SOAPBOX: Growing up without a space to talk about mental health

By KJZZ News
Published: Thursday, March 30, 2023 - 3:03pm
Updated: Thursday, March 30, 2023 - 3:15pm

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On KJZZ's SOAPBOX, The Show turns over the the mic to listeners. For spring 2023, The Show collaborated with Rising Youth Theatre, a Phoenix-based, youth-centered arts organization. The result is a series of conversations between family members and friends on one of the toughest topics around: mental health. 

Trinity Lugo (right) and her sister, Tianah
Amber Victoria Singer/KJZZ
Trinity Lugo (right) and her sister, Tianah.

Trinity Lugo and her sister, Tianah, talk about growing up without a space to talk about mental health, and how they’ve learned to lean on each other when they need help.

TRINITY: I’m Trinity. I’m 21, and I’m with my sister, Tianah.

TIANAH: My name is Tiana. I'm 17, and I am Trinity's younger sister.

TRINITY: We definitely were raised in a house where mental health was never talked about. We got dismissed a lot. We were told that it's not real. Or you know ... “We're too young. You shouldn't be experiencing that”, like you have so much love for and not just like actually listening to us.

TIANAH: Or it was brought up in a way of, like, your problem isn't exactly an adult problem. So it's not something that you should be worrying about to the extent that you do worry about it. Anxiety and depression isn’t an adult thing, it's everyone.

TRINITY: It’s an everyone thing. No matter how young you are, like you will experience it.

TIANAH: And it was only targeted as we're worrying about something or we're stressing about something rather than we're actually having, like a mental conflict about some things.

TRINITY: And there's countless times where we've tried to talk to them, but again, they wouldn't listen. So we just turned to each other ... And I think at first it was a little difficult for us just to get an understanding of both of ourselves and how we experienced mental health very differently in ourselves and bodies. I think there's always been a fear for the both of us that because we are so dismissed and not really listened to, like, the fear of, like, burdening someone with our problems and what we're going through, or just like being judged or shut down again, like I think that has resulted in us being closed off at times and although I'm trying to get better at like being more open and talking about my mental health, there's definitely some times where that fear is very real still, and I'm like, I don't, I would just rather not say anything, so I don't get hurt in the end. I don't know if it's the same for you.

TIANAH: It generally is. The initial solution to our mental health issues when it came to our parents was ,“Just be happy. Just don't worry about it's OK.” And it did start as a burden because it's — they gave us such a simple solution, but we knew it wasn't so simple to fix. So bringing that actually out to each other was harder than you would hope it to be. Because I think the base was that we’re blowing it out of proportion.

TRINITY: Yeah, I think it's, again, it's never been easy for us to talk about things. We used to butt heads a lot when we were younger. You know, I remember I wasn't being the best support that I could have been and I can't change that now. But moving forward, I can change the way of how I support you and how I'd be there for you. And I think now that we're older and near you know, you're gonna be an adult soon, I think we've found a good flow of coming to each other and supporting. I think it's important that even though we are sisters, that we have our own boundaries when we're talking about mental health and just like respecting ourselves and our body and our mind, because it is a very hard and real thing. And even now we still have our moments and challenges of, like, talking about it and being honest and open. But we've definitely grown a lot and it is definitely easier to identify exactly how we're feeling and we could put a name to it versus I didn't understand because I, you know, was shut down. We didn't really talk about the difference between depression and anxiety, so I couldn't tell the difference.

TIANAH: And now it's easy to identify outside things. Like, if I see my friend going through something, building that relationship of comfort with you and building that like how to speak about it with you helped me set a baseline about how I would like to be spoken about it or how I should approach a situation without it. But if I didn't have that, and I still took my parents' advice, we probably would be the worst people to talk about mental health with.

TRINITY: Because then we get those same tendencies to be like, "That's not real," because when you grow up around that you start becoming —

TIANAH: Simple fixes, but you can't simply fix a mental health issue.

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