NOTE: Due to the events discussed, certain names have been changed.
I’ve discussed my problems with suicide on this blog here before and the shortcomings I’ve had with bouts of depression along with my attempts. Unfortunately, unbeknownst to most of my family members and friends, I relapsed after a rough series of events. It’s a bit long, but I needed to get it off my chest in order to move on with the burden I’ve been holding for a year now.
One Author in Search of a Character
Last year, I went through a bad break-up. I had been with my girlfriend Cassie at the time for roughly two years and it was going pretty well until one day, she snapped. Cassie had mental health issues from frequent voices in her hear head telling her things and bouts with depression every now and then. For full disclosure, I knew about it going into the relationship. I knew one day things would get bad.
“I never want you to see when it gets bad, ” she said. I ensured her that I would help her, even when that was the case.
Cassie was currently working on a play with a local theater and it was opening. I saw the play and cheered her on, but something was different that night. I wanted to talk to her and patch things up. We had been on a break for about a month and I felt we needed to work out what was going on.
From there, we walked to join some of the actors for some beer and pizza. She started to berate me in a manner that was not her and it wasn’t. It was the bad side of voices taking over. She talked down to me about my aspiration of going to Arizona State University saying I was only leaving her to find someone better. I never went on to apply out of fear of losing her, yet here I was, being told I was going to leave her. She also said that I was no longer the person she wanted to be around and telling me I was being childish and immature for wanting her to relax and not stress. Then, she hit me with her words.
“You are stressing out and getting frustrated. You keep complaining about it and saying how you needed a break. I’ve been trying and it’s killing you,” I said.
“Yeah, and that’s what this business is about. this is my dream and not yours. You will always be second. No matter what goes on in life, acting will be number one and my friends, my family and you will always be second,” Cassie said.
I never asked to be first, but to be told I was secondary along with everyone else was a hard pill to swallow. I was in shock and tearing up.
“Stop it with that. you promise not to be stupid and bring this up?” she said.
“Yes,” I said.
“Do you promise not to act like an idiot?”
I faked an entire conversation with her in the pizza place as to not be supsicious. There was a glimmer of the Cassie I loved, but that was diminishing as I replayed the past few minutes in my head.
Earlier, at the play, when her character appeared on stage, I stared at the program multiple times to see if an understudy was playing as I did not recognize her. She seemed almost ghostly with the pale makeup covering her olive skin and her voice sounding almost as a youthful teenager. I should have seen that as the first sign things were getting worse.
“Bridge Over Troubled Water”
The next Wednesday, I had to be on set all day for a short web series I was taking a part in along with Cassie. It was based on our relationship at the time and our personalities being so different. It only saw the light of day in two episodes for reasons later on., I set up my living room for the video we are shooting.
It is roughly going to be a twelve-hour day. I make breakfast with optimism to save face for the production crew including Billy, a mutual friend of mine and Cassie, Demarcus, a new guy I’ve never met but is good with lights, and Elizabeth, a production assistant to Billy that day. I give them their breakfast along with providing drinks for them until Cassie walks in. Cassie appears tired, frustrated and thoroughly annoyed.
“Morning, Cassie. Are you hungry? I have breakfast set up. We are all setup and ready to g-”
“Fuck off and let’s just get this over with it,” she replied.
Me, taken aback, just continues on and brush it off. She’s just pissed. We set up the first shot inside and begin to film. Cassie looks at me.
“For the rest of the day, we are not together. We are not a couple. We are just two actors working together. Don’t even bother talking to me or cheering me up. It’s not going to work, so let’s do this and get out, okay?” she said.
I just nod. Cassie is gone. I’m not dealing with Cassie anymore. I’m dealing with a voice inside her. I’m dealing with another persona or maybe this is actually Cassie.
After this scene, we set up for another scene. Here, we act as two warriors battling one another with horribly made suit of armor of towels, sleep pants and pajamas. We test out the weapons to make sure they work and I accidentally hit Cassie. I apologize for my mistake and Cassie grabs her fake plastic sword and whacks me on top of the head. On purpose. She looked at me in pure anger and rage.
Oh shit, this is the bad side. This IS Cassie. I’m fucked and she’s gone, I realize.
“The Beast Inside”
The next scene, every shot on film and in frame is real. Cassie is physically destroying me on film. It’s not longer a joke, she is using the scene to hit me and I can’t do anything. I want to say something. I want to tell Elizabeth and Billy to turn it off, but I don’t want to. I have to keep going and power through. The hits grow from soft for the scene to harder with every smack. She’s hurting me and I want to say something, but my heart won’t let me.
We take down the setup of the living room, pack it in the production van (in this case, a beat up Astro) and leave. On the way to the next location, myself, now in defeat after not saying I was hurting.
“Serg, remember the script you wrote for the next episode for us to rewrite it? We have a sample her for you,” Billy says handing me the pages.
“Wait? Why is Demarcus’ name on it?” I asked.
Cassie gives me an annoyed look, then gets the pages to say.
