Why Latinx Therapy Needed to Exist

Growing up, I had no voice, well, at least that is what it felt like. My family is a very humble, traditional family from immigrants who came to the United States to provide their family that ?American Dream?. For my parents, that was a house and education, ultimately, a better future. Mental health was not a priority because the financial stress, entrepreneurship and raising the children was what was on the surface for them. That was okay, admirable and what shaped me to be the person I am. One thing is, I don?t know what it would have been like to have people suggest or push mental health services to my parents in the 90?s. I wonder, would they have rejected it? Would they be open to it? If so, would they step foot into therapy?

My parents say they would have been open to it, but who truly knows in those moments. I?m at a point in my life where all I can see is mental health. It?s all around me, and it?s on a spectrum. Some people and communities are more healed than others. All I want is to heal my community and myself. Know that mental health does not discriminate against age, gender, sex, socioeconomic status, wealth. Mental health is the exact same thing as our health, but even more complicated because it includes the mind and soul, which invisible concepts, for our people.

The point to this is that we are now in a generation where mental health is spoken about and there are more bilingual services, thankfully. Of course, we can always do better, but let?s give credit to where we are at now and let?s do something about it. We need to change our language in order to shape better awareness skills in our younger generation, and remove that avoidance to mental health services. If you have once feared that you won?t be understood in therapy because there are not Latinx Therapists, this website is one of your homes now. Whether you are a professional or not.

The reason why Latinx Therapy was birthed was for all these reasons. I want to extend the knowledge I have received from my undergraduate and graduate school training and apply it to the real-world so more people gain awareness and can relate to me. Many graduate programs train you not to share personal information, but I find that this is what?s necessary to my people as long as what I am sharing is not 1-something that triggers me, and 2- something that may trigger my client. ?There has also been much awareness within my personal life that I feel is necessary to share with others in hopes that my learned lessons can help others find their very own way. My belief is that with more awareness, comes positive changes. Latinx Therapy is the vessel to drive change by providing education and community from a mental health professional directly. Everything on this site is intentional, from Favianna Rodriguez?s inspiring art to the partnerships and content on each page.

The beautiful thing is that it is not just about me on this platform. I aim to give voice and opportunities to other Latinx voices, both professionally and personally. There is no use in one person harboring information or opportunities that can benefit someone else. If we all unite together, to provide opportunities for members of our communities, we would all grow, heal and succeed together. Isn?t that what we want for our people anyway? I welcome you to Latinx Therapy and encourage you to share this page with others, and always, take 3 slow, deep breaths a day.

You can also find more resources on my social media pages.

Instagram/Facebook/Twitter: @LatinxTherapy

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?Around the Corner? by MDC

Oh depression you old familiar foe

We?ve been here before and I keep telling you to go

But you come back each time

And I must accept you will always be with me

I can?t simply forget you when you?re gone

As you?re waiting around the corner

To arrive once again

-MDC

Mental Health Labyrinth by MDC

To be honest, I?m not exactly sure where my mental health journey begins. Did it begin five years ago when I was officially diagnosed with depression? ?Or did it begin eight years ago when I was living with someone who severely suffered from PTSD and major depression? Or did it begin during my adolescence before I even knew what ?depression? or ?mental health? even meant – since that stuff was for ?locos?? ?The truth is, la mera mera verdad, is there is no end or beginning with mental health; it?s a lifelong journey, often feeling lost in a maze, overwhelmed, unsure and alone. However, as difficult as the journey may be, I?ve learned through my own personal struggles, that we have the strength and resiliency each day to find meaning in our lives. We CAN change the direction of our mental health realities. ?

 

I was raised in a devout Mexican Catholic household, where prayer and God was always the answer. My dad would always tell me, ?la vida es sufrir y cargar nuestra cruz?. However, that concept of suffering in life, neglects the importance of self-care. Now as an adult in my thirties, I realize just how much my parents? ?toxic relationship (exacerbated by stress, depression/anxiety, alcoholism, verbal abuse, and a machismo culture) was unhealthy. I love my parents and they love me but unfortunately, with regard to mental health their advice was always to seek God, go to church and pray. For a long time this stance made me angry at my parents, at Catholicism – I didn?t need faith, I needed mental health support, treatment and resources! ?I desperately wanted for my parents to understand what I was going through, to talk to them about what I was feeling. Unfortunately, that level of affection or real communication is a challenge in my family. This upbringing has impacted my own mental health realities but it doesn?t define them.

