When Ricardo Hernandez was in high school, he had the body, face and brain of an eight-year-old, but he never got bullied because his older brothers were in gangs, and they watched out for him.
Born with panhypopituitarism, which causes reduced secretions of most or all of the pituitary hormones, doctors didn’t think he would survive past infancy. Miraculously, he lived. But because his brain was behind his classmates, he failed all his classes. Lacking a special education program to help him, the teachers passed him along to the next grade. Also, Ricardo was tired all the time, a result of the syndrome.
Once at the end-of-lunch bell, a kid hurrying off to class bumped into him and knocked him down with all his books. Almost instantly, a bunch of gang bangers jumped him and started beating him up. Ricardo, knowing it was an accident, tried to call off his brothers’ fellow gang members to no avail. “They told me to get to class,” he said.
Ricardo is 14 in this photo
In the 11th grade, his high school counselor finally put an end to the free ride and halted his graduation, suggesting he seek an independent study program. (Ricardo enrolled in continuing education later, when his body and brain caught up, and received his high school diploma as an adult.)
He had two major challenges: a slowly developing brain and chronic fatigue, which kept him from working. With not much to do but lay around most of the day, Ricardo became the object of unwanted advances by a cousin who was gay. Slowly but surely, he seduced Ricardo.
“I was very susceptible. I was very depressed. I had no self esteem,” Ricardo said. “I was also sexually abused by my oldest brother. He was homophobe but yet he did this act. Once I started, I went from being non-sexual to like going on a rampage. I was 21-years-old, but my mental age was 13 or 14-years-old.”
Ricardo started a relationship with a neighborhood boy that lasted for two years. Kicked out by his mother for adopting the homosexual lifestyle, he rented government-sponsored housing in Pacoima with his brothers-in-law.
Ricardo entered the gay lifestyle for about 13 years. Then his mother died in 2012.
“When my mother passed away, it totally destroyed what little foundation I had, and I fell into deep, deep, deep depression. I was already depressed. It got me more into wanting to end my life. I was already contemplating suicide, but after my mother’s death, it was like, ‘What’s taking so long. Get it over with already. Take courage and do it.'”
Fear always held him back — even though once he took a whole bottle of pills to no effect. The cousin who had induced him into homosexuality was abusing drugs and attempting suicide.
“I saw how the family got around him. I thought to myself, if I attempt a suicide and fail and my entire family knows that I tried to end my life, one they’ll probably make fun of me, two they’ll hover over me. I didn’t want to feel that scenario. Waking up after an attempted suicide in my mind was the worst. It would be embarrassing.”
Then near Mother’s Day in 2015, a friend came to visit that had been heavily involved in lesbianism and Heavy Metal.
She knocked on his door with a Bible in her hand, proclaiming Jesus Christ!
“Wait a minute…who are you?” Ricardo asked, incredulously.
She said she had visited a church and during the song service, God spoke to her and she started weeping. From that day, she changed. She surrendered to Jesus Christ as her Lord and Savior and found real joy.
Ricardo, however, got furious because he felt like she turned her back on him.
“I told her off and she took it like a champ.”
His friend stopped wearing black, changed her Mohawk hairstyle, and got married. She and her husband prayed for Ricardo and continued to visit him.
“She became a professing Christian, one who did what she said she did,” Ricardo said. “That shook the very core of my being,” he said. “But I told her that I could go to her church and read her Bible but nobody could ever change me.”
As Mother’s Day approached, his depression deepened. He planned to end his life when he visited his mother’s grave. He called his aunt — the closest thing he had to a mother — to wish her a Happy Mother’s Day, but she retorted, “Are you on drugs?” He hung up and cried.
He left a message on his sister’s phone saying goodbye. She was in Mexico. “I told her how much I loved her. I told her I was sorry for everything.”
That night he went into his bathroom.
“God if you’re real, because I see you transformed my best friend and she’s a whole different person, I ask you to end my life, because I’m a coward,” he cried out. “I’ll be an embarrassment to my family. If you’re willing, I ask you to end my life. I don’t ask you for your joy, peace or love — or anything you have to offer. All I ask is just end my life.” Read the rest of panhypopituitarism.