A couple of days ago I put out a call for submissions to an anthology project I am editing. The name of the anthology is "No Greater Agony" and will feature the lived experiences, in prose or poetry form, of Asian and Pacific Islander American women with mental illness. The premise of the work is that the experiences of APIA women with mental illness and mental health have been largely quantified, yet the true stories and voices of these women have been silenced or marginalized. My hope for the anthology is to act as a venue for APIA women to tell their stories, and educate others about their experiences with mental illness as well as mental health helpseeking. I also hope the anthology can serve as a catalyst of self-healing and self-compassion, as it does for myself.
This project is deeply personal as I am someone who lives with mental illness. This is not to say that I understand all APIA women's experiences with mental illness, but I do know how it feels to have such an integral part of yourself hidden and fundamentally misunderstood.
Admittedly, I know I am asking a lot with the anthology. I know, in my heart, that these stories are complex and nuanced, and many have not ever seen the light of day. I know, in my heart, that telling these stories is an act of courage and self-compassion. And I know, in my heart, that disclosure of mental illness is a decision fraught with a cavalcade of emotions, some positive, some negative.
And I know, deepest in my heart, that these stories must be told.
There are internet resources here and here that address coming out about mental illness, and especially about dealing with the stigma involved. Disclosure of mental illness is no easy feat. I believe wholeheartedly that it is an act of courage to be able to speak with an authentic voice about the trials and tribulations of having a mental illness. It is so very, very hard. But as survivors of mental illness we deserve to live in the light and have our voices heard, our stories told, despite the pain it might involve.
You are not alone. You are never alone.