Breaking the Silence: Daily Forgiveness

The following is part of NAPAWF*NYC’s “Breaking the Silence” Mental Health Photo Essay Series, featuring photos and written accounts by Asian Americans and Pacific Islanders about their experiences with mental health. The series will run through all of May, which is both Mental Health Month and Asian American and Pacific Islander Heritage Month


For me, mental illness isn’t romantic like how the movies make it seem. It’s stress inducing and can cause tension in any relationship/friendship of the sort.

Nothing is perfect in my life, but I’m always very thankful for the three people in my life who are understanding and can forgive me day after day of my life full of stress and worries.

They are my best friends; my main confidants. They know the nitty gritty about my life and almost every day occurrences with my anxiety. I am unafraid to be myself around them the most while I find myself unable to speak up over tiny daily things like asking for better assignments at my job. I trust their judgment when they hit me with the dose of reality I need versus what my brain is concocting about a situation.

Within the last year I’ve graduated college, I’ve tried applying to jobs I felt very unqualified for, I’ve sought professional help, and had to combat the negative results of it all.

Some days it felt like I was imploding. I felt like I didn’t do enough. I wasn’t enough for anyone or any company or for anyone’s friendships.

I felt like I existed to only take up space.

It didn’t help that I had pressure from my mother that I should go back to school, only this time to go and study something in the medical field; something I absolutely dreaded thinking about. This conversation was a broken record throughout my life, but instead of the tiny pinprick it usually leaves, it weighed heavier in my head after graduation.

I can understand where my family is coming from, they want me to have money, be secure, but what they constantly fail to realize is that forcing me into a career I have zero interest in is not where I will find happiness or security.

The familial pressure combined with my own internal struggle has been the worst two-hit punch I’ve ever felt. I was already down and felt worthless in the writing community. Why would anyone want to hear stories about someone with mental illness, yet alone an Asian American Queer writer.

I expressed all of my feelings out to my friends over and over again throughout all of 2016 up until today, and they bring me back into a sense of logic and understanding from their point of view.

They are strong. They are inspiring. They are forgiving.

I am thankful.


The following is a list of low-fee counseling services and Asian American psychotherapists in the New York City area, courtesy of Kevin Nadal. For more information about Asian American mental health, visit the Asian American Psychological Association at


Institute for Human Identity
322 8th Ave
Suite 802
New York, NY 10001
212 . 243 . 2830

A non-profit psychotherapy and training center dedicated to fostering personal growth free of traditional gender, sexual orientation, and cultural biases.

The Institute of Contemporary Psychotherapy (ICP)
1841 Broadway (between 60th/61st Street), 4th Floor,
New York, NY 10023
(212) 333–3444

Offers counseling services for couples, families, and children. Fees are assessed on sliding scale.

Dean Hope Center for Educational & Psychological Services
525 West 120th Street (between Broadway/Amsterdam),
New York, NY 10027
Tel. (212) 678–3262

Services are open to children, adolescents, and adults. Fees for all services will be determined by self or family income and will be established after the initial consultation. A sliding scale is available in all services for those who qualify.

Chai Counselors
(Counselors Helping South Asian / Asian Indians)


Marcia Liu, Ph.D.
26 Court Street, Brooklyn NY 11242

Melissa Corpus, Ph.D.
103 E. 86th St (b/w Park/ Lexington)
New York, NY 10028
(347) 731–5921

Motoni Fong Hodges Ph.D.
144 W 86th St Suite 1D
New York , NY 10024
(917) 514–4850

Jarron Magallanes, LCSW, ACSW
Specializing in LGBT Issues
817 Broadway, 9th Floor — East Suite #19
New York, New York 10003

Shamir A. Khan, Ph.D.
Licensed Psychologist
19 West 34th Street
Penthouse Suite
New York, New York 10001
(917) 817–9028

Joseph S. Reynoso, Ph.D.
Licensed Clinical Psychologist
120 Riverside Drive, Suite 1W
New York, NY 10024
(201) 923–2458

Ellen Simpao, Ph.D.
Licensed Psychologist
14 E. 4th Street, Suite 401
New York, NY 10012
(212) 254–6028

Alma Villegas-Schwalbenberg, Ph.D.,
Licensed Psychologist
406 East 176th Street
Bronx, NY, 10457
(718) 901–6849

Regina A. Lara, MD
Licensed Psychiatrist
669 Castleton Avenue
Staten Island, NY, 10301
(718) 442–2225