Diane Guerrero on Debt and Deportation

Diane Guerrero was just 14 years old when she came home to an empty apartment. Her parents had been taken by Immigration and Customs Enforcement, and would soon be deported to their native Colombia. “My family unit essentially died that day,” she says. 

Now 29, Diane has recurring roles two successful television shows. She plays inmate Maritza Ramos on Orange is the New Black and smart aleck Lina on Jane the Virgin. But this success is new to Diane. Most of her teens and twenties were spent working any job she could get her hands on, dodging loan collectors, and keeping her family drama a secret. “You would never know that I was going through such sadness,” she says, “I made sure that nobody would find me out.”

Keeping everything bottled up only worked for so long. In her junior year of college, she started to drink heavily and cut herself. “I used that as a coping mechanism,” Diane reflects, “or a way to self-sabotage myself.” As her life and relationships started to fall apart around her, Diane finally found a positive outlet in acting classes. And seeing a therapist didn’t hurt. 

Diane’s own life is stable now, but her family is still in a precarious place. Her parents are still unable to enter the U.S., even as visitors. And they separated shortly after they were deported. Dealing with their split has been an ongoing element of Diane’s emotional recovery. “It definitely affected my relationships and how I dealt with people,” she acknowledges, “and what I considered to be love or forever.” 

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Five Steps to a No-Shame Conversation About STDs

Let’s face it: a lot of factors come into play before two people decide to have sex. One of these factors—the risk of sexually transmitted diseases (STDs)— is used as a fear tactic replete with horrible pictures of late-stage STD […]

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When I Almost Died

A few months ago, I asked you to share your near-death experiences. In all, we received more than 100 stories from you: through your emails, voice memos and—for the first time—our Medium page, where you can read the submissions.

You told us about car accidents…plane crashes…illness…suicide. And, you told us what happened after…when you didn’t die. Ellen’s near-death experience ended her marriage. Kelsey’s forced her into sobriety. And Paul’s left him feeling impatient: “Every moment has to matter, but then it doesn’t.”

We also heard from some of you about near-death experiences that weren’t your own, but that deeply affected you just the same. Rachel* had only been in a relationship with her boyfriend for six months when he was diagnosed with lymphoma and hospitalized. She was terrified that he was going to die. But she was also terrified to admit that she wasn’t happy in the relationship. “He didn’t miss me, the way I missed our closeness, because he was so preoccupied with the disease taking over him,” she told me. “That really, really hurt me.”

And many of you told us that coming close to death changed the way that you think about dying. “It’s not as horrific as I thought it would be,” said Elizabeth Caplice, who describes her life these days as “one big near-death adventure.” A listener sent us a link to her blog, Sky Between Branches, where she writes about her life with stage 4 colorectal cancer. When I talked with her, she’d just been given an estimate of three months to live. “It obviously is a really terrible and rancid thing to happen to anyone,” she told me. “But in a lot of ways it’s simultaneously been worse and not as bad as I thought it would be. It is a natural process. It’s a very human thing to have happen to you, is to die.” 

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