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October was Mental Health Awareness Month, during this month we remind ourselves and others that the stigmas surrounding mental illness need to be dismissed. I, like many others, try to bring awareness by participating in events that bring awareness to mental illness. However, as I advocate for mental health education, awareness and advocacy against social stigma; I can’t help but feel like I am lying. For many years I have hidden my depression and anxiety from one individual, myself.
I try to convince myself that I am okay. That the dread of leaving my bed every morning is not depression but me being tired. The panic attacks I experience are normal, they happen to everyone. I jam pack my schedule so that I don’t think about the overwhelming thoughts of failure that lurk in the depths of my mind. But they are there.
They are there, and they sneak up on me when I least expect it. I question my accomplishments and dismiss them as simply good fortune. My mental health is put on the back burner not only because I don’t want to bother other people but because I, myself, just don’t want to acknowledge it. I would much rather help or talk to others about their problems or situations than deal with mine.
I know what my family will say if I ask for help or mention going to talk to someone. They will assume I’m crazy or that it’s just me being extra.They might not even think that; it could all just be a figment of my imagination. However, even if this is all made up the smallest possibility of it being a reality is something I couldn’t bear. I am the role model. I am the example that my parents use when they tell my brother that he can do anything he sets his mind to because that is what I am doing. But they do not see the internal struggle that threatens to break ever so often.
I keep on moving forward and pretending everything is okay because ideally, that is what I want. I want to be okay with my personal issues. I have told people that it is okay to not be okay, but I don’t allow myself that opportunity.
I push myself to be the best version of myself I can be.
I like being there for others so that they don’t feel the same way I do.
I would rather aid than ask for help.
Is that bad? Probably but that is the way I know how to deal with my anxiety and depression.
Do I recommend ignoring your mental health? ABSOLUTELY NOT! However, this is my reality and I have heard other stories that are very similar. It is common for us, college students, to try to ignore our problems and keep on grinding to get that diploma, to be that example. We take on the weight of the world and suffer in silence. We convince ourselves that there are other catastrophes going around in the world to bring our small issues into the light.
In this past month alone, tragedy has been upon us. Everything from natural disasters to massacres, both in Latin America and here in the United States. Hurricane Harvey and Maria made it clear that the force of nature is a force to be reckoned with; a force like no other. Mexico, Puerto Rico, and the Caribbean are both suffering from the lasting effect of these tragedies. Every social media and media outlet was reporting on the tragedy, the lives lost, the disaster that was going on not so far from home.
The people of these countries to this day are still not getting basic resources needed to live as they continue to work hard to salvage and restore their communities. Every time I go on Facebook or Twitter someone has a post about the gravity of the situation and what we can do to help. As a fellow human being, I want to help. I want to send donations of non-perishables or donate money to organizations that are helping the victims of these catastrophes.
But, I don’t know how. I’m simply a student, trying to get my life together. I don’t want to dismiss the rest of the world’s problems but what can I do?
What can we do?
Many of us have family members in the affected areas. The anxiety is real, we try to reach out but at the same time, we are told to not worry about it, to focus on school. We do but we can’t help but feel guilty or even hopeless. It’s not our responsibility to help but if it’s not why do some of us feel as though it is?
We can’t ignore what is going on in the world. Yet, at the same time, this adds to not wanting to speak out about personal issues. With so many major events happening, affecting the lives of many why would I mention my lack of motivation? It doesn’t make sense and it makes it seem like I’m whining.
I don’t know exactly what we should do to make it easier to talk about mental illness especially in the Latinx community. This is more so that if any of you feel this way know that you are not alone. I’m not saying that tomorrow we will wake up and be “cured” no, what I am saying is that some days will be better than others. We just have to keep going. We have worked too damn hard to give up. If you need to talk to someone, do so or if you don’t feel comfortable doing so find a safe way to cope.
Tragedies are happening but that doesn’t mean that our life is any less valuable than that of those individuals involved in such disasters.
If interested in finding organizations that will help out Puerto Rico/ Mexico. Links will be here.
Let’s start a conversation about mental issues not just within ourselves but within the Latinx community!
Such a strong and powerful article! I can totally relate to this. It helps to know I am not alone. Thank you for sharing your experience!