Looking back, Sarai Guevara feels that her depression started when she was seven years old. She was bullied by other kids, who taunted her about her appearance and called her ugly names. Sarai had always felt shy and socially awkward, and the bullying made her retreat further within herself.
“I went years without any help because my family thought that getting counseling was a sign of weakness,” said Sarai, who is now 18. “My mind was living in a scared and angry place where suicidal thoughts would enter. I don’t want to ever go there again.”
Two years ago, Sarai told her doctor about her persistent psychological distress. The doctor recommended that Sarai receive mental health treatment, and Sarai then came to Southwest Solutions for counseling in our Children, Youth and Families division.
“It was a long journey for me to open up to my counselors,” Sarai said. “I didn’t know what to do or say. But after a while I began to trust my counselors and tell them my painful story.”
Through counseling, Sarai gained a deeper understanding of the feelings and thoughts she was experiencing. She learned coping strategies and how to make peace with herself and reduce conflicts with others. She gained a stronger sense of self-confidence and self-purpose.
“I know the world can be brutal, but I also know I can change my reaction and myself through better understanding,” Sarai said. “I know that other people can change, too, through better understanding. Like my family. They’ve come to understand that therapy is useful and good for me.”
Sarai’s counselor at Southwest Solutions is Emma Urbain.
“I’ve been so impressed with Sarai’s ability to express herself and to reach out for support when she feels overwhelmed,” Emma said. “She has a great desire to work on herself, and she is an inspiration to work with.”
Last year, Sarai joined the Cornerstone program at Southwest Solutions. Cornerstone helps young people who are in systems of care learn the life skills they need to be successful and independent as they transition to adulthood.
Sarai quickly became an avid participant in Cornerstone discussions and activities, and she continues to participate in the virtual groups that Cornerstone is holding during the Covid-19 crisis.
“Cornerstone has been an excellent experience,” Sarai said. “It’s the first time in my life that I’ve been around people where I didn’t have to try hard to fit in. I connected with them easily and we’re able to talk about things that really matter to me in an honest way.”
Sarai just graduated from the Academy of the Americas High School in southwest Detroit. She hopes to attend an arts college. She has been drawing seriously since she was a child. In time, she started creating characters and stories.
“I’m self-taught and I’m proud of my artwork,” Sarai said. “My career goal is to become an animator or cartoonist. I want to help change the world in some small way through stories that show that we are all different, but we can find common ground on some things.”
To learn more about our counseling programs for children, youth and families, please call 313.963.2266.