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One of the most common criticisms about how mental health is handled in our communities is how it's silenced. Due to this lack of conversation, the outlook on many illnesses like depression can be very shallow and one-sided. The best thing we can do is start a conversation around the issue and talk about the complexities of it. These women share their stories of how they cope with their depression, what their depression looks like, feels like, and what they wish their loved ones knew about it. 

1. It can look different on any given day. "I wish that people would know that depression is fluid. It looks different for different people and sometimes it even looks different for the same person on a different day. A lot of people assume that depression just looks like someone sitting in bed crying all day. Sometimes it does, but it can also look like anger, frustration, distractedness, anxiety, or sadness. Sometimes depression makes you do things you don't want to do. Sometimes it makes you call into work sick or not finish an important project because it feels next to impossible to even get out of bed in the morning. But sometimes it also makes you work for 16 hours a day because you need to be distracted and the only way you will fall asleep is if you are exhausted." – Amanda, 22

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2. It's not "all in our head." "Even when our culture doesn't see mental health as a big issue we should take the time to let them know about it and educate them so that we all can seek help and help each other out. My family would say things like, 'Se te va pasar,' or 'No es nada, está todo en tu mente.' While I would have liked more support, I realized that I wasn't the only one struggling with it and I had to reach out and let them know that there is help. We need to stop the stigma of mental health being nothing." – Maria, 22

3. Prayer isn't always enough. "Being depressed makes you think that everything is going wrong and that you are alone. It takes so much effort out of a person to accomplish everyday tasks when they’re depressed. After a couple years of constant and tragic loss, I was spent. For me it was laying in bed all day and not answering to my friends and family when they reached out. As an Afro-Latina I was encouraged to pray, which I did — all the time. But prayer, while it is of the utmost importance to me, was not enough. Sometimes depression means seeking counseling from professionals rather than praying through it. I think for me that is the biggest part. Yes, God can help me, but I should also be doing all I can to help myself." – Sarah, 23

4. It's not something we can just "turn off." "I don’t think I will ever stop being depressed, but I need to find other methods to make it go away for some time. I’ve been okay, more stabilized in my mind, but every day is very different. What I would want for everyone to know is that I can’t control this like a video game. It happens to me when I least expect it, and sometimes it can take over me and ruin my whole day." – Kasey, 24

5. We crave cultural competency in our therapists. "Therapists do come in Latina and women of color, and many specialize in understanding Latino family traditions and cultural expectations and stigma. These women and men will help you debunk the things you cherish about your family and culture and those aspects that have also become toxic. Therapy can be a safe space if you give it time and effort. You don't always cry the first day, and some days you won't have the words, but [they] will come." – Chade, 23

6. Transitional periods can be exciting but triggering. "As a Mexican first-generation graduate student, it wasn't until I pursued my masters that I went through my worst depression ever. Family and friends were happy for me, but for the first time I was transitioning into another community. I was lost between stages of "not having a profession, but still being a student." As a graduate assistant, it was difficult finding a friendship circle — I was one of three Latinas in my program, but I wasn't able to relate to them enough to trust them." – Jessica, 23

7. Our spaces and expressions should be respected. "I used to think my emotions that were tied to my depression were too much, too weak, too dramatic. I would cry and people would say, 'You cry a lot,' like that was a bad thing. Once I started unlearning emotions as a negative thing, I got free. Once I started reminding myself to demand joy . . . I was able to be content yet unhappy. I became the owner of my peace and protected it at all costs and, for me, that made depression more manageable. Everyone’s depression looks and feels different. I was successful, I was loved, I was talented — but I was not happy, my mind was a dark place, and now I am breaking free from that. I am always more free than the day before because I survived." – Sarah

8. We desire familiarity. "Living with depression in graduate school was like carrying the weight of expectations of my family and friends to be successful, of being good enough to be in graduate school despite the odds of statistics. Not being able to decompress with my parents because I did not want to worry them was overwhelming and not having relatives in the state or even places where I could eat authentic Mexican food, was overwhelming." – Jessica

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9. We're not asking to be fixed; we're asking for support. "I wish that people knew that when we tell you we have depression it doesn't mean we are broken or that we are asking you to fix us. We don't always ask for help, but when we do we are not asking to be saved. We are asking to be supported, to have a friend around while we deal with whatever we have to deal with. I wish that people knew that it is possible to live with depression and to have a happy life. There are good days and bad days and living with depression is about learning how to navigate the spaces in between." – Amanda

10. Rediscovering your voice is a journey, but it is possible. "Time for yourself is a real thing. That's when you start to learn to love yourself, especially when you've been taught most of your life to give, this is the time to give to yourself. It took me a year to realize that time for myself meant watching TV, clear thinking through walking, looking at beautiful views, doing my hair, singing, dancing. Time for myself seemed like a foreign concept because I didn't know how to be selfish with my own time. Allow yourself time to be vulnerable and write it out, talk it out, move it out, mediate, analyze it, do with it what you must, but do not ignore it. Try to recognize when you're not being yourself. These thoughts and doubts and panics need care and attention." – Chade