Depression Sucks – BIG TIME

It’s never easy when you have to force a smile on your face and hide from your friends and family what’s really going through your mind and heart because you don’t want to worry them. But the truth is that dealing with depression is never easy and there is no quick fix for it – and they SHOULD worry, so they can help you find a way out of the darkness…if they can. If you LET THEM.

I’ve had quite a few months dealing with moving, second guessing my ability to become a successful filmmaker and also dealing with being a caregiver. I’ve been feeling invisible, worthless, like a failure. I can’t shake the feeling as if I’ve ceased to exist if it weren’t for cooking, cleaning up the house or someone else’s finances. No one calls in to see if I’m okay. I don’t go to a psychologist because I can’t afford one. I don’t go to a counselor because I can’t afford one. I don’t have medical insurance so I can’t medically care for myself – so what do I do? I try my hardest to swallow the tears that seep out when I watch an emotional film – that’s the only way I let myself feel anything. I go for walks with my dogs and dive into listening music.

I try to call people to talk to them, to get out of my own head but they’re busy with their lives. How can I tug on their sleeve and say “pay attention to me right now” when they have tons of problems of their own? The past couple of weeks I’ve contemplated just leaving…disappearing into the ocean. But how can I do that? I still haven’t achieved what I’ve wanted to achieve.

Some of my friends and family don’t believe that I can make it as a filmmaker. They urge me to apply for another job so I can get a steady paycheck. They wonder, out loud, why did I take on the responsibility of caring for my remaining living parent – saying things like “you’re being wasted” where I live and “come back to the U.S. so you can be yourself again” – but what does that mean? To be myself again? I used to drink, party almost every weekend be a slave to the 9 to 5 and think that I wasn’t ever going to amount to anything other than the retirement pension I was working towards. My life dissipating through my fingers with every code I’d type into the computer working for someone else. Who was I? A woman who struggled with body image, to keep a romantic relationship for more than a month…but I was there for them. Always available to them, for them.

Who is it that they want me to be? Do they want me to be that person who pretended she was always happy and available to solve their problems whenever they called – which was often. Do they want me to be the person who quietly navigated through life trying to figure out how to become a published writer and eventual filmmaker? Who do they want me to be? The one who listens to their gossip and eats nachos on game night? Or do they want me to be the one who prefers to not watch the game and go to the movies instead? Who do they want me to be? Who do I want to be?

I’ve wondered heavily for the past few years…I recently told a close friend of mine that I’ve been mentally struggling with things – he said “Why!? You have a job that is paying you good money, what is there to be sad about?” there is a huge different between being sad and being depressed. Depression doesn’t go away – you always feel the darkness even when you’re in your good days. Depression plays tricks on you, makes you feel as if everything would be better if you weren’t around. Makes you feel as if you’re the problem with everything, even when you know you’re not. It takes so much effort to realize that you’re doing good, that you’re being good, that you are good when you’re depressed. That is, if you even make it through the darkness.

It takes so much effort to realize that you’re much more than a person who cooks for others – even if they don’t really speak to you other than to ask for food or to make banal comments about what’s going on in social media. It takes that much more effort to know that you do exist when all you’re trying to do is to work or watch a television show when someone else is blaring videos as if you weren’t there…

It takes so much effort to realize that you’re more than a dog walker, feeder, pooper scooper, dog groomer – but it’s easy when you look into their eyes and they lick your chin and wag their tail and jump and bark announcing that you’re home or that they’re grateful.

It takes so much effort to know that you’re valued when people expect for you to do everything without complaining – because that’s what you’ve been doing for the past few years.

 

It takes so much effort to not paddle far away into the waves on your boogie board….

 

Depression sucks, but what sucks more is not seeing the light you know is there…what sucks more is not fighting. So, I fight.

I fight really hard.

