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.

Puerto Rican Teen Died Due To Lack Of Proper Medical Facilities Since Hurricane Hit More Than Two Years Ago

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Puerto Rican Teen Died Due To Lack Of Proper Medical Facilities Since Hurricane Hit More Than Two Years Ago

@ValericaCollazo / Twitter

There is sad news out of Vieques, Puerto Rico where a young teenage girl has passed away after suffering flu-like symptoms. Jaideliz Moreno Ventura, 13, died on Sunday after her condition worsened she began convulsing. Now, her family is pointing the blame on the island’s inadequate medical facilities. 

Vieques, a Caribbean island off of Puerto Rico’s eastern coast, hasn’t had a working hospital in over two years. That’s because its old primary hospital, Family Health Center Susana Centeno, was closed due to damage from Hurricane Maria, which hit the island more than two years ago.

What started out as just flu-like symptoms turned into a tragedy within the span of three days. 

It all started last Friday when Jaideliz told family members that she was experiencing flu-like symptoms. According to local media, her uncle, Carlos “Prieto” Ventura, said that she had “a fever, a sore throat, and a headache.” She was then taken to a hospital in Puerto Rico for a checkup and to be tested for influenza. While the results of the test came back negative and she returned back home to Vieques, things got worse over the weekend. 

By Sunday, Jaideliz’s symptoms only got worse as she began to have spasms and severe head pain. After the family took notice of her increasingly worse conditions, she was taken to the only health facility on the island, the Center for Diagnostics and Treatment, which was due to Hurricane Maria destroying its old hospital. According to NBC News, the clinic lacked proper medical equipment to help Jaideliz. Her cousin, José Ventura, told the news outlet that the facility didn’t have a working mechanical ventilator for oxygen, only an older manual air pump. 

By 11:30 a.m. local time Jaideliz was pronounced dead as she was being transported to Puerto Rico on an air ambulance. 

For those living on Vieques, receiving medical attention isn’t easy. Many have to take a boat to receive medical attention in Puerto Rico where trip times vary from 30 minutes to multiple hours. 

There is growing anger and blame about the teen’s death with many people pointing blame at the inadequate assistance that Puerto Rico and nearby islands have received since Hurricane Maria hit in 2017. The situation in Vieques is a perfect example of that as residents lack nearby health services and aid. 

“If we had more resources, she would be with us right now,” her cousin told NBC News. “They have forgotten about us.”

Puerto Rico’s Health Secretary, Rafael Rodríguez Mercado, says that he has ordered an immediate investigation into the death of Jaideliz and which circumstances could have caused this tragedy. Back in December, Democratic lawmakers requested an investigation into why FEMA hadn’t done anything to help rebuild Vieques’ only hospital. But lawmakers alerted FEMA about this issue in May but there was never any response. 

“In Puerto Rico, we talk a lot about how we are treated as second class citizens, but the people of Vieques and Culebra [another island off the coast of Puerto Rico] are being treated as third-class citizens,” Edgardo Román Espada, president of Puerto Rico’s Bar Association, told NBC News last May. 

Jaideliz’s family is using this tragedy as a wakeup call for health officials to do something about the deteriorating situation on the island. They are hoping for more medical supplies and equipment so this situation doesn’t happen again.

On Wednesday, a vigil was held in the girl’s honor as her family called for help. They say that they “don’t want Jai’s death to be in vain” and made the plea for more medical assistance. Her mother says the island needs to “have a dignified hospital, with medical equipment and supplies —so that no other mother will have to go through what I am dealing with now.” 

“Up to a point, the people feel abandoned, that politicians come and go, and there are no bonds of affection and our feelings are obvious. We live this problem and that is why our pain here. All this adds more regret and anguish to our people,” her uncle told local media. “This is what you live every moment on our island. We need more sensitivity. ”

This tragedy followed what has already been a tough start of the year for Puerto Rico as a 6.4 magnitude quake shook the island back on Jan.7, killing at least one person, destroying homes and leaving most utility customers in the dark. There has been an estimated $110 million in damages caused by the quake. 

