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.
JG: What advice do you have for people facing these obstacles?
JG: Tell me about your “People Of Color & Mental Illness Photo Project.”