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How Asian Hate Has Triggered My PTSD and Suicidal Thoughts

Editor's Note

This story mentions the Atlanta shooting that took place March 16, 2021 that targeted Asian Americans. To support the Asian American and Pacific Islander (AAPI) communities, you can visit stopaappihate.org.

Enveloped in darkness, I see no way out.

Once you have been to the depths of the darkness of your mind, it is hard to not want to escape back there. There will always be a part of me that wants to take the path well-worn, the path well-traveled in my mind. This path is the path to suicide.

In my past, there have been at least four or five times — I’ve lost count, really — where I have considered taking my own life and then ultimately acted out on it. Each time it cost me a visit to the emergency room and a stay on an inpatient psychiatric unit, ranging from 48 hours to a week. Each time, I felt enveloped by the darkness, seeing no way out of the turmoil inside my head that kept directing me to the idea that I am not enough, that I am not worthy, that I am not worth fighting for.

My most recent attempt on my life happened on Christmas Eve, 2018. Though it seems like a distant time, the events of late have led me back down this well-worn path. The thoughts are fresh, they are raw. I see myself as worthless and invaluable. I see myself as less than human and just a body to be objectified. I don’t see myself as the educator and academic and scholar that I strive to be. Rather, all I see is a broken soul, a girl with no goals or aspirations, a girl who does not deserve a life full of happiness and joy.

Wrapping its arms around me, holding me tight, the darkness slowly overcomes me.

Society paints a picture of Chinese girls like myself, that we are submissive and less than and here as servants. We are painted as girls, not women, because we are meant to be quiet and invisible. I have felt invisible my whole life. I have felt like I could disappear one day and nobody would notice. I have felt like my life has no value, that — other than to be of service to others, to be a body to be objectified — I have no purpose or skills to offer society.

I walk this path of suicide because it is familiar, not because it is comfortable.

Once you have walked down this path, it is tempting to return. According to a Harvard School of Public Health article, “nine out of ten people who attempt suicide and go on to survive will not go on to die by suicide at a later date.” Of these, approximately 70% had no further attempts, while 23% have non-fatal attempts and the remainder go on to pass as a result of their attempt. I am one of the 23% that has had non-fatal attempts after the attempt.

In the darkness, I see no light.

With all that is happening as of late, I am starting to retreat into my darkness. My trauma is resurfacing, from the calls and shouts of “chinky eyes” to the cat-calls on the streets reducing me to a sexual fantasy, to the times I was told I am too loud or outspoken to be Chinese. These calls on my identity and physical appearance begin to take me down a dark alleyway, into a dark space in my mind where the voice tells me that I don’t belong, that I am not worthy, that I am simply taking up space in a world that has no space for me.

I don’t know how else to say this except as a plea to those that read these words: please see us, please acknowledge us. We are human beings. We exist and contribute to the communities we are a part of and we deserve to have our voices heard. I feel suffocated and invisible and dismissed. What does it take for us to have our voices heard? What does it take to be seen?

Photo by Chang Liu on Unsplash

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