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This time of year is particularly hard for me as it marks two years since I attempted to commit suicide and losing my aunt and uncle, both by car accident.
I was celebrating my birthday over dinner with a few friends in downtown Oakland. I had a lot to drink. My friends tried to keep me from driving home, but I threw a big temper tantrum and ran off. Depression emerged from not feeling like I was enough during that time: not enough in my career, not enough for my family, not enough in life. The biggest irony was that this was one of the best birthdays I have ever had: I ate at my first two Michelin-starred restaurant, my mom bought me a beautiful $1,000 necklace from Tiffany’s in Paris, saw my favorite artist, Sam Smith live and I spent almost every day for two weeks celebrating with loved ones. It’s as if my bipolar depression hit its highest peak, ready to bring me to my lowest.
I don’t remember much but suddenly I was driving on two flat tires with my car alarm sounding off. I thought pulling on the side of the road would be dangerous since I was intoxicated and who knows what creep will pull over or even to trust the tow person (very problematic issues womyn face daily, unfortunately). Nearing my exit, I was determined to get home. I drove up that hill on two wheels and parked in my spot without hitting anything and anyone. I woke up the next morning with the biggest headache. I laid there and thought, “wtf just happened?” I could have brushed it off and went about my life like I usually do after a drunk episode, but this time was different. I finally realized I had a problem and came to the realization that I tried to kill myself. But when it came to it, my will power refused and saved myself.
Being in therapy didn’t help prevent this episode, but it helped me be self-aware and self-confident. I called for a family meeting to confront them about my trauma and depression that was caused by my mom who strongly opposed me being queer and would make hurtful comments and my brother who was mentally abusive. I had to confront these issues that ate me at my core. It was the greatest breakthrough I had with my family, who overall, loves me tremendously. You can’t excuse love with trauma, but you can confront these issues together and work through it. Although sometimes I wish it never happened, I’m grateful for living through it to be better in recognizing my triggers (alcohol) and minimizing/ managing my bipolar depression, and especially developing a more communicative and compassionate relationship with my family.
Two days after my car accident/suicide attempt, my aunt and uncle were killed in a car accident. I was on the bus on my way home from work when my brother texted me, asking when I would come home. I thought it was strange because he never texts me. My mom was usually home when I came home after work, but there was only my brother. Real strange. He broke down and told me the news that my aunt and uncle died in a car accident the day before.
The only other death we’ve had in our family was our grandma. This hit me like a ton of bricks. The other brother quickly picked us up to take us to my cousin’s house where everyone in my family was gathered. My brothers and I don’t get together with my mom’s side of the family often due to different political beliefs, but here we were all crying together. Thank goodness we are Cambodian though. There was some bomb-ass food despite our tragedy.
My aunt and uncle were really good people. My uncle, Mony, had this gangster swag to him. He made you feel like you were a part of his gang and that he’ll take care of you and love you. His wife, my aunt, was tall, gorgeous and lovingly expressive. She would give me a big hug and nuzzle me in her bosoms. I can still smell the strong scent of her perfume. My uncle was my mom’s 2nd oldest brother, who she was very close to growing up. He was her protector and threatened any boy who got near my mom. Their relationship reminded me a lot of me and my brother Jack. When I saw my mom in pain for the next few months, I felt it too. They raised really great people and was very involved in their grandchildren’s lives. I think about them whenever I’m on a long drive or get road rage. That’s how they died. Road rage. We don’t know exactly what happened, but that someone ran them off the freeway and into a tree where my aunt died instantly. Then my uncle died on his way to the hospital. How tragic to think about that time between the accident and the time my uncle was on his way to the hospital that he was in immense physical and emotional pain looking at his beloved dead. That is the greatest pain I could ever imagine. Whenever I get road rage, which is often, I think about them and I cool off. It’s not worth it. My ego and their ego are not worth mine or anyone’s life.
I was encouraged to write this when I was reading Breaking The Habit of Being Yourself: How to Lose Your Mind and Create a New One by Dr. Joe Dispenza. He was talking about how humans often change when they are faced with crisis, trauma or discouraging diagnosis of some sort. I had to have these 2 traumatic events happen so closely together to change my bad habits of driving drunk, using alcohol to cover my depression, not confronting my family when I had issues with them, and road rage. I admit, it’s hard to completely not have road rage when there are so many dumbass drivers out there, but I do believe I am better today.
Two years later, I’m glad I have lived out these two years and more. Meditate. Meditate. Meditate. I have been meditating consistently morning, throughout the day and night time for the past few months and it has helped me tremendously in handling my anxiety and depression. This taught me that life is worth living. I know that can be really hard to grasp especially during this pandemic/apocalypse, but trust me, it is worth it. If you are having suicidal thoughts and/or having a really hard time, please talk about it with someone(s). Write about it. Reach out to people. If you have anxiety over it, reach out and tell them to listen without judgment. Trust me, it’s cathartic AF. If you are reading this, know that I care about you and want you to live this life through. Keep going. One day at a time. It gets better.
About the Author
Wendy’s roots go way deep as the daughter of refugees from Cambodia and Oakland native. She earned her B.A. in American Studies at the University of California, Santa Cruz. After college, Wendy was unsure of what to do with her life, so she decided to teach English abroad in Korea for a year. Then taught in Japan the next year. This opened up her eyes and mind to the world. Coming back home was tough and she had to get real with dealing with her mental health, so a good friend encouraged her to see a therapist. During her 3 years in therapy, she was diagnosed with minor bipolar depression and anxiety. Not a huge surprise, but she took on practices she never thought she would try such as meditation to help with focusing on her breathing and centering her mind. Being in therapy also empowered her to fully come out as her beautiful queer self. Although there are opposing views on the tech industry, Wendy believes that her position at Google gives representation to queer Southeast Asian womyn from East Oakland (ESO!) and an opportunity to utilize the money and resources from tech to better our communities.
One of the causes that she most cares about is freeing one of her best friends, Vernon Evans, who was wrongfully convicted and has served 9 years (sentenced to 25 to life) at the RJ Donovan State Prison in San Diego,CA. He is a black man, victim of system racism. Read more about his case and see how you can help here. #freevernonnow
Subscribe and read more of Wendy’s blogs on lifestyle, food, dating, and mental health at www.wendysashimini.com.