LANSING, Mich. (WLNS) – Meet Sam Bonilla. Her mom gave birth to her when she was just 14 years old, adding to the family’s turmoil.
She recalls watching her mom use drugs to escape her personal trauma and her grandmother turn to alcohol for the same reason.
After losing her mom to a drug overdose last year, Sam realized she didn’t want that to be her destiny.
So unlike her mom and grandmother, she reached out for help.
“I’ve dealt with sexual trauma, physical emotional abuse due to the fact that nobody is taking about how important emotional, mental therapy is just as important as physical health,” she said.
Sam also wishes someone would have been there for her mom.
“I don’t know if anyone ever said, hey let’s get you to a therapist, and if someone had actually talked to her, she might still be here today,” she said.
Sam says she comes from a family of generational abuse. Her mom aunts and uncles, all struggled with substance use issues because of their mental and emotional trauma but they never talked about it.
“I know with my culture, I’m Native American and Caucasian with both cultures, therapy is not at all looked at it’s frowned upon. Like with my husband he’s Hispanic and African American, same thing. It’s you don’t tell you don’t talk you don’t tell nobody and that’s what needs to go away,” she said.
Child and Family Charities therapist Kaitlyn Schmitz says without a safe space to go, people tend to push things aside. And then emotions build.
“So, they push things down and that’s where it turns into a huge problem because you see the people suffering in silence because they don’t have an outlet,” said Schmitz.
That’s where Sam found herself, especially as a mother of three with another on the way she knew she had to make a drastic change.
“If you keep on ignoring it and ignoring it and putting it off, you could get the help before you end up at a point like I said where I was too depressed to get outta bed,” said Bonilla.
Katilyn says she’s seen an increase in the people like Sam opening up about their own mental health struggles – as our culture works to destigmatize mental health care.
“I’ve seen just people more willing and wanting to seek help because they realize like hey this is actually really hard, and life is really hard. And I need someone to support me,” said Bonilla.
That support is helping Sam process some of her trauma so she can find her voice to tell her own story, one that she knows her mom and grandmother would be proud to hear.