Veterinarian Policies in Puerto Rico

Living in Puerto Rico is hard; being a pet owner in Puerto Rico is even harder when you have little money to care for the animal. If you’re living in the island, you might want to reconsider owning a pet, and if you still feel compelled to own one, really think twice before you take your furry baby to the vet…should you not have money in the bank…

It’s no secret I have quite a few pets. It’s also no secret that I’m constantly finding myself struggling financially to care for myself, my father and my fur-babies. While I reluctantly became the human to Bailey, Maya, Sadie, Sunshine, Odin and Penelope, I will do whatever I can to ensure they are healthy and happy. Even if I don’t have the financial means to take them to the vet at a regular basis. Still, I’ve made sure to pay attention to their behaviors, pamper them, bathe them, feed them and know the poop texture and when each of them are sick so I can alter their diet accordingly. However, there are things I cannot fix with changing their diet or giving them a massage. Medical conditions I cannot fix, but I’ve realized that there is a pack of vultures who claim to want to help you care for your furry babies, but instead bleed your pockets out for money you don’t have in order to care for them. Here is my most recent and incredibly horrifying and stressful experience with a local veterinarian and a popular method of practice in Puerto Rico that should be deemed illegal.

A little over a year ago, Penelope, the newest addition to my fur-family, was mauled by two of my other pets. Being that she was a piglet and an intruder, the dogs reacted as dogs do. Still, my heart broke as I saw her injuries and heard her cries. I called a few places and rushed her to the nearest vet hospital that could help save her. After a crazy few days that included crowd funding to be able to pay for the bill and save her. She was at home and had been treated amazingly by the doctor and the staff of the Dorado Veterinary Hospital/Dorado Pet Hotel. I’m telling you, I believed they worked a miracle. It was because of this, that last week I rushed Maya to the same pet hospital in hopes they could help her.

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 1st day of the :’-( 

I rushed Maya to the vet when I realized that she was bleeding profusely through her vaginal area. She’d never been sick in her life and to see her in that state frightened me. I tried to comfort her at home, but when I saw the life slowly leave her, as well as the fight to stay alive in her heart coming through I ignored the lack of funds in my bank account and rushed her to the animal hospital and hoped I could work some type of payment out with the people who had treated one of my pets so well before.

I didn’t wait long before I was taken into a small examination room and was told that Maya’s condition was serious by one of the technicians. She looked concerned and worried and felt my pain. She called the vet who told me that

“She needs to have surgery otherwise she’ll die” Dr. Viscal told me as she stood there, hands crossed in front of her pelvis, leaning against the sink of the exam room. “To be honest, I’m not sure if I can save her,” she added. The same thing she said when she saw Penelope and something started to click the wrong way inside me.

A few seconds later she disappeared through the door that led towards the back of the office and her technician was back telling me that she could give me an estimate of the cost if I wanted to. I agreed and kept hugging and kissing Maya, who had been with me for seven years. She’d been my rock through several heartbreaks, medical scares with my Dad and was my adventure buddy. I wasn’t ready to let her go, but if told her if she was ready to cross that rainbow bridge that it was okay for her to do so. Quietly sobbing I heard the technician come back in and looked up.

“It’ll come out to $776.14”

“Do you have any sort of payment plans?”

“Sure, you can leave us a deposit now and we can start caring for her…”

“How much does the deposit have to be?”

“$194…”

I stopped to think a bit then looked at Maya again before responding.

“I don’t have that money…how much is it for today, I’m just going to take her home…” knowing that if I did so, she would surely die

“Give me a minute…”

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The day after I brought her 

The tech disappeared for about 10 minutes…10 minutes I spent saying goodbye to my big girl and looking into her eyes. Minutes that broke my heart because I was saying goodbye to one of the first beings that taught me how to unconditionally love and care for something, someone else. The longest 10 minutes…saying good bye to my workout partner, my walking partner, my adventure girl, my cuddle pal, my talkative chica.

“Okay, I just spoke to the vet and she said that if tomorrow you bring $400, which is basically the price of the surgery, it’ll be fine.” She said quietly as she saw me perk up.

I agreed, I knew how to get at least $400 in one day. So I did – I took a loan against my car and dropped off the money the next day. Then I was informed that I still had to pay $344 for the services otherwise they’d ‘hold the dog’ until [I] was able to make that payment”.

“Wait, I wasn’t informed of this yesterday…she told me to bring $400 and that it would be fine, which I did…”

Suddenly, no one had a straight story and the vet didn’t want to come out and speak to me and clear things up.

“Why are you going to hold my dog?” I asked again concerned.

“We’ll hold her until you pay the bill…when it’s all paid up, we’ll release her back to you,” the receptionist said shyly – realizing that I had no knowledge of this policy, or of the remaining balance. “You have to bring it by tomorrow,” she added.

