As Latinos many of us are immigrants that have left a whole world behind us. I did, while I'm a psychotherapist, I’m also a former refugee from Nicaragua. As such, I came like many immigrants to the U.S. and experienced those tough feelings of not only leaving my/our primary homeland but more importantly our familia.
Some of us have left cousins, uncles, abuelos, and sadly at some point even been separated from our children. As immigrants it’s a leaving of our homeland for what we understand to be a better world. Those transitions though are never easy, and can involve struggling through long term separations. I know some people who have immigrated to the U.S. and not seen their children and/or wives/husbands in years. Can you imagine how difficult it would be to not see your kids for such a long time? Yet, to put food on the table for our distant family and make a better life for ourselves, well we choose to make that international journey.
The Separation Effect
These separations definitely affect us and affect our emotions. The process of immigration is often traumatic. As an immigrant and mental health professional I personally have seen how families have fallen apart and then fortunately put back together. The difficulties of having a split family, one who resides in the United States and another in our native land – affects not only our mental health but our physical health as well. It’s tough. Days go by, without a word from our families. Further, life gets busy! In that day to day of making a living – it’s all too easy to lose touch with the homeland.
Talk About It
It’s really important to take into consideration the daily struggles of split families and the effects this has on daily quality of life. To remain healthy physically and mentally it is important to discuss our daily struggles and seek help If we are feeling desesperados (desperate), solos (alone), or deprimidos (depressed).
Find new ways to stay connected! In this modern day and age emails, texts, cell phones, Skype, all make it easier to keep the bonds going and strong. Many of our children are being raised by abuelos (grandparents) while their parents are trying to make a better life here in the U.S. or in another country. Although our families remain bonded at home we can easily become isolated here.
Those left behind also will struggle mental health issues while apart from their loved ones. Immigration plays a major role in mental health and it is important for us to keep in mind how we can best support one another through these struggles. It could be that we or our children have been traumatized during the immigration journey. It is very important to reach out to friends, family, or professionals to discuss the difficulties we have endured and find community wherever you are.
Know you are not alone.
Ana Champagne is an Aurora, Colorado based psychotherapist who practices psychotherapy at Insightful Solutions Counseling. For more information on Ana Champagne and her psychotherapy work visit: www.anachampagne.com andhttps://www.facebook.com/ana.champagne.35