READ: This Photographer Took Hundreds of Stunning Photos of the Most Endangered Indigenous Tribes Across the World

A Man In Mexico Was Hospitalized After A Three-Day Erection After Taking Bull Stimulants

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A Man In Mexico Was Hospitalized After A Three-Day Erection After Taking Bull Stimulants

@peter_fleming / Unsplash

He’s a man without a name or a face but is what every tía is cackling about in Mexican cocinas across the country after news circulated that a man was hospitalized after taking sexual stimulants meant for bulls. The man was planning to have sex with a 30-year-old woman, Peruvian newspaper La Republica reports. The eager man decided to seek out something stronger than Viagra. The man eventually traveled to Veracruz, a 12-hour drive south of where he was eventually hospitalized, in order to seek out a sexual stimulant typically reserved for bulls used by the agricultural industry as inseminating machines. 

Local news outlets have not confirmed whether or not the highly-anticipated sexual encounter ever took place.

The man is currently being hospitalized at Specialist Hospital 270 in Reynosa, on the U.S.-Mexico border.

CREDIT: MAP DATA ©2020 INEGI, GOOGLE

The Mayo Clinic confirms that an erection can become a medical emergency if it has persisted for more than four hours. There are two different types of persistent erections. The more common one results from the use of erectile-enhancing drugs and can cause permanent damage to the penile muscles, causing erectile dysfunction, if not treated immediately. Essentially, the blood is not able to flow and be oxygenated, which means the surrounding tissues lose oxygen, which they need to function. Symptoms also include a “rigide penile shaft, but the tip of penis (glans) is soft” and “progressive penile pain,” according to the Mayo Clinic

This man waited three days before seeking medical attention. 

His doctors have confirmed that the substance that caused his condition is typically used to stimulate bulls for insemination.

CREDIT: @PETER_FLEMING / UNSPLASH

“He was admitted to the Specialties 270 hospital of the IMSS of this city (Reynosa), a man who would have ingested a sexual stimulant that he brought from Veracruz, used by farmers in that region, to stimulate bulls for insemination,” the man’s doctors told La República. In case you missed it, in order to have the mass production of meat and dairy that the existing human population demands, the animal agriculture industry has to get creative. It’s standard protocol to hire professional ejaculators whose sole job is to inject “viagra for bulls” into a selected bull and “collect semen.” It is a common practice in the meat and dairy industry to inseminate cows to increase the numbers in the herds.

The man told the outlet that he took the “viagra for bulls” because he was planning to have sex with a 30-year-old woman and didn’t want to underperform. Unfortunately, the very drug he sought out likely has permanently caused enough damage to his penis that he almost certainly suffers from erectile dysfunction as a consequence.

Some are choosing to make light of his condition.

CREDIT: MAP DATA ©2020 INEGI, GOOGLE

“Get well soon, @BorisJohnson,” one Twitter user joked of British Prime Minister Boris Johnson. “He should have tried the new Viagra LIGHT,” another user tweeted. Meanwhile, the unnamed man continues to recover at the Specialized Hospital 20.

The medical term for his condition is priapism and can cause permanent damage.

CREDIT: @CHARLESDELUVIO / UNSPLASH

The name itself, priapism, comes from the Greek god of fertility and lust, Priapus. Most of us are, thankfully, only familiar with priapism because of Shonda Rhimes’ “Grey’s Anatomy,” but it is considered a medical emergency if an erection lasts longer than four hours. According to Weill Cornell Medicine, even just 6-8 hours of priapism can cause irreversible damage and cause erectile dysfunction disorder, and “it has been estimated that priapism of 24 hours duration is associated with an approximately 50% incidence of permanent erectile dysfunction.”

The first step in treating priapism caused by erectile-enhancing drugs is to drain “the old stagnant blood from the penis” and inject “a vasoconstrictive medication directly into the erectile tissue of the penis,” says Weill Cornell Medicine’s Male Infertility non-profit. When caught early, it can be effectively resolved in this manner. In the case of this unnamed man, he required a surgical procedure to attempt to reverse the erection. Typically, surgeons will have to place a shunt to drain the stagnant blood in the penis somewhere else. Still, surgical outcomes predict a 25-50 percent rate of long-term erectile dysfunction.

The surgery fails to relieve symptoms 25-50 percent of the time, in which case a penile prosthesis may be surgically implanted. There have been no updates on the status of this man’s recovery or projected sex life.

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