I am Alejandra Vargas, most of you know me as Ale aka MAD ALE. For those of you who don’t know me well, here is a short backstory. I am 33 years old, I work in Healthcare Administration and in 2018 I experienced a life changing event. I was engaged but that relationship took a different route. It caused me to end up in a very dark place. In 2019 I seeked professional help and learned a lot about myself in therapy. I fell in love again in a new relationship with someone for three years, but unfortunately that was not the healthiest relationship either. Fast forward to 2022, when I thought I could not reach a lower rock bottom than 2018, I fell lower and harder than ever before.
In 2021 my ex fiancé died. It had been almost three years since I had last seen his children, who I always loved as my own. The grief of not seeing them after our breakup was devastating, and now knowing he was no longer in this world was unbearable. I was able to reconnect with Mykee and Aubrey (his children) once more. Life without Mykel has not been the same for any of us. Although it was a blessing to see the kids and have them back in my life, it was also difficult for me to see his two new children. The thought of knowing these could have been our children was emotionally difficult to deal with. I seeked professional help once more after his death but it seemed like my therapist thought I was handling it well and didn't need the help I thought I needed. So I did what I do best, I figured out how to deal with these emotions on my own.
In 2021 I also ended a three year relationship with a man that gave our relationship little effort. In hopes that one day he would change I stayed trying to always “fix” our issues. Eventually I learned that a person can only change if they want to. There is not enough love or effort you can give to make another person realize the treasure they have in front of them.
To make the year worse, my dog who I had for seven years developed a brain tumor a week after his 7th birthday and began to have seizures. The experience of seeing my fur baby on the floor having a seizure and I could not do anything to take them away was so painful. Eventually after two months of vet visits and uncontrollable seizures at his Neurologist appointment he had the worst seizure of them all and in an emergency situation I had to put him down. As a fur mom that was the most difficult decision I have ever had to make in my life.
So here we are, September 2021 and all of these events have happened. The depression began to grow deeper and deeper. Anxiety attacks became more frequent. I buried myself in work. I took on everyone else's duties. Taking on work for 5 people, with compensations of higher pay and title changes. On paper my career was thriving. In real life I was hiding my depression through my work. I tried to be happy, but in all honesty it had been years since there was ever a day when I didn't wake up sad and lonely.
In March of 2022 I turned 33. I made a promise to myself that this would be MY year. That I was going to thrive. I was going to make sure I bought my house, I would travel, I would live my life to the fullest, and I partially did. I met a man who was amazing. He really changed the dating perspective for me and I thank him for that. I can honestly say, in that short time frame I was smiling daily, but unfortunately timing was not on our side but a friendship remained.
On July 3rd, 2022 I tried to commit suicide. I was over my life. There was nothing anyone could tell me that could make me change my mind. I had the pills in my hand ready to end it all. The depression had hit the lowest point of my life. After everything that I had been through the past year the only thought I had in mind was “What is the point? I cannot succeed in anything. My life does not matter.The world is better without me. I can't even be happy because happiness is not for me.” My family had no choice but to 51/50 me. The police took me in handcuffs. I heard my dad let out a painful cry when they were handcuffing me, and I had no emotion. I just wanted to die. I spent two nights at a mental health facility and that experience made me realize this was not where I should be.
For five weeks I spent 10 hours weekly in Intensive Outpatient Therapy. I learned a lot. The key part of it was that I did need help and I should have pushed for help when Mykel died but being the “strong” person that I am, I thought I could do it alone. The therapist asked me, “Who is Alejandra, and what makes Alejandra happy?” I could not answer that question then, but I began to work on finding out the answer.
I spent many years trying to be that perfect woman that any man would want. Making sure I checked off THEIR checklist. The perfect daughter, sister, friend, just to fail because I was not fully authentic. I began to figure out the moments that gave me joy and I started to do them more. I learned how to set boundaries with everyone including family. Our peace can only be created within our own choices. Depression is a serious matter and it is not easy to deal with it on our own. Anxiety can feel like you are suffocating from one second to the next. I am not ashamed of my diagnosis. I take antidepressants to help with my mental illness. I speak out about this because so many of us feel like the moment you can't do something we look weak, we look unsuccessful. Learning to see the small wins over that long term goal is a major shift in perspective.
Being suicidal is not an act of attention. It is the last stage of dealing with a long term emotion of feeling unhappy. A chemical brain imbalance for many of us. People have said “I didn't know you were that bad, I wish I saw the signs.” In all honesty, I think I hid my depression very well because I had to be strong, I had an image to maintain. No one would have been able to help me at that point. I needed professional help.
To those who suffer in silence, please know that you are not alone. Depression is a battle that we can win. There are resources out there. Most health plans pay for free therapy. If you are uninsured there are community clinics that provide services on a sliding fee scale. Help is there, do not be ashamed to ask for it.
To answer my therapist’s question, Alejandra is a warrior. Her battle scars have created the woman she is today. She is a leader, a kind and loving daughter, sister, stepmom, godmother, niece, cousin, friend and auntie. She is an outspoken, slightly funny, shittalking, courageous, smart, physically and mentally strong woman. She is unique and she is enough. What makes her happy is spending time with friends and family. Going out to eat (I love wings), going to concerts or sport games (Go Rams!), hiking, reading books, geeking out about Star Wars, Marvel, DC, military things, and of course enjoying a day at Disneyland.
I am still learning who I am outside of a man’s perspective of me. So when I said 33 was going to be MY year, it has been. Maybe not in the way I had planned it, but in the way that holds most value to my life. Having hope that I can achieve happiness is the biggest shift in perspective I could ever have. The Force is strong with this one.