Staring at its seductive curves and edges, I was entranced. It offered a glimmer of hope and redemption in my current state of anguish and depression. The object was a recently sharpened Japanese knife, and one clean slice could set me free. Just one cut could launch me into oblivion and rip off the tight armor of pain encased around my body. This enticing thought would tantalize me multiple times a day. Whenever I would be doing something, no matter how distracting, my taunting self-critic would make his way into my mind: “You have absolutely nothing to offer this world — all you are is a walking failure. How are you such a fucking pussy? Are you really going to cry all day? Just kill yourself already.” No matter how convincing this voice was, I always thought of my friends and family. My sister and mother would be plunged into a permanent world of pain and misery if I went through with this destructive mission. Why would I want to make them feel like I did then? I would not wish that despair upon my worst enemy. If it weren’t for them, I would not be alive today.
From a viewer’s vantage, I’ve led a charmed life. I am smart, healthy, attractive, wealthy, and fun to be around. People would continuously seek my company; beautiful women were frequently confessing their feelings to me. This is undoubtedly an incredibly privileged lifestyle. But it was all an act; one worth a fucking Oscar and a Golden Globe. Due to my high EQ, I had the dating game down to a perfect science. Distance was my sword and mysteriousness was my shield; I used those tools like a hungry soldier ready for war. I presented girls with the image of who I wanted to be, not who I truly was. Whenever I showed them the highly sensitive, insecure, needy boy with abandonment issues, they would run away and leave me devastated. Since revealing the real me always resulted in misery, why do it? Although taking on this persona got me plenty of romantic success, this performance left me feeling both empty and tremendously guilty. I could not be my true self around the girl I loved because I knew it would push her away. That sad reality warped through my mind whenever we spent time together; however, it was masqueraded by the charming, cheerful, and entertaining character I was presenting. This rule did not only apply to girls; I presented a fake version of myself to friends as well. I grew up as a chubby, hispanic kid in a posh, British school: this was a losing formula for making friends. This issue transferred to high school. Although I had a core group of brothers that I consider family to this day, every girl I wanted to make friends with or was romantically interested in pushed me away. Often, when I talked to them, I would freeze and stutter due to the bullying I had received growing up. By the time I got to college, I had realized that being myself got me nowhere, so I put on a shiny fucking mask in every social endeavor. I quickly climbed the social ranks and became the “it” guy on campus, but knowing I had to fake my way to get there killed me every night. I was in way too deep. When I got home most nights, I stared at myself in the mirror and dissected every little thing about my body and mind. Every time, I saw my ten-year-old self in London, laughing and kicking a ball around, delicate and pudgy with a smile that melted hearts. Tears rolled down my face as I longed to embrace him tightly and tell him that everything would be ok, but I couldn’t. All I wanted to be was a role model for him and show him that things would work out for the better. But that was the beginning of the end for him. Insecurities would blister his mind, abandonment would constantly break his heart, and bullying would carve out his soul. This only got worse over time. About a year ago, I would stand over a secret ledge in my school as I looked down and prayed I would trip and fall — every fucking day. This is when I finally realized that I needed serious help. Due to my well crafted facade, no one had a clue what was going on inside. All that pain was locked in a vault and the key was nowhere to be found. No matter how much pain someone is in, people can become masters of disguise.
