No Soy Loca (I Am Not Crazy)
Latinos Talk Mental Health
The first time I admitted to my father I was going through a depressive episode he looked at me with concerned in his eyes. The words that followed made me instantly regret ever saying a word.
"You have a roof over your head. You have groceries in the fridge. You have been given everything you could ever ask for. How are you depressed?" I rolled my eyes to the back of my head I'm surprise they didn't get stuck back there. The first time I brought it up to my mother, she said, "That's some white people shit."
I quietly backed away and isolated myself from the topic. No one ever asked what was taking so long in the bathroom—instead they banged on the door and told me to hurry up that water isn't free. I spent a lot of my showers silently crying thinking it would release my emotions 100 percent. I honestly can't think of what made me so emotional but not even crying helped. I'd fog up the mirrors, no hot water left, and my eyes would be so red. It made it so easy for me to lie and just walk out the bathroom complaining how irritated my eyes were.
I quietly backed away and isolated myself from the topic. No one ever asked why I was always in my room— instead they complained that I never wanted to hang out with them. Newsflash, depression isn't simply saying "I'm depressed," because Starbucks ran out of whipped cream on your most busiest mornings. Depression is laying in bed with no motivation to move, shower, talk to anyone, etc.
Opening up about my mental health to my family didn't go the way that I'd expected it to. Each individual has their own way of coping and mine was always depending on my family and their thoughts. When I was fighting my mental health (and losing) I decided to harm myself. Today, I can't see a box cutter without flinching or looking away. Before, it was like my best friend. It was an inanimate object I needed to have around me just in case I needed to use it. For the most part I did, but slowly I started letting go of it. I remember this one time I was really losing it—my friend drove 40 minutes to my house late at night just to check up on me. We don't talk how we used to but she really left a mark in my life. I had another friend of mine show up at my doorstep to go on a walk—she asked me about my day, what am I looking forward to; pretty much anything and everything that made me forget I was alone. She is no longer five minutes away from me but she's still my person. Although I had a couple of friends who were opened to hear me, I wanted my family to lean on.
Latinx families have got to break the generational curse that's mental health. It's not something to be ashamed of, it's not something that Doña Felicidad from down the street should comment about, it's nobody's business but your family's. The latino community focuses so much about what others have to say about their lives they make sure to tiptoe around anything.
Listen to what your children are going through. What may seem small to you may not be to them. They could've gone to anyone else, but they decided to trust in you and seek for your advice and comfort. I used to be so timid going up to my parents about what was bothering me now I'm more vocal. The other day, I had a rough day at work and I was on the phone with my mom expressing my emotions. She did what she always does and kind of bypass my feelings to tell me that everything is going to be okay. But that's not the point, the point is that I'm currently feeling some type of way so I want to express my feelings before praying about it. So I interrupted her and told her, "I understand that everything is going to be okay at some point. But right now, that's not what I'm feeling and I need you to understand what I'm feeling before pushing my feelings to side and answering." After I told her that, she apologized!!!! I was so shocked.
She said, "I'm so sorry for belittling your feelings." To me, that was HUGE. For those who know my mother personally, know that she's not the type to show any type of feelings. She's so strong willed and stubborn. The apple doesn't fall far from the tree because so am I, but that's not the point. The point is, slowly I'm breaking the generational curse of mental health in my household.
"Solamente porque digo que tengo problemas de salud mental no significa que soy loca." [translated from Spanish to "Just because I say that I have mental health problems does not mean that I am crazy."]