Dior Vargas Talks About Depression, Latinos, & Mental Health Awareness

Dior Vargas Talks About Depression
Dior Vargas Talks About Depression

For my latest interview, I had the pleasure of meeting Dior Vargas.  Dior is a rockstar in the mental health community.  She recently won the Champions of Change Award, a distinction given by the White House to people who are making a difference.  Something you’ll be seeing more of on Fashionably ill is interviews with resilient people of different backgrounds discussing how they manage their illnesses.

Jessica Gimeno (me): How old are you?

DV: 28-years old.

JG:  What is your diagnosis?

DV: I was diagnosed with major depressive disorder. I deal with a lot of anxiety and even though I haven’t been diagnosed with it, these feelings are still valid.

JG: When and how did you get a diagnosis?

DV: I don’t remember much about my diagnosis. I’ve blocked a few things from my past as a defense/coping mechanism. I remember it being through a therapist when I was in high school.

JG:  What’s your everyday life like now?

DV:  My life is much better than it was before. But it hasn’t been easy. I still experience depressive symptoms and have my bad days. I cope through my volunteer work as a crisis counselor through Crisis Text Line, as a co facilitator for a support group and especially through my mental health activism. It’s truly been a life saver for me.

JG:  How do you create mental health awareness?

DV:  I create awareness about sharing my story, talking about the issues, organizing events, sharing articles that tackle mental health​, volunteering with mental health organizations etc

JG:  What obstacles make it harder for Latinos (and people of color, in general) to seek help?

DV:  Besides the overall stigma in the community, access to mental health services without insurance is difficult but even more so when there is lack of cultural competency. ​

Related from everyday HEALTH: 6 Cheap Ways to Get Mental Health Care

JG:  What advice do you have for people facing these obstacles?

​DV:  I would tell them to reach out to loved ones and know that they are not alone. There are affordable resources out there. Going to support groups or chatting through online forums can be helpful. ​It’s also important to remember that recovery is possible and that is ongoing.

JG:  Tell me about your “People Of Color & Mental Illness Photo Project.”

DV:  The project was a response to the invisibility of people of color in the media representation of mental illness​. I wanted to create a space where people could come out, share their story, and be in charge of their own narrative.
JG:  How can people get involved with your project?
DV:  All of the information to participate in the project is located here: http://diorvargas.com/poc-mental-illness/ People can ​email me their photos.
JG:  What is your dream?
DV:  My dream would be to start a mental health organization that focuses on the needs of people of color. Another dream is to work with Chirlane McCray on her mental health initiative in New York City.
JG:  What are four coping tools you use for living with depression?


1. Identify your triggers.
2. Be patient with yourself
3. Reach out to loved ones
4. Self care!



–Your Stylist, Jessica Gimeno



Hi, I have five illnesses--bipolar disorder, myasthenia gravis (neuromuscular autoimmune disease), endometriosis, asthma, and psoriasis. Most of the organs in my body are affected. I'm dedicated to being a stylist for sick women. As someone who has experienced changes in my appearance due to my 12 meds (including Prednisone), I know how hard it can be when your face and body change overnight. (In fact, because of treatment, between 2008 to 2010, I went from a size 0 to a size 10. While I lost the weight, there are permanent changes in my face and body, which I've grown to appreciate.) My blog will also help women deal with other issues like surviving chronic pain and fatigue. Healthy people can also use this blog as a window into what life with illness is like. Let this website be a place where we can draw strength from each other despite our illnesses and find solutions to our everyday challenges!

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