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Title: Honoring my parents’ dreams by taking care of me

By: Jhoanna Vega-Rocha

“Nothing is wrong with you; why do you need therapy?” This was my dad’s first reaction when I mentioned that I was in psychotherapy treatment for the first time in Fall of 2019.

I was in my prime career-wise, and everything was going well in my personal life, but I felt the loneliness and most on edge I have ever felt. During this time, I had moved four hours away from my nuclear family for my dream job. I was experiencing being one of the few people of color in the division, the youngest and only Latina in my whole department at the time, and navigating genuinely being on my own for the first time. When my therapist did the initial first assessment, I mentioned some physical symptoms that I was experiencing, such as stomach aches, feeling nausea in the morning and unexplained rashes on my legs. I was laying out these symptoms and not connecting how this was my body’s way of telling me GIRL, YOUR ANIXETY IS ON 10! I was so used to moving through the motions that I did not know how much your mental health affects your physical health.

Individuals manifest anxious feelings in different ways, and for me, my anxiety was showcased through being the “most productive” individual you can ever meet. I thrived on pushing myself to take on new challenges and being dependable and charismatic. As early as I could remember, that mentality engrained in me and led to my thought process of doing everything you’re asked to do and don’t complain. Coming from an immigrant household, there was a heavy emphasis on “echale ganas”. We needed to prove our worth to continue receiving everything my family had sacrificed for my sisters and me. It means, even on days off, taking the time to do what needs to get done because there is always something.

It also explains my dad’s reaction because if you asked them, I’m their perfect daughter who has excelled in everything I have put my mind to. I have achieved way more than they could have imagined; I’m my parents’ wildest dreams. I just knew I wasn’t okay and wasn’t prioritizing my wellness. My parents have taught me so much about hard work and dedication, and it took me until my young adult years to learn that rest is also a way to ensure that I can continue to succeed in these spaces that weren’t meant for me. Although I am not perfect, I try my best daily to balance work responsibilities and care for myself. Nothing is wrong with me; I am just trying to honor my parents’ hard work and dreams by ensuring that I see a long life to see my blessings.

Jhoanna Vega-Rocha is a first-generation Mexican from the North Suburbs of Chicago serving clients in Central IL. She is in her final year of completing her Master of Arts in Clinical Mental Health Counseling.

As a Licensed Professional Counseling (LPC) Intern supervised by Dr. Venus Evans-Winters, Jhoanna is learning cultural competency, trauma-informed care, and other skilled-based counseling techniques. Jhoanna's goal is to continue to learn advanced skills under supervision and create a safe and welcoming space for all clients.


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