"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…

If life is death and life is love, then we must be all of it in between and more.

Photo by Ernesto Carrazana on Unsplash

It’s been about nine days since my father ate his last meal. His skin sticks to his bones as the muscle wastes away. Most of the individuals that walk through our door to come to see him and to give the last goodbye wear an expression of shock. A man who they viewed to be so vital and strong, now bedridden as his body goes through an ultimate purification.

There’s been a lot of praying. Plenty of hand-holding and hair caressing. Singing and talking. Hoping and letting go. There’s been tears about what is, but also the laughter of what…

How can it make ever sorrowful goodbye so memorable?

Photo by Tamas Kolossa on Unsplash

In the movie Collateral Beauty directed by David Frankel and starred by Will Smith, Howard (the protagonist), is caught in a quarrel with three abstractions after he loses his daughter, Olivia, to a rare form of brain cancer: love, time, death. His grief boils within him with a raging wildfire that impairs him and he spends a little over two years trying to find peace in his daughter’s death.

On the day that Olivia was being taken off life support, his then ex-wife Madeline had been sitting in the waiting room alone. An elderly lady sitting next to her asked…

My father pledged to fight for another chance to live.

Photo by Levi Meir Clancy on Unsplash

It was a Friday night. I was going back inside my house just as the sun was starting to set. I was planning to start on my group project since I would be meeting with my group members in about half an hour. But on my way inside, I saw my father sleeping on the couch, with his breathing strained with a strong wheeze that followed every exhale. His heart rate was high and his legs and feet were completely swollen. My mother was sitting next to him with a worried look on her face. “No sé si llevarlo (I…

We are not our own victims.

Photo by Krissana Porto on Unsplash

The human condition can be a very interesting experience. We often complain about it and we may see the world as bleak or grey. We count our victimizations and often forget how to see our blessings. Life is hard, and we don’t always get our fair share of things. When we’re at the bare mercy of luck to find peace in anything, it becomes difficult to see the positives that the world has to offer.

For me, this has been a recurrent experience that I constantly have to work on and have to dig myself out of. Sometimes, when I’m…

Just know that you being in their life makes their wounds hurt a little less.

Photo by KaLisa Veer on Unsplash

If you live with or are close to someone with a mental disorder, then you know how hard it can be at times to be supportive of their needs. They may not always be verbal about how they’re feeling. Or fluent in what’s going on internally. Perhaps they engage in behaviors that you don’t fully understand. Or have habits that they can’t seem to break. There are days where they may seem like themselves and others where they may be completely engulfed by whatever they’re grappling with. They may not always be there for you, for the good or the…

Thirdly, believing is key.

Photo by Vero Photoart on Unsplash

In my culture, mental health is seen as taboo. Anyone with schizophrenia, for example, is seen to have been “cursed.” Anyone with depression lacks enough work to do to “get them straightened up.” Anyone with anxiety as “overly stressed.” Eating disorders are thought to be driven by parasites, or even by what we call “empachos.” Which is when that which someone has eaten sticks to the intestinal walls after going through a scare or trauma, causing gastrointestinal issues that later leads to disordered eating habits. In my culture, we also believe in “ojo.” Which occurs when a person envies something…

It requires us to go the extra mile.

Photo by Milad B. Fakurian on Unsplash

As science tells us again and again, stress is often the ultimate culprit for many of the health issues we see today. Interestingly enough, we often think of stressors to be big, daunting events such as being stuck in traffic or being late for an important meeting. However, there are other subliminal and often unthought-of nuances that can be pretty stressful as well. Because they are so small in detail, we often overlook them.

Our brain has this magical superpower to filter out the context that isn’t regarded as important. This process is very automatic and explains why we’re able…

Our twenties is the modern world’s coming to age time range.

Photo by Helena Lopes on Unsplash

I’ll admit, I’m only 22. What gives me the confidence to say that I know seven life lessons that you should or should have learned in your twenties? Well, perhaps I don’t have a truly valid reason to believe this. However, if you have ever tried to give a kid advice, you’ll realize that unless you understand where they’re coming from, they won’t take you up on it. Why? There are nuances that we often forget about as we age. Being in the turmoil of early adulthood allows me to tell you how things are as raw as it can…

Rose Mejia

Striving to be a holistic psychologist & writer.

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