Service Array:
Individual Skill Development and Enhancement

Raised by a father and sharing a room with my brother who both have bipolar has taught me a lot. Not only has it taught me about them, but about myself as well. I got see firsthand how badly they tried to shake the stigmas that came along with their disorders. I noticed early on that they were different than myself, and most others. They were more impulsive and aggressive than most. I learned though, that there are ways to communicate effectively with them. And in doing so I learned that they too wanted so badly to be “normal”. They both got locked up on and off, fought, and struggled with substance abuse. But unlike the rest of the world, I got to see them behind closed doors. I felt and knew their love to be just as intense as their aggression.

I naturally gravitated towards helping others when I can. This became easy for me because of my experiences in my own home. I had a lot of cards stacked against me being that I was a Latino boy born into the only Hispanic family in a rural northern Wisconsin town, while also living in poverty. My household was riddled with substance and physical abuse, and disorders such as ADD, ADHD, Bipolar and depression. And for the cherry on top, I was also a teen parent. My mom’s side of the family, my country side, were all from northern Wisconsin. While my dad’s side were all inner city people from the southern part of the state. I have been blessed to see the best and worst from both ways of living. I’ve always felt that I am open minded from seeing how different, yet similar both sides are. I’ve learned not to resent the difficulties of growing up this way, but to embrace them. I believe that people like my father and brother could have been positively impacted had they know their disorders sooner, had medication, and had people willing to work with them to better understand their disorders.

Part of my transitioning from adolescence into adulthood was music. I fell in love with it early on. Not only did it bring me joy, but it let me escape from realities around me with no negative effects. Music is the universal language. It’s across the globe and in every culture. I believe we all have our own tastes and preferences because music works differently for us. It allows us to relate and feel like we’re not alone. As music applies to everyone, I often use it as a tool for others. I use it to get to know someone better, to break the ice, and eventually to express themselves. For me it is my preferred way to vent, and I find it in a sense, self-therapeutic.

I am a proud Latino girl dad of 5 who came from little to nothing. As you have read this wasn’t always my case. As most in my shoes might have turned out different, I find that I am blessed with the ability to overcome due to my healthy and positive outlook on life and situations. I find it more useful to get to know a person by their character rather than by the label of a diagnosis. I believe life is mainly what happens to you, and then how you react to it. I hope that my experiences growing up, and all the knowledge I’ve gained growing up that way, allows me to help others in similar situations. Weather they be in the role of myself, my father, brother, or anyone else. We were all affected in some ways, and I know how that looks and feels. I am grateful to be in a position to help others, and look forward to helping anybody, no matter the circumstance. Because well deserve a fair shot in life.