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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.

‘Hamilton’ Star Miguel Cervantes And Wife Kelly Cervantes Share Touching Posts About Daughter’s Death

Things That Matter

‘Hamilton’ Star Miguel Cervantes And Wife Kelly Cervantes Share Touching Posts About Daughter’s Death

kellygc411 / Instagram

Miguel Cervantes, the man handpicked by Lin-Manuel Miranda to play Alexander Hamilton in “Hamilton,” shared the news of his daughter’s death. Adelaide Grace, his 3-year-old daughter, had been living with severe childhood epilepsy and was diagnosed with the disorder.

“Hamilton” star Miguel Cervantes and his wife Kelly Cervantes shared the sad news of their young daughter’s death.

Credit: kellygc411 / Instagram

“The machines are off. Her bed is empty. The quiet is deafening. Miss Adelaide Grace left us early Saturday morning,” Kelly wrote on Instagram. “She went peacefully in my arms and surrounded by love. Finally, she is free from pain, reactions and seizures but leaves our hearts shattered. We love you so much Adelaideybug and forever after 💔💜”

Kelly’s Instagram is filled with photos of Adelaide surrounded by her loved ones.

Credit: kellygc411 / Instagram

Adelaide suffered from consistent seizures and there was no cure for her disorder. While she was diagnosed with childhood epilepsy, the overall disease was neuro-degenerative, according to Kelly’s blog Inchstone. Kelly wrote the blogs to document and show readers the journey her family was facing every day with Adelaide’s deteriorating health.

Kelly detailed the decision to move Adelaide into hospice care earlier this year in a blog post titled “Dear, Adelaide.”

Credit: kellygc411 / Instagram

In the blog, Kelly reveals the work she and Miguel have put into Adelaide’s care. She admits that the focus of the family for so long was keeping Adelaide alive and in treatment but it finally became clear that things needed to change. In a heartbreaking decision, Kelly and Miguel agreed that it was time to move their daughter to hospice care and plan on making her remaining days as comfortable as possible.

“Becoming a parent is undoubtedly life-changing. But you, my dear, didn’t just change my life, you caused an eruption,” Kelly wrote in his letter to his daughter.

Credit: kellygc411 / Instagram

“As the pieces have fallen these last few years, I haven’t been sure what to make of the remnants. The once-familiar landscape was charred and with each step, I worried the ground might give way beneath me. You have been stronger than me every step of the way. Nothing has come easy for you, fighting for some of the most basic and essential life skills, then losing them and having to fight for them all over again,” Kelly wrote to her daughter. “I think that is why this next leg of the journey has been so hard for me to accept. We’ve been standing at the precipice for weeks? Months? I’ve allowed myself to be comforted by denial asking you to wait until I’m ready. Though I realize now, I’ll never be ready and even more so, that the timing is not up to me. You’ve been fighting for your life for so long and I can see now that you are tired. It is my turn to be the strongest… and let you go.”

Kelly continues in her letter showering her daughter with love and promises.

Credit: kellygc411 / Instagram

“I promise you, my angel baby, that your efforts, your fight, your life will not have been in vain. We will take the eternal lessons you taught us and continue to plant your seeds in the hearts of anyone who will listen,” Kelly wrote. “I promise you that I will never stop advocating on your behalf, raising awareness and money for research so that families in the future will receive their epilepsy, mast cell activation syndrome, dysautonomia, hypotonia or neuro-degenerative diagnoses along with a treatment plan to full recovery. I promise you that I will fight for science to catch up to the next child even though it could never catch up to you. I will fight so that you can rest, free from the pain this world couldn’t relieve. I love you so much, my Adelaidey baby. Your loss will shatter me in ways I never thought possible but you’ve provided us with everything we need to heal. When it’s time sweet girl, we’ll be with you, and forever after.”

The family is keeping Adelaide’s memory alive and raising money to research a cure for epilepsy.

Credit: cureepilepsy / Instagram

“I want a cure for epilepsy,” Kelly said, according to ABC7 Chicago. “I want the fear that people have of talking about it, I want that fear to end. I want my baby girl to live, and I don’t get that. So I’m going to fight like hell for the rest of it.”

Rest in peace, sweet Adelaide.

Credit: kellygc411 / Instagram

Your mom and dad are doing everything they can to keep the promises they made to you. Rest easy, little one. Your story has inspired people to fight harder to find a cure to the disease that took you too soon.

If you would like to help the Cervantes family fight to cure epilepsy, you can donate here.

