It started out with what I thought was a heart attack. I thought I was dying.
The day that happened, what I knew to be true changed. I relearned that I wasn’t invisible and I had face issues I didn’t even know I had.
That heart attack was a panic attack. In retrospect, a big one, only because I didn’t know what was happening. That’s when life became even more beautiful for me, the moment I experienced the fragility of humans. That was more than a year ago.
What I learned next was shocking. According to the National Institute of Mental Health, U.S.-born children of immigrants may have higher risk for mental disorders than their parents.
There’s not lots of research out there about mental illness and Latinos, much less info about Latinas and these disorders but there are researchers and psychiatrists talking to about this.
That means it’s time for a conversation.
My next project is to write a personal essay about my panic attacks, one that will hopefully find a home in a publication when its completed. My hope is to go on this journey of discovery about panic attacks and mental illness, education myself and other Latino/a, and create an online community around this issue.
In the Latino community, there is a stigma about mental illness. It’s explained away with simple phrases like “ataque de nervios” or attack of the nerves. Sometimes, it’s seen as weakness to go seek help for mental illness. Sometimes, it’s seen as a middle class problem for those with health insurance.
It shouldn’t be this way. This is real. It needs to be addressed.
So, I’m doing what I do best, which is write. Although it’s an essay, I’m using my journalism skills to research, interview, and write this piece. I just have a general thought right now, my research is in the fledgling stages but that’s okay. This is too important to rush.
Now, here is the best part of this journey. This is the part that is going to be amazing. As I go through the process of writing this piece, I will share what I find with you. I want us to become a community. I want us to share information and experiences. Here’s how I’m going to do it.
Through my Google+ page, I will share links and videos and blog posts. If you’re on Google+, circle me and I. Leave me a note on my page and I will include you in the circle I created. So everytime I post something, I will share it with the circle. We can build a community that way!
Through Facebook, I’ve started a group called Latinas and anxiety disorders. I will also post what I find there. It’s also a good place to start a conversation and to trade stories about anxiety disorders or other mental disorders.
The goal is to start a community, open a dialogue, and do this together!
I am excited about this. I still have panic attacks but I manage them. With knowledge and community, we can help the next Latina or woman understand what is happening.