Im a Mexican American with Indigenous roots. My family has wrestled with mental illness for generations. I come from a tight-knit family and grew up in a home with my aunts and uncles always around, either living with us or staying for long visits.
I didn’t fully understand at the time, but all of them struggled with mental illnesses, ranging from bipolar disorder to schizophrenia. I always knew something was off about my schizophrenic grandfather. He would wander the halls, trapped in his delusions from his past war experiences, but I never fully understood how this shaped my mother and her siblings.
Once I grew up, I learned more about my mother’s family history through personal accounts and shared diaries. What emerged was a harrowing picture of my mother’s traumatic childhood. She and her seven siblings survived a childhood dominated by a brutal, dark cloud brought on by my grandfather’s PTSD and schizophrenia.
Their father’s suffering became their suffering, as he enacted violence on them and their mother. As I grew older, I witnessed the pain they carried and saw it fester and ultimately overwhelm them. Living with this traumatic history has been a multi-generational struggle and one that has shaped me.
The experience continues to echo through my life, and it has been a driving force behind my exploration of inherited trauma in my work. In Three Years Gone, I am specifically interested in how children negotiate these impossible situations and how these events shape them as adults.
Through this film, I want to show the psychological contortions children must make to survive in this kind of family environment and gain insights into the psychological trauma my own family has experienced that I still carry.