Happy Warrior Wednesday Warriors!!
I’m so happy to be here writing for you guys on this very special post. In the spirit of Mental Health Awareness month, DesiGirl has invited me to take over this Wednesday post and to dedicate it to all the Latino community. With this in mind, I wanted to give some of my thoughts on what Mental Health Awareness should mean for my Latino community specifically.
As I have previously mentioned, not only in past blog posts but in our podcast as well, Mental Health is not something that is widely discussed in the Latino community. In general, it is an affliction that is looked down upon. It is an affliction that could get someone labeled as “crazy” or cause them to get ostracized from family, friends and/or loved ones. This has been a mindset that our community and our society has engraved in the Latino community for generations as far back as anyone can remember. I know, because I had an example of this with my maternal grandmother and my mother. My grandmother was actually an inpatient back in the 60’s due to her Mental Health condition. I am unaware exactly what it was that she was diagnosed with; however, what I do know from what family has told me is that she would scream and cry quite often (with the descriptions I have heard I want to believe that maybe it was severe undiagnosed anxiety but I am unsure). Anyway, this situation led to my mother not meeting her own mother until she was around the age of 9 or 10 and this first meeting between them being in the inpatient facility where my grandmother was being looked after. Being a small third world country like Colombia everybody knew everybody in my mother and father’s town; thus, the word got out that my mother was the “daughter of the crazy lady”. After word got out about this situation my mother was heavily bullied at school. She would be ostracized by her fellow “peers” and no one would go around her during recess and/or lunch because the popular girls would always make sure not to allow anyone to play or get near “the daughter of the crazy lady”. Although this is something that my mother and I have never truly gotten to discuss in a more analytical setting I believe this is a situation that has engraved itself in her heart. I know she plays it off as if it never affected her but I know it must have in some way, shape or form.
You may be asking yourself “L4dyDMC, why are you putting your mother on the spot telling this very personal/delicate story?” or “L4dyDMC, what purpose do you have for sharing this story… you told us this would be about Mental Health Awareness?” No malice is warranted with the telling of this story, all the contrary, I wish to use this story to help others and to reiterate my belief on Mental Health Awareness. I also share this in the hopes that it will open the eyes of any of my fellow Latinos (warriors or non-warriors) out there who are potentially reading this post and potentially going through something similar. Now, what does Mental Health Awareness mean to me for the Latino community. Mental Health awareness to me in avoiding in every: way, shape and form a situation like the one my mother grew up in and never having anyone in our community having to live that way. Mental Health Awareness means sharing these stories and educating ourselves to so that we do not EVER put someone in a position of humiliation or shame like my mother and grandmother were placed in because of a Mental Illness. My grandmother did not choose nor was she able to control her mental situation; thus, she was innocent of what was going with her. My mother was only a child, a child that was also innocent to what her mother was going through and did not deserve to be shamed for Mental Illness occurring in the family. To me, Mental Health Awareness means putting whatever grain of salt I can and every effort I can so that others like me in the community can open up safely and discuss their Mental Health with others without having to withstand that punishment of “stigma”. Mental Health Awareness to me means that Latinos work together to become educated on this important matter and realize that Mental Illnesses do not make us lazy, that Mental Health Illnesses do not make us crazy and that Mental Illnesses are REAL! Real as any other physical illness that requires understanding, treatment and compassion.
Mental Health Awareness to me means that any person like my grandmother who suffered from a Mental Illness will not have to hide. That not only will they receive care in a inpatient facility like she did but that the community will also learn to help their recovery. That if they are able to get out they will get out to a community that will not label them as “crazy” but that will be eyes and ears wide open to assist them with their needs. That they will go back to a community that is respectful, compassionate and understanding. For children like my mother who are going through a situation of having a parent, caretaker or older adult in their lives who is mentally ill, Mental Health Awareness means that other children will be educated by the adults in their lives and will be taught respect. It means no child forcing others to leave another alone on the playground because they are the “daughter/son of the crazy adult”. It means that children will learn the true meaning of “it takes a village to raise a child” and that the adults in the small neighborhoods will look out for that child with the ill adult and help raise them as their own. That the neighbors will love them, help them get educated and help them become productive members of society instead of allowing their own children to bully and beat them down.
Mental Health Awareness to me means: Respect, Self-education, Teamwork and compassion. This month, like all months but especially being Mental Health Awareness month, should be a time for us Latinos to open up our eyes. Something needs to change… we need to reach that finish line where all of us can be FREE to open up about our struggles. We need to take those first steps of change towards making sure that we are all safe and that we are all supported with every basic need we have as human beings and one of those is our BIRTH RIGHT to feel safe and taken care of… ESPECIALLY with all aspects of our health.
This is what Latino Health Awareness means to me…
Los Quiero Mis Guerreros ❤
XOXO L4dyDMC XOXO