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Fabiana's Story

Listen to Fabiana's Story:

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My name is Fabiana and I’m the youngest daughter of my parents Rosa and Diego. I had a happy childhood and adolescence. I studied at the Labor University of Uruguay. I consider myself to be a happy and talkative person. In the year 2000, I met my husband and we formed a family. We welcomed our first son Nahuel and in 2002, we decided to immigrate to this beautiful country (the United States). We arrived in New York on May 12th and it was Mother’s Day. We were there for a little over a year and a half and then we moved to Wisconsin. It wasn’t easy moving, especially with the language barrier, but we never gave up. We’ve loved this country since the first day we got here. In 2005, our second son Santiago was born and we settled down in our house that same year. At home, I live with my husband, my son Santiago, my mother, my four puppies Mia, Pinky, Fiona, Pepe, and Santi’s ferret babies.

Fabiana with her husband and sons.

I’ve always liked being able to help people, but that idea is intensified by the fact that I’m an immigrant and how difficult it is for us to do the simplest act but in another language. Then when I got introduced to CCmáS and Planned Parenthood it was like a summary of how I wanted to help people, what it was like to help, educate, and guide people like us as immigrants and people who have just arrived, to be able to give them a hand, to guide them on how they should do certain things such as receive medical assistance, etc. I'm always learning something new in CCmáS and I love that! I’m a health promoter with a lot of lived experiences. 

We all went through a horrible pandemic with Covid. I had to work a lot of hours during the pandemic. On the other hand, others had to stay home just like how my family did and have very little contact with other people or have school online. It left us with a lot of emotional, physical, and economic consequences, among other things. The seclusion definitely affected us all, the fear of everything unknown that the virus itself was and the consequences it brought. 

I’m not sure if it was during the pandemic or toward the end, where my son Santi, now 18 years old, started with his strange behavior, you could say. He was distanced from the family, he spent his time locked up in his room, he didn’t want to talk much, and he had more hostile behavior. I assumed it was his adolescence, his mood swings, his isolation, him wanting to sleep all day, I struggled a lot to get him to go to school on time, and everyday was a new challenge. I would get frustrated and fought with him a lot, in reality, I was fighting with myself because he would never respond. He would isolate himself more and more each day. I couldn’t find a way to get close to him, it was very frustrating. I wanted him to get his driver's license, to find a job, to go to the gym, to go out with friends, but nothing ever motivated him enough. 

Fabiana and her husband with a CCmáS table at a park.

 One day, out of  the many days where he wouldn’t wake up on time for school, I don’t even remember how, but I found out he was using marijuana. I was furious at him. I asked him why he did it, what was going on with him, and he opened up and told me how sad he’s been feeling for over a year and that marijuana made him feel a little bit better for a while. At that moment, his behavior made sense, I understood that he was experiencing DEPRESSION, it was like a blindfold fell off of my eyes and I was able to understand lots of things. I remember feeling like such a bad mom for not being able to see those signs in that situation beforehand. I let him know right away that it wasn’t his fault, I took action and called his doctor, they tested him and confirmed a deep depression. Those were dark days for my family and for me. As a health promoter, I had already heard and helped a lot of people looking for help who were in that same situation. 

 

It was surprising to know how many people of all ages are going through the same situation as my family. By opening up my heart and feelings, these people could tell me what they were going through and I really felt less alone in this. A lot of people suffer from depression and are still scared or embarrassed to speak up. This is something that should be talked about without taboos or prejudice because depression doesn’t have a gender, color, age, or religion. The doctors can help us in many ways and it doesn’t have to mean that you’re crazy, like the many times I’ve heard around there. I started listening and familiarizing myself with words relating to MENTAL HEALTH. The professionals can give us therapy and medication if we need it. That was the help I received for Santi. We as parents are made to feel and understand that there doesn’t always have to be a culprit, that it’s a chemical imbalance, or a problem with no solution, or a heartbreak, or a loss, and sometimes it’s nothing and it just happens. The doctor told us that it was a silent pandemic, we have to understand that we are not alone, that the simple act of talking about it makes us lighter, it frees us, and we shouldn’t feel embarrassed for asking and receiving help. It’s important to stay alert on our kids of all ages because like I’ve said before, it’s not about it being a specific age. Kids also get depressed.

It’s hard to understand why this would happen to a kid, they should live their childhood to its fullest and with no worries. But the reality of it is that it doesn’t discriminate against any age and I make this reference because there are a lot of kids that are having this same issue in silence and without help. We should be alert to all of the changes that we may see with our kids and with our family and friends, apart from the help of the professionals, we can also support each other in things that make us feel better like sports, crafting, or an endless amount of things. With Santi it was his pets or his babies as we call them. He has three ferrets named Hurrapica, Popo, and Toto and they are his world. They give him lots of love and he does the same for them. It doesn’t have to only be emotional support dogs, if not, it can be any animal that makes you feel safe or gives you emotional support that can determine what animals you end up loving. We have to open up our hearts.

Santi with his ferret babies.

Today I can say that my son is on the right path, I can say that he’s the same Santi as before he was depressed. I’ve been enjoying it and he’s been enjoying his life with projects for his future. He works now, studies, he got his driver's license, and every day he’s doing better. I won’t lie and say that everything is a fairytale and that there aren't any highs and lows day to day, but we get through it, or we try to at least. And if there are gray days, I’m more prepared and we’re together as a family, who are now informed on how to manage these situations, in order to keep moving forward. It’s a long process, there isn’t a magic wand that makes our problems disappear, and that you just can’t stop taking your medication from one day to the next and say that you’re all cured. It’s a long process and we should hold our hands along the way. As a mom, I feel very HAPPY!

I want people to know that I’m always here when they need someone to talk to. When you just want someone to listen or if you need a shoulder to cry on, or to laugh, I want you to know that as a health promoter, a friend, acquaintance, or as a stranger, I’ll be right here because I know what it was like feeling lost and I was able to receive guidance. Although we might not be health professionals, we have the tools to help or support and know that there’s always a way out and that no matter how big the storm may be, the sun will always rise again.

Fabiana and Consuelo in a parking lot wearing CCmáS sweaters.

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