The Rescue Dog That Rescued Me From Suicide

by Maricela Estrada

National Suicide Prevention Week is September 8-14 and all of September is Suicide Prevention Awareness Month. In honor of that, author Maricela Estrada shares the story of her own struggle with suicide and how she survived.

Life just didn’t feel beautiful anymore. Sadly, I lost hope. I fell into a severe episode of depression. It lasted over one year until finally, my suicidal ideation became too overwhelming and I acted upon it. On May 22, 2019, I filled my bathtub with water and took anxiety medication (Ativan) that made me really drowsy. I locked myself in the bathroom with my emotional support dog. I had decided that I would drown myself. I wanted my dog Gypsy Blue to be my last memory. As I lay in the bathtub, head sinking, my dog pulled on the curtains and started barking to get help.

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I was in the hospital for six days, and my emotional support dog was allowed in the mental hospital with me. While in the hospital, little Gypsy not only comforted me but other patients who were depressed and hurting. He wasn’t allowed to have his leash while we were sleeping. In the mornings, Gypsy would go up to patients who were depressed and comfort them. It is like he knew they were hurting. He sensed it. I am so thankful for the hospital that allowed me to have my emotional support dog in there with me. Without my dog there, I would have not made it through.
mental illness
Maricela and Gypsy

I remember the day I rescued Gypsy like it was yesterday. I wanted him for the same reason. I wanted the dog’s comfort and loyal love more than anything. I wanted an emotional support dog so I went to the Downey Animal Shelter on August 26, 2014. It was actually National Dog Day. There was nowhere to sit. Apparently everyone wanted to adopt a dog on National Dog Day. It just happened to be a coincidence for me. I was getting rather impatient holding my number that I had to get. Suddenly a pregnant lady with flip flops walked in with a dirty fluffy dog. She said, “Where do you drop off dogs nobody wants?” The poor innocent dog was trembling with its tail between his legs. He looked so sad. I walked up to her and petted him. I said, “I will take him. I wanted a girl dog, and I was going to name her “Gypsy” like the Lady Gaga song. However, he was a boy and he looked like he was feeling blue. I decided to name him “Gypsy Blue.”

I got Gypsy groomed, and he looked like a celebrity rich dog with his pom pom summer cut. He even walked more confidently with his head high. I showered Gypsy with so much love. People say Gypsy acts like he is human. I have raised this dog like he is my son. He is now a very spoiled dog full of love and affection. He loves his walks in the park and dog beach. Gypsy goes to doggy day camp at PetSmart in Cerritos, California, every day while I am at work. He is showered with love and affection from PetSmart staff. Some PetSmart staff have told me that Gypsy is not only an emotional support dog for me, but he is an emotional support dog for other dogs. They have told me that he comforts other dogs that don’t feel well, anxious and nervous in doggy day camp. He will take naps with them and sit by their side. He even lay before a dog to protect him.

I know God blessed me with this amazing dog for a reason. He truly changed my life. He licks my tears when I cry and jumps on my lap when he senses my depressed mood. When my husband and I pray and have my hands held together in prayer, Gypsy will come up to me and start licking my hands. My husband and I take Gypsy to church with us and sit in the patio, so we can hear the church service on the speaker. Gypsy loves church and just sits there smiling. Having bipolar disorder, I experience many symptoms. More than any pill I have ever taken, my dog has been the best medicine. He fills my life with joy. I don’t take him for a walk; he takes me for a walk. All the meaningful positive activities I engage in are because of Gypsy Blue (going to the park, dog beach, daily walks in the sun and moon light). Gypsy Blue has blessed me with a better life.

Gypsy is the sweetest little dog, and I love him with all my heart. He is a hero pup. This rescue dog rescued me and saved me from suicide.

Learn more about Suicide Prevention Awareness Month as well as find resources to get help on the NAMI website.

Maricela Estrada is the author of Bipolar Girl: My Psychotic Self. She works as a Medical Case Worker for the Los Angeles County Department of Mental Health. Living with mental illness propelled her to devote her life helping others like herself. She is a Public Speaker dedicated in raising awareness and decreasing the stigma associated with mental illness. Book website link:


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