AJ Mendez (Lee) opens up about her mental health struggles in 2014; injuries, life changes

Originally published at https://www.postwrestling.com/2021/11/23/aj-mendez-lee-opens-up-about-her-mental-health-struggles-in-2014-injuries-life-changes/

AJ Mendez speaks candidly about her mental struggles.

After stepping away from pro wrestling in 2015, April Mendez (AJ Lee) ventured into writing and penned her own memoir in 2017 titled ‘Crazy Is My Superpower: How I Triumphed by Breaking Bones, Breaking Hearts, and Breaking the Rules’. Mendez also co-wrote the comic book series ‘GLOW vs. The Babyface’ and this past October, it was revealed that Mendez will be involved with wrestling again as the Executive Producer for WOW Superheroes.

Prior to formally stepping away from wrestling, Mendez dealt with a myriad of mental health struggles and she detailed that journey during her sit-down conversation with Maurice Bernard. AJ said from the outside looking in, everything was perfect for her. Due to injuries, bipolar disorder, life changes and dealing with sickness, it became overwhelming. Mendez booked a hotel room and was going to commit suicide and explained how a call to 3-1-1 stopped her from going through with it.

So I have named my depression because it’s important for me to separate it from myself and for it not to be like this ominous thing. I’ve just named it my middle name so it’s Jeanette and those are my dark days is when Jeanette takes over and she’s the one that has the bad ideas and so that’s the easier way for me to know it’s not me, it’s just a little piece of me. But, I didn’t know that when I was 19 or 20 and I had overdosed and had my first suicide attempt when I became a suicide survivor for the first time. I didn’t know. I just thought it was my brain very matter-of-factly saying, ‘There’s a pain and we need to stop it’ and that was terrifying to me, not understanding what was happening but just like, ‘Oh well, this is the solution,’ and then when you survive something like that, for me personally and I don’t know if it’s for everybody but for me, the scary thing is how it almost becomes — it stays with you. It’s like always an option. Like your darkness will always tell you it’s an option and so that’s something you have to fight constantly and so, the next time something got scary, got to that point know how this is because General Hospital is no time off. That’s kind of what wrestling is, there’s no off-season. Just shoot, shoot, shoot, shoot, shoot. So the only time I ever got time off was for surgery and so me and my husband were like, ‘Let’s just sneak a wedding in here’ and that’s how we got married. So it was like this very — everything’s happening really fast and it’s just like a chaos and a tornado of highs and lows in life.

But I was really sick and I was scared. I had to have multiple surgeries and so all this stuff is happening and then I got hurt in the ring and then my husband got sued and it was just all this and then you know, there’s stuff in my family and so it’s all this stuff happening like in the same year and so career is great and everything’s going great and I have my husband but it was my bipolar disorder, couldn’t handle it. It was too much for me and I wasn’t taking care of myself the way I should have. I wasn’t in therapy consistently, I was playing fast and loose with my medication. Yeah, because I was being really vain about it because I gain weight when I’m on medication and so I was, you know, ‘Oh I’m on TV. I can’t –’ I’d rather be alive than be — than have a six-pack. So during this chaos, the only solution to me, the only thing I could do was just — I booked a hotel room and that was my plan and so, at some point, realized, ‘Okay, this isn’t my brain. It’s the darkness talking,’ and I called the Suicide Prevention Hotline and the tricky thing about that is my phone number was out of the area code and you have to — they have to route your number by area code so they can send emergency services if they need to and so once they found out I wasn’t where my area code was, they’re like, ‘You have to call this number! This is your local one. You have to do this, please. Promise me you’ll call this number, write this number down’ and I was like, ‘Yeah, yeah, yeah, yeah.’ Didn’t write it down. Just hung up and I was like, ‘That’s the sign I’m supposed to do this.’ So I went back to it and then something else was like, ‘No, no, no. Try again, try again’ and I was like, ‘I don’t have the number. I don’t have the number. Maybe I should call 3-1-1 and ask them for the number.’ So I call — first of all, only I would have the hilarious suicide attempt like where it just goes wrong and somebody’s like you have the wrong number when you call Suicide Prevention Hotline. Only me. But so I’m like, ‘3-1-1 might help me get the right number’ and the man on the other end of the phone, this man was so patient and so kind and I don’t even understand what happened but I just started telling him everything. This kind stranger who gets noise complaints. This is not his job and I didn’t realize that it was the first time in a long, long time someone had shown me kindness and was just like, ‘Oh, that sucks.’ For so long people just thought I was like on top of the world and I’m the caretaker in my family and what I was providing for everybody but, there wasn’t anybody checking in on me, and so it just I didn’t realize I needed somebody to check in on me and it was this tiny, small act of kindness that literally saved my life.

Elsewhere during the conversation, AJ touched on how she got her break in WWE. She thinks that initially, she was supposed to come in and train other women for TV.

And then I also paid to try out which is such a gimmick. But it worked, I got hired and I don’t think I was supposed to succeed. I think I was good in the ring and I was supposed to train other girls that are like way hotter to go to TV, and then I just got really lucky where we did — I got popular with the fans.

This past April, Mendez and actress Aimee Garcia were announced to be writing Netflix’s ‘Blade of the 47 Ronin’ which began filming in September.

If the quotes in this article are used, please credit Maurice Bernard’s State Of Mind show with an H/T to POST Wrestling for the transcriptions.