 

When I moved away for college, my new found independence was exciting, but it was also lonely and difficult. I distinctly remember feeling particularly blue one day. I was on my way to class, I sat on a bench, and felt a deep struggle and sadness where I just wanted to just quit. I remember thinking I just needed to talk myself out of this ?dark hole?. I later learned that it was actually seasonal affect disorder (SAD), a medical reality that affects many yet I had no awareness of it. A few years after college, I dated someone who deeply impacted my awareness of mental health realities. Though I knew about his childhood trauma as a refugee from a war-torn country, I didn?t understand it was PTSD. My ex had very deep wounds and in my love for him, I tried to comfort him and heal him. Codependency is a term I learned in my first ever counseling sentence. I suffered as I saw him spiral deeper and deeper into depression/anxiety/PTSD. He cut himself off from his closest friends and support networks; I felt like his only life-line. It finally came to a point where I recognized I couldn?t ?fix? him and it had become unhealthy for me to stay in the relationship. This was, and continues to be a difficult topic to talk about, but it helped me have more empathy, awareness and strength.

 

Newly single, in a new city, a new apartment, a new job – there were just too many changes all at once for me and, with lack of a strong support system, my mental health crumbled. I started noticing my erratic sleep patterns, racing heart, lack of appetite/motivation/energy, and I was filled with both anger and sadness. At first I tried to dismiss it as breakup woes but it was something different. It was a prolonged sadness and it affected my ability to function. I didn?t know what was happening to me and my first thought was to go to the doctor. When the doctor asked me the purpose of my visit, as I tried to explain, I burst into tears. This prompted la doctora to give me a depression screening. I was prescribed an antidepressant and referred to make an appointment with the psychiatric department. The term ?psychiatry? scared and continues to scare me. I wasn?t crazy – just profoundly sad. Regardless, I started taking my daily ?happy pills? yet I was still nervous/skeptical that they would work. I was also very frustrated that it would take several weeks for the medication to take full effect, that seemed like an eternity to me in my depressed state. But I was desperate to feel better.

 

After a few months on the antidepressants, I thought I was better and decided to taper off my medications. I didn?t need them anymore – I was ?fixed?. But it was only the beginning. Another job change. Another break up. Another city change. Another new job. Another new apartment. Again, too many changes at once. I spiraled again into depression, this time worse than the previous time, and more frustrating. Over the past four years, I have continued with this pattern and it has very much affected my mental health, financial wealth, career, relationships/friendships and overall well-being.

 

Present day mental healthy reality – last year I made an appointment to meet with a psychologist and was re-diagnosed with bipolar II disorder. I?m still struggling with this new diagnosis. There are so many negative connotations, especially towards women being crazy and bipolar. My own brothers and male friends say this about women. Un dia pronto, I will have the strength and courage to say, do you even know what bipolar or crazy even mean? ?I?m bipolar and I?m your friend, tu hija, tu hermana. Finally, I?m proud of my mental health journey in spite of all the highs and lows. I?m proud that I?m writing this and sharing it. I?m proud of all of us who are continuing to grow and understand more about mental health realities in ourselves and nuestras communidades.

 

-MDC

An Apology Letter by Diana Alvarez

An Apology Letter

A gentle touch at first
shallow breathing
& whispers to the ear
do you like this
I bet you do
if you were to have seen
the statue like nature of my
pre-teen body
my wide, bright, brown eyes
suddenly sink
maybe you would have stopped
maybe you would have
understood
that my inability to move
my inability to speak meant
no
I do not like it
But instead
you reached further down
and when you grabbed me,
you grabbed my innocence too
maybe if you had seen my eyes no longer
with light
maybe had I been able to show
more unwillingness,
maybe you would have stopped
maybe you would have
understood.
I want to say I?m sorry,
I Am sorry for going into shock
for every inch of my pre-teen body
being paralyzed with overwhelming guilt and fear.
I Am sorry for hating you all these years.
After all, I didn?t actually say no.
It was I, who couldn?t speak at all.
Maybe you would have stopped,
once I was finally able to gain enough strength to put
my hand down
just as you were about to enter…
then I lost it all over
when I felt the tear,
but you didn?t
you didn?t stop.