I walked into my first session with my psychiatrist feeling utterly defeated. The years of toxic masculinity imprinted in my mind made me think I must be crazy and less of a man for seeking help. I stared into my doctor’s eyes blankly as she told me I had severe anxiety and depression, as well as ADHD. White noise played in my mind for the next few hours; I could not formulate a single thought. Later, I intently observed the ranting, homeless man running around Union Square, thinking that could be my future. Within three months, I was on seven medications: two antidepressants, two anxiety medications, two ADHD medications, and benzos on the side. I felt like a complete zombie. Although being numb has its benefits, I could not feel any form of excitement, love, or positivity. However much pain I used to feel, the wave of chills when I heard a good song or the warm buzz when kissing a crush made it all momentarily vanish. There was nothing like those moments; they would replay in my mind whenever I was feeling down. But now, even sex felt like a chore; I went through the motions without feeling a single thing in my body. Music became nothing but sound, offering no euphoria or escape. Friends would ask me to hang out, girls would ask me to get drinks, but I could not bring myself to join them. I felt invisible and worthless. Who would want to hang out with someone this lifeless? In comes alcohol and weed, which became lethal in combination with the medicine I was on. After a couple glasses of Japanese whiskey and some tightly rolled joints, my unconscious was released and the loving, cute, bubbly ten-year old Lucas came flying out, and I loved it. I had relentless energy and confidence; I felt like I was on top of the world. In those inebriated moments, life felt easy and I had no desire to end it. That would all come crashing down when I was violently fingering my throat at the end of most nights as the walls were caving in. That momentary bliss resulted in two days of pain, depression, and intense suicidal ideations as penance. The combination of benzos, alcohol, and marijuana made my brain feel like someone tossed it in a blender on the highest speed. I still feel the effects of this concoction to this day. Nevertheless, as soon as a friend called, I popped the bottle open and fired another blunt — a vicious cycle with no end in sight. Although I was hellbent on continuing this path of destruction, my mother thankfully intervened and encouraged me to find another psychiatrist who did not enable this sort of behavior.
This doctor was my last chance. I was worried that if this did not work, that might be it for me. But luckily this time, I found the right match. After extensive discussions and research, he concluded that I have bipolar type II disorder, which my previous psychiatrist had failed to see. Although well-intentioned, her drug cocktail exacerbated my issues and chemically made my suicidal ideations come at a much higher frequency. After three weeks of the worst withdrawals I have ever been through and, at times, unbearably strong suicidal urges, I came out on the other side. I feel happy, grounded, focused, and like myself for the first time since I was a child. All it took was one good doctor, a caring mother, and a willingness to change. Furthermore, I am off all anxiety and ADHD meds, as well as weed and alcohol. All I take now is Lithium, a mood balancer for people with bipolar disorder. However, not taking the anxiety and ADHD meds requires a high level of discipline. I still have anxiety and struggle with maintaining focus, but for these issues, drugs are not the answer, at least not for me. The natural medicines I now take are supplements, intense daily workouts, an hour of meditation, and a strict diet curtailed to my needs. I also aim to be sober from drugs and alcohol for the rest of my life. This regiment is by no means facile, but I never want to go back to feeling like that zombie again.
Life does not have to be a constant cycle of suffering and anxiety. Each of us has the power to break free from our pain and start fresh. Trust me; I know this is no easy path. I spent years walking down that endless road of misery, continually asking myself when enough was enough. Although men have advantages in many ways, in America, men committed suicide 3.6 times more often than women in 2018 and white men accounted for about 70% of suicide deaths. It’s my sense that this is due to a deep-rooted culture of toxic masculinity. In an effort to stay strong and not seem too effeminate, men refuse to talk about this shit: “Don’t be a bitch.” They keep their demons locked in a cage and refuse to give them attention. However, the longer they stay neglected, the quicker they grow. This mental strategy leads men to choose death as a route to deal with their pain. They simply can not imagine another way out. Not even a year ago, that was me. I could have been part of those statistics. Seek help. Seek guidance. Seek love. If you are scared of seeming crazy and being discredited, I was in the same situation. I beg you; please take a chance on yourself. Yes, I am bipolar. Yes, you may think I am crazy. However, I do not give a shit. I can finally accept who I truly am, and I fucking love that guy.
“There is no genius without a touch of madness” (Seneca).
Due to our incredibly fucked up culture and government, therapy is a privilege that not all can afford or even fathom going through with. Here are some places that can guide one to getting free or affordable therapy:
National Suicide Prevention Lifeline 800–273-TALK (8255)