05/20/2011 - 09:00 | 0 Comments|
Puerto Rican author and former Latina magazine editor-in-chief Sandra Guzman brings us a book on what every Latina should know about: dating, health, succeeding professionally, and managing friendships, among other things.
The New Latina’s Bible: The Modern Latina’s Guide to Love, Spirituality, Family, and La Vida(Seal Press, $19.95) offers insight on topics as they relate to us. In the nearly 10 years since the original Latina’s Bible came out, Guzman updated lots of information and added two new chapters. In one of them (Chapter 4, “Latina Blues: It’s Not In Your Head”) she felt compelled to write about an issue that affects more Latinas than we may realize: depression. When one in every seven Latina teenagers attempts suicide, according to the U.S. Centers for Disease Control and Prevention, Guzman gives depression and suicide the attention it deserves.
In an intimate interview, Guzman tells us how depression may go unrecognized and untreated in a culture that is known to be lively and joyful.
How were you alerted to the issue of depression among Latinas?
In the first edition of the book, I talk a little bit about the alarming statistics of attempted suicide among Latina teenagers, and that was something that concerned me at the time. That was ten years ago, and unfortunately the numbers continue to rise. In some pockets of the nation, the attempted suicide rates are up to 20 percent, and that’s pretty devastating. But what really truly inspired me to say, “This is something that needs to be intimately talked about,” was a relative. Somebody who I deeply love in my family was depressed and apologized for being depressed. It hurt me to the core, because as I wrote in the book, if the person had had diabetes, cancer or high cholesterol, I don’t think the apology would have come. I realized that within our own culture we don’t have the language to understand the process and to treat this as white people do.
What did you find in your research that surprised you about depression or its treatments?
The Argentineans, for example, have a healthy self-esteem. There are always these inter-Latino jokes that Argentineans think highly of themselves, and they do! I discovered that maybe part of it has to do with the fact that they have so many therapists in their country. Everybody has a shrink. I love that the culture in Argentina is very much like, “Yeah, we can all use a little help.” So, they treat it as they would treat anything else. Unfortunately, for the rest of Latin Americans, it is not so. We look at life through many different prisms, through many different glasses, and culture has a lot of ways in which it paints the disease. I just don’t think that as a community the culture has caught up with the breakthroughs in technology. At the end of the day, Latinas have the highest incidence of depression in the country and are the least treated. Once we are diagnosed, we are more likely not to continue medication. The culture and the medical breakthroughs have not met. As a result, there are a lot of men and a lot of women who are not living life to their fullest potential.