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  • Shawna Baca

Struggling Silently - Mental Health


As this year is ending, it is inevitable that we all take an inventory and stock on our year, reflecting on what we achieved and what we can do better. I always want to put myself in a state of gratitude just for making it another year as a starting place before looking at things with a microcosmic lens. The older I get, the more grateful I am for the little things and moments I get to spent with loved ones, which are the best elixir that money can’t buy.


I don’t like to get too much into celebrity gossip, but as I reflect on Stephen "tWitch" Boss' death, this one hit really hard, not because I know him personally, but I have followed his dance career for over a decade. He was one of the happiest people publicly and everyone loved him. His energy that he put out into the world is gloriously infectious in the most positive ways. He was successful and had a loving wife, a great career, young children, mentored and championed young people with dreams of becoming professional dancers, yet that was all his public life.


Many of us know someone in our circles who is depressed, we can see it on their faces, what they express to us or what they have been through. We know firsthand because they either tell us or we can see it through their actions. Then there are those people who look like they are happy, have it all together, are so centered, strong, grounded, stable, and exude an abundance of happiness to everyone they encounter. Those are the people that you really must watch because behind closed doors they may be the most troubled. I have come from a very dark place, that deep dark abyss that I lived in for some time and was lucky enough to get out. Happiness practices were a daily chore of mine until they became routine and I worked restlessly on myself to get out of it.


Some of us have lived or currently live in a mental purgatory that we have to work hard on to keep ourselves positive on a daily basis and it’s not that we are trying to hide it, we are trying to stay with our head above water. We don't want people to see us struggle and have empathy or sympathy for us, as that positive re-enforcement can set triggers in which we fall under a deeper rock. It is like a confirmation that our struggles are real and if too many people know about it, then it's true and we are powerless to get ourselves out of it.


I do not publicly share my personal life on social media, so there is only a fragment of myself that I put out into the world, not because there is something wrong with me or I am hiding something but it’s just a choice. Also, I have found that social media is a place for bullying and silencing people who have opposing views and quite frankly, it’s just not worth the fight.


We did not know what was going on with tWitch or many people who suffer silently behind the mask. We never know what someone is struggling with on the inside and sometimes it’s the happiest people on the outside that are the most shocking but is it? How do we read between the lines? How do we show up for our loved ones who are suffering? How do we hold space for them when they don't want that help?


In this country, we have only touched upon mental health within the last 5-10 years with a bigger lens and how our emotions affect our overall well-being, but as I have mentioned a million times, we must utilize handling our emotional levels of understanding. With all of these people in education trying to teach sex education to minors in elementary school, why not instead focus our teaching on building small children's life skills like their confidence and self-esteem, teach them how to deal with negative and positive emotions with emotional intelligence, give them tools to take out into the world. Not everyone comes from a paradise situation out of the gates. Let’s give our kids coping mechanisms worthy of survival as they grow into the ebb and flow of adulthood.


If you are struggling whether silently or publicly, there is help out there. The first step is allowing yourself to seek help, it’s the most courageous of steps but it is half the battle.


Suicide & Crisis Lifeline: 988


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About the Author

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SHAWNA BACA

Shawna Baca is the author of the transformational memoir, "FEAR LESS: Conquering the Demons of Mental Purgatory," and an award winning writer, director, and producer. She was selected by Steven Spielberg and Mark Burnett from more than 20,000 filmmakers to be part of the 2007 FOX television show, On The Lot.  She received a “Mujeres Destacadas” award by La Opinion newspaper and the City of Los Angeles and was honored at the Latina Symposium in Washington D.C. in recognition of her positive portrayal of Latinos and Hispanics in the media. Shawna has been creating New Media content for corporate clients ever since and has produced a feature documentary. She is currently developing the coming of age feature drama, "Space for Raven," which was a second rounder in the 2020 Austin Film Festival Screenplay Competition, a 2020 WeScreenplay Diverse Voices - Semi-finalist, and a 2020 Script Pipeline Feature Screenplay - Quarter-finalist. 

She was born in Los Angeles where she currently resides, and is Apache, Yaqui, Spanish and French. 

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