The Impact of Mental Health on My Journey as a Comedian

– The author reflects on their own battle with depression and the importance of prioritizing mental health.
– They discuss how the loss of a parent and the absence of unconditional love contributed to their feelings of emptiness and loneliness.
– The author shares how laughter and comedy became their tool for survival and how the pursuit of social media fame led to burnout and a need for balance.

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Title: Nurturing Mental Health and Embracing Ambition: A Comedian’s Journey

Content Warning: This article contains mention of suicide.

I often contemplate how others perceive me and wonder if they assume I have life all figured out. However, the reality is that life is full of unexpected turns and emotional struggles that are hard to fathom. As a stand-up comedian and actress, my personal journey has been colored by moments of burnout, depression, and a vital realization that prioritizing my mental health is not only necessary but critical to my overall well-being.

My battle with depression began during my teenage years, a period when the weight of the world felt overwhelming. When I attempted suicide at around 14 years old, it caught everyone off guard. Thankfully, my family rallied around me, embodying the saying, “it takes a village to raise a child.” Their unwavering support became my lifeline during the darkest days. Despite their strength, I still carry the emptiness left by the loss of my mother, who passed away from breast cancer when I was only three months old. Growing up in the Dominican Republic with my grandparents, I didn’t learn about my biological mother’s death until the age of six, when my grandmother had an aneurysm, and the truth finally came to light. The pain of losing both of them has never eased, and it feels as raw as if it happened just yesterday.

Losing a parent creates an unfillable void, leaving one perpetually longing for something essential but forever out of reach. The absence of my mother shaped my existence, and amidst familial loss, the concept of unconditional love remained elusive. The person who was meant to provide it was no longer there, leading me to feel loved only under the unpredictable conditions of life. This disconnect from genuine connection made it difficult to bridge the gap between myself and others, intensifying my sense of emptiness and loneliness.

From this well of emptiness and loneliness, my deep-seated desire to alleviate isolation emerged. I discovered the power of laughter and how it could unite people and heal wounds. This realization was inspired by my childhood admiration for the late singer Selena Quintanilla, as I longed to evoke in others the same emotions she stirred within me. Thus, my journey as a performer took root in the very confines of my home. By constantly distracting my family from the pain of loss, I unwittingly honed my comedic skills that would later become my career, though not without its unexpected twists and turns.

Laughter became my constant companion and a tool for survival. It naturally shaped my identity, earning me the title of the class clown and the popular one who used humor to forge connections. As I delved into the routine of mundane 9-to-5 jobs that never truly resonated with my spirit, my sense of humor became a lifeline that sustained me. These jobs would have been short-lived if not for the comic relief I provided, often being kept around because “I’m funny.”

In 2016, I ventured into the realm of social media and became a comedic influencer. Initially, it was an avenue for pure enjoyment and balance, but the path quickly transformed when I started going viral. Talent agencies, management teams, production companies, and even celebrities reached out to me, promising to change my life forever. And it did, but not without its share of positives and negatives. While being a public figure meant that people loved and respected my work, it also came with the burden of expectations, even when I was unsure about my own desires and direction. The glamorous facade of social media often obscures the fact that it demands constant effort and attention to stay relevant. If you fail to keep up, you risk being buried in the ever-flowing timelines. This unspoken reality can lead to burnout, leaving one questioning the purpose of their efforts within this digital world.

I distinctly remember pouring so much of myself into this pursuit that it eventually left me feeling empty. It was a moment of reckoning as I questioned whether becoming a perpetual social media influencer was truly my aspiration. It was through introspection that I realized the irreplaceable essence of the arts—writing, performing, and creating work that resonates deeply. I recognized the need to position social media as a tool that enhances and complements my artistic endeavors rather than making it the sole destination.

Ultimately, I discovered that navigating the precarious balance between ambition and mental health requires delicate care. My relentless pursuit of validation through laughter often stretched me thin, pushing me to the brink of burnout. It was amidst this chaos that I experienced an epiphany. The world I had constructed crumbled under the weight of my aspirations. The hollowness I attempted to fill with the applause of others could only be healed through self-care and introspection.

While auditioning and engaging in projects brimming with excitement and uncertainty added their own set of challenges, the SAG-AFTRA strike unexpectedly forced me into a period of reflection. As the hustle came to a halt, I was confronted with the essence of the person I had become. This imposed pause, although unwelcome, proved to be a blessing in disguise. It offered me the opportunity to address the imbalance that had plagued me for years.

As Hollywood stood still, so did my frenetic pace. I turned my focus inward, embracing mindfulness practices and seeking therapy to confront the lifelong companion of depression. Amidst the stillness, I realized that ambition need not come at the expense of neglecting oneself. I had a revelation that shattered the perception of having to choose between dreams and well-being.

Today, my journey continues. I approach each step with intention and heightened self-awareness. I strive to harmonize ambition with self-care, recognizing that success encompasses various dimensions. The spotlight still shines, but it no longer consumes my sole pursuit. I find solace in slowing down, prioritizing my mental health, and acknowledging that rest and rejuvenation are as significant as ambition. As I take the stage, I do so as a complete person, embracing both the laughter and the shadows that have shaped every facet of my being.

While my path has been far from straightforward, my experiences have instilled in me the value of authentic artistic expression and the unwavering importance of navigating life’s obstacles with a renewed commitment to mental well-being.