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ready to come home…

How? I wondered – HOW? And I was made clear that they didn’t have payment plans. It was either all now, or you don’t get your pet until you pay off the debt. I asked to see Maya before leaving with a heavy heart. What was I going to do? On my way out, I offered to exchange professional services, I offered photographs, to do a short commercial, to come and clean the kennels of all the other dogs and the offices until the debt was paid. All were ignored.

The next day I showed up empty handed, asking again to not only speak to the vet, but to see if I could work off the debt since they didn’t have payment plans and I was currently broke. Not only was I not able to speak to Dr. Viscal, but I was turned down for the work, again. I contested the remaining balance by saying that the $400 that I agreed to pay was under the impression of the only amount I was going to pay – I was told that instead of paying the full $344, that I all had to do was pay $200 but that I still wasn’t going to be able to take Maya home until I paid.

I visited with Maya for a moment and thought about selling part of my photography equipment to pay off this bill. After leaving the vet’s office I went to the place where I knew they bought electronics and was offered $10 for my ‘generic’ action camera $20 for a telephoto lens and $20 for an external flash, all of which were in good condition. Knowing this wouldn’t be enough and that I was getting ripped off I took all my things and left without selling anything.

The next (Saturday) day I went for a visit with Maya and was informed that should I not pay the $200 by Monday, they would charge me $20 each day she was there until I ‘got her out’.  Frustration set it further. It was thanks to my best friend and savior Elisabeth Louis-Marijanski, who stepped in and helped me pay the $200. Funny, that even though they told me to just pay $200 and the whole thing would be done with, the receipt I was given reflects I still owe them $144…

During this entire ordeal, I consulted with a friend who studied and practiced to be a veterinarian and told me that it was the normal thing to do here in Puerto Rico. That many, if not all vets hold the pets until the incredibly high bills are paid by their owners and never do payment plans. That, even he thinks twice before taking his dogs to the vet for anything other than vaccinations – and suggested that the next time one of my pets become ill, to just let them die should I not have the money to pay a vet right away.

Holding pets for ransom until complete payment for services is made in Puerto Rico is common. Payment plans are non-existent and the absence of the ASPCA can be felt. Many rescue organizations in the island work with US based organizations and have created a monopoly on that as well, for every pet they rescue they get $300, and don’t have to worry about food, lodging, and vet bills, all those things are financed by the partnering organization.

Many owners abandon their pets at the vets office because of what happened to me. Many more often abandon them on the beach because they don’t want to deal with any sort of agency or entity extorting them asking them for money for the care they provided the pet.

So, my advice to you, if you don’t have any money, a steady job or pension, do not own a pet here in Puerto Rico – ever.

20170522_181316In the end, Maya returned home with me and is happy – I’m happy to have her back home and that I get to go on plenty more adventures with her.

Still, if you live here, planning on moving here or visiting and have a pet, or are planning on getting a pet – make sure you have money. Tons of it, to pay off the vet bills. Otherwise, they will keep hold your pet until you pay, even after they quoted the wrong payment amount to you….

Same people, different faces

It’s been a while since I last posted. Why? Because life got in the way and I wasn’t able to sit down and do anything writing of filmmaking related. Today, this Saturday morning in May, I take the moment to write something that has been on my mind for the past few weeks. Probably even months…and that is that in life while you may encounter people who look different, they are inherently the same in many ways.

I’ve mentioned before that as a child I was mentally and verbally abused by people within my close family. They’d tell me that I wasn’t skinny enough, that I’d never be good enough to do anything with my life and that worse of all, no one would ever love me because of how fat, ugly and dark I was. All lies, but as a child I believed them. It was when I was during my twenties that I discovered that all the abusive words and acts were lies to keep me from becoming what my heart really wanted.

As an adult, I’ve recently met two people who remind me of the ones who used to say horrible things to me as a child.

While trying to make a better life and set up a better living condition for myself and my father I searched for a house to purchase for us. We saw this beautiful large house closer to the beach – about 10 minutes driving. It was on a dead end street and in a quiet neighborhood. I fell in love with it, but soon reconsidered my love for the house when a month after moving in my father fell down the mountain the house was built on during one of his ‘confused’ days after trying to cut a perfectly healthy tree. The idea was to move from the house we were in before because the roof needed repairing, the doors were broken, the cabinets were rotting, the bathroom needed to be remade and the fences were dangerously deteriorating…the owner of that house was constantly toying with my father telling him that he was going to sell him the house but never did. After eight years of that I decided we needed to leave because it wasn’t the best conditions for my Dad to be in.

