Behind the Bio
I was born a poor Mexican child.
My mom was an artist (breadwinner). My dad was a writer (unemployed). We were expatriates.
That’s not my dad. That’s Pablo; we ate lunch in the jungle together.
My dad enjoyed drinking alcohol and trying to murder my mom so rural Mexico was perfect. My parents were atheists so I ended up in Catholic School. The only other white person in the school was Jesus.
My father systematically brainwashed me to never have a baby. I wasn’t allowed to have dolls of any kind. He also convinced me that I was stupid.
The first time I got drunk and passed out, I was 5. My parents also took me to a cockfight that year. I didn’t go to a bullfight until I was 7.
I spent most of my free time trying to save my mom’s life. And my own. He ended up doing unspeakable things to both of us.
When I was 8, Mom and I ran away – back to the states. I got a stepdad who bought me stuff and didn’t hit me. Yeah, he could stay.
My dad and I would talk on the phone and he would tell me of his adventures as a spy in Russia. I cried a lot.
But the real problem was where we moved – to Reno. Yes, that Reno.
I started smoking at 9, then added in alcohol, weed, huffing, acting, sex… then I turned 14 and decided to take it up a notch.
To LSD, cocaine, snorting NoDoz, ‘shrooms, whip-its (did I mention my first job was at Dairy Queen?), meth, dirty bathtub crank, peyote, MDMA (now called Molly), X (now called E) and heroin. Oh, and prostitution. Almost forgot about that one.
My favorite was mixing speed and alcohol. Up, down, up, down, up… you get the picture.
At 21, I went back and forth between trying to get sober and trying to drink myself to death, but it’s not as easy as Leaving Las Vegas. Even with meth.
I wouldn’t die. No matter how hard I tried. I had my first nervous breakdown after 5 months of not drinking or using, so I quit quitting.
By 24, I was exhausted. So I went to a program and really got sober.
I felt amazing! I barely even needed sleep. Watch out world!
So I moved to LA to be a famous actor.
But the more sober I got, the more my mental health deteriorated. It was like speed and booze, only the ups always went too high and the downs were so fucking dark and physically taxing.
When the panic attacks became daily and 4-hours long, I quit acting after 16 years, got a corporate job and wrote plays at night.
Then I saw my dad for the first time since I was 9. I wouldn’t have recognized him on the street. He was skinny and yellow.
He was still drinking and beating his current girlfriend.
Then my stepdad and mom divorced and we ended up with the most open and loving father/daughter relationship I’d ever know.
Around the same time my dad got cancer. He asked for me on his deathbed and I told him to fuck off.
Boy did I feel like a monster when he actually died a few months later. After all, I’d worked all the steps and was of service to my fellows. I thought I was a good person.
I got married and went to grad school. For playwriting. Great choice.
I had my second nervous breakdown 6-weeks into grad school. I caved and went on an antidepressant.
And it worked. The 4-hour panic attacks stopped. My highs and lows were manageable.
I got my Masters, landed a paid directing gig and got a puppy named Machu Picchu. I decided to go off my medication because life was so good.
It only took 5 months for me to spiral into the darkest depression I had ever experienced. The walls in my house changed color and I couldn’t move. I decided to slash my wrists.
It was March 4, 2006.
I was placed on a 72-hour hold at a county psychiatric hospital. I was diagnosed with PTSD and Bipolar Disorder – come on, you saw that coming, right?
I continued with my 12-step program, did intense therapy twice a week and found a cocktail of medications that worked. I worked my ass off and life got really good. I worked as a bookkeeper and copywriter and had a screenplay optioned.
I learned that I’m actually quite smart. And that I was worthy of having a child. So we tried.
In 2009, we suffered a really sad miscarriage and I had a D&C. I was thrown into a deep depression from the hormone drop off. I ate everything in sight for 6-months and gained 35 pounds.
Then I pulled it together, lost the weight and became ready to try again.
I got pregnant and stayed pregnant. My depression came back with avengeance. It would be 4 excruciating years until I’d experience sanity again.
On August 23, 2011, my son was born. The next morning my OB told me about a woman who threw her baby out of a hospital window to its death. I knew at that moment that I was fated to murder my child.
Graphic, scary thoughts of throwing my baby looped constantly through my brain. I duct taped all the windows shut. Then I was hit with a mania akin to a kilo of cocaine.
And then my breast pump started talking to me. The postpartum psychosis was short-lived, but it took 6 months before the looping OCD murder thoughts and fears would subside.
Over the next 3 years, an unrelenting blackness took away everything for which I’d worked so hard. The guilt and shame over being a mother and a failing one at that made the downward spiral complete.
I tried integrative doctors, meds, no meds, jogging, CrossFit, yoga, the Autoimmune Paleo diet (for 18 months solid), tons of supplements, waking and sleeping at the same time (still do), eating animal thyroid (still do), adrenal and thymus glands, testes, and ovaries, taking pregnant horse urine pills, upping my 12-step game, going blonde, meditation, prayer, therapy, stand-up comedy, acupuncture and chinese herbs.
All the while, my sweet stepfather died suddenly. I got in 2 car accidents. I lost most of my closest friends. My mom was diagnosed with breast cancer. One good friend killed herself and another overdosed. My dog ran away. My marriage was so broken we considered divorce. And my head screamed “kill yourself, kill yourself, kill yourself” whenever I was awake.
Long story short, I went through maddening medication side effects, went into perimenopause, lost my ability to sleep and eat, relapsed on benzos, went through a useless intensive outpatient program and 2 more mental hospitals.
Finally, I went through a process called TMS (Transcranial Magnetic Stimulation).
If it didn’t work, my only option was ECT (Electroconvulsive therapy, aka, Shock Therapy) and long term hospitalization.
It gave me a ladder out of the hole. I had a lot of work to do to pull myself completely out and I continue to do a lot to stay out of the hole. Alcoholism, PTSD and bipolar disorder are no joke.
I had to make a lot of changes in my life. I started over. From scratch. Our marriage repaired and I realized that I’m actually a pretty awesome mom.
Stable 2 months, I took that stand-up comedy class again as a challenge to myself. The first time I took it, I had to drop out because of the bone crushing depression. My only goal was to finish all 8 weeks and do the graduation showcase.
And the laughter healed me. The more shows I did, the more I healed. The more I wrote the more I healed.
And I’m not stopping.
During those 4 years of mental and physical hell, I kept telling myself that “this isn’t the worst thing to ever happen to me. My childhood was the worst. This was the second worst.”
Comparing tragedies only made me sicker.
Now I’ve come to see that my childhood and illness were the best things to happen to me. Not the worst. They made me who I am today. They gave me the courage to unapologetically be me. They gave me an inner strength I would have never known possible. I have no fear.
When life kicks you in the butt, STAND-UP.