Christina Zambrano is a Shared Client Success Specialist and recently celebrated a year as Latinx in Tech Scottsdale’s Volunteer and Events Specialist. She has a two-year-old and is expecting another addition to the Indeed family this December. She shares her struggles with mental health and the stigma it carries in the Latinx community.
Content warning: the following post is a discussion about mental health
“Nobody said it would be easy, but nobody said it would be this hard either”, was my first thought when I saw my scholarship had been taken away after I had fallen off with my GPA Sophomore year.
I was the first in my family to go to college, nobody told your girl how to apply for scholarships, how to file for financial aid, or that class sizes would be massive. I did not know how to pace myself, I came out of the bullpen wanting to conquer the world and now it just felt like my entire universe was crashing down on me.
I called my mom in a panic, ugly crying like only Kim Kardashian knows how to do best, without any regard for who was around me. My mom canceled the rest of the homes she had set to clean and rushed over.
When she arrived she comforted me quietly, no judgment or disappointment. She simply sat, listened, and finally asked, “Mija, this is simple, is this what you want, do you want this?” I shivered as I said “yes!” thinking “Why would she be asking me that, of course, I want this, but I can’t have it now!”
She looked at me as she held my face in her hands and said “Then we will make it happen!”
Fast Forward two years later. It was my senior year of college, my scholarship had been restored to 50% and I was working three jobs to pay off the rest of my tuition. I knew I had to push it if I wanted to graduate. There was no time for sleep, poor meals in between, and much less time for self-care ( how do you even translate that to Spanish?) It was such an uncommon term for my family and me.
Needless to say, my mind and body were exhausted, but I could not bring myself to a stop now. My mind and body decided to do that for me!
I was admitted to a psychiatric unit in early April of 2016. They kept saying the word “Psychosis” which meant nothing to me at the moment. Later, I was diagnosed as bipolar, prescribed medication, and sent home to my parents who had no idea what to do with me. My parents did not believe in medication for mental health and thought it was even harming my physical well being.
Up until my diagnosis, the word Bipolar was unheard of in my family and there was no history to go off of either. As far as my parents and my brothers knew, mental health was a myth and there had to be a reason for it other than my tired mind and body.
My family ordered drug screenings to try and find answers but found none there. My mother would take me twice a week to “La yerbería” where a “Curandero” would conduct a cleanse. We tossed my medication and I was feeling “better” in two weeks.
Then after graduation, it started all over again, and I found myself at the hospital once again. Providers insisted I take my prescription and began practicing self care. With the limited resources, the language barrier, the stigma within my community, and the limited understanding we had of mental health, it was no wonder I returned to the psychiatric hospital two additional times.
No provider was able to make the connection, but my family was determined to learn and help me grow from the experience. My brother, who was stretched thin struggling with a delay on his DACA approval, did everything in his power to get us connected to services.
We finally decided to make the trip to a local non-profit agency. I began taking my medication consistently and started doing therapy with my family and individually. Once I started feeling better, I started doing research and being able to talk about my experience openly, without tears as I remember the struggles my family and I faced.
Being someone who struggled with mental health, submerged in the mental health field as a case manager at the time, made me particularly sensitive to the population I served. I knew I had to make a change for my own well being.
My heart throbbed as I found myself still wanting to help others in need.
I was given the opportunity to support clients at Indeed as a Client Success Specialist and learned of this company’s amazing culture. I have found the work-life balance that allows me to re-charge. I found a supportive community within Latinx in Tech (LIT), an Inclusion Resource Group at Indeed, and continue using my social work background as a Volunteer Specialist for LIT at our Scottsdale office.
I feel empowered and safe amongst peers at work and encourage others to be present and aware of their mental health. Life is far from perfect and I still struggle some days and sometimes fear the lack of control I felt when I was going through the “ manic and depression stages of bipolar disorder”.
After all of the research I did, there is still one question that lingers in my mind now “What’s the Deal with Latinx NOT Talking About MENTAL HEALTH?” Let’s talk about mental health, let’s learn about it, and let’s shatter the stigma!
Learn more about Access Indeed, an Inclusion Resource Group dedicated to educating people about visible and invisible disabilities in the video below.