This article is part of an on-going health series to offer useful news and tools that will help empower LGBTQ+ readers to make informed choices about their health. In this second of a two-part series, “Functional” creator-writer Daniel Luna explains what happens after you find a therapist and begin your mental health journey through therapy.
“Honor thy Father and Mother,” even if you didn’t grow up in a religious household, is a standard most of us follow in a Hispanic household.
For some reason, we confuse honoring our parents by not questioning our upbringing. If we do, we are criticizing the life they gave us.
It’s a never ending thought train. It’s tough to bring the subject of therapy or discussing emotional boundaries to a generation that didn’t have those resources available — especially if we as children break the unspoken rule of talking about family business to strangers.
The amount of baggage and generational trauma I carry cannot compare to the weight my mom or my grandma carries. And yes, I’ve heard it from them multiple times — “We had it worse than you did, so don’t complain.”
And yes, it would be easier to get mad and potentially think of distancing myself from people who don’t want to break the cycle. But that’s the thing. We’re not wired like that. Family is family.
Queer and Catholic
I am a queer devout Catholic in his early 30s. I am proud that I can say that without any shame or regret on either side. But I didn’t get to this stage without questioning everything, a trait my mom isn’t a fan, but has grown used to.
I am lucky to have built a relationship that translated outside of the troublesome teenage years to an adult where we can hold a conversation that might have opposing views.
I am lucky to say that and understand that not many have that same relationship when discussing topics like sexuality, religion, and mental health.
However, one thing I learned early on in therapy (that I should have been doing already as the devout Catholic I claim to be) is that I need to see both sides of the story.
Help from the therapist
A therapist isn’t just going to tell you what you need to do. They will listen and guide your thoughts and give you insight you didn’t see.
There were many early conversations that I found myself running into a wall, what I once believed to be my parents fault was a continuous pattern across generations that must have not been fun for them either.
It made me see their point of view and understand why all of us in this family act the way we do.
To question my upbringing, it would be like telling them that they didn’t do a good job, something I know not to be true. But to see it as a way to grow with my background without having it seem like an attack on them is a good start.
‘Functional’ spotlighted therapy
My favorite episode in season two of “Functional” is episode 11. We follow Jazmyne (Lys Perez) on her journey with her therapist, Vanessa (Stacey Patino), through the course of a few months; all the while keeping it a secret from her dad Manuel (Rufino Romero). What I loved about it is that it highlights how nothing is solved with just a few talks. There are still highs and lows but we are taught to honor those emotions rather than hiding them or chase them away.
It ultimately collides with a parents reaction to therapy, which was beautifully portrayed by these actors.
I feel like it’s an episode children and parents could watch respectfully from either point of view and have an understanding for each other. Which was my goal when writing the script for this season.
Not everything is going to be resolved with one conversation, but if we can get to a point where both sides are willing to talk about it, then we are on the right track.
Just like relationships, if you want it to work you need to be open and vulnerable so that the other party can understand you.
If you can’t even do that with yourself how do you expect to grow?
Since 2020, the percentage of Hispanic or Latino adults who have received mental health have risen to 10% which isn’t a whole lot considering that the total amount of adults in the U.S. in therapy is 41%.
As much as mental health has been a resource in the connected world, behind closed doors it’s a topic many of us stray from our own families for different reasons.
But starting a conversation and making a personal step for yourself helps normalize this subject. You don’t need to hit a low to seek help. It’s OK to be vulnerable, there is no shame in attachment, and self-communication is key to self-respect.
Since its release, I have been honored to hear the feedback from friends and family about “Functional.” It was a story that helped me pay homage to a wonderful relationship I’ve had with my best friend of over 10 years, but it also allowed me to step back, admire our past and want to build a better future.
I was happy enough to find myself on a mental health journey of my own with a therapist, which has allowed me to let go of some things that are common in both the queer and Latiné community.
And my hope for anyone who watches the series has been the same since the beginning: To see themselves in the characters and be inspired to seek out their story.
We are taught to be strong and to be resilient, both traits that I admire and strive for. And you can be that on the surface but if you didn’t take the time to build a foundation to stand on you will find yourself constantly building walls. We owe it to ourselves and our communities to have a platform we can strive on.