“Your script was not good , so we got him to punch it up,” Cassie said. “We kept the concept of the Twilight Zone feel and worked around it.”
They didn’t. The Twilight Zone parody was gone and it was an original script from the ground up. My name was nowhere seen in the written by list. This was a new script they were passing off as a revised version of mine. I was getting pushed off the project behind-the-scenes after asking them to help rewrite it. Instead, they give it to someone I hardly knew. I was upset, but that was the least of my problems that day.
We shoot insert shots of a scene with myself opening the door to see Cassie doing something odd off camera. I could see Cassie in the corner of my eye more annoyed at the fact I was there. I can feel her anger and her pissed off. After the scenes, I tried to talk to her about how I was feeling as I needed and outlet and she was the only one.
“I said not to bother now go back over there. Me and Billy have to go over some production stuff. Now sit down and focus on something else,” Cassie said. Billy noticed something was wrong, as did Elizabeth. I stepped outside and started to tear up. I couldn’t do this. Suddenly, a phone call.
“Hi, son! How’s it going?”
“Horrible. Nothing is working out and she isn’t herself. I don’t think I can do this anymore. I’m losing it.”
“Come home then if you feel that way,” my mother said, concern in her voice.
Stubborn me won’t let that happen.
“I have to stick with it. I have to,” I say.
“Call me if anything, please?” she says. “See you later, alligator.”
I hang up and try to breathe in as Billy appears.
“It’s going to be okay. I promise. You are going to get through this. You are stronger than what is going on right now and you have the drive to succeed. I don’t know exactly what is happening as I don’t want to get involved, but you need to carry on as we are all relying on you. Even Cassie knows that,” Billy said. “I overheard the conversation with our mother.”
(Billy, if you know who are, despite what your affiliation is with Cassie at the moment, I hope you know that those words helped a lot. Thanks for that at least. Sorry it does not work out after all this).
We catch up with the actors, Edith and Tom, playing the couple we will be going on a double date for pizza with as the episode calls for. How my love of pizza is not ruined, I’ll never know, but that’s besides the point. It was just a long night growing longer. These two were great actors, played off each other well, despite Edith having problems with him. They felt more like a true couple than the couple falling apart.
As the night rolled in and the scene played, some of the crew could see the sadness and shock on my face. One actress who only appeared in this one scene came up and asked.
“Is everything okay?” she says.
Cassie looked me with an annoyed glance.
“I’m fine,” I say.
She gave a half-smile and walked off to dress for her part. The next scenes I had to act like one half of a couple, barely making it through life. Every scene I became more tired and unwilling to give a solid performance. Cassie was a bit annoyed, until a small mark of sadness came over her. Seeing that, it encouraged me to keep on with the performance, work tirelessly sitting in that pizza booth waiting for the shoot to end.
I acted to the best I could and put my energy into it all. It was no longer because I wanted to. It was to satisfy Cassie and try to win her over. I was no longer myself, just an auto-pilot human prop. I no longer felt human.
The shoot ends, we pack things up and I’m ready to go. I get out of the pizza place slightly expecting Cassie and I to talk and work things out. She avoids me as if I was lesser and talks to the production crew, joking and laughing away.
I’m by the van to go home and begin to open my phone to find the nearest Uber. Cassie seldom looks at me and the others don’t pay me any mind. I’m all alone, broken and beaten, contemplating the end of not just the relationship, but of myself.
They decide to take me home with Cassie in the car still chatting away with the rest of the crew of actors and production. I’m in the back looking at the night sky, the only thing that keeps me sane. I’m lost in the possibilities, the memories that are going to end and the inevitable that may happen when I get home. Cassie does not bat an eye, instead more focused on the people in the car.
They coincidentally begin to talk about death and the people they lost in high school that were close to them. They talk of a boy name Brad who was tragically killed in an accident and extend from there. It’s graphic, poignant and tragic, yet they all miss him. This added fuel to the fire inside my mind.
As they pull up to my place, I begin to make my exit, grab my gear and costumes from the shoot and head to the door. As I go to grab my bag, Cassie puts out her hand to grab mine. She has not bothered once to pay any mind to me or what’s going on in my head.
I grew furious and angered inside as if this was the proper moment. I grab her hand to reassure her there was still love and, honestly, that’s the last memory I have of her. Not even of her face or anything, just her hand reaching out. I didn’t bother to look at her. I did not want to know what that face looked like. I left yelling at all of them to have a good night and try not to fuck things up like I tend to do. They veered off and I meant into the house.
I threw my things on the floor and began to have a mental breakdown. I was confused, scared and anxious about everything. I kept asking myself why it was not panning out, what I did wrong and why I wasn’t good enough. I was losing my composure and my mind was not in the proper state of being.
I broke down on the kitchen floor and contemplated what happened. The kitchen was dark with only a candle with a Saint on it lighting the place and myself curled up on the floor wondering if this was the time to finally call it quits, but not just from the relationship, but from life itself.