READ: Puerto Rican Art Groups Are Getting A Leg Up Thanks To This Foundation Created By The ‘Hamilton’ Family

Female Empowerment Legend And Ranchero Star ‘Paquita La Del Barrio’ Was Hospitalized Due To Pulmonary Complications

Entertainment

Female Empowerment Legend And Ranchero Star ‘Paquita La Del Barrio’ Was Hospitalized Due To Pulmonary Complications

We still haven’t recovered from the passing of ‘El príncipe de la canción’ José José and we’re already being hit with more bad news. After much speculation on social media, it has been confirmed that the controversial and iconic singer Paquita La del Barrio was hospitalized this week for pneumonia and pulmonary thrombosis. 

Paquita La del Barrio changed the genre of Bolero music forever with her salty man-hating lyrics and ‘borrachera’ worthy songs.

credit Instagram @paquitaofficialb

In her over 50 years of creating music, ‘La Guerrillera del Bolero’, Paquita la del Barrio has gifted us with endless beautifully shady catchphrases to use on shitty exes; “Rata de dos patas”, “Cucaracha del infierno” and “¿Me estas oyendo inútil?” to name a few. Her man-hating words changed Bolero music for women and will be sung in tequila-induced ‘borracheras’ until the end of time. Paquita’s controversial, and sometimes salty lyrics have earned her a few enemies, to say the least, but the truth is that Paquita La del Barrio shattered glass ceilings in the genre of Ranchero, a world of male-dominated, misogynistic music, just by speaking her mind through music.

The feminist ranchera canceled a show for the first time in her career, due to health complications.

Francisca Viveros Barradas a self-proclaimed warrior against ‘machismo’ culture, canceled a show scheduled for this Saturday in Matamoros, Tamaulipas, due to health complications. Francisco Torres, her manager —also known as Paquito— said in a public statement for the press, that Paquita had complained of ongoing chest pains which eventually landed her at Hospital Angeles Lindavista in Mexico City. “Siempre te imaginas lo peor,” he said. It was later discovered that the pain was caused by a pulmonary embolism and pneumonia. The 72-year-old singer was checked into intensive care for a 24-hour watch.

Torres confirmed that Paquita’s health first raised concerns on October 8,  “She started with discomfort, her blood pressure, she said her chest hurt. That night the situation worsened, she couldn’t stand, she complained about chest pain, and the first thing that came to mind was ‘her heart’. A doctor came,  prescribed medication and administered her a sedative, we thought she’d be better by morning. But she wasn’t.”

The singer’s health is now improving and she’s no longer in ICU.

Credit Instagram @paquitaoficialb

‘Paquito’ went on to describe how the star’s health continued to deteriorate; “The next day she still had chest and back pain,” he said, “we decided to call an ambulance and take her to the emergency room.” Paquita La del Barrio’s manager explained that doctors diagnosed the singer with pulmonary damage due to the varying weather conditions the 72-year-old had been exposed to during her tour of the United States. “We know that weather conditions in the U.S. are more extreme, that was added to her condition, she resisted until her lungs collapsed,” Torres confirmed that Paquita la del Barrio was in ICU on October 10 but is now stable and her health is improving. It seems like the singer is recuperating just fine, but will still need time to heal, which is why she was forced to cancel the concert scheduled for this weekend. 

‘La Guerrillera del Bolero’ has sung against machismo for over forty years, and although she’s received a lot of criticism, her words have resonated with audiences worldwide.

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Way ahead of her time, Paquita has fought machismo singing from the stage for more than four decades. At 72, the feminist ranchera has released 33 albums which have been classified by the genre as “duros contra ellos” for her harsh words against men. Amongst her many shade-throwing songs are “Tres veces te engañé”, “Las mujeres mandan”, “Viejo raboverde”, “Hombres malvados” and many more. Her most famous hit “Rata de dos patas”, which has become somewhat of a hymn against men, was the song that sky-rocketed Paquita to fame. After this song went public, she went from singing at bars in the popular Mexico City neighborhood ‘Guerrero’, and moved on to perform on stages internationally.

Paquita’s life has been far from easy, and her story has been turned into a bio-series by Imagen Televisión.

credit Instagram @paquitaoficialb

Paquita is an idol for many Latino women who were touched by her words. But her life wasn’t always so glamorous. The singer’s life has already been immortalized in a bio-series broadcasted by Imagen Televisión. Through the series, we found out that she married a 42-year-old man when she was just fifteen. She had two children with him only to find out that the ‘rata de dos patas’ had been cheating on him all along and had another family in a different town. Her love life has clearly not been as successful as her career —which is true of a lot of women in many different industries. The singer, however, is now an artist consolidated as one of the most famous feminist performers Mexico has ever seen.