I searched and found a great place, or so I thought. The move was made under a verbal contract to lease-for-purchase and an official contract for lease, until they obtained the proper paperwork from the governmental agencies required to make a full sale. According to them they were waiting for three years for that paperwork, but it still hadn’t showed up – still they wanted to make a sale without it. This paperwork detailed property tax, license of use and occupancy, as well as determine the history of the property along with the current owner of it and their record of property tax payment. A very important piece of paper that, three months after moving in, the owners of the new place still didn’t have available for us to make the procedures towards a legal purchase of a house.

Further came the nightmare, when the ‘lady of the house’ and her husband came by for an inspection while I was cleaning it and said that the house was a disaster and claimed I lied to her about the quantity of pets I had, claiming that I had said I only had one small dog, and not the actual ones she saw – which is impossible because I would never say that. I’m a proud fur-mommy and I wouldn’t omit such information at the risk of having to get rid of them for any reason. She then proceeded to tell me she wasn’t going to renew the lease and that I had to do something about the dogs. I responded with “I never lied to you about the amount of pets I had” which I didn’t – she didn’t ask me how many pets I had and even told me “if you don’t mind cleaning up their messes, I don’t care about the pets you have” when I asked her if she allowed pets on the property. Furthermore, there was no clause on the lease agreement about allowing, or not allowing pets. So, she told me that I had to start looking for a house because she only wasn’t going to renew the lease, but that she wasn’t going to sell it to me. I nodded and let her and her husband leave and continued to clean the place – something that I did almost every day.

Two weeks later, she and her husband stop by again for another inspection, right after I cleaned the house, and she still complained about my cleaning skills. Telling me that this was dirty, that was dirty, that it was all a disaster and demanding that I do a better job at cleaning. There was nothing wrong with the house. It just wasn’t cleaned as she wanted it to be, which reminded me of when I was a little girl and I was told I would forever be dirty and never good enough for anything. She reminded me of that time my grandmother would tell me that I was a disgusting brat and could never do anything right, because it wasn’t the exact way she wanted me to do it. Those memories rushed through my mind as this woman was complaining about the ‘dirty’ windows and all I could do was laugh, because she was my menopausal grandmother who hated me because of the color of my skin, the weight on my body and hated that I didn’t do things her exact way. The difference between that woman and my grandmother, is that the latter grew out of it and has since apologized from her horrible behavior towards me and makes sure to tell me how much she loves me whenever we speak on the phone or I have the opportunity to go visit her. I don’t think that the ‘lady of the house’ will ever make such an emotional evolutionary step.

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One of the many “dirty windows” left in the house during the time I lived there

The second woman that reminded me of my menopausal grandmother lives right above me now. She has two grown sons and cannot tolerate noise that is not made by her or her ‘boys’ (both of whom make plenty of noise). She hates my dogs and pig and hates the smell of the cleaning products I use to clean up after them (Clorox disinfectant and lavender scented Mistolín) all things that she doesn’t hesitate to complain to my new landlady about. We’ve only been officially living here for two weeks and she has complained about pretty much everything about us. Her claim is that dogs stink and she’s not used to the smell and that I don’t do a good job cleaning after them.

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According to the ‘lady of the house’ this area as shown in this photo, wasn’t clean enough

Cleaning….that seems to be the issue. I’ve never been clean enough, nor do I know how to clean…even though I’ve overcome a severe obsessive compulsion disorder about cleaning and self hygiene. I’m not good at cleaning even if I use Clorox, to clean pavement floors until they’re a version of white and not their natural gray color, and smooth away the toxic scent of bleach with floral cleaners. I don’t know how to clean windows even if I clean each and every glass by hand until my fingers are to swollen to move and make a fist. I’m not good enough at cleaning because I didn’t use a water pressure machine (regardless if I could afford it or not) to clean a floor that I personally cleaned with a broom, bleach and dawn – leaving my back, arms and shoulders sore.

I’m not good at keeping pets quiet even though they’re not allowed to bark for more than three seconds. I’m not good enough at anything…because I don’t do it like other people want me to.

Well, fuck you. Fuck that noise and fuck you again. I am good enough, I am clean enough and in fact, I’m depriving my dogs from being happy dogs to keep you happy. I’m depriving my dogs from being free while I’m trying to get save money and get my own place, with a big yard and I can see them play, and bark and have fun all the time. Things I can’t do now because I don’t have any money. Things I can’t do now because I’m working on someone else’s budget. Things I can’t do now because it’s not meant for me to be doing now – for some odd reason that God, the universe and fate has for me….

