AJ Mendez (AJ Lee) Opens Up About How A Call To 311 Saved Her Life

AJ Lee opens up about struggling with mental health near the end of her run in WWE.

AJ Lee is one of the longest-reigning Divas Champions in WWE history. She is also an author, mental health advocate, and most recently, part of the WOW Superheroes family.

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From the outside looking in, AJ Lee has lived a tremendous life but as she detailed in her book, “Crazy is my Superpower,” there were many struggles along the way in her journey.

AJ Lee struggles with bipolar disorder. Today, she is very open about her struggles and is an advocate for proper mental health care but because of stigmas associated with mental health advocacy as well as being a WWE champion on television, AJ Lee admits that she was not always putting herself first as she needed to best take care of herself.

Speaking on State of Mind with Maurice Benard, AJ Lee opens up to the General Hospital star about a suicide attempt that took place around the time that she was married to CM Punk and he entered a lawsuit with Dr. Chris Amann.

AJ explains that she actually booked a hotel room with the intention of committing suicide before a call to 311 changed her life and made her realize how important it is to talk about mental health.

“When I was 19 or 20 when 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 just my brain, very matter-of-factly saying, ‘There's a pain and we needed to stop it,’ and that was terrifying to me not understanding what was happening, but just like, ‘Oh, well, this is the solution.’ Then when you survive something like that, for me, personally, and I don't know if it's like everybody, but for me, the scary thing is how it almost becomes — it stays with you. It's like always an option. It's like your darkness will always tell you it's an option. So that's something you have to fight constantly. So the next time something scary got to that point, I was having really bad suicidal ideation. I didn't go through with the attempt, however, I did book a hotel room to die in. Because I didn't want my husband to find me. You know, I didn't want him to have to deal with that. So I was just thinking very matter-of-factly. Nobody knew, and this is actually why I became a mental health advocate and why I decided to write the book and write about this, and this I haven't talked about yet. But, from the outside world, it would have seemed like I have everything in the whole world. I was on TV, I'm a champion, dream career, got married, like, perfect, wonderful year.”

She continued, “But a lot of times with bipolar disorder, big life changes, kind of throw you off. With the high, you're going to hit a low. So in the same year of my life, I moved to a different state. I got married. I got really sick. I had to take time off work for surgeries. Actually, during one of the breaks I had, you know how this is because General Hospital has no time off. That's what wrestling is. No offseason, shoot, shoot, shoot, shoot, shoot. So the only time I ever got time off was surgery. So me and my husband were like, ‘Let's just sneak a wedding in here.’ That's how we got married. So, everything's happening really fast and it's just like chaos and a tornado of highs and lows and life. But I was really sick and I was scared that I had to have multiple surgeries. So all this stuff is happening. Then, I got hurt in the ring. Then, my husband got sued. it was just all of a sudden that you know, there was stuff in my family. So it's all this stuff happening in the same year. So my career's great and everything's going great and I have my husband, but 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. I wasn't in therapy consistently. I was playing fast and loose with my medication. Because I was being really vain about it because I gained weight when I'm on my medication. So I was, you know, ‘I'm on TV. I can't —’ I'd rather be alive than have a six-pack. But, yeah. So during this chaos, the only solution to me, the only thing I could do was just, I booked a hotel room. That was my plan. I, at some point, realized, ‘Okay, this isn't my brain. It's the darkness talking. I called the suicide prevention hotline. 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. So once they found out I wasn't where my area code was, they were like, ‘You have to call this number. This is your local one, you have to do this, please promise you’ll call this number, write this number down.’ I didn't write it down, just hung up. 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.’ I was like, I don't have the number. I don't have the number. Maybe I should call 311. And ask them for the number.’ So I call this — first of all, only I would have the hilarious suicide attempt, like where it just goes wrong and somebody like you have the wrong number when you call. Only me.

“So like, ‘Okay, 311 might help me get the right number.’ The man on the other end of the phone… This man was so patient and so kind. I don't even understand what happened. But I just started telling him everything. This kind stranger who gets noise complaints, right? This is not his job. 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.’ Like, for so long, people just thought I was like, on the top of the world, and I'm the caretaker in my family and what I was providing for everybody. But there wasn't anyone. Anybody checking in on me. So it's just — I didn't realize — I just needed somebody to check in on me. It was this tiny, small act of kindness that literally saved my life. Like, I don't know his name. I just remember his voice. I can hear his voice right now. He was just kind and patient and he just listened. That was enough for me to go, ‘Okay, I need to go home. This is terrifying.’ So that I just thought like, I could handle it on my own. So what I realized from that was that I needed to talk about my diagnosis, because a huge problem was I was hiding it, like the world didn't know at the time that I was bipolar and never talked about my mental health. So I needed to, like, come out of hiding.”

Today, AJ Lee is not only a best-selling author but has written comics and launched Scrappy Heart Productions, and will be part of the WOW Superheroes team as they relaunch next year. Learn more about that here.

Her husband, CM Punk, has spoken about a potential return to the ring and why he currently rules that out. You can read his comments here.

If you're in crisis, please call the National Suicide Prevention Lifeline at 800-273-TALK (8255) or use the Crisis Text Line by texting “NAMI” to 741741

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