Throughout my life, I’ve had to hide my emotions thinking that I was controlling them. But lately, in the past five years, I’ve learned that my emotions were just controlling me, and I should’ve talked about them.
Growing up as a Mexican daughter, raised in a very small town closer to the heart of Mexico, speaking of my emotions, and especially admitting that I was feeling sad or angry, was synonymous with weakness. I never asked for help because I would never want other people to see me as a target when, in reality, that wasn’t even the case.
After coming to the United States, I realized I had spent my whole life trying to survive and do my best to keep busy, working as hard as I could, always leaving my wellness and especially my mental health on the side. But soon it was evident, — after so many symptoms of depression — that I needed to pay attention to my emotions, and that instead of running away from them, I had to ask for help. I needed to talk about what was really going on in my head. I started going to therapy, and knew that I wasn’t the “problem.” My family would make me feel like something was wrong with me because I was different than them or I had different ideas (or modern, like they would like to say). Instead, it was because of my culture that I was experiencing guilt and hate towards myself, and therefore I believed that their hate towards who I am was justified.
Learning this, I knew I had to get out of my circle and find a new one — one that was open not only to my beliefs but also to improve my wellness instead of shaming me for having emotions. I joined a program that worked with homeless youth, and I met a lot of people that were going through similar situations. The way we would open up about our lives to each other made me see that I needed to be more real and trust that not everyone out there was out to get me. I also recognized that there are people that really care and want to help. Being there for 15 months helped me to learn more about mental health, and the LGBTQ+ community (and helped me figure out some stuff along the way) and to be more empathetic. But mostly, it opened doors for me that I never even thought of as a possibility.
Two years later, I find myself working in the mental health field, where I go to schools, talk to teenagers (people the same age I was when I was at my worst and when I needed help the most), and help them with coping mechanisms. My job is to help the teens see that there is still something to keep fighting for, even if it doesn’t include anyone else. I also help them understand that they are good enough.
I’d like to say that, as not only Mexican but also queer, I have experienced a lot of internal struggles, and happy to say that I don’t anymore; that I have learned to be proud and loud of who I am. My purpose now is to help those who are in the same place where I was four years ago — thinking that I was a bad person or not good enough, non-deserving of real love or just not worth living for. Those things are NOT TRUE. I want the youth (and everyone in general) to know that we decide who we want to be, who we are showing to the world and who we believe in.
Most importantly we should be able to express how we feel and have these emotions, whether negative or positive, accepted. We are just humans and it is OK to not feel good sometimes. And we will remember that there is always something worth fighting for— ourselves.
This story was produced by Coachella Unincorporated and is part of a collaborative project “You’re Not Alone” that includes content from young journalists from Boyle Heights Beat, Coachella Unincorporated, The kNOw, Richmond Pulse, Voices of Monterey Bay, We’Ced and YR Media.