Apr 25, 2014

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Shedding Depression to Vivir Mi Vida

vivir mi vida marc anthony

Viviendo Mi Vida

It’s amazing how much can happen in one year.  Late last Fall, I was on this “keep climbing to the top and don’t stop till you get there” track and moving fiercely.  When Alicia Keys released her album “Girl on Fire,” I truly felt as if that particular track was written for me because my flame was burning nonstop.  Holidays were a blast.  My family and I hosted Thanksgiving at our home and spent Christmas and New Years in Puerto Rico with loved ones.  At the very beginning of this year, we celebrated Los Tres Reyes Magos as well as my 35th birthday.  Thirty-five years. Damn, cómo pasa el tiempo!  Here I am, a married woman, working mom of two young daughters who appears to have everything going for herself.  No pressure, right?  Wrong!

Depression in Bloom

Before I realized it, winter came to an end and spring was knocking on the door.  Despite the longer days and bursts of sun coupled with blooming flowers, I began to deteriorate.  Picture for a moment barren trees free of leaves.  This is how I started to feel.  Empty.  My usually peppy personality, mixed with goodhearted sarcasm and wit, started to diminish.  I started feeling “run down” and slipped away from activities that I’d normally be engaged with rigor.  Family and friends would call, inbox me on Facebook, send e-mail and/or text and it took me longer than usual to respond.  Invitations would arrive and I’d decline or not RSVP at all.  One too many times, peers would see me and the first question they’d ask is: “Are you okay?”  Or, they might remark: “You look tired.”  In response, swallowing several times to keep the tears from reaching the surface all the while feeling my eyes begin to glisten, I’d release a feeble “I’m okay” or “I’m good” without maintaining eye contact and rush to change the subject or walk away.

Shedding Light on Depression

Summer came and went.  One of my favorite songs this summer was Marc Anthony’s “Vivir Mi Vida” because its lyrics moved me:
“Y para que llorar, pa’ qué

si duele una pena, se olvida

y para qué sufrir, pa’ qué

si así es la vida, hay que vivirla la la le…”
For that is exactly what I want to do.  Live my life.  To take it further:
“Voy a vivir el momento 

para entender el destino

voy a escuchar el silencio 

para encontrar el camino…”
On the 4th of July, while in the company of my loved ones and hundreds of other suburban families awaiting a local fireworks display, I thought quietly to myself: “If there is something you need to do right now, it is to free yourself from this funk…this depression…” I made a promise to myself at that moment to revolt and renounce all negative self-talk, thoughts, as well as harmful and unnecessary self-judgment.  As the sun began to set and the band started winding down, I took deep breaths while observing my daughters at play.  I need to be well.  Strong and supportive.  Not only for my family but for me.  I owe it to myself.  By the time the fireworks started, I felt my aspirations and dreams and untapped talents coming to life before me, shooting upwards toward the sky, and shared with all to revel in its glorious marvel.  It was time and I could no longer suppress my feelings.  This Independence Day would prove to be more significant than any other I had ever celebrated.

Seeking Help For Depression

Before the end of the holiday weekend, I did what any rational, strong-willed, and wise Latina would do.  I reached out for help.  I called a provider who treated me a decade ago.  First step accomplished!  I scheduled an appointment and we met.  I talked.  She listened.  She made a recommendation and I’ve followed up on it.  This is going to take some time but I gotta do what I gotta do to get right.   Talk therapy is effective treatment to treat depression among other disorders and improves your emotional well-being.  Resources are available to help you locate a psychiatrist, therapist, or support group.  The hardest part is accepting your struggle and finding the courage to extend your hand for help.
Although depression may be visibly obvious, it is not very easy for individuals experiencing associated symptoms to discern or act swiftly in seeking treatment.  However, if mental illness runs in your family, predisposition to depression or any other disorder should be acknowledged.  If that is the case, you should be mindful of the warning symptoms and take every precaution in your daily activities to prevent an episode where possible; that is, exercise regularly, maintain an optimistic attitude, eat right, surround yourself with supportive peers, and get an adequate amount of sleep and rest as necessary.  Life is a learning curve and we all may experience heightened anxiety and stress as a result of educational pursuits, work-life situations, and family matters.  If you or someone you care about is struggling these days and needs help, the first step you can take is to assess your/their emotional health by clicking here.  Complete the anonymous online depression screening tool.  Reach out to a supportive organization such as the National Alliance on Mental Illness and learn more about its programs and services.  While October 10 is National Depression Screening Day, help is available all year round to make a world of a difference in the lives of those who need it the most.
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Yesenia F. Diaz

Yesenia F. Diaz

Yesenia F. Díaz is a Public Health Advisor at a federal agency under the U.S. Department of Health and Human Services. Mrs. Díaz has served actively on a number of boards and mentored teens. She is a member of Lambda Theta Alpha Latin Sorority, Inc., and has degrees from Lehman College (B.A., English) and the Johns Hopkins University (M.S., Organizational Counseling). Mrs. Díaz is a graduate of the National Hispana Leadership Institute's Advancing Latina Leaders in Non-Profits Fellowship Program (2011-2012) and is currently a fellow in the Achieving Career Excellence program focusing on leadership and management.

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