I grabbed myself up and began beating myself with the kitchen drawers in attempt to knock me out cold and draw blood. That didn’t work, so I attempted to find painkillers, but alas, no luck. I was relapsing and I could not control it. I reached for the knife drawer and held on to the biggest knife I could find. I was grabbing it and held on. I looked at the ceiling, I looked at the candle and I accepted my fate that I was ready to end it.
My phone began to go off with the Sonic the Hedgehog ring sound effect. I had it for Messenger and I swipe on my phone to see who it is stopping me from giving into impulsive fate. I check my phone and it is Jerry.
Jerry has been my best friend for more than a decade and if anyone who is anyone is going to take me away from the stress of the reality before me, it was him. He is practically my brother at this point as I tell him anything and everything. I’m surprised I have not married him yet.
“Hey buddy, how’s it going?” he writes in the message.
I drop the knife into the drawer and I begin to focus. I realized I’m letting it all get to me including Cassie’s attitude the whole day. I’m struggling to talk, even via message and decide to be calm.
“I’m feeling horrible. This day was hell and I am so hungry and I can eat a horse,” I reply back. Jerry and I usually eat food together. It is our social activity and I have a feeling he hasn’t eaten all day.
“I am hungry too. Haven’t eaten all day,” Jerry replies. I know him better than he knows himself.
“Norm’s?” I ask. It’s a famous local franchise chain in Los Angeles simliar to Denny’s and open 24/7.
“Fuck it, I’m game,” he says. “I’ll pick you up after work.”
He came later and practically saved me from my own demise. In that late night hour of roughly 1 am, steak and eggs feel like home and JErry’s humor and company feels like a God send or some form of divine intervention. I never let him know about what happened in that moment of messaging back and forth and ensure that we have a good time. I get it out in the open and Jerry helps me cope.
“You love her and if it doesn’t work out, then just be prepared for it. Everything seems horrible right now, but knowing you, you will continue to be you and move on,” Jerry says.
It’s encouraging and helps me know at least when things get rough, I should be okay for the most part.
Grace/Portrait of Sebastia Juñer Vidal
A week passes since that day and I message Jerry to see when he was free. Luckily, our schedules worked well enough for us to go out on the following Tuesday as we had days off then. The day was set in stone.
I broke out into my trademark going out getup of a slim black blazer, a Ducktales T-shirt and some tight jeans that could still fit me. Jerry did the same, minus the Ducktales T-shirt. We drove to Amoeba Records in Hollywood were I got myself Mulholland Drive on Blu-Ray and headed out for a pint at Wirsthaus out in West Los Angles to indulge in Bravarian sausage and a pint of Erdinger Weissbier. I even caught up with an old love interest name Claire the same day, which Cassie steered me away from for quite a long time. Everything was causal until me and Jerry decided something better.
“Hey, LACMA (Los Angeles County Museuem of Art) is free after 3 right now. We should go,” I said to Jerry who was knee deep in his pint.
“Fuck it, I’m game,” Jerry said as he said before as it is his trademark response for being up to any challenge.
We headed to LACMA and paid for the expensive ass parking of $12, which is actually quite cheap by LA standards. Here, we entered the world of art from the modern and the contemporary. We explored and took pictures whenever we could. One piece of art struck me at first. It was a piece called Grace by Billy Al Bengston.
Something about it struck me in a way. It was dark and mysterious with a heart trapped in another frame in the center. The photo above does not do it justice (John Berger is crying right now) as it was a stark marvel of black and grey taking hold of the heart. I felt the heart was equal to the state of my heart at the moment: trapped under the darkness and gloom and it itself being drenched in the colors of it.
Me and Jerry moved on through exhibits and put our phones away as the next rooms where of French artist Henri Matisse and Spanish artist Pablo Picasso in the flesh right before us. They were marvelous to see face-to-face with the strokes and blemishes oozing off the canvas and the hard labor being shown. It was gorgeous to behold, yet one painting struck me.
Portrait of Sebastia Juner Vidal by Pablo Picasso drew me out from seeing the other paintings and plunged me in. The rich dark hues of blue, the look of doubt on his face and the only glimmer of light within the rose of the woman next to him. It was lovely to stare and be entranced when a sudden thought in my mind occurred.
It’s over. I know it’s going to end. I’m finally enjoying myself and experiencing something new. I’m not prepared for it to go away so suddenly, I said to myself. But I’ll do my best when it comes.
And it did and, luckily, nothing has been as rough or enduring since. Some days were harder than other and I’m near the end of moving on from it all. In one of my final conversations with Cassie, she revealed that she felt she was taking me away from my potential.
I think she was right in that aspect. I started to take time for myself, got into more podcasting and being around those I love and care about, got a much better job than the one I had before and intern in a field I never thought I could be apart of.
I started focusing on myself more since, growing and maturing a lot since then despite the pain. I’m still growing and still continuing on without any relapses and seeing what happens next. I look forward to whatever happens next.