In the end, these women are both the same, they are a variation of my psychotic menopausal grandmother…they are the same person with different faces – trying to make me feel worthless because I am not doing things the way they want me to.

They don’t realize that no one, can do things the way you can. They further don’t realize that they shouldn’t make others feel like shit in the process of trying their best to appease them.

Review: 13 Reasons Why

13 Reasons WhyThere is no sensible way of talking about assault, victimization and suicide – there is only the matter of fact way to address these problems and the new Netflix show does just that.

Based on the bestselling YA novel by Jay Asher, 13 Reasons Why the series, is elegantly shot and performed. It is focused on a group of teenage students dealing with the suicide of one of their own, the show travels easily through past and present scenarios. As a viewer you’re engaged with each emotion Clay Jensen (Dylan Minnette) and Hannah Baker (Katherine Langford) are feeling and you’re left wanting a friend like the wise Tony (Christian Navarro) who will protect your secrets and honor your memory.

It is no secret that Hannah Baker commits suicide. What is yet to be determined is why. As depicted in the preview, Hanna Baker is dead – you can hear her voice hauntingly telling you that she is. You can see her face and Clay’s reaction when she says that the tape he’s listening to is the first of 13 tapes that list the reasons why she’s dead – true to the tone set on the preview, the show opens with Hanna Baker’s voice and the introduction to the tapes that reveal the reasons why she committed suicide. Placing the blame on each student that are mentioned in each one of them. But why does she blame them? What happens next is a slew of unimaginable happenings in teenagers’ lives that not only opens the door to traumas, but addresses the behavioral signs every parent or educator should pay attention to, and most importantly, it showcases the grief and love every parent of a child who dies or commits suicide goes through. It’s raw, emotional and educational all at once.

While slow paced (which I sometimes found infuriating) it is with purpose: there is a reason why there’s no rushing into the reality of things. In real life these issues don’t happen as quickly as one may think. It’s a buildup of everything and anything. As Hannah goes on to tell us, there is a start to her thoughts of suicide and she continues to narrate, she points out that every little thing counts – be it towards life or against it.

Along with mortality, the show also addresses rape, consent and the murky waters a teenager has to navigate to understand what it really means to be in a healthy relationship with another person. It addresses survivor’s guilt. Another thing that it addresses is the ongoing issue with teenagers today, especially since so many parents still don’t know how to speak to their children about sex, relationships and most importantly: consent. I did find the show lacking to address the issue properly since consent is a responsibility for both males and females; they both have to consent to have sex with one another – it’s not just the guy who has to make sure the girl wants to have sex.

The issue of sexual identity is also addressed here. There are plenty of characters who are gay, some are presented as ‘matter of fact’ others are presented as still struggling with their identity and do whatever it takes to protect their ‘secrets’. The issues teenagers face: sexuality, depression, anxiety, bullying, drunk driving, societal and peer pressures, self identity and academic responsibilities are a huge part of this show as it is in our daily lives. These issues drive the characters actions, choices and it affects them all in different ways. Like I mentioned before, the show is elegantly performed, directed and shot. Each episode is riddled with emotion that will cause you to feel everything its characters are feeling. It does a great job at not shying away from the uncomfortable topics and it addresses the complexities of victimization and predator like behavior with an equal complex view of it all – it is never black and white when it comes to these things.

But it’s not all heavy, within the heavy topics dealt with in the show; there is a tender awkward teenage love story. Similar to the awkward one we’ve all experienced in our youth – with misunderstood intentions and unsaid words that lead to further confusion and decisions made under duress and ignorance.

I highly recommend people to watch this show because it tells more than just one story. It tells a complex story about parents, teenagers, educators and life itself – and since I don’t want to give much of plot line away, so go stream it now.

I further recommend, as a survivor of sexual assault, child sexual abuse, as well as survivor of a suicide attempt – that if you have these feelings, to speak to someone about it – to be clear about your emotions, however hard they may be. There is no shame in being a victim, there is no shame in being depressed, and there is no shame in having dark emotions – but please, speak to someone because suicide is not the answer. There is light at the end of the dark tunnel you’re passing through at the moment.

