Name: Aleksyia Grace Maldonado
From: Mesa, Arizona
Is she gonna pop?
I remember being outside late at night in the backyard of my grandparents’ house – in a hidden spot we always went to, to get away and hang out by ourselves away from our loud family during family functions- sitting on an outdoor bench in the middle of fall. The temperature and breeze were especially nice, for living in Arizona, a state where it’s perpetually hot outside. However, what could have been an enjoyable moment like any of the other moments that have taken place before in this little spot we referred to as “Plan C”, on any other day had my cousin been in a better state of mind, this was not an enjoyable time, instead an eye-opening, life-changing moment.
Sitting there with a large square speaker, playing our favorite lyrical rap songs while its colorful LED lights moved along with the bass, accompanied by the sound of one of my favorite people in the world’s sobbing, I sat quietly listening to and processing all the realest statements and rawest emotion I’ve heard to this day about the things going on in her life and struggling with the stubborn beliefs and some of the controlling and damaging tendencies of the family we belong to. The family being our grandparents who adopted her and her 3 other siblings after the first time their mother went to prison for drug abuse. The freshly shed tears, swollen eyes and cracks and inconsistencies in her voice that we’ve all experienced ourselves before, that at that time I didn’t know would be something that motivated me to get out of bed on the days that I would feel the same way she had felt outside that night. The next thing to happen would urge the path I choose for college and the goal the rest of my life would be dedicated to. She asked me two things: if I would be angry at her if she took her own life, which I gave my most genuine and understanding response to after listening to their heartache, and to take out my phone’s “notes” app and make a list of their passwords to any and everything important on their phone, that she wanted me to have in case she made the decision to take her life. This cousin is now on antidepressants and still struggling with her mental health.
This was only one child’s side of the story, there are still 3 sides remaining that struggle with the consequences of their mother’s addiction daily. I have directly seen them and been there with them visiting their mother in and out of rehab centers, seeing her (my aunt), at her healthiest times and during her struggles with addiction, including the time she showed up at my other cousin’s 15th birthday party high. I was there when my cousin fled to her room immediately after being sang happy birthday to, the moment she realized her mother was on drugs again after being released from rehab. These stories truly show that the battle with addiction is an endless rollercoaster ride for the person struggling with addiction, and their family gets dragged on every single up and down along with them.
Listening to the intense heartache of someone you grew up with, the people you consider more than just blood but your best friends, people you spend the most time with, and being with them at their worst moments, trying to find the words to say to them to help them out of dark times and harmful thoughts is not an easy task. Whether or not it was due to our favorite rapper blasting through that speaker acting as therapy to those who had no access to it, or me there with my cousin on the night she struggled with suicidal thoughts, they are still here. After that night, I decided what I wanted to do with my life, be a therapist, an aid to many hurt, recovering, and innocent minds.
A huge issue in the world that I want to help, rather than “fix” is mental health. Being able to be with people at their brain’s worst moments is a privilege. At these times the only thing I could do to help was listen, but I would like to be there for others and be able to do more for them to help them out of those times. I believe that true happiness starts in the brain. Sometimes specific external circumstances introduce the brain to feelings of depression. Now that I have been admitted to Arizona State University, I have decided I want to pursue counseling psychology and spend every day learning about mental health. One day I would like to have the privilege to be completely qualified to help them to the best of my ability to achieve that feeling of happiness and most importantly work on their healing until that happiness shows up more in their everyday lives. I believe the mind is a precious, complex organ that should be able to get you through your everyday life, but sometimes your mind hasn’t healed from the past, which can easily lead to addiction which greatly affects your life negatively, but also creates harmful situations that will eventually be known as your children’s traumatic past that they will always look back on. Your mind should be treated just as well as it would treat you on its good days, and be assisted in healing on its bad days.