Friday, November 22, 2013

MLE's Autobiographical Essay

Here is my Autobiographical Essay for the “No Greater Agony” Anthology of Asian Pacific Islander American Women's Experiences with Mental Illness - Submitted on Sept. 30, 2013

Who is Emily Wu Truong (吳怡萱)?

My name is Emily Wu Truong, and I recently became a Mental Health Advocate & Motivational Speaker in July 2013. As an advocate, my passion is to alleviate the stigma and discrimination on mental health in my community through speaking my mind. In my personal time, I use social media (Facebook, Twitter), video blogging, journal blogging, networking to bring attention to this cause. My activism also includes volunteering with the National Alliance on Mental Illness (NAMI) of the San Gabriel Valley area, which is a nonprofit, dedicated to the educating the public about mental illnesses and eradicating the stigma on mental health. With NAMI-SGV, we are developing an Asian Outreach team to reach out and educate our local Asian and Pacific Islander communities. I know there is much to be done to educate everyone about mental health, but I have confidence that the stigma on mental health will be alleviated.  I know that I by myself may not have the capacity to end the stigma, but through inspiration, education, and understanding, I hope that everyone will learn that mental health truly matters and that each mind matters.
So why does mental health matter so much to me? Well, here is why I am passionate about mental health issues along with my story.
I first and foremost believe that every single person on the face of this Earth deals with mental health issues because I believe that… Mental Health is learning how to stay sane in this insane world. It is learning to be in touch with our emotions & feelings, and to enjoy the roller coaster of life without being discouraged by the adversities in life.
When I was growing up, I was told that if I were to share my problems with other people, doing so would bring shame to myself and to my family. However, I most of the time disregarded this idea when I would write letters to my friends.  I had to communicate and express my feelings and thoughts through writing. Writing and journaling was one of the few ways of self-expression I could rely on as a child to deal with my frustrations in life, especially when I felt like no one was listening to me. 
There are so many stories I could tell you about my life, but I will be doing that in an autobiography to be published somewhere down the line. However, I will tell you this – I went through my public school system without anyone ever thinking that anything was ever wrong with me, but really, I was a traumatized student. I was the quiet, well-mannered, sometimes shy student who kept to herself for most of the time. My classmates would sometimes call me “teacher’s pet,” but most everyone else – my classmates and so-called friends – would seem to size me up, spread rumors about me, and put me down to make them feel like they were better than me.  Do I think I was bullied while growing up? Unfortunately, yes.

After moving from El Dorado, Arkansas, from a town of mostly African Americans and Caucasians, to San Marino, a place of mostly wealthy Asians and Caucasians, I quickly learned how superficial, dishonest, cruel, and unfair my classmates could be.  The different dramas I dealt with in different types of relationship made me long for the days my family and I lived in Arkansas. There, we had peace and happiness. My parents found places to sightsee for us kids to have fun.  All of my traumatic circumstances after having moved to the San Gabriel Valley made it so that I had wished our family had never moved to California.   
The traumas and dramas I dealt with when growing up as a child eventually caused me to become my own worst enemy, my own worst critic, which prevented me from realizing how intelligent and bright I have really been.  I used to believe that perfection existed, and that the only way to succeed was to always get everything right the first time.  I was led to believe that nothing was good enough unless it was perfect.  Because of my illusion of perfection, I grew up diagnosed with depression and anxiety.    

Now looking at where we are in present day, we actually are living in exciting times here in the United States. Although we are just in the beginning of our Mental Health Movement in trying to understand the brain, we at least live in a time where our own President Obama recently stated at the June 3rd, 2013 National Conference on Mental Health,

I completely agree.

As a result, now is the time for us to see. That regardless of our age, sex, race, socioeconomic status, or sexual orientation, an individuals’ issues with their sanity and mental health are not something to be belittled. I believe that every single individual’s problems are no better and no worse than anyone else’s problems. Problems on different levels and types are not comparable. So even though the Republicans and the Democrats, the poor and the rich, the unpopular and the popular, the people of the Occupy movements may be blaming everyone else for each other’s’ problems, what life all boils down to is our sanity and mental health. Ultimately, who is the one who can give you your sanity? Do you leave it in the hands of society, or do you leave it in the hands of your own heart? The choice is yours.
We may wish and hope that our elected government officials would always remember that they are public servants working for the people, but also understand and know that leaders are capable of making mistakes too. Anyone and everyone is capable of making mistakes… We are all works in progress no matter what stage we’re at in life.

I believe it is up to each individual to find out where his/her true potential in life lies. It is up to each individual find the courage to develop inner peace & get to know him/herself and understand he/she is. As Marianne Williamson said…

“Our deepest fear is not that we are inadequate. Our deepest fear is that we are powerful beyond measure.”

Lastly, I want to share with you a piece of writing that I worked on a few years ago back in February 2010.

We Are All Works in Progress
By Emily Wu

Know how to help yourself before you can truly help anyone else.
Set an example for others if you know how.
However, I know this is a constant life-long learning process.
So you don't have to be perfect because we are all works-in-progress.
There are lessons to be learned in everything that we face from day to day.
Without these lessons, we don't challenge ourselves to be better than who we already are.
So work on being the best person you can be.
See your true potential in life.
Know that you don't have to have all the answers right now.
It takes time to find the answers to life.
So just chill & relax from time to time.
Take a moment to breathe & just be with yourself.
Know that you were made for success in this life.
You can reach your highest potential if you just believe in it.
Have confidence in yourself.
I have confidence in you. 

©2009 Emily Wu 吳怡萱

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