I lost my dad to a stroke during my senior year of high school. As a result, I messed up finals and lost a conditional offer at my dream university. I was also dumped by my first boyfriend around that time. All those things took a massive toll on my depression. Without any concrete university plans, I moved back to my home country to be with my family. This was when I decided to enlist in the military. I thought that it was the best option at the time. Going through basic training and officer cadet training was mentally the hardest thing I have ever done especially because I was also at my worst. I never spoke about my feelings, but I would spend every waking moment feeling empty and wishing I was dead. The intense military training didn’t distract me from any of those thoughts. Being in an incredibly male-dominated environment was harder than I expected. This was the first time in my life that I felt truly alone.

However, I shared a bunk with a girl who became one of my best friends. Despite having personal trauma of her own, she is the most caring person I have ever met and honestly became my lifeline throughout my cadet life. I only wish I was half as strong as she is. Despite my constant mental struggle, she never judged me and constantly pushed me to not give up. I commissioned and am now a lieutenant in the Navy because of her. I have always been introverted and reserved. Before this, I never realized how important it is to have the right people in your life until I met this girl. It was all four years ago. Since then, I’ve learned how to talk about my emotions and open up to people I trust. I’ve made it a point to reach out to others as I firmly believe that no one should have to go through anything alone.

Asian Mental Health Collective