohol, maybe a little, ok a lot, but that’s another story. So admittedly, yes, I have an addictive personality–an addict’s tendencies. But I’m not half bad now. I’m not well either, but I’m not bad. I’m not. I don’t know. I feel a bit numb already, actually–momentarily dispersed into a strange depersonalized mood. Everything around me is vibrating and when I close my eyes, I can see every atom dissipate from my being. I’m outside looking in at that flesh that I call myself but isn’t really me. The flesh has no real sensation of its own. I do not feel it as my own.

God, I really need to eat me some of these impending shadows and then mercilessly turn them to the shit they really are out the other end! I’m strong. I’m smart. They think they have a hold of my mind, but I know I can outwit them.

Now here’s the oxymoron: darkness is merely an absence of light. Pure emptiness.

I was interviewed this morning by a correspondent of EFE international news.

It was awkward. Very awkward on my part at least, and as a result, my anxiety meter has just shot up to the ninth degree. My hands are trembling Michael J. Fox style. And my heart hurts when it palpitates.

I don’t like talking about myself. [ha!] Ok, I don’t like talking about myself under certain circumstances, like being in front of a microphone and a glaring lens.

Really though, I don’t. I don’t like to evoke sympathy. I’ve had to swallow enough of that in my childhood to stuff a herd of overgrown factory cows. No more. Sympathy can suck it. I don’t think I could say that any more concisely than the Dude: “I don’t need your fuckin’ sympathy, man, I need my fucking johnson!”

I do.

I have had many struggles–incapacitating physical and mental struggles–maybe even more than the average bear (and mouse). But you’ve had struggles too. I’m sure of that. That’s partly why I’m here, to share and read others’ struggles. And maybe we can mix our struggles into one giant ball of Play Doh, roll it down a grassy hill and then roll ourselves down that hill, mash it and laugh about it with a childlike glimmer in our eyes. And in the long run, isn’t all of humanity wedged in the same chaotic ball of energy, a floating ball of infinite energy swimming in an endless void? That in itself is a struggle.

So this reporter fella, J, sends me an email last Tuesday. (I think it was last Tuesday, I’m forgetting what days we’re on. Woke up from a nap earlier, was in a panic, thinking it was Monday already and that I’d missed my flight, which won’t be until Wednesday. This damn seasonal change wrecks havoc on my already fucked biorhythms)

Anyway, I get this email from correspondent J:

SOLICTUD PARA ENTREVISTA

Hola, estoy buscando a Paula –—-. Soy corresponsal con la Agencia de Noticias EFE y me han solicitado un reportaje sobre su caso. La duda que tengo es que no sé si es usted la misma Paula que salió en los medios hace pocas semanas.

In sum, the email is asking 1. If i’m the same Paula from that November Huffington Post article (which he provided a link to), and 2. If he could interview me about “my case”.

I’m in the Huffingon Post? How did this happen? I clicked the link, a terrible mistake. And I read it. An even worse mistake.

The article was from when I was talking to a reporter in a loud convention center in Dallas, TX. It was for a United We Dream event in regards to the DREAM Act. During a lunch break, she sat me down even though I was already sitting, and we talked over coffee. We had a great conversation. But I guess I was so sleep deprived that weekend that I just thought we were chatting it up and ignored the fact that she was scribbling in a little notepad.

The article. It was uh, it was… ok. I don’t believe any article/report can give accurate truth to a situation and it can’t give more than a superficial validation to the people in it. There’s no such thing as unbiased reporting. And her writing made me appear slightly mentally challenged, which I kinda am. But no one has to know right?

Here’s how the article ends:

“If I had legal papers, I would get help for my disability,” said Paula —–. “There needs to be a change in the ignorance over the situation of thousands of undocumented students, people should know the truth about this movement.”

I laughed a little. I mocked myself.

*in mocking robotic voice* “If I had legal papers…” “Oh.. if i had legal papers I be set. Disability.”

What kind of diction and syntax is that? I’ll tell you what kind. It’s the robotic kind because when intense anxiety hits, you become many things you’re usually not. I become a robot with sparking wires flying everywhere. Add coffee to that.

Another thing, it makes me seem demanding. But you know what, fuck it, maybe I should be demanding!

And then, there “needs to be a change in the ignorance over the situation”. I don’t speak like that. Do I? I remember saying something more profound or less stupid.

