I was born and raised in Texas by two Latinx teenage parents. Because being a teenage parent in my cultura is cyclical—I was raised in an abusive, alcoholic, low-income toxic environment which led me on my own path of becoming pregnant at the age of 13 and again at 15 years old. I ultimately sacrificed my childhood to be a mom. I stopped going to school after the eighth grade and was living on my own at age 16. Somewhere through those first few years of being a teen mom and not fully realizing what it meant to be a responsible mother, I started to have anxiety and depression. This was when I finally began to realize those physical reactions I was experiencing were from the childhood trauma I endured as well as the new expectations of being a full-blown working adult caring for two small children. I didn’t want the same for my children but didn’t know what that looked like, yet.
Before I started seeing a therapist—I didn’t even know what mental health was. I didn’t really know what to expect when starting therapy. I just knew one of my older white co-workers recommended that I go to therapy as this is what he was currently doing and felt it was helpful. I contemplated seeing a therapist. I asked myself questions like “where would I even begin this process” and culturally speaking, “did I want to share my experiences with others since this just wasn’t what we did in my family.” Could I trust someone—would they even be able to help me?
Talking to a complete stranger was weird at first. I didn’t know if I was doing therapy the right way, it was stressful and I couldn’t understand how this was supposed to be “helpful.” Therapy became an on and off process all throughout my twenties that I ultimately found to be helpful and also hurtful because all of my experiences were with non-Latino therapists and felt very judged and ultimately stopped going each time for this reason. I even had an experience with a white male therapist who was inappropriate in session and I stopped going due to feeling uncomfortable. Eventually, I found a Latinx therapist that I could process with and this was a game-changer for me. Finally, someone who could relate to me. During my therapy process, I learned to embrace my past struggles and culture and use this as a resilience factor to continue building on my strengths.
When I let people know that I was seeing a therapist, at first—I felt a lot of push back from friends. I even had a friend tell me that I tend to overshare and should consider keeping some things to myself—and mind you, these things weren’t even heavy things, just basic emotions I stated for whatever was occurring in my life at that moment. That part was hard and it definitely perpetuated the feelings of being judged even by my closest friends.
Growing up in an abusive, low-income minority household exposed me to barriers I’ve learned to conquer. I’ve been on both sides. I’ve been a therapy client, as well as a Therapist. Being a Trauma Therapist allows me the humbling honor of being on the frontline, making a difference in the lives of those suffering through similar inequities, being a voice for those who aren’t heard while empowering and supporting them when they feel there’s no strength left. What a blessing it is to have the opportunity to help. It helped me realize that culturally, there were not a lot of Latinx/ Hispanic mental health providers and this is really needed in our community where there is so much ancestral and generational trauma. This eventually led me to create the Austin Trauma Therapy Center in hopes of filling the gap between stigma and healing the wounds of generational trauma.
I definitely recommend therapy to others. It can be a powerful healing experience and journey to healthy brain functioning and overall wellness. Therapy really improved my life! It was so important for me to have a safe, compassionate place to heal. Having suffered from my own childhood trauma, and other traumatic experiences in my life, my healing would not have been possible, if not for psychotherapy.
—Diana Anzaldua, LCSW, TCYT
—Owner/Founder of Austin Trauma Therapy Center