"The most powerful weapon on earth is the human soul on fire." -F. Foch

UCLA's Undergraduate Research Week, May 2019

Hi there! I’ve never been great at introductions but here it goes…

I go by Rose Mejia but my real name is Rosalva. Rosalva Mejia Jauregui. Most people get intimidated by the Spanish “r” so I like saving them the effort. I was born and raised in South Central Los Angeles, or “the hood” as most people call it. My childhood was filled with overwhelming amounts of fear, anxiety, and trauma. Aside from living in a neighborhood where gang violence was common and someone dying on my block was the norm, I also experienced sexual abuse behind closed…


A sense of peace fell over me.

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A little less than a month ago, I was standing by my father’s bedside. He was transitioning. Meaning that he was actively dying. I noticed how his skin wrapped tightly around his bones. How it had greyed and lost its tone. Most of his hair had fallen out and whiten. I grabbed his hand, which had a leathery feel to the touch. His chest heaved heavily and his heart pounded with a strong, rapid pulse.

He had always enjoyed whenever I massaged his legs and so I brought baby oil to see if it would help relax him. I started…


To be open, vulnerable, and present in the moments that you fear the most.

Photo by Daria Shevtsova on Unsplash

At the beginning of May 2021, my father began going in and out of the hospital every couple of days within three weeks. After each hospital release, my family and I hoped to soon see him start recovering from his health decline, just how he had done so all the previous times before. He had the promise of potentially starting a new chemo treatment again and going through radiation for the fourth time to control cancer and stabilize his condition. Instead, he was soon placed on oxygen and eventually stopped walking or being able to talk. …


It’ll simply be a gift that goes to waste through our own passivity.

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They say that time heals all wounds. That if you go through a loss or some kind of tragic event, all you need to do is give it time and the pain will magically begin to go away. Reality is, it isn’t time that heals. It’s us that create the healing.

Time is a construct we use to think about distance and space. How we conceptualize the change we see from morning to night, summer to winter, from infancy to seniority. It’s what we may use to leverage our healing by providing a sense of distance from the suffering.

In…


It’s already a part of us right here.

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According to the APA, resilience is defined “as the process of adapting well in face of adversity, trauma, tragedy, threats, or significant sources of stress.” In most research studies, you’ll see resiliency being a factor measured after or during an adverse event or trauma usually because by its definition it is a process that occurs during or after a difficulty.

Since my sophomore year of college, I became very interested in the concept of resilience. I volunteered to be a student representative part of the Task Force that later created the wellness center at UCLA known as the UCLA RISE…


And it is questions like these that we are yet to understand.

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We’re often described as creatures of habit. We rely on the same patterns and routines to efficiently get us through the day and reserve our cognitive energy for more novel events that require our full attention. The unfortunate thing about habits is that they’re done unconsciously. If you really pay attention to them you’ll notice that you’ll already be initiating an ingrained habit before you can have a second thought about it.

It’s argued that our habits are sometimes learned behaviors. Meaning that when we watch other individuals engage in a behavior, we then imitate and gravitate toward those same…


To signify the celebration of his transformation.

Photo by Gantas Vaičiulėnas on Unsplash

For a long time, my brothers and I feared losing my dad. His cancer diagnosis was very sudden for us because kidney cancer often has silent symptoms that can go unnoticed for many months or even a few years. By the time he was diagnosed, it had spread to his lungs, brain, spine, and liver. But he was a strong man. Even during his chemo and radiation treatments he would go for walks, try his best to eat well, and be as engaged as he could with his family. …


Recognize how stress and anxiety feel in your mind and body, and use it to empower your decisions.

Photo by Dmitry Vechorko on Unsplash

Two of the most common complaints that you’ll hear from people is that they are stressed or overly anxious. Because the distress felt in either of these situations can feel fairly equivalent, “stress” and “anxiety” are often used interchangeably. Usually, to describe the state of being on edge, tense, tired, scattered, overwhelmed, and hyper-aware. However, stress and anxiety are actually very different in how they’re triggered and then manifested in the mind and body. Unfortunately, in chronicity, they both often lead to similar negative consequences and health outcomes.

What is stress?


Take a look at the darker parts that we’re often so afraid to explore.

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It’s been over a year now since the COVID-19 break out quickly swift throughout the world. After a long wait, it seems like we’re slowly reaching the light at the end of the tunnel. Just like most individuals around the world, my whole life was pushed and pulled to fit the confinement of my home. Everything I dedicated myself to, day in and day out, solely here.

During this time, I started seeing a therapist and we were working on a few past traumas that I had never really had a chance to work through. We would have weekly phone…


Even in death, we simply transform into something greater beyond what the eyes can see.

Photo by OC Gonzalez on Unsplash

It’s been exactly a week since my father passed from when I’m writing this. My father had a very beautiful death. His last days were spent on a hospital bed that was placed next to a big window in our living room facing the outdoors. He was asleep for about nine days. He didn’t eat any food and only so often would drink short sips of water. His skin was warm and still had its hint of color during the transition.

Weeks before his transition, he was usually very tired and anxious. He’d spend most of the day sleeping or…

Rose Mejia

Striving to be a holistic psychologist & writer.

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