Discussing Mental Health with “I Missed Me” Host Maria Anzures
© Maria Anzures
Meet Maria Anzures, a 19-year-old podcaster and TikToker who appeals to many Gen Zs with her candid and authentic way of talking about mental health.
In a world where social media often portrays a perfect life that is far from reality, Maria is on a mission to inspire her followers to be vulnerable and authentic by sharing her own experiences of pain, growth, and healing.
In our interview, Maria shared her personal journey and how it inspired her to start her podcast "I Missed Me," which delves into sensitive topics like toxic relationships and codependency. Maria encourages her listeners to prioritise self-care and well-being in the midst of the unique challenges faced by today's young adults. Join us as we delve into the thoughts of Maria Anzures and discover the lessons she has learned and the experience she has to share.
What inspired you to become a mental health and wellness podcaster/TikToker?
Well, I started posting on social media around 2020 when we were in the midst of the pandemic and quarantine, and I just started posting lifestyle videos, relatable funny videos, and whatever. But I eventually decided that if I wanted a platform, I wanted to have a helpful platform. There are thousands of creators that post lifestyle, fashion, beauty, and relatable funny videos, but there are very few creators that actually inspire, that actually help. And that's how I kind of started my journey. I've been posting on social media for a few years now, but as for mental health and self-growth content, I started about seven or eight months ago because I did go through my own healing journey. Eventually, I understood that I'm probably not the only one that goes through the things that I went through.
"I Missed Me" delves into sensitive topics like toxic relationships and codependency. Can you share a personal experience that motivated you to create this podcast and discuss these issues from your unique perspective?
I never speak about something that I haven't gone through. I have been through friendship breakups, romantic breakups, toxic relationships, and have gone through a codependency period where I grew and learned a lot about myself. It's something that I went through a couple of years ago, about two or three years ago, where I had to learn that I had to be my best friend, that I can't change people as they change by themselves, and that things will not always go my way. The only thing that I can control is the way I react, the way I choose to leave when my needs and standards are not being met. That's my responsibility. Relationships, when they end, or when you go through sad situations, hurt, but you also learn and grow. I wouldn't be here right now if I hadn't gone through those breakups, sad periods of time, or codependency periods. I did go through it, but I'm super grateful that I did because I learned and grew a lot as a person. I'm here having my podcast and being heard by thousands of people because I went through that.
Gen Z is known as the "authenticity generation," which shares unfiltered stories about mental health on social media. Can you tell us more about your experience leveraging social media as a raw and authentic platform for discussing mental health?
It can be scary because it's effortless to post an edited picture online and only show the parts of your life that you want people to see. Many people portray their lives as perfect on social media. However, when you decide to jump on the other side and be vulnerable and authentic by saying, "life is not always perfect, I do cry, things do hurt, and relationships do end," it can be more intimidating because you are showing 100% of who you are. If people don't like that, then there's nothing else to show. That's part of being vulnerable and authentic. Not everyone is going to like you, but that doesn't mean you are not an amazing person or creator.
I've learned that I want to be a vulnerable person online. I want people to know that I go through pain and hard periods of time, but I can get through them. I want to inspire others by being vulnerable so that they can do the same. It won't kill them to be themselves and let others know that they are not alone. When I was going through my breakup and depression, I felt super alone, but I wasn't. I don't want anyone else who is going through a similar situation to feel the same way.
What has been the most eye-opening lesson you have learned about personal growth so far?
I feel like the most eye-opening lesson I have learned is that it is a never-ending journey. It's a lifelong journey, and it's not that you wake up one day and nothing hurts anymore. It's not that you wake up one day and are healed. That's a question I get a lot, like every single day, "How do you know when you're healed? How do I know?" My true answer is, I don't think you ever stop healing because I connect healing with growth and you never stop growing. Life is all about growth, so therefore you're always healing. You will always be healing. Healing doesn't mean that it doesn't hurt anymore. Healing doesn't mean that it's not sad anymore. Healing just means that you're able to look at it from a different perspective and be like, "You know what? I'm grateful that this happened. It did hurt. It was painful, but I grew, and I know this about myself now, and I learned this, and I learned that." So it's not that it doesn't hurt anymore. It's just the fact that you understand the lesson behind it, so that pain is worth it. I struggled a lot with months going by, and I wasn't feeling any better. Then I understood that that's okay and that healing doesn't necessarily have a timeline, and that self-growth is an everyday journey. It's not that I wake up at 1:00 a.m. and I'm like, "Okay, I'm perfect. Like, I'm healed."
Today's Gen Z faces unique challenges. How do you encourage your listeners to prioritise self-care and well-being in the midst of these pressures?
In a world where we are all on social media and constantly comparing ourselves to a life that is not real, a body that is not real, a face that is not real, or someone who may have more than us, or someone we would like to be, we are in constant comparison and constant anxiety and depression for things that we do not have or things that we would like to have. I always encourage self-care, and without mental peace and mental health, you do not have anything. So, I always suggest meditating, journaling, talking to yourself, or hanging out with the people you love and who love you. Put your phone away, put social media away, get away from a world that is not real on your phone, be present, and realise that right now, you are not missing anything, that you have love all around you.
