My Asian identity has shaped every corner of my mental health. As I get older, my awareness of my prejudices against my own flesh has turned what I thought was tough skin to a tenderness that has unraveled me. Being raised a certain way by parents with a certain trauma has created for me a certain glorification of survival and always wanting to NOT be “other.” After the shootings in Atlanta, I experienced a grief that felt so personal, overwhelming and unexplainable. It was not like I knew these people, but it felt as if I could have lost my family just as easily.
I decided soon after the tragedy that I had to seek help from an Asian female therapist. I had been seeing someone who was a male and white (he helped in other ways for a time!), but I felt instantly that my mental health became freer and stronger BECAUSE I am learning to love my whole self in ways I never had even though I had only been seeing her for a tiny amount of time. They understood when I did not understand what I was feeling.
So being an Asian woman, I have context, tools, and a community that give me clarity and peace (not all the time) around the anxiety, fears and longings that circle my heart and which I have never suspected or am tired of always carrying. But I am filled with pride more than ever. It seems as if my identity—my heart, home, the soul—is well. My mental health is well.