I know I’m being overly critical of myself. And I know the written and spoken language are not the same. That’s exactly why I don’t like interviews. I writeth better than I speaketh. Don’t know if I make much sense in either form though.

What was worse and more anxiety inducing was the comments/discussion section that followed the article. They were vicious! Re-fuckin-lentless. Very, very hateful stuff man. At least they didn’t have terrible grammar and all caps letters like most of their kind usually do.

So for my own psychological well being, I limited myself to reading three… ok four, which go as follows:

Comment #1:

“Weird twilight zone”? Because people want our laws enforced? What Bizzaro world do you live in? Look around, no country allows themselves to be overrun by illegal aliens.

Yes, this world of mankind is bizzaro kinda like that show. And I did run over and overrun a mean girl in middle school with my wheelchair while I turned alien green, but then again, I’d say it was more of a Hulk green. Either way, green was against school policy which was heavily enforced.

Comment #2:

There are 6 billion 700 million non US citizens on the planet, do you believe they all should be given a right to come to America and live? I say hell no! My wife is from Korea, she is now a US citizen, never has anyone from her family asked to have us sponsor any of them, we never even talked about it. The dream act is just another backdoor amnesty like the 14th amendment, which will some day be closed.

I just really feel for this fella’s wife. They “never talk about it,” which means it’s very likely they don’t ever talk about other family related issues. And the 14th Amendment gave former slaves the right to be seen as a whole person by the law (the law which did nothing to change how they were treated anyway) instead of three fifths of a person. Is he suggesting the U.S. revert to the Civil War era? And I wonder who the good sir thinks is worthy of being allowed to stay, to be allowed to be seen as five fifths of a person. Anchor baby this. *points below*

Comment #3:

“I’m sure most other 4 year olds are totally capable of going through the legal immigration process”

Illegal aliens have a good use for their children, as pawns.

I do admit, I’m a pawn. But I’m not much use to my parents. In fact, I feel like a burden right now. I guess they use my lovin’. I will stick with that for now. And I was indeed a four year old when I came here. However, I could not file paperwork then due to poor penmanship, and even if I could there was and and is no law in place to allow me to do so. My dad did apply, but all was in vain. And because I’m a stealthy pawn, I have been trying to get to that sweet queen for twenty-one of my sweet twenty-six years of pawn living.

Comment #4:

Education = The Immigrant Dream??? Perhaps, but only immigrants from India and Senegal and Korea and China. The notion that Latinos, as a people place, an emphasis on academic achievement is laughable.

Laughable? This guy was right about that. But what’s up with the multiple question marks? One will suffice man. I guess I’m also a failure in the education system because I’m not Indian, Senegalese or Korean like commentator #2’s wife. And my failure in education is why I’m currently unemployed, having graduated cum laud this past May–a B.A. in Media Production, two minors in English and art and another useless degree in sound engineering. The B.A. only took me seven years to arrive at. And I believe my failing pawny ass can also speak English.

This last dude’s comment went on and on about how Latinos have the highest dropout rate, how his tax dollars a being wasted on those worthless illegal dropouts (they’re probably Mexican so they must be illegals) and how he doesn’t get why people dare call him racist when he speaks this undeniable truth. I wonder if he’s ever thought about why these kids drop-out. Why I nearly dropped out.

At that point, I closed the browser window and backed away from the computer like if it were a set of explosives. I was the one at risk of exploding. So I took a breather. Mindfulness. Mindfulness. Remember your mindfulness skills.  People will have their opinions, and that’s ok. Not everyone will is willing to learn with an open mind and heart. Not everyone will get it, ever. And not all are spiteful and idiotic assholes.

Surprisingly, I was calm. But it was a numb calmness. Those calms are worrisome.

And… then today came along resurrecting the frustrations of the week, the anxiety, the twitching body, the sudden mental spasms, heated blood and electric current running through that blood.

Somehow I ended up saying yes to the interview request, and after a week of avoidance and cancelled appointments with reporter J, I found myself in my dad’s home office (I live with my parents), sitting in front of a mic and camera sharing my story. I thought this was going to be a written report like the first one. I nearly backed out when I found out it wasn’t. But the guy came all the way down here, so I felt obliged.

That’s how I put myself in the limelight again, naked, exposed. Exposure is good therapy for anxiety though, no? That’s what my therapist keeps insisting.

I fidgeted, my legs kicked, my hands spun a web, my heart raced almost as fast as my thoughts. So, it’s not even anonymous? They’re not gonna blur my face or cover it with a black square. They’re gonna give my real name? I’m not gonna get an autotuned voice!

