Fierce

One Latina Talks About Breaking Down The Walls Of Stigma In The Latinx Community

In an ideal world, we would all play active roles in breaking down the mental health stigma. Dinner talks would be filled with

 “¿Mijo, cómo te has sentido?” 

“¿Cómo vas con tu medicina?” or

“¿Sigues yendo a yoga?” 

Showing emotion would be encouraged and vulnerability would be praised. 

But you and I both know, this isn’t the case when it comes to the world we live in. Growing up in the Central Valley, surrounded by what seemed like endless tomato fields, with two farm-working parents, I will be the first to admit that conversations about mental health were non-existent. Up until my last year of undergrad, I believed that anxiety attacks were an over-exaggeration of weak, pitiful people who couldn’t handle a little stress. Until of course, it happened to me. I suffered my first anxiety attack one night during my last semester at Fresno State. It was one of the scariest things I’ve ever experienced, and it changed my life forever. 

During the years that followed, I fought against cultural norms. For me, nothing else had worked, so I said ‘yes’ to therapy and anxiety medication, even when my family opposed it or didn’t quite understand it. It was hard. I felt misunderstood and out of place. I was conflicted about how people would judge me and my family if they found out that I sought outside help. 

But I am happy to report that things did get better. Therapy and medication helped tremendously, and my parents eventually came around to supporting my decision to seek help, primarily because they began to see the progress I was making. 

So yes, even though these conversations are tough, I believe they are absolutely necessary to ensure the wellbeing of our families and our future generations. Mental health conversations have to become an integral part of our families, especially within the cultural context.

There’s no doubt about it, the Latinx culture is beautiful! Its richness is felt in the music, food and strong family values. However, many aspects of the culture are not conducive for growth. Not being able to comfortably talk about our mental health because of the ensuing stigma is definitely one of them. Truth is, if we want to move our Latinx families forward, we must find ways to play a role in normalizing mental health conversations within our traditional families. There is no room for inaction. 

The good news is, you don’t have to be a hardcore mental health advocate to help! 

Empowered Bystanders Matter

We can choose to either be an empowered bystander or play an active role in this. Both can be equally important in normalizing these conversations. First, we must acknowledge that not everyone wants to be outspoken and actively pushing change forward. Regardless, empowered bystanders can still make a difference with what may seem like small insignificant acts. 

Here is how you can help as an empowered bystander: 

Withdraw from toxic dialogue.

Oftentimes within traditional family dynamics, we witness ideologies that are toxic for people experiencing mental health issues. Conversations in family reunions can sometimes be offensive and discouraging. As an empowered bystander, you have a choice to partake in this dialogue or completely withdraw from it. By simply choosing not to laugh at an offensive joke, for example, you take a subtle yet firm stance that you are not here for this, you do not agree with this behavior. 

Compare apples to apples.

You may not suffer from a mental health issue, but you can still observe and pinpoint opportunities for conversation. Hypothetically speaking, let’s say one of your siblings is contemplating taking medication for their mental health but is discouraged by your parent who says things like: 

“¡You don’t need that, you are not crazy,” or

“¡Que locuras! Mejor ponte a limpiar tu cuarto, es lo que debes de hacer!” 

As an empowered bystander, you have the power to respectfully interject and propose an idea like:

“Pa, how is that different from you taking your daily blood pressure medicine, you take that every day for you to function.”

In doing so, you suddenly propose a new thought, a new perspective. You don’t force change; you simply ask questions and initiate thoughtful conversations.  

For those of us who are personally impacted by mental health issues, and feel strongly about creating change, here is how you can help as an active participant: 

Embody and embrace the rebel persona. 

Within the cultural family context, we must acknowledge that taking an active role in breaking the mental health stigma often comes with feeling isolated. We will not always fit in. Understanding this upfront will make it easier to cope. We have to understand that our immediate family will not always be our frontline cheerleaders. This is 100% okay. Whether we receive support within our family or not, it is vital that we seek some type of support, through friendships or support groups. 

Be the example.

Do you suffer from a mental health issue? Do you take medication? Do you go to therapy? Living without shame and using your experiences to offer insight and a different perspective in conversations with folks is key to normalizing this subject within our families. Own your experiences, so they become the shining light for others struggling to find their voice. Showing them that you can thrive with your condition is the best type of education we can provide to our families.

To check out Your Story to Tell Academy’s Instagram go here.

Latinas talk “Imposter Syndrome”

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Latinas talk “Imposter Syndrome”

Oli Scarff / Getty

Imposter syndrome. It may happen when you finally got accepted to college and have found yourself overwhelmed by the student body, or when you accepted that dream job, or even while doing your job. It can happen in relationships, in friendships. Basically anywhere and amongst us Latinas too. Even despite our hard work and much-earned credentials.

We wanted to talk about Imposter’s Syndrome and how to deal with it, so we reached out to our FIERCE audience on Instagram for their thoughts.

Latinas got real with their responses about feeling as if they were undeserving.

Check them out below!

Remind yourself that you’ve worked hard and are deserving.

“Thank you for posting this! I actually just got hired on as a school counselor and I’m feeling this intensely right now. I have to keep reminding myself that I worked so hard for this and that I AM WORTH IT!” – adelitafamania

Understand that anything can trigger it.

“It happens to me every single day on so many levels. It’s been holding me back my whole life and I keep pushing against it, some days it gets the better of me but I won’t give up on myself even when I really feel I’m not capable. I get so stressed all the time thinking someone is going to discover that I’m not smart, or fun, or whatever it is at that moment that I shut down. It’s so good to openly discuss it with friends or even professional help.” – pinatapink

And it can lead to social anxiety.

