Strength: A Transmedia Story
Grace Jimenez is a 5th year at Colorado State University. She identifies as a first generation Latina student. By the way that she carries herself and walks around campus you would never be able to tell that she is facing her own battles with mental health. The topic is not something that everyone is willing to bring to light, but Grace has found strength in her battles and tells me how she is planning to move forward from them.
Although Grace has been dealing with mental health issues since she was 16, she tells me that the last five years of her college career is when she has been struggling with them the most. There has been many trial and error of figuring out what works best when dealing with her mental health. She goes to therapy every week and has set times where she does some form of self care. Grace knows that there is a correlation with working out and mental health as many have encouraged her to do so. Recently, she has been attending Cross-fit and has fallen in love with it. “This was something that was way out of my comfort zone and it takes a lot for me sometimes to get out of my car when I’m there but once the workout is finished I feel like a brick gets lifted off my chest and I’m able to breath.” Grace tells me that while she is working out she thinks about all the times that her mental health has defeated her and has put her in dark situations and that is what keeps her pushing throughout the workout.
Grace also does many other forms of self care such as yoga, journaling, hiking and going to new restaurants by herself. She told me that even though her mental health has made her feel alone, she has found beauty in being alone. “Being Mexican, we are so family oriented and there is always tias/tios, cousins or our grandparents coming in and out of the house that we never really feel the need to feel “lonely,” but you can be in a room full of people and still feel alone.” She explains to me that her struggles are what made her feel alone. Hiding your feelings and your problems are things that people in the Latinx community feel more comfortable doing, they tend to be more reserved and private about their personal lives.
Gaining that courage to finally go to a cross-fit class by herself or showing up to a restaurant and asking for a table for one is something that gives her satisfaction. She claims that this is her time to reflect. This was not something that came to her over night. Being in Fort Collins and not seeing many people of her color made it hard for her to show up these places because she felt that she didn’t fit in or felt out of place. She tells me that maybe this is the reason why others in the Latinx community who attend CSU start struggling with their mental health once they get to college because they may feel just as out of place as she did.
“There is hope to change the stigma around mental health in the Latinx community.”
Grace feels that more and more people apart of the Latinx community are starting to attend college and are willing to educate themselves over mental health. She feels that it is no longer something that is being swept under the rug and the Latinx community here at CSU is trying to make known that we are all here to help each other. Whether that may just be an ear to listen or company to have while walking to the Health Center. Grace also told me that she has also loved sharing her advice with some of her younger friends who also attend CSU and are going through similar struggles. “Something that worked for me may not work for them but I can at least hope that I said something that can help them or lead them to get help.”
As Grace will be graduating this December she hopes that she can make a difference in others lives by helping those apart of the Latinx community find resources and give them the courage to go out and do things that make them feel uncomfortable. “Doing things that make us feel uncomfortable is one of the things that is going to help us grow.” Grace will be moving back down to Denver and wants to bring awareness on mental health to schools around her. As she faced struggles with mental health at a young age she wants to touch base with middle schools and high schools to share her story with those who may be feeling that they are falling into the same steps.
“Your mental health can be a roller coaster and I know that I will soon face similar or even different struggles with it. Everyday may not be good but their is something good in everyday and that is all I have to remind myself of to keep moving forward.”