Why I Joined ACT for Mental Health

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Last month I became a volunteer content writer for ACT for Mental Health, a non-profit organization that has provided affordable therapy and counseling services to low-income communities in San Jose and Santa Clara for over 50 years.

The reason I’m passionate about mental health is because it’s something that has impacted me, my family and friends in big ways- to say the least. Truthfully it’s difficult to write about. It’s hard to explain in an accurate way exactly what it means to me which is why I’ve procrastinated for so long to actually write something. And yet the reason I joined ACT’s online marketing team in the first place was because I wanted to tell stories that would inspire, challenge, entertain but ultimately- most importantly- help break the stigma. So here I am finally bringing myself to write.

Mother Teresa says, “The poverty of being unwanted, unloved, uncared for, forgotten by everybody, I think that is a much greater hunger, a much greater poverty than the person who has nothing to eat.” Honoring her and the compassion she stood for, if I could help bring one person closer to joy and human potential it would be enough.

I’ve known depression- the nightmare of having zero energy to connect with friends, attend lecture or simply get out of bed to do necessary things like eat even though you really, really want to. Fortunately, after years of receiving proper treatment and prioritizing self-love, I made a full recovery. Self-care started with walking to a bakery in North Berkeley every day, using everything I had to overcome the immobilizing lethargy, to buy my favorite Red Velvet Cupcake.

Introducing little pleasures to awaken your senses such as a yummy cupcake, a hot shower or feeling the warmth of sunshine on your face was a suggestion from the first therapist I ever saw at the UC Berkeley Tang Center. That semester I was performing atrociously in my classes because I was severely depressed and it took me far too long to visit the mental health clinic on campus to reveal to someone that I was suffering. I still remember the caring look on my therapist’s face as I told her with tears and snot all over mine that I was so afraid of coming in because my family always held a stigma. With polite confusion she simply asked, “Why?”

Then in that moment the stigma broke for me. Why?

I’ve come a long way on my journey from buying cupcakes to seeing a therapist every two weeks regularly- a professional who helps me make sense of my anxieties, fears and sadness. Every time I leave a session I come out an untroubled person more at peace with life, more understanding of why things happened the way they did, and more renewed to go after an inspired life filled with joyful discoveries, materialized dreams and happy meetings.

My experience with misery and disappointment, and the resolution that followed is something I’m immensely grateful for because of the unique perspective it gave me. Taking my mental health seriously was like moving out of hell and into the light.

To pay homage to that time in my life and to the similar tragedies of my loved ones and the strangers I haven’t yet met, I hope my writing will advance the mission my team and I are pouring our energy, talent and passion into.

In the future I plan to write about ‘Defeating Diabetes and Depression with Healthy Lifestyle Changes,’ ‘Growing Up Asian-American,’ ‘What Makes a Happy Life,’ ‘The Magic of Setting Daily Intentions,’ ‘Isolation in the San Jose Melting Pot,’ ‘The Silicon Valley Problem,’ and much, much more.

I love to hear feedback from readers. If you would like to write me to share your thoughts or stories please don’t hesitate to email me at tishmann622@gmail.com. To donate or learn more about the services ACT for Mental Health provides visit our website www.actmentalhealth.org/.

Thanks so much for stopping by and on behalf of ACT for Mental Health, I hope you’ll stay tuned.

With all my love,

Tish

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