For help please call the National Suicide Prevention Lifeline any time 1-800-273-8255 (US) or if you’re outside of the States check this list of suicide prevention websites in your country: http://www.suicide.org/international-suicide-hotlines.html.

Electric Blue

I’ve been working on a few things, one of them being this short story about love lost, found and peace within….here is an excerpt of Electric Blue, the short story/essay I’m giving out for free

“As the years have gone by I still think of him. I wondered why I was given such an amazing love for such a short period of time…or if it was wonderful at all…I wondered why and how his heart became filled with so much hate…

Since then, I have felt myself falling in love with someone who declared admiration, desire to share a life with me, but that love was not as deep – it was a cautious feeling that I knew was going to leave me with nothing. As I said the words I felt this new person gearing up to disappear as well, and my feelings were not mistaken. While he said he wanted to ‘explore his feelings’ for me he left my life in such a speed that it would rival The Flash.

Still, until this day I haven’t felt the same way I felt those two weeks I spent with him. For years I hadn’t felt electric nor had I seen blue, I haven’t fully recovered…but I have discovered that it is when I’m in the ocean that I feel free.”

You can download the short story here: Electric Blue

Finding the good where it all (seems to be) is bad

DISCLAIMER: It is important that you explore treatment options that are good for you and pay attention to how it’s working for you.  I am not a clinical psychologist and am solely relating my experience with my own depression and how it’s working for me.

Let’s face it, with today’s political climate there’s been a surge of anxiety, depression and anger across the country. Depression however, is nothing new in our society – it’s something I’ve struggled with for most of my adult life and at one point, depression along with its vile cousin anger almost ruined my life.

It was 2003 and I was diagnosed with PTSD related depression – stemming from traumas I experienced as a child and young adult. I had suicidal thoughts and even attempted to take my life at one point. It has been a very hard, rocky and often dark road towards recovery. While I still experience myself feeling incredibly depressed I have to say that my outlook in life is more positive these days than what it was a few years ago. What did I do?

One of the first steps I took in order to not let these crippling feelings continue to rule my life was recognize there was a problem with myself. Many people don’t know what’s happening to them and therefore don’t know they need help, and often refuse any assistance that their friends and family might offer. It’s not easy, for years I didn’t know there was something wrong with me or my extremely negative behavior. I labeled it as being “tough” and excusing as a tool that was very much needed to survive in a city like New York. There were moments of clarity though when I knew that I was not right with the world and what was in it, but those moments dissipated quickly.

However, I became fully aware of what was happening, what I was doing, what I was going through when I was exposed to a different lifestyle other than my own…I made friends with a girl who had a vastly different life than I did and she showed me that life can be different – that while you can start off in a dark place, like her mother did when she emigrated from Taiwan to the US, you can make a good life for yourself and your family – you just have to want it bad enough. Her mother had a real hard life acclimating to the new culture and a horrible experience in her relationship…but she was such a sweet lady and I wondered who she remained sweet and seemingly untainted by the bad. I never found out about her, but I found out about me – and who I am today is nowhere near who I was during my 20’s.

Still, after being exposed to her life, her family and their positive energy it took me a while to realize what was happening to me and how that was preventing me from attaining good opportunities in life – for years after meeting “Mum” I still viewed the world my angry eyes through the darkness cloak of depression. I should note that all of this; was after three years of counseling that led to me just being more angry about everything. Counseling or therapy can work for some people, so please, explore that option before anything else.

I was lost for so long and was tired of feeling like useless, unworthy, most importantly I became tired of feeling emotionally and physically heavy, but I didn’t know what to do or where to turn to, since counseling didn’t work so well for me. I turned to alcohol and made effort to escape my reality every night as I danced, drank, danced, and drank twice as much as I danced. It was a morning, after one of those crazy drinking nights that I realized that I was withering away to nothing. I realized that I was slowly achieving what I failed to that night in my apartment in the Bronx when I decided that I wasn’t worthy of love or life.

I looked at myself in the mirror and saw that the usual glow to my skin had become a gaudy ash tone of green, and like that day, I decided to make a call for help because my life was and is still worth something. So I did…by asking for guidance from God (or the universe, or whatever you want to call it, or prefer) and instead of going out with my friends I stood in and waited for an answer. It was the first day of being open to something good – thankfully it wasn’t the last. Years later I realized that good things start to happen when you’re open to them. Not a moment before.