“This is so hard, I feel like this nearly every day. Lately, it’s been getting in the way of my entire purpose and whether or not I want to work hard at all. I tend to think, “Like for what? I don’t deserve to have the things I want because I didn’t work hard enough.” Yet, I did. Probably more than anyone else in my programs, jobs, teams, even my friend group. This is so tough and often it leads to my social anxiety which affects a whole multitude of behavioral patterns like procrastination and chronic lateness.” –curlsofroses

But you can battle it by not shrugging off your achievements.

“Happens to me all the time. And when people give me praise I tend to say “oh it’s not a big deal.” But I’m trying to remember that I’m enough and hell yeah I’m a big deal.” – erika_kiks18

Because it can happen to brain surgeons and Fortune 500 CEOs too.

“Our country and our community has been through a lot since the middle of March. Now more than ever is the time to nourish our goals and inspirations. In my podcast, I bring together some of the highest achieving Latinos that our country has to offer: Dr. Quinoñes-Hinojosa: who went from migrant farm worker to a world-renowned brain surgeon
Hector Ruiz: one of the very few Latinos to be a Fortune 500 CEO of an American Company Louis Barajas: the #1 financial Latino expert in the USA. (He is most likely your favorite Reggaeton artist’s to-go financial guy.)
Cesar Garcia: an actor who has seen. dozens of times in music videos, shows, and movies. He’s known for his roles in Fast and Furious and Breaking Bad. Chef Aarón Sánchez: The most well-known Latin Chef in the country. Find an episode that catches your attention or share an episode to a friend of loved one that would like to hear from other Latinos on how they achieved their dreams and goals.” – trailblazinglatinospodcast

And you can cure it by not reminding yourself to not give weight to other people’s thoughts.

“I cured mine by not giving a fck! The enemy is a LIEEEE.” –stephaniesaraii

And last but not least, know that it can be hard to defeat but you ARE worthy.

“This was me on the first day after I transferred to University. The feeling still follows me sometimes. It hard to defeat.” – dianalajandre

J Balvin Wants To Help Soothe Your Mental Health With Free, Bilingual Meditations

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J Balvin Wants To Help Soothe Your Mental Health With Free, Bilingual Meditations

Chopra Center / YouTube

This may just be the biggest understatement ever, but 2020 has been one hell of a year – and it’s just now barely half way over. Apart from some of the incredible music artists have dropped this year, it’s been one crisis after another.

With everything going on and the increased isolation and loneliness, you’re likely feeling a combination of apprehensive, frazzled, angry, and confused.

Thankfully, there are plenty of very simple ways out there to find some balance and calm those nerves. The beloved J Balvin, along with famed alternative medicine advocate Deepak Chopra, has launched a new program that’s aimed at just that: helping us find balance and wisdom in these uncertain times.

J Balvin joins forces with Deepak Chopra to launch a free, bilingual 21-day meditation program.

Meditating can be an intimidating practice to start on your own, especially if its acceptance in your community isn’t widespread. Which let’s face it – it’s not exactly common in the Latino community.

Enter J Balvin and Deepak Chopra who have launched a 21-day meditation series.

J Balvin says that meditation saved his life and the hope is that the daily practice will change the lives of all who participate, too. 

“The world is offering us a reset and J Balvin is the perfect partner to help us reach a critical mass of expanded global awareness,” said Deepak Chopra of the partnership in a company press release. “Together we will set the stage for a more peaceful, inclusive, just, sustainable, healthy and joyful world for all. I am indebted to Jose and our Spanish speaking community for this collaboration.”

In an essay for People, J Balvin opened up about his struggled with mental health and how meditation has helped him.

Credit: JBalvin/ Instagram

J Balvin penned an essay for People, in which he opens up about his own struggles with mental health. He shares how he’s experienced both anxiety and depression, and that meditation has been one of the tools he’s used to help manage his mental health. If you’re looking for ways to help improve your mental health and build out a self-care routine, we recommend meditating.

On mental health, Balvin adds: “What makes mental health universal is that it does not discriminate. Mental health doesn’t care about your age, your race, your background; none of those things. It doesn’t care what you look like, or who you’re dating, or how much money you have in the bank. Of course it’s different for each of us. But it affects all of us.”

And speaking more about mental health awareness in the Latino community, Balvin says: “…because I am Latino — I know there can be a certain stigma in my community when it comes to mental well-being. Many Latino men will not want to talk about depression, because they fear it is not a manly thing, or that they will then be known as loco. But I don’t hesitate to say that I have been depressed.”

These are strong words and are so important for many of us to hear, to know that we’re not alone.

Deepak Chopra is a famed author and alternative medicine advocate.

Chopra is a popular author and alternative medicine guru in the English-world. He’s written several books about consciousness and meditation and he had a partnership with Oprah for her 21-Day Meditation series.

Deepak Chopra says that he’s excited to reach a new audience and to be able to work alongside J Balvin, a man who has been very open with his own struggles.

The 21-Day program is free and available in both English and Spanish.

Credit: deepakchopra/ Instagram

The program, Renew Yourself: Body, Mind & Spirit is a 360 look at rejuvenation and will be available through Chopra’s website. With a strong track record of success, the 21-Day Meditation program encourages participants to move beyond old, limiting beliefs and patterns for 20 minutes each day, opening with guided wisdom and storytelling from Balvin, followed by a meditation session with Chopra. Renew Yourself: Body, Mind & Spirit is free for longer than 21 days, typically 5-6 weeks, and at the end, listeners can purchase the meditation to have on-going access to both Chopra and J Balvin.

In addition to the daily meditations, you’ll also recieve a daily message and journaling prompts to complete each day. “Together we will set the stage for a more peaceful, inclusive, just, sustainable, healthy, and joyful world for all,” Chopra said in the press release.