The only thing you have to do is realise that you have everything you need right now and the things you do not have are not meant for you right now. Appreciate and be grateful for the things you do have. There is no self-care ritual because things that work for me might not work for someone else. Self-care is really sitting with your emotions, asking yourself how you really are, and if you are not okay, taking care of yourself first. So, yes, self-care is just constantly checking up on yourself and making decisions based on how you are mentally.
Breaking traditional norms, have you discussed mental health openly on social media? Have you faced any challenges or backlash? How have you navigated these obstacles?
Well, as with everything on social media, if you expose yourself in such a vulnerable way, you're always going to be open to comments like "I don't like this" or "I don't relate to this." However, I have to remind myself that I'm not a therapist, and I only share personal experiences of what I've learned. Sometimes, I receive comments like "you're saying this wrong" or "this is not true," or "I don't feel this way." Then I have to come back to myself again and remind myself that I'm not a therapist. I'm giving advice based on what I know. I can only share from my experiences, my lessons, my self-growth, and my healing. It's not my responsibility to heal you. I'm teaching you how I healed myself, and maybe it can help you as well. I don't read comments because the content that I put out is content that I love. If I put it out, it's because I think it's helpful. Also, I've been fortunate enough to receive so many positive comments. Those are the ones that keep me going.
What are some of the challenges you're currently facing, and how do you plan to work on overcoming them?
I am dealing with balancing my life to avoid burnout and everything. I am someone who likes to be doing things all the time, and although I talk about prioritising your mental health, I struggle with prioritising my own sometimes. Like I said, I have my business, and I have to hustle with that all the time. Then I have my podcast, where I have to record, reach out to people to collaborate, and create my own content. I am also travelling with my dad and figuring out college, which I'm starting in the summer. There are so many things that it can get exhausting at times, and I struggle with feeling guilty when I want to rest because I think I could be doing something else, and I am wasting my time. Rest is 100% necessary if you want to come back to yourself and think about what you are doing and what you are missing. I am so good at helping others, but when I have to come back to myself and ground myself, I struggle with that. Just because I talk about healing or self-growth and being the best version of myself doesn't mean that I don't struggle with it. That's something that I struggle with: not getting to that point of burnout, balancing my life, and not feeling guilty when I rest.
Meditating is a big part of my life. Whenever I lay down or choose not to work for a day, my brain will try to punish me for it. But I just have to remind myself that it's just that I'm not comfortable right now, but it doesn't mean that it's a bad thing. Just realising that resting one of the seven days a week is not a bad thing, and I am super young and able to go out with my friends and party and live a regular life. It doesn't mean that the world is going to end or that I'm not going to have the same opportunities because I rested one day. It just means that I am coming back to myself to feel okay and do things because I love them, not because I have to.
Mental health stigma is prevalent, especially among younger generations. Have you encountered biases or misconceptions while hosting "I Missed Me"? How do you address these challenges and promote inclusivity and understanding in your podcast?
Well, as I said, I don't really read negative comments because they don't stick with me. Additionally, I have learned that people who choose to judge others are really judging themselves. It's just a reflection of the way they feel about themselves. If someone tries to make me feel bad, judge me, or make me upset or angry, it just means that they are not at peace with themselves. Someone who is at peace with themselves knows how good it feels to make others feel that way. So, it is important to remember that any negativity or judgement you encounter is just a projection of how the person feels about themselves.
Can you share success stories or inspiring moments from your experience as a mental health podcaster on social media? How has your advocacy and storytelling helped others in their mental health journeys?
I mean, as a success story, going back to people that tell me that I've saved their lives, and that, for me, is insane. I never thought that I would get to that level of changing someone's actual life. They send me my quotes in their journals, or they send me videos of them doing some exercises of letting someone go, like writing a letter to them and burning it. So when people send me proof that I'm helping them, it means the world to me because it gives me so much motivation to keep going and to be like, "Okay, I'm actually helping people, and I'm not just talking to a microphone, but I'm changing lives." That's insane to me. Also, the people that I've been able to meet, like co-hosts from other podcasts, are good friends of mine already. Those are people that I probably wouldn't have met if I didn't have "I Missed Me."
If you could convey one message to your listeners, what would it be?
I go back to taking care of your mental health and prioritising your mental peace above anything else, above your friends, family, job, school, or anything else. You really don't have anything if you don't have mental health and peace of mind. There was a period of time where I had everything I've ever wanted - the perfect relationship, perfect friends, a perfect life, and a successful business - but I wasn't mentally okay, so I wasn't able to enjoy any of those things. Now that I'm building my way back into the life that I want, where I'm building my business again and creating content, I'm mentally happy even though I haven't gotten to where I want to be yet. But because I'm mentally happy and grateful for where I am, I'm able to enjoy every single step of the way. You just have to put yourself first regardless of what people think and not be afraid to say no when you don't feel like going out, set boundaries and standards, and if people decide to leave when you do, they're just not the right people for you.