Monday, December 10, 2018

Change is okay.

Hi everybody! So to start off, my name is Esperanza. I am a half Mexican-half American-⅛ Cherokee 17-year-old that has lived in Mexico for the past five years and lived with depression since I was 8. I want to put up front that my depression is not a result of me living in Mexico, but of the problems that I have dealt with leading up to and directly after my move.

At 11 years old, I was told that my dad was being deported back to Mexico and we (me and my younger brother) were asked by my mom if we wanted to follow my dad and be together, as a family. Or, stay in Oklahoma, our home, where we were comfortable and have the possibility of seeing our dad only once or twice a year during school vacations. We love our dad, so we, of course, wanted to go with him and be together. For us, it really wasn't much of a choice. Be together and happy while making the best of the situation or apart and struggling to come to terms with the situation.

To many of you that have in the past had to make this decision, looking back would you have changed anything? Maybe made a different decision? And those that are facing this choice right now, what is your heart telling you? I mean, I traded everything I ever knew for something that I didn't even know what it was. The day I moved with my family to Mexico was the first time I had ever stepped foot outside of the US. As anyone can imagine, I faced many difficulties while adapting to my new life. I saw family I hadn't seen in years, I started to learn a new language and started school. 

My first year was definitely an experience. Not knowing Spanish when we got here, but obviously having to go to school and get an education was something that had to be done. We looked at it as an opportunity. I guess you could think about it like being in an immersion school. 

During our first year I was content with the life I was living. I didn't know or want anything other than to be with my family. Of course, there were the handful of kids in my class that would give me problems about me being American and the heavy accent that came with me speaking Spanish. But, at the time, they didn't matter. It was in my first year of Secundaria (or 7th grade) that things went downhill for me. My classmates in 6th would make fun of me in such a general way that it didn't bother me. It wasn't anything I hadn't heard before. But the kids and preteens in my class now, they picked apart everything they could see of me and used it against me. I had no friends and as not only being still considerably new to the area but also finding it difficult to make friends, I felt like I was alone. 

In this age that we are living in right now, I feel we are exposed to so much at such a young age. I was 13 when I had started cutting. I had already known that I have had depression from a young age, but at the time I hadn't quite understood what it really meant. From things that I had heard and seen, from talking to other people over the Internet, I thought I knew what it was and I thought that the quickest way to relieve me of some of the pain I felt was self-harm. It's not. Please, if you think it is, take a moment and think. I know it hurts inside but I found out the hard way that in the end you are not only hurting yourself physically but for those that care about and love you, it causes them great pain. 

I guess I could say that I received the help I needed because of my love for the culture and art that is here in Mexico. I was very involved with the city's cultural programs and for the Day of the Dead celebration in 2014, I agreed to dress up as a Catrina. Being 13 I didn't know too much about makeup and I never really felt the need for it. Having said that, that night I had not covered up my cuts and had forgotten my bracelets. After the event, it was a long night of crying, talking and deciding what the next step to getting better would be. I still remember the look on my brothers face when he realized what they were. He was terrified at the thought of losing me.

The next day we went to the DIF offices and I had a mental exam done. The psychologist that went over my answers said that I was borderline in need of medication but if I got counseling I could get better. Because of the language barrier, I soon started counseling sessions with my counselor from Oklahoma. After a few weeks, I was okay. Some would say I was “stable”. 

Over time, I have learned to depend on two positive constants in my life that have helped me to get better. Family and music. My family has always supported me and listening to music has permitted me a way to try and express myself where simple words couldn’t. I would like to say, as I am finishing telling my story, that for most that have depression, getting “better” is not the same as being “cured”. As some of the few friends that I now have, have said that even after getting better, you are still marked by your depressions. I even still have days where my heart feels heavy and I just want to cry. And that's okay. My reason for writing this is to show that you are not alone. You are not the only one. I am not ashamed of my problems and no one else should be either.

Living in Mexico has changed my life in such a way that I am open-minded to the possibilities that life has to offer. I have so many more oportunities in this country that would have been denied to me in the U.S. So for every single one of you that have had to confront their fears, to accept that you are not accepted where you want to be and have fought against every single person that is cheering for your failure, it does get better. And to every single child and teenager that has and is going through what I have been through, having to decide between two countries, two sides of yourself, keep fighting! You are stronger than any racist neighbor, friend or family member that wants to prevent you from living your life. For people like us, the sky is the limit and no border or wall will ever stop us from achieving our dreams. 

As a final piece of advice, turn the music up and forget about everything else. At least for a little while. And never forget, it is completely okay to not be okay.

Goodbye, for now, dear friends.

(By the way, this is my first time writing for a public audience. Hope you liked it. (: .)

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