I feel like such an exhibitionist now. But I make myself believe it’s for a good cause. It’s for awareness. It’s to be heard. My answers, however, were no better than the aforementioned Huffington Post bit.

“Are you ok?” reporter J said midway into the interview.

“Yes [lie]. I’m just tired. I haven’t slept much these past couple of days. The dogs woke me up the night before last.”

A few funny things kept happening though, and it lightened my mood a bit. My dad burst in from his morning jog carrying one of our two white Pomeranians on his shoulder; the other trotted behind. My dad is a dark, pot bellied, short man in his late 60’s. His round nose, bandana towel thingy hanging over his bald comb-over and the dog he hung on his back like a mink cloak was enough to distract me from the torture. I chuckled.

Then, after I had gained composure and was answering another set of the questions, the sound of peeing and a toilet flushing cut right through my voice. It was my groggy brother who’d just gotten out of bed down the hall.

Reporter J. stopped the camera and said, “We’re gonna have to do that part again.”

_______________________________________________

NOTE: I have a little sketch of me being filmed after the interview and my brother peering out his bedroom door. Maybe I’ll scan it and post tomorrow. Also, if you’re reading this and got this far, you’re awesome. Thanks for reading such a long, acidic rant and withstanding my sarcasm! Or you must be bored. I think I need to relax. I’ma go make myself a hot chocolate, watch The Walking Dead and cry myself to sleep because I can’t wait for the zombie apocalypse.

Joaquin Luna is no longer a kid, though he was when he was brought to the U.S..

He was an 18 year-old undocumented high school student, an A+ student before he shot himself a few days ago. Besides that, I don’t know the details of his suicide nor the circumstances the press wants to talk about and/or omit, and I sure as all hell don’t want to think about all of the political implications–all the petty, hateful online arguments about immigrants in the comment sections I used to read so much–and that, I presume, have been stirred by this kid’s publicized story.

I’ve been enjoying my media blackout lately and I hope to keep it that way for a little while, for my own sanity’s sake.

So, I honestly didn’t want to know much, if anything at all. Unfortunately, I could not resist my organizer friend’s Facebook posts and I read on and on. What I do know is that, apparently, there were notes of his with stated worries about his immigration status. Notes not dissimilar to the picture below.

Found this on Post-It[dot]com about a year ago

From Post-It.com


I found this image on Post-It.com last spring and saved in my computer. I’ve had it since and use it as a reminder to stay strong; to not see myself as a victim; to keep my commitment to the movement, the people in it, those who work day in day out organizing, planning, doing, and to the kids. I will continue my efforts to educate them, to tell them they can because I have been there. I am still there. I can only hope the kid who wrote the Post-It didn’t end up like Joaquin. 

********

I was a teenager just like Joaquin. And just like the kid who posted this note, I often thought of “jumping off” a bridge or a ledge of some kind (though at thirteen I could barely stand). I didn’t belong anywhere. All those teenage years, I felt I had no voice. “I might as well drown with my fuckin’ voice” I’d whisper.

I often thought of how I would manage drowning myself in Buffalo Bayou or some other creek in the Southwest or Memorial Park or better yet, somewhere more isolated where my body wouldn’t scare too many people once found. I’d have to shoot myself first; then I’d fall in and drown. Wherever. I didn’t exactly matter. That was my plan. I just dreamed of drowning because it seemed better than the kind of drowning I was already experiencing. Society told me being an “illegal” was less than a person. Being an “illegal” meant you weren’t welcome, wanted, cared about, needed. You were a criminal not a human–you weren’t anyt/hing at all.

“I am seen as a waste of righteous and rightful tax paying citizen’s dollars even though my illegal daddy pays taxes too. I’m a waste of flesh, regardless.”

That’s not taking into account all of what family told me, the fears that were bred. “Don’t ever say anything you hear about it! Nunca! Don’t ever call the police, even in scary situations.” It was more so implied than actually said.

No soy de aquí! Ni soy de allá!” I used to silently scream while banging my limp body against a wall, a doorknob, a table corner–anything that would make my body throb, anything to quell the thoughts.

Then I realized that there is such a thing as a privileged class. I learned how much societal structures try to bind us and how much we willingly let them shackle our minds. I learned this thing we humans do in our wonderfully organized societies–we set classes, we classify. And by classifying, we degrade one another.