& Now
I can?t remember,
I can?t recall
whether it was just your hand
that left me limping the next day
that left my womanly parts scarred
& disfigured.
I want to say to say I?m sorry,
I Am sorry for going into shock
for every inch of my child body
being paralyzed with overwhelming guilt and fear,
for being mute.
I want to say I?m sorry,
I Am sorry for blaming you all these years
For my distorted self-image
For my eating disorders
For my anxiety
For its dear friend, Depression
For my hallucinations
For all the cuts & blood spilled on my skin
because the only relief I felt came when I thought I
deserved all the cuts & blood spilled on my skin.
For all the pills I took, over & over,
in hopes to leave those memories
For the years of feeling guilty
For all of my self-hatred
For the loss of not only my youth,
but also my innocence.
But now
that I think of it,
I will always just live in hopes
of You saying that.
To Me.

Because
what I really want to say
is
Fuck You.

Cluttered, A Poem by Diana Alvarez

Cluttered,

Like my ?empty? kitchen sink.

 

Clear your mind, ???? you say

so I begin to scrub,

I scrub until all that is left are the stains left from the pain

my knuckles start to swell and my hands bleed from my failed attempt to clear my head

But the stains do not fade,

Despite the dishes being stored in the locked cabinet where I try not to reach, I always do

over and over again

I always make the mess.

 

So I pour bleach,

Tons of bleach until it enters in my nose.

trying to detoxify my mind.

 

Breathe! You say Breathe!

I cannot

Breathe!

 

i fall into the strainer, stuck.

Sunken to the bottom and drenched in bleach,

i am still not pure, the sink is still

not clean Breathe! Clear your mind! Breathe.

can you not tell my sink is still full heavy with dishes drowning in bleach how can i possibly fucking breathe?

 

Got a sink full of dishes, a mind full of demons

I cannot be empty the way you want me to be, the way i want to be.

 

the gallon of bleach has done no use soaking in my skin

the only way ??????????? i can empty myself, my mind, and my heart is using the bleach to wash down the pills in my bloody broken hands.

 

Finally clear, finally clean and pure

 

No, I still can?t.

 

Can no longer,

Breathe.

From A Mental Health Advocate- Julie Ariaguin

Mental Health is very near and dear to my heart. I feel like it?s extremely important to utilize my voice and have conversations like these because unfortunately ?there is still so much stigma surrounding mental illness.

I was diagnosed with anxiety and depression a while ago. When I was initially diagnosed I was mad at god and the world. I would wonder why me? I was stuck in that train of thought for a good while until one day I stopped questioning god and accepted it. I decided to seek treatment and it has been one of the best decisions I have ever made. I love therapy!

However, I must say that it?s really challenging because many confuse anxiety with ?nervousness,? and don?t really understand where I?m coming from. Therefore, that’s even more of a reason to use my voice and talk about this. The stigma needs to stop. The struggle is real but I know that with god’s grace and treatment I will be okay.? If you’re reading this I want you to know that we are not alone, there is help out there! I encourage you to prioritize your mental health & self-care! God bless you!

———————————————————————–

La salud mental es algo que me llega al alma! Siento que es muy importante usar mi voz y tener conversaciones como estas porque desafortunadamente todav?a hay mucha estigma relacionado con enfermedades mentales.

Yo fui diagnosticada con ansiedad y depresi?n hace un tiempo y cuando inicialmente fui diagnosticada yo estaba enojada con dios y el mundo. Yo dec?a, porque yo? Por alg?n tiempo estuve atorada con ese pensamiento pero un dia decide parar de cuestionar a dios y aceptar esto. Decid? buscar tratamiento y fue una gran decisi?n. Me encanta ir a terapia!

Muchas personas confunden o relacionan la ansiedad con los ?nervios,? y es muy dif?cil que alguien te entienda. Por eso, con m?s raz?n necesito usar mi voz y tener conversaciones de estas para ponerle fin al estigma de enfermedades mentales. Yo se que con la ayuda de dios y ?tratamiento voy a estar bien. Si est?s leyendo esto quiero que sepas que no estas solo/sola, hay ayuda! Animate a priorizar tu salud mental y cuidado personal! Dios los bendiga!

Five things you may

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