I was one of the 27% of Asian Americans who sought treatment for my depression, anxiety, and ADD. Despite all that time I spent in a windowless office on a sticky faux leather couch pouring out my heart to a stranger and the subsequent antidepressants, nothing worked.
My body rejected every form of medication I downed.
Yes, I have the most sensitive body on the planet that reacts to everything I put in my mouth.
Unlike a lot of Asian parents, my parents didn’t try to gloss over the fact that I was depressed. They were actually the ones who brought me into therapy. While I could go on for pages about how they destroyed my adolescence, you lovely readers didn’t come here for a blow-by-blow account of how awful our relationship was.
All you need to know is that every time I asked my parents why I was taking the medication, they lied to me.And being the naive child that I was at that age, I accepted their answer even though I knew there was more to it than that.
There is an irony here. I was raised in the States, yet I acted on Japanese values. I didn’t question my parents’ authority. I just assumed they knew what was best for me and accepted what they said as the truth. In my experience, Japanese people tend to do that, especially when it comes to medical issues. They tend to beat around the bush about the real problem.
I dealt with my emotions the only way I knew how: bottling them up. It sucked, both literally and figuratively. It drained me of all my energy. I didn’t feel safe in the house, so I put up a façade. I pretended I was fine when I really was the farthest thing from fine. And by the time the mask came off, all I wanted to do was fall face first on my bed and pass out.
In my experience, Japanese people deal with heavy subjects like depression the same way.I’m still trying to navigate the balance between the clashing cultural values that surround me. And I’m not going to lie. it’s painful. Sure, it’s enriched my life in a lot of ways, but it’s also been the catalyst for conflict.
I can’t just snap my fingers and be done with my issues, as much as I would like to be. I can’t change who my parents are. I can’t change the past or my upbringing. All I can do is move forward with a new awareness and try to make tomorrow better than the last.
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