With that said, I’m going to say that suffering from depression is very crippling, it’s something that many people can’t get over – and I still struggle with it, as well as struggle with (albeit brief) suicidal thoughts – but I make it a point to stay focused on what helps me move and work through the emotions as best as I can. I write down my feelings, and even make lists of things I have done so far, and the things I want to do, sort of like a pro and con list of what makes me such a great asset to life and those around me – a pros and cons list of why I love myself and why it’s so important to me for me to stay alive and emotionally balanced.

As a person who finds that staying busy and creative is a positive, I make sure that my mind is clear and active. When I go through those weeks of darkness it’s painful, not only emotionally, but also physically. Those weeks that I experience migraines, paralyzing pain throughout my body and other physical conditions that are challenging, I try my best to stay focused on the things I need to do in order to get my work completed and done by making lists and jotting down activities in my calendar. While some can classify me as a workaholic since I focus so much on work, but honestly, working on writing, film techniques and listing all the other things I need to get done for the current and next day helps me. Listing to-do’s, helps me go through the motions and move through the day, even if I don’t smile that entire day, or when I do I feel as if I’m falling apart internally enables me to feel good for working through the darkness. When I’m feeling better I revise whatever I created and give it a dab of positivity as I see fit.

Another and important thing that I do is I meditate, a lot. Meditation has helped me get a better outlook in life, clearing my mind, my heart, my soul from all the negativity and all the things that kept me incredibly angry for so long. Once that happened I began to love myself both emotionally and physically. I was also able to see the things I was capable of doing and achieving, what’s more, I was able to open myself emotionally to the world – something so many people are afraid to do because they’re afraid of being hurt. This last point is quite ironic, because I’ll be the first to admit that I was completely shut down by past experiences with being hurt. Experiencing emotional, physical, mental and sexual abuse from people who were closest to me and supposed to protect me as well as repeated sexually assaulted by a former romantic partner, and the countless of failed romantic relationships in my adult life – I had my fare share of pain, which led to destructive behavior that crippled me for so long. It also led to that suicide attempt in my early 20’s.

As soon as I let go of that fear, that anger and opened myself to the world I was able to feel more freely and recognize all sorts of emotions, be them good, bad or neutral and accept them as they are happening. Because of the ability to recognize feelings I’ve been able to freely talk about my traumatic experiences with those I’ve think are able to handle such harsh and traumatic events. I’ve also been able to recognize and accept feelings of love in different areas of my life and welcome warmth and happiness with an incomparable ease. I’ve even had people say that they feel happy and calm when they’re around me – so I know I’m doing something good and what I’m doing is working, not only for me, but for those around me.

Another thing I’ve been able to develop is an honest indifferent to the negative thoughts and words of others. It is because I know what’s true in my heart and life that negativity doesn’t bother me anymore. It’s like a sense of purity that comes over me and a short term curiosity of “what would motivate them to do that?” but that doesn’t last long (no more than a day or two). But that’s more important, I don’t feel like I should go after them and make their lives miserable. It’s also important to note, that while I an indifferent to negative talk, I do not allow it in my life because it will permeate and therefore contaminate all the good I’ve accomplished these past few years.

So, how do I see the light in the dark? I am open to the good things I’ve done and plan to do. I block out the negative and meditate after I work on my list of things to do. I acknowledge every emotion I have and try, my best, with an unbiased heart and mind to understand other’s reactions to their lives when it comes to directly dealing with them, as well as realizing that we don’t have complete control of what happens to us. We can only just experience what’s going on, and try to find a solution to any given and immediate problem, but sometimes, there isn’t a solution and things just have to be ‘left alone’ just like some people should be left alone or out of our lives.

As of today, I have to say I rarely drink, so much so that one beer gives me a buzz and that’s more than enough for me and while I like to spend time with my friends, I like to do so completely sober because it allows me to fully enjoy the experience.

Questions for an Independent (woman) Filmmaker

I’ve had several people come up to me and ask me how I’ve managed to write, direct, produce and release two short documentaries, one feature length documentary and the pilot episode for a docu-series – all without funding.

Also, people wonder if I just pretend to not have any money and continue to work and magically produce funding for each film. So, with these wonders (or questions) and others I’ve yet to mention I’m making my first entry in a while to clarify a few things; both professionally and personally. So, here we go!

film-collage

Q: How do you make your films?  

