© Michelle Chan
What the month of May represents hit close to home and is my heart and soul. If you didn't know already, May is Asian/Pacific American Heritage month as well as Mental Health Awareness month. In the midst of COVID-19, what May represents seem more important than ever before, at least to me and the communities that I'm a part of.
I have been deeply saddened by what I have heard and read, on the news and in social media, about the mistreatment and abuse of people of Asian descent. I have heard loved ones express increasing concern about their safety as they go about their daily lives (e.g. getting groceries, mailing things at the post office, being at work). Quite a few friends who are in the medical field have shared with me that they are purposely wearing their scrubs to run errands, in the hopes that it serves as a protective factor.
I know they're not alone.
Many people of Asian descent across the country, and the world, are being more cautious of where they go to get their groceries and run their errands. And not just because of concerns about COVID-19. Many have become hypervigilant when they go out, taking into consideration what neighborhoods certain places are located, looking to see who they're surrounded by, trying not to speak in any native tongues to loved ones and family members when others are around, etc.
Blame is a dangerous and deadly game. No matter what the issue at hand is, blaming only leads to division among us, with no "winner" at the end. It only delays solutions from being found, and deprives us of the sense of support and community we all long for.
If you are feeling as though you are more anxious or on-edge, experiencing nightmares, having flashbacks of other traumatic experiences, being more cautious or hypervigilant, feeling scared for the safety of you and your loved ones... Know that you're not alone in having these experiences. You are not "crazy." Our physical environment has a very real and direct impact on our mental well-being.
Take notice and acknowledge these emotions and things you're experiencing. Engage in activities to help you release some of the nervous energy (e.g. meditation, exercise, art, etc). Reach out to loved ones. They may need you just as much as you need them. And of course, therapy is always an option worth exploring during this extremely challenging time. Your mental health is just as important as your physical health if you want to "be okay" through all of this.
"The things that go unsaid are often the things that eat at you." - Celeste Ng
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Michelle Chan, M.A., LMFT