One of my favorite Spanish words is “relieve.” It means “ventilation,” but the English translation doesn’t do it justice. A more accurate interpretation would be “helpless.”
The term is the opposite of feeling that you are sinking or drowning. It is the act of letting go of the gravity of everyday life that is weighing on you.
More importantly, “relieve” is an action verb. It’s something you can do. I’ve always struggled with that part.
I inherited my mother’s survival instinct. She was the family’s crisis manager, a wizard who was able to cater to our basic needs while providing some of our family’s wishes.
Being the eldest son meant that I found myself in situations as a de facto translator, watching as a woman with a second degree Harry Houdini had come out of the disaster again and again. Sometimes it was messy, but it did the job.
But I also witnessed the toll it meant. I saw her drown and hold her breath. I saw the desperate prayers he made to any god or saint to help him get out of this particular jam. He seldom exhaled, and when he did, he often came with deep sobs.
My quality of adult life has been exponentially better than my mother’s because of the high price she paid. But that doesn’t mean my brain doesn’t work the same as yours. I find it hard to relax even when things are okay. I am always preparing for impending doom.
I started seeing my therapist, Dr. Mike, just over three years ago, shortly after I became a full-time worker for The Times and reaped medical benefits. I recognized that I needed professional help, and finally I had the means and access to get it. I had no excuse not to.
I asked for a Latinx therapist during the admissions process with my HMO because I felt I needed someone who culturally understood where I came from. I have a middle-aged Armenian man. Sometimes we joke about it.
“You said‘ give me a brown person ’and they assigned me and said,‘ Hey, brown enough, ’” he joked recently.
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Our weekly sessions have been lifesavers, especially after the onset of the pandemic. We don’t always talk about heavy things like generational trauma. He knows I work in news, so sometimes we fill the hour with talks about current affairs and politics. He will ask me about how the newsletter is going, which he keeps calling my “little blog”.
Sometimes I cry. Especially not. But I always get rid of it. I relieve myself, even for a bit.
May is Mental Health Awareness Month. The issue is rarely discussed in the Latinx community, although we are as susceptible to mental health disorders as any other demographic. According to the American Anxiety and Depression Association (it looks like a funny crowd), only 1 in 5 Latino Latinos who experience symptoms of a psychological disorder talk to their doctor about it. Even worse, only 1 in 10 contacts a mental health professional.
I understand that there are barriers to asking for help. There is an associated cultural taboo, all this mentality “that’s not talked about.” Beyond the stigma, there is the very uncomfortable problem of living in the United States, where access to affordable health care is limited.
But I also know that anxiety and depression can be extremely isolating. They have a way of making you feel like you’re alone when it comes to carrying the load, even during a global pandemic in which almost everyone has experienced psychological weight.
If you think you need help, I beg you to ask for it. It will be worth it, I promise.
If you’re thinking about looking for a therapist but don’t know where to look, the American Hispanic Psychiatric Society has a directory of doctors across the United States, as do the organizations Therapy for Latinx and Psychology Today.
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It knows Humble Farm, the kings and the queens of the lying corridos
Jimmy Humilde, owner of the Los Angeles-based Latin Music Record Center, Rancho Humilde, is surrounded by artists, from left, Ovi, Junior H, Natanael Cano, Jesus Ortiz Paz also known as JOP de Fuerza Regida, Ramon Ruiz of Legado 7, Alex Guerra of Legado 7, and Ivonne Galaz at Humilde’s house in Downey.
(Christina House / Los Angeles Times)
The latest from the Los Angeles Times music writer Suzy Exposito is a profile of Rancho Humilde, the record company based in Downey, California, which is at the forefront of the evolution of the Mexican regional genre with acts such as Natanael Cano. And how do they do it? By leaning strongly towards Mexican-American biculturalism. It mixes what is there with what is here.
“We still use the regional [Mexican] instruments, but our movement comes from urban life, from city life, ”Jimmy Humilde, the company’s general manager, told Exposito. “Right now, calling what we do ‘regional Mexican’ … is like calling it reggaeton sauce.”
Things we read this week that we think you should read
– A special shout out to Radar 2021, Telemundo’s digital commentary program in English, which devoted an entire episode to the topic of Latinx’s mental health. That was the impetus I wrote on the subject this week. You can see it here.
– Times columnist Carolina Miranda had questions and answers with Chon Noriega, who is stepping down as director of the UCLA Chicano Studies Research Center after 19 years at the helm. Find out why I would choose Ben Affleck to play him if they ever made a movie about his work.
– In case you missed it, the comic / presenter / podcast of the nightly talk show The Kid Mero (his government is called Joel Martinez) was recently on the NPR Code Switch. The self-proclaimed Dominican Don Dada spoke about Latinidad, being black, and his views on the term Latinx (“I think it’s porn!”).
– Today’s Column One is a profile of the American representative Norma J. Torres de Pomona. He is the only member of Congress to have been born in Central America. Torres has been very vocal about immigration and has called the president of Honduras a narco and the president of El Salvador a “narcissistic dictator.”
– My colleagues Faith E. Pinho, Alex Wigglesworth, and Matt Szabo present a breakdown of “Adrian’s Kickback,” an invitation to a birthday party posted on TikTok by a Latinx guy from the Home Empire who it went viral and caused more than 2,000 partygoers to show up at Huntington Beach. In the end, 175 people were arrested. It’s not the first time something like this has happened. In 2016, more than 20,000 people showed up at Rubí Ibarra García’s quinceañera, which was held in a small remote town in San Luis Potosi, Mexico, because an ad posted on Facebook was memorized and widely shared. The match got out of hand so much that a man actually died after the racehorse stepped on him.
Brenda Equihua has turned blankets into high fashion. His work has been led by Lil Nas X and Young Thug.
(Ally Green / For The Times)
– For the second issue of The Times’ Image magazine, Julissa James spoke with Brenda Equihua, the Los Angeles designer who took the San Marcos blankets and made them fashionable.
– Joint music, the genre that emerged after Texas Mexicans adopted the accordion of white German settlers and paired it with the sixth bass, seems to have been alive for at least another generation. For Texas Monthly, Roberto José Andrade Franco wrote about Big Squeeze 2021, an annual competition organized by the nonprofit organization Texas Folklife featuring the best young accordionists in the state. My favorite note to take away is that young musicians from the Rio Grande Valley, where I am from, always do well. Pure 956, cuh!
The best thing about Latinternet: kids are (and will be) fine
One thing that gives me hope for the future of the Latinx community is how much more open it seems to young people (I’m looking at you, Gen Zers!) To sensitive topics. At least that’s the impression this biggest Millennial had this week after going down the Latinx mental health TikTok rabbit, a subgenre that goes from comic to news. My personal favorites are the “Immigrant Parents Be Like” clip types.