‘Anxy’ Aims To Destigmatize Mental Illness Through Storytelling

Years after leaving her hometown of Santo Domingo to study art and design in the United States, Indhira Rojas was diagnosed with complex PTSD and generalized anxiety disorder. The California-based Dominican’s mental illnesses are rooted in a childhood marked by traumatic abuse.

Rojas is not alone. Nearly half of American adults develop a mental illness in their lifetime; depression affects approximately 350 million people worldwide. The struggle to be well, however, is still a shameful secret so many lock away. Anxy, a print magazine helmed by Rojas herself, aims to turn the mental health conversation on its head by smashing its every stigma through storytelling.

Latina magazine recently sat down with the Anxy founder and creative director, who delved into the nooks and crannies of her brainchild. Here are some of Rojas’ most pressing excerpts:

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Why is a magazine like Anxy necessary?
I’ve been thinking a lot about cultural norms and what we say is OK and not OK in how we behave in society. When we shift cultural norms we can create a different narrative that makes the behavioral changes we want to see around the topic of mental health. For us, Anxy is about what it means to be human and accepting that trauma and mental illness is a part of our human experience. It’s going to happen, whether it happens to you as an individual or because you’re a part of a collective. For example, people of color face a lot of violence, particularly now from the police. That impacts the entire group. We need to have these conversations and make them OK to have and be open to recognizing that all of these experiences affect people in different aspects of their lives. A lot of us want to leave that stuff at home and put on our armor when we walk out the door. But what if we didn’t need that armor anymore because we understood that mental illness was part of the human experience?

You write, “This isn’t your therapist’s scientific journal. This isn’t some self-help manual. And we aren’t telling you how to ‘fix’ an issue. We are Anxy.” How is Anxy different from these publications you allude to?
I think what we’ve seen is a lot of mental health content geared toward solving the problem. A lot of us, including myself, are fixers, and while I do think we need the tools to learn how to slow down and regulate, we also need the narratives. That’s Anxy: personal stories first. There is so much we can learn through each other, through narratives and sharing our experiences. We want to show how trauma works, how it affects our mind and our body’s ability to self-regulate.

Will there be content in Spanish?
I want Anxy to be global and far-reaching, and so I would aim for Anxy to be translated in Spanish. One of my frustrations since reading a lot of mental health books in the theory realm is wanting to find them in Spanish so I could share them with my family, but it’s nowhere to be found. We need mental health education tailored toward Spanish-speaking audiences, and it doesn’t really exist, and I’m hoping if Anxy is successful that we can help do that.

Why must Latinx folks support this magazine through your Kickstarter campaign?The main reason is because, hey, I’m Latina, too. Wouldn’t it be awesome to see us represented here? But also because this really impacts us. It’s so taboo to have these conversations in our countries and among our families, so we have a lot to benefit from hearing these stories and destigmatizing mental illness.

For more information on this project and how to help the startup, visit here.

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