I like to think I have been candid with you all in why I started Toro Coffee to begin with. If I haven't, it was because I wanted to shed light on the complexities of being a survivor of any sort whether childhood trauma, the never ending wars we were born into, disease or flat out depression. I wanted to dive into all those subjects as we share a cup of highly graded and sustainably sourced coffee and tea, and this was long before people referred to being open, frank and truthful to "spilling the tea." That's what we do and I am proud of that. However, I have kind of been MIA. To be real, it's depression and anxiety.
Many of us survive a multitude of things in our life. To me, the meaning of life is to survive and better yet thrive each day being another milestone. Obviously, the longer we survive the more experiences we have to learn and embrace how difficult yet beautiful life can be. Life for the most part can be competitive, cruel, and downright unfair as we all know. We are all born us with different abilities to navigate the cards we are dealt.
What happens though when you suffer from depression and you try to pour from an empty cup? That's what I deal with often. There are times I can't even get out of bed. to even make a cup of coffee. But here I am writing a blog about it today, meaning I survived yet another depressive episode. I am here another day to say it does subside and it will get "better" as cliche as that sounds. I know depression runs in my family. In fact, it runs rampant. I would say everyone in my immediate family suffers from some sort of depression or mental illness. It is also my family that uses depression and mental health issues as a way to shame a person. I am not sure if it's Latino culture or just the way humans love to stigmatize one another, but sadly it's true. It was a large part in why I became an addictions counselor. I wanted to learn about the dynamics of a household afflicted with addiction and mental illness to understand how to lead a more thought-out discussion. I wanted to make sure I broke the cycle as much as I could and eliminate shame. Sometimes it's hard to shed the inner dialogue no matter how often to study a subject. Most of what I have learned in life has been from pain and trauma, rejection and shame. In a way it makes me grateful for the hardships I endured. It' probably why I search desperately for the light, beauty and relief in the darkest hours.
Another objective of Toro Coffee was to be open and proud even about mental health and how it affects all of us as humans. Depression should be as stigma clear as blinking your eyes. It's that innate, and even if you aren't born with an inherently depressive mindset here and there, onset depression is a legitimate thing. Not to mention we are all facing unprecedented times with a pandemic, an extremely unequal society, and technology moving us deeper into our homes and away from other humans and nature.
Even as I am writing this I am having trouble focusing. Of course, a cup of specialty Toro Oro will cure that need for more speed, but what good is that if I can't concentrate? That's depression in a nutshell. It limits our ability to focus on what matters and for some of us. Depression is a block that creates a cluster of thoughts that race to pick at our sensitive minds continuously searching for answers to questions we can't answer or stab at the back of our subconscious when we need to focus on the present the most. It takes us back to memories or feelings of dread. It relives history you don't need repeated and keeps us stuck in the past. It makes working for many impossible. And when I say many, many a times, I mean me. It can cost us our ability to work with others, make as much money as possible, and our productivity to dwindle. Maybe that's why I am not so much of a fan of tying our worth to productivity. Productivity doesn't make you a better person. It makes you a busy person but some of us are unable to even get started. If you are a well intention person who creates a path each day to make the next day better no matter how big or how small, to me, that weighs more than productivity.
I am a child of trauma but also someone who believes in conquering their demons. I have always been open about my hardships. Sometimes there was no way to keep them secret. I never wanted to be a victim nor do the many who openly talk about depression hoping you won't see them as someone who wants you to pity them. On the contrary, we know how easy it is for your haters to say "Got em'" when you openly talk about something you know only the evolved in spirit can understand.
For people who truly understand the human condition and critically think about why humans are the way are, they don't use a person talking about their mental health as a "Gotcha" moment. Until we make talking about working and living with depression a constant, which I'll admit I see happening with Millennials and Zoomers more than ever, we will continue to see something as normal as depression continue to be shamed.
I am optimistic because of the shift this generation and the one behind it is making. I am optimistic about the dialogue happening now though on social media. If anything, when the clouds of depression clear you feel like a victor. I understand why many youth list the afflictions they have in their bio. It's obviously so you understand why they may be this way or that way and it's also because they are survivors. They are continuing survivors of what seemed like a never-ending journey through hell. That's something to be proud of. Hanging in there is enough.
In conclusion, in these times of massive job-loss, uncertainty, and quarantine it's easy to fall into depression. This is something that should be talked about often. When I say 'Be Bold', be bold about your life story because you have no idea who needs to hear it. 'Live Free' so others can see that you are living authentically and are open about mental health and what makes you who you are, and last but never least, 'Never Settle' for less of a life you want to live just because of the stigmas that surround something as common as depression.
Just remember to do your best and forget the rest. I heard that somewhere. It's stuck with me and it's a good quote.