During the holiday season, so many of us feel the pressure to make the end of the year the happiest, most memorable time possible. Even if this year has been our worst, there always exists this magical glimmer of hope during the month of December that even if things started on the wrong foot, they won’t have to end that way. Although this feeling of hope is a great motivator in turning a new leaf and churning out smiles, women facing depression, anxiety Bipolar Disorder, PTSD, or any other emotional and mental health battles during the holidays know that putting that happy-go-lucky tailspin on a hard year is not always so easy.
One in five Latinos in the U.S. are facing mental health concerns, and only 10 percent of Latinos reach out to a specialist regarding them. Moreover, Latinas in the U.S. are more likely than other groups to suffer from depression and related issues. Latinas also have the highest suicide rates in the states. Still seen as taboo among many communities of color, mental health counseling, coping techniques, therapy, or even prescribed medication can be interpreted as weakness, laziness, selfishness, or even craziness by others, which makes it harder to manage symptoms. Even fewer women and Latinas seek assistance, while some are still fighting the negative stigma of being perceived as loca, but also moody, childish, and babyish for even sharing their experiences with close friends and family of Latino descent.
I know from experience that struggling with mental health can feel as if it’s a secret or a burden you must hide to spare family and friends worry or concern. There is a pressure to live up to cultural expectations and fit gross caricatures of Latin joy. You want to salvage your own not-so-good day, just so that it might be good for someone else. Seasonal and holiday depression rear their heads at the same that women are feeling the pressure to partake in December traditions. The family can make the struggle even greater forcing us to put on a good face and pretend like nothing is wrong.
HipLatina spoke to women about their own experiences grappling with mental health during the holidays, the obstacles they face and traditions at stake, how they explain what they’re going through to loved ones, and their techniques for staying grounded.