For the past few years I’ve been making my films with a Canon DSLR Rebel T3i Camera, a Panasonic audio recorder and editing footage with Sony software. The camera I’ve used it since my days as a journalist and has never failed me – well, once, because it was under the sun for too long and it over heated. But after a few days to recover it went back to working just fine. I don’t have much money to spend on making films – so I turn to technology a lot as well as try to get in touch with people at the placed I can afford to travel to. While many people may find it a bit difficult to see past the low to “sugar-string budget” of my documentaries – I hope they can see the message and story I’m trying to tell with each one of my films.

In essence, to make one of my films it’s about $1,000 on average with the resources I currently have. I try to extend each and every dollar, so I do most of the work myself. I direct, I manage camera(s), I edit, I use a free online music database under a creative commons license – I distribute, send out press releases and submit to film festivals all on my own. This takes a lot of work, but the even a single positive comment on a film is more than enough compensation for all the hard work I’ve put into one particular project. Also, the internet is a wonderful platform to distribute films, and it’s free.

Q: If you don’t have any money to keep on making films, what keeps you motivated?

Let’s face it, not everyone is made for this. While I don’t have the finances right now, I have to say that my determination and my passion for making films is what drives me; it keeps me motivated to continue with being a story teller. Why? Because while, it is somewhat about me and attaining my dreams, it’s also NOT ABOUT ME, but about the stories I tell, the people in it and the characters that represent people who have gone through hard times. My passion for making film is way bigger than the whole in my pocket. Because of this, if I feel a topic needs to be discussed or addressed in film, I’ll find a way to make that happen. Also, knowing that this process is what would be considered a “marathon” and not a “sprint” it gives me the patience to continue working slowly and surely on achieving short and long-term goals.

Q: You seem to lead the perfect life, how do you stay so positive all the time?

I don’t lead a perfect life – my life is quite complicated, the thing is I like to keep things very private…and I’m not always positive. Truth is I struggle with depression and I’m under constant stress over taking care of my father. Yes, I get to go to the beach whenever I want, but I don’t always have the time. Yes I live in a tropical island, but that doesn’t mean eternal happiness. Yes I smile all the time, but that doesn’t mean that I’m always happy. The way I deal with it all is: meditation. I have to take at least 2 hours to myself to work out and meditate right after. Otherwise, I wouldn’t be struggling with depression, the depression would take over completely and I’d be paralyzed with pain and despair. Like I mentioned before, my determination to keep moving forward and accomplish my dreams is very big – bigger than my depression and my wallet.

Q: How do you balance all your responsibilities with work?

Simple: Scheduling – there is a time and place for everything and I heavily rely on scheduling and sticking to time frames. I also have to accept days as they come.  There are days that nothing can be done about anything….where stagnation is the theme of the day. Instead of fighting the fact that I can’t accomplish a particular daily goal or get something done that dayI just go with the flow and let things take their course. If I fight, that only adds to the stress and I have enough of that already. Meditation helps so much with keeping me mentally balanced and stable and throughout the day I meditate for a few minutes if I need to. Just take a moment to breathe, acknowledge thoughts and move along. Also, having pets and spending time with them and basking in their pure unconditional love helps plenty.

Q: Are you in a relationship? Aren’t you afraid of intimidating men with your independence, intelligence and self sufficiency?

I am currently single…and NO. While so many people have advised me to tone down my “strong” characteristics, but, I’ve found that the person who is right for me will not care about my sense of independence since I’ve had to do so much for myself for so long. They’d understand me, support me and encourage me, just like I’d do for them. The key is to find a person to care and show they care in the little ways – because it’s the little things that count. So, no, I’m not afraid of intimidating anyone with any bits of my personality. Just the same way they shouldn’t feel afraid to intimidate me with any bit of theirs. If that happens, then they’re not the right one for me – or I for them.

Q: How far do you plan to ride this “filmmaking train”?

For the rest of my life and into the Oscars, BAFTA’s, Cannes, Golden Globes…and all the awards before that…

Q: How does your own experience influence in your writing and film ideas?

It influences plenty. There are many things I’ve gone through that can be found in my writing and things I’ve seen firsthand that influence the topic of documentaries I make – I have a few screenplays that have tidbits of my life, but people won’t know what they are unless they know me personally – it’s fun!

If you have any questions for me, you can send it to me via email (see side bar) or just add them to the comment section!

To stay up to date with the films I make and upcoming series subscribe to my YouTube Channel and be sure to watch Forever Boogies and Salt Water!