I was fortunate: the nineties were easier, hell anything prior to 2011 and the aftermath of 9/11  was easier. There weren’t that many Joe Arpaios in Arizona making immigrant detainees dress in pink panties to humiliate them; there were no Tent Cities in Texas; there were no private prisons who profited on “illegal” children and their mothers being detained. I was able to go to college, partly because of my tenacity and partly because I was in the right place at the right time. I got a private church-based scholarship and with that, and a few academic awards, I went to college. Many cannot; many will not. The limits are boundless. Yes, we are the embodiment of that very oxymoron you see in that last sentence.

***

Initially, I didn’t think to/want to write a post, especially not one like this. I just had this blog here waiting for something to strike me, to compel me enough to dive into this thing, all nervousness aside. It sat here lonely in November, my little blog.

Unfortunately, something did hit me, but not in the way I’d hoped. I just heard so much about this that I feel I should speak now. It is imperative that I speak up for all of my silent years, for those like Joaquin. Yet, suicide is something that I do not feel comfortable talking about. My thoughts on the subject would require many posts because it runs too close to home for me to even begin.

Being undocumented, however, is something still sitting on my doorstep. It scratches at the door of my thoughts like a hungry street cat that never leaves. What shall I do today? Oh, right, I can’t, I don’t have the nine magic numbers. It’s like being chained on a leash and someone–the great big hand of daddy State–smacks you with the belt and places the plate out of reach.

And so the news of his suicide did cause a strange intimate unease in me. Most suicides do, but this one is considerably different.

It was a momentary unease but it was intense enough to tear a piece off of me. It reached a core in me.

Believe it or not, each stressor–be it big or small–can dance around in an emotionally and mentally unstable person’s mind. Any additional stressor can send them spinning over the edge.

I also find both topics–immigration and suicide–are ones I know a good deal about, or think I do at least. But I can’t argue and I am not going to argue about the reasons or the causes now, because for one, to any given suicidal person there are many (mostly reasons arising from distorted perceptions) and they’re all relative; and two, I never knew the guy. So I will not speculate further.

I will say this however: Suicide is a reality in EVERY population. And there is a markedly high population of undocumented youth living in the U.S. whose mental health is being overlooked, whose lives are forsaken.  It is tragic. I cannot say there are so-and-so thousands hurting because I cannot back this up with statistic. Roughly 65,000 undocumented students graduate U.S public high schools every year. If one in four people are likely to have a severe mental disorder, I can only guess. How many feel pushed back and forth like a bobo doll? Pushed towards furthered mental instability by society.

I can only back it with personal experience, though. I was a participant of a study Dr. Lauren Luttinger conducted on immigrant youth and depression in a New York City university near the Bronx. She told me it  was very telling. Some of her findings were that risks are higher for “illegal” kids much like kids from, say an urban, poverty-stricken neighborhood where the daily diet is violence and hopelessness; kids who are raped; kids from a household with an alcoholic parent; or queer kids in a predominantly Baptist, conservative, rural Texas town. These are just a few examples of the many “high risk” populations.

****

This is not just about some bill (D.R.E.A.M Act) being tossed around for a decade by the men in black suits and grey beards calling all the shots, trowing up the bill like a rotten steak. Meanwhile, the chained and malnourished dogs can only look down and salivate.

It’s far too complex. I know. It’s about groups of people and their “place” in society, keeping order, blah blah blah. The “places,” the “classes” nations put them in. The “place” we put ourselves and each other in. It’s the way we treat ourselves and each other.

I just hope people take a little time to consider these things from a broader perspective. I hope they would take a step back from their daily lives for a minute to see it from a more sociological view because society DOES play a role in the nature vs. nurture dichotomy of depression as well as other mental health issues and mental disorders.

***

To Joaquin R.I.P.:

Sonnet of the Undocumented Student

Hackneyed, unkind, lost words my mind once bore
In unspoken airs of my resistance.
They’re not a love to write a sonnet for—
These words barely breathe my fumed persistence.
See we, not conquerors of course, are told
And expected to pay our loyalties
To those who make social constructs; yet fold
And love to scorn whilst in their boundaries.
Gracious ports once opened no longer hear
Hope’s clangs rebound, up down, up down on stones.
Now our bodies, voices and dreams call near
To the only land that’s taxed our bones.
Students deemed ‘aliens’ for lack of forms,
Let’s not trade empathy for empty norms!

© Paz 2009