Trigger warning: Suicidal thoughts & mental health.
Dear Asian Parents:
Remember when you asked me when I was ten, why I was sitting on my table next to the window for hours on end?
Remember when you said, “Did something happen in school?”
And when I didn’t answer.
You followed “Well if you aren’t gonna talk,” then stormed out of the apartment.
It had to be me, in the middle of the night, paralyzed with the fear that there will be another fight tomorrow, and came to your room to apologize.
I know life was busy, and I know it was hard. I know something must have happened at work that day, and you were tired. You don’t want to put up with grandma, and every time you two fight, you always say, and I believe, you did your best.
Little did you know that I was considering taking my life -- because every time you started a fight with grandma, it was me who had to hear it all, to comfort, to put on the best face, to cheer both of you, and I had done this ever since day one. I tip-toed around you, telling you my best grades or the praises I won for my new painting, hoping that it would put you in a better mood. Yet, no one ever cared to ask about my day at school, or how I was really doing, or how come my friends distanced me, or how tired I was being the trashcan of both of your emotions at age ten. Instead, you called me a “pistachio” in my mother tongue where it also meant the one who brings joy to all.
But I never felt that way. I did my best.
This piece is obviously very personal to me as someone who had struggled with mental health issues and suicidal thoughts at a very young age. Of course, I'm very glad that I didn't attempt it that day, and I'm lucky to learn about the wonders of life soon after. Although I will never be able to open up to my mom about what truly happened on that day or the days leading up to it, I wanted to share this with Asian youth who are struggling with mental health issues because I know how lonely it could be living in a household or a nation that doesn't believe in mental health. It isn't your fault. You are not weak. You are not alone, and we will get through this:)
Massachusetts-based Artist, High school international student originally from China. Very stressed and very tired:)
Cover Photo Source: Joanne Silberner