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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.

Notice any needed corrections? Please email us at corrections@wearemitu.com

Michelle Obama Says That She Has ‘Low-Grade Depression’

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Michelle Obama Says That She Has ‘Low-Grade Depression’

Scott Olson / Getty

Since leaving her life in the White House, former first lady Michelle Obama has been unabashedly open about her personal life. From writing about her marriage in her recent book Becoming to speaking out about our current president, Obama is unleashing her truth in so many ways. Recently, she revealed during an episode of her podcast that, like most of us, she’s been dealing with “some form of low-grade depression” thanks in part to recent events.

During last week’s Wednesday episode of her eponymous podcast, Obama talked with journalist Michele Norris about her mental health saying “Barack and I, we’ve lived outside of the norm of regular life for quite some time, and what we learned early on in the White House is — in order to stay sane and feel like the human that you once were — is that you have to have a schedule and a routine.”

Speaking out about her current mental state Obama revealed that she has struggled to keep up with her usual regimen. 

“I’m waking up in the middle of the night, ‘cause I’m worried about something or there’s a heaviness,” she explained. “I try to make sure I get a workout in. Although there have been periods throughout this quarantine where I just have felt too low.”

“It is unusual,” Obama went on. “And it’s a direct result of being out of body, out of mind. Spiritually, these are not fulfilling times. I know that I am dealing with some form of low-grade depression. Not just because of the quarantine, but because of the racial strife, and just seeing this administration, watching the hypocrisy of it, day in and day out, is dispiriting.”

Later on in the podcast, Obama explained she’d “be remiss to say that part of this depression is also a result of what we’re seeing in terms of the protests, the continued racial unrest, that has plagued this country since its birth. I have to say that waking up to the news, waking up to how this administration has or has not responded, waking up to yet another story of a Black man or a Black person somehow being dehumanized, or hurt, or killed, or falsely accused of something, it is exhausting. And it has led to a weight that I haven’t felt in my life, in a while.”

According to research, Obama’s not the only one feeling the “psychological toll” of the pandemic and BLM events.

The Lancet Psychiatry, revealed that soon after the release of the video taken during George Floyd’s killing, rates of depression and anxiety among Black Americans skyrocketed at ones much greater than any other group.

According to The Washington Post “The rate of black Americans showing clinically significant signs of anxiety or depressive disorders jumped from 36 percent to 41 percent in the week after the video of Floyd’s death became public. That represents roughly 1.4 million more people.”

To cope, Obama explained that she’s tried to be kind to herself in moments when she’s feeling down.

“You have to recognize that you’re in a place, a bad place, in order to get out of it,” she explained in the episode. “You kinda have to sit in it for a minute, to know, oh, oh, I’m feeling off. So now I gotta feed myself with something better.”

If you or someone you know is experiencing depression please call the National Depressive/Manic-Depressive Association Hotline at 1-800-826-3632 or the Crisis Call Center’s 24-hour hotline at 1-775-784-8090. 

Notice any needed corrections? Please email us at corrections@wearemitu.com

This TikTok Hack Shows A Pretty Cool Way To Grow Your Own Avocados At Home

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This TikTok Hack Shows A Pretty Cool Way To Grow Your Own Avocados At Home

@BradCanning/ TikTok

As the pandemic continues to carry us into the infinite unknown the only thing that we can be certain of is that keeping ourselves entertained, busy, and happy is essential. Of course, any plant lover knows that one of the most simple pleasures in life is having some homegrown vegetables in the kitchen. If you’re quarantining and doing all that you can to avoid public spaces like grocery stores this truth goes double.

Recently, a TikTok user uploaded a quick tutorial on how to make your very own avocado plant using supplies you probably have around the house as well as that avocado seed you most definitely toss out way too often. We broke down the steps for you below and they’re pretty easy!

Check them out below.

Here’s what you’ll need

  • Avocado seed
  • Water 
  • Paper towels
  • Ziploc bags
  • A vase or glass

1. Once you’ve cut the avocado hold on to the seed

@BradCanning/ TikTok

As TikTok user @BradCanning points out save the seed! As you’re preparing your avocado for a feast, be sure to avoid cutting into the seed.

2. Remove the outer layer of the seed by peeling it off

@BradCanning/ TikTok

Run the seed underwater then dry it. Once it’s dried up, peel off the skin with your fingers to make sure the seed doesn’t go moldy.

3. Allow the seed to sprout and grow a root by wrapping it in a paper towel and putting it in a Ziplock bag

@BradCanning/ TikTok

After the seed has been in the bag for two to three weeks, it’s time to pull it out and crack it open.

4. Fill a jar with water and suspend the seed

@BradCanning/ TikTok

According to Canning’s TikTok “Put the root in water and it will start to sprout … be careful though, this is a total addiction.”

Make sure to place only the roots or half of the seed in water. To do this, Canning used a vase with an opening that fits around the diameter of the seed. Note: others often insert wooden pegs into the seed to suspend it above the water. The root will slowly grow into the water below which means you’ve got a healthy growing plant on your hands.

5. Once the plant gets to a good size pot it in soil.

@BradCanning/ TikTok

Once the plant gets to a good size you can pot it in soil or in a bigger vase to ensure that it keeps growing. According to SF Gate, “After that, the plant takes 10 to 15 years to grow large enough to fruit, which it only does in suitable growing conditions. In U.S. Department of Agriculture plant hardiness zones 10 through 12, it’s safe to grow avocado plants outside. In colder zones, they make attractive houseplants but are unlikely to bear fruit.”

For the full video check it out here.

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