For half of my life, my mental health and mental illness has been at the center of my journey. I am fortunate enough to have a strong support system among family and friends that has been consistent and strong. The way I grew up with mental illness and my family’s support defies the typical experience that someone from Mexican origins might have when struggling.
My dad’s sister paved the way, defining how my parents would respond to my struggle. When my aunt struggled with severe depression, her immediate family dismissed her as faking it, attention-seeking, or being dramatic, without considering her context of personal struggles. The experiences my aunt endured was a common one in their home in Mexico.
My mother began to struggle with severe depression when I was a child. My father didn’t know how to help her. My aunt helped him understand and he was able to empathize with my mother through the eyes of my aunt and her struggles.
My personal struggles began in my early teenage years and continue today. From my symptoms of depression and anxiety, to my struggles with psychosis and suicidal ideation.
My parents occasionally doubted how I could manage to live with such symptoms, especially when I struggled with the symptoms of psychosis. It wasn’t until I graduated with my bachelor’s in Psychology, that my parents believed in my strength and felt assured I could have the future I wanted; it just means I must try a lot harder than someone without mental illness.
Mental health and prevention work is something I was inclined towards since high school. However, as time progressed, the reasons behind my desire to do this work changed drastically. I started off wanting to be someone who would fix people’s problems as a psychologist; now, that is no longer my goal.
Now, I want to participate in people’s healing process as a clinical social worker, help them on their journey to self-empowerment and liberation, and to remind them of their voice. Additionally, I want to bring visibility to people with lived experience of mental illness who work in prevention.
For so long, I’ve struggled to find people working in mental health who look like me and struggle like me. I believe no one enters the field without being touched by mental illness in some way. It is time to make that fact visible, be unabashed, and hopeful for a more liberated and healthier future for all of us.