I have not always been forthcoming about my illness. I kept it hidden like some dark secret from my parents. In an Asian household, you don’t want to tell your parents that you don’t want to be a doctor, just as much as you don’t want to tell them that you’re depressed. But, when my mother began asking some questions yesterday (not for the first time), I decided that I should answer them. I found my mother that night crying loudly about how sorry she was to have put me in this situation and how she wasn’t a good mother. As I tried futilely to comfort her, I thought, this is why I can never say anything in this family. As soon as someone reveals something real, that reality is turned onto themselves, as if God personally blamed that person for this occurrence. I’ve never been a part of an “American” family, but there is subtle secrecy in Asian families that I’ve observed nowhere else. What happens in life never happens because “It’s life.” It’s about some god holding you responsible for something.
Given a history of (undiagnosed) mental illness in the family, I hit the genetic jackpot when it came to coming across a mood disorder. To an extent, I have come to terms with this situation. But once again, I find myself feeling so responsible for putting my parents in this situation. Watching my mother writhe with such emotional pain almost made me wish I had never told them. If I had only kept quiet, then what would’ve happened, I wondered.
Then, as I write this, I know I did the right thing by asking them for their help, even if I can hardly bear watching them agonize. I am not going to continue this cultural malignancy that can only fester by the generation. That said, I need these treatments to work because I’m afraid they would never be able forgive themselves if this last-ditch effort fails.
Our family has come very far in the treatment process, far more than I could’ve ever communicated with them a year ago. I just want to this go okay, if not for me, then, for the family.