My name is Lupita Martinez and I’m from East Oakland CA. I was born in the city of San Francisco, but I grew up in Oakland and Fruitvale. I’m half Mexican, a quarter Salvadorian, and a quarter Nicaraguan. I have a younger brother and a baby sister who are my motivation and the reason I’m still here. I love nature, listening to music, and being a part of social justice movements including an organization called “Radical Monarchs” which my mom, auntie, and I started. Social Justice is a big part of my life and where I feel most at home is organizing with my community.
When I was 16 years old I was hospitalized for the first time for a suicide attempt. Mental illness and addiction both run through both sides of my family and I had experienced firsthand what it looked like to not take care of yourself while having a life-threatening condition. Shortly after my first hospitalization, I was institutionalized 6 more times for suicide attempts and mania. I was then officially diagnosed with a major depressive disorder, PTSD, and Psychotic 1 disorder. They put me on medication and I continued therapy. I was also cutting daily and smoking weed regularly. The hallucinations I was experiencing were so real to me that I started to become friends with them, but grew more scared after realizing that I was the only one that could see them. I continued to become sicker and was eventually admitted to a rehab facility where I was kept for almost four months. My experiences throughout being hospitalized and going to countless group homes and psychiatric hospitals did more harm than good. I was continuously traumatized by the staff that worked there. I was locked in solitary for hours after being what we called “booty juiced,” which means involuntary injections of sedatives. My latest diagnosis was Bipolar 1 disorder and I was put on lithium, a strong mood stabilizer for people with Bipolar. I was still extremely suicidal and I had given up on myself. No matter how many hospitals and facilities I was admitted to I wasn’t getting any better. My family didn’t know what else to do. I was on and off my medication because I hated how numb I felt. I couldn’t cry, and I couldn’t feel anything when I was on lithium. Along with my other medications, I was extremely sedated and spent all day sleeping. I had hit rock bottom. I was lying and manipulating my family and community because I didn’t want them to worry. I thought they were better off without me here. I remember at my final breaking point, one therapist gave me my final wake-up call. She said, “When you’re off your meds you have two choices: jail or death, those are your only options.” After this, I knew I had to start healing, for my family, my community, and most importantly myself.
Throughout all my pain and illness I was always loved unconditionally by my family and friends. No matter how hard I pushed them away they were always there. I’m also so grateful to my beautiful god family and spiritual community who have been by my side throughout it all. Being a part of the community saved my life and reconnected me to my spiritual identity as well as to my ancestors. It took years for me to finally become stable on my medication. I have been “treatment resistant,” which means refusing my medication as well as not going to therapy. I knew I had to go back on my medication and continue therapy. At the time, I wasn’t doing it for myself but more for my family and community, but as time went on, I began doing it for myself. That’s when I felt a difference in my energy and mental health. With consistency as well as trust in the universe and Ochas, I’ve been relapse free for almost 7 months which doesn’t seem like a lot, but it’s the longest time in 3 years, and I have my family, spiritual community, and most importantly myself to thank. Staying rooted in my culture like doing things such as “danza” Aztec dance kept me grounded and also motivated me for the future. The spiritual community played a huge part in my recovery. I was met with open arms from my god family and supported even in the bad and ugly. My family and friends stayed by my side visiting me while I was at the facilities bringing me my favorite foods and making me care baskets. They kept me going. I told myself that all this pain I was going through would all be worth it. I made it my goal and purpose to help kids more. Specifically, black and brown kids who because of a lack of resources and support were struggling without someone to really understand them. Since then, I was able to start being at home more instead of going from facility to facility, I was able to make memories with my friends and family that I never knew I was going to be able to make. I now have a steady job that I love and most importantly I want to be here. I want to keep living. I will keep living. I’m so grateful for my community because they are the reason I’m still here. Aside from my community, I want to give special thanks to my mom, my brother, and my grandma who never stopped loving me and were always praying for me and supporting me by any means.
My story was successful because I did it for all those kids that don’t make it. I did it for the 11-year-olds I met in psych hospitals who were barely learning division. I did it for my friends in facilities that I had to leave behind. For my friends that I keep in my daily prayers because I haven’t heard from them in years. I do it for the family that I gained from being hospitalized, and for my best friends that have been there for me since my first attempt. I know that I have a purpose now. My purpose is to be someone that kids can count on to support them. My story is successful because although I’m still in recovery I’m farther than I ever imagined. For anyone reading this that can relate, you are not alone. You matter and the world wouldn’t be the same without you. Reach out, and ask for help. It’s one of the hardest things to do but trust me it goes a long way. I hope my story inspires you to start your recovery journey. You are valued and you are loved.
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