I grew up in the western hemisphere, but most of my family is from Taiwan. To say that my father was extremely abusive would be an understatement. Mental health experts have said that he is not well, but he doesn’t believe in mental health. My father has Narcissistic Personality Disorder; he is also a sociopath. He knows the difference between right and wrong; he just doesn’t care.
Before I even finished grade school, I saw the police put my old man in handcuffs and take him to prison over 10X! I stopped counting after ten. Child services were constantly getting involved, although sadly, they did very little.
I remember one time when I was around 9 years old, I was at home with my father and two younger sisters, ages 8 and 6 at the time. My father tried to call my mother at her place of work, but she was late and couldn’t get to the phone (this was before cell phones became popular). My father decided to have my sister and I kneel down before him and he beat the shit out of us! He also beat up the housekeeper. Keep in mind that my mother being late to work has nothing to do with any of us.
In a separate incident, when my siblings and I were kids, one of us farted in the car. Later that day, my father had us kneel down again and he physically beat all three of us with a wooden stick because one of us farted! Passing gas is a natural bodily function. It doesn’t smell nice, but we all do it and is it usually involuntary. It is nothing to be ashamed of and you certainly shouldn’t be beating your children with a wooden stick for a natural bodily function.
My most terrifying memories were when I was little (9 years old and younger). Sometimes my parents would take kitchen knives and attack each other! I have often seen my father slam my mother to the floor and repeatedly hit her in the face. Sometimes, my mother would call out to ask me, a 21kg (46lbs) child, to help physically fight my father, a full-grown adult! And when my mother lost a fist fight to my father, she would take her frustration out on us and physically beat us. Of course, my sisters and I developed severe depression, PTSD, and other ailments. We had no chance of being emotionally healthy.
One of my earliest memories was when I was three. According to psychologists I spoke to over the years, even though I was so young, I remember because it was a life-and-death situation. We lived on the 5th floor of an apartment building. There was a fire. My mother grabbed my sister, my father grabbed my other sister, and then he said, “I don’t like carrying boys.” They left me, a 3-year-old, alone on the 5th floor of a burning building! Somehow, I managed to walk down five flights of stairs, a Herculean task, considering my legs weren’t quite long enough to reach the steps in between the stairs.
Years later as an adult, I confronted my parents about this horrific event. My father didn’t give a shit and saw no wrong with what he did. He is a diagnosed sociopath and narcissist after all. As for my mother, her response was that she saved my sister and that was good enough. The message I received from them was that it’s okay if I die because they have other children.
I spent time in the homeless shelter, both as a minor and an adult. I left home when I was sixteen and “lived” in a government building for abandoned children. It was an awful experience that no child should ever have to go through. Fortunately, a few months later, I rented a small room in an apartment. My mother helped me financially, so I wasn’t completely alone. Despite her many flaws, she has some good characteristics.
Going back to my earlier years, my father would even threaten to physically beat us for catching a cold and getting sick. I’ve also watched my father beat up my mother in front of her father (my maternal grandfather) multiple times. Horrors like these were constant throughout my childhood.
I started college at Long Island University (It’s in New York.) at 17. I didn’t complete high school the traditional way. I took an extended exam and got my high school diploma at 16. I had a lot of difficulties in college.
Academically, I was fine, but depression was a big problem. I took semesters off to work on my mental health. I spoke to Long Island University’s school psychiatrist, Dr. Lawrence Sovel, a few times. He told me that the only way to treat depression is pharmaceutical drugs. Obviously, that is not true, otherwise, therapy would not exist. The school psychiatrist also told me I should go ahead and kill myself! I am not kidding, nor can I forget it. There are people in this world without a soul, even doctors. There are very bad people, who never should have been allowed to be a physician. Sadly, people like Dr. Sovel exist. When I was a teenager, I didn’t know any better, but now I know these people need to be reported (and sent to jail).
I have been in the hospital several times for depression, especially for wanting to kill myself. As a patient (and now a doctor myself, more on that later), I’m disgusted by the state of the broken healthcare system in the USA. Legally, I can’t tell people not to go to the hospital if they have depression as severe as I did, nor do I feel someone should avoid going if it’s necessary. What I’m appalled by is the for-profit healthcare system. More often than not, if your health insurance won’t pay for a treatment or medicine, you do not receive it, no matter how much it’s necessary. That needs to change.
I’ve had a lot of various treatments and took quite a bit of medication over the years. I’ve been in the hospital half a dozen times, taken 5 different kinds of medications, went to psychotherapy, and even tried something called Transcranial Magnetic Stimulation (TMS). I got somewhat better, but none of it fully healed me. In fact, I remember a few years ago when I was in school to be a chiropractor, while taking an exam for my immunology class, I used 80% of my mental energy not to jump out the window and only 20% to take the test. Surprisingly, I managed to get a good grade. It would have been better, but I just did have the strength to check my work, which I almost always did when I was a student.
A more embarrassing part of my life was when I was taken advantage of by so-called psychics. In my late teens and early twenties, I spent years being manipulated by various psychics (or fortune tellers or whatever you want to call them). I was clinically depressed. I had already been in therapy and tried medications that didn’t work. I was desperate and since I wanted to die anyway, I felt I had nothing to lose.
One of the psychics convinced me to give me all my money, which I did, and I ended up in the homeless shelter as a result. Another convinced me to lie, cheat, and steal for her; she also stole thousands of dollars from me. The worst one was a Romanian woman called Evana Mitchell, who literally tried to convince me that committing suicide was a good idea, and leave her my stuff, which I almost did! There are some VERY bad people in this world. And considering that the human brain does not fully develop until we’re twenty-five years old, what they did to me is predatory behavior.
Emotionally, my most painful moment was in 2022. I was in my last year of chiropractic school. I got a phone call informing me that my little sister had taken her own life. She had tried to kill herself years ago, but this time she had succeeded.
I almost didn’t finish school, but since I had already spent nine years studying to be a doctor, I pushed myself to the finish line. It was HARD. With a narcissistic, sociopathic father, a mother who’s unhealthy emotionally, and a sister (the sister that’s alive) who’s also narcissistic, as well as an elitist (although she’ll never admit it), I wasn’t sure if I was going to make through school or even stay alive. If it were not for the support of my classmates and a few close friends, I would not have made it.
The story gets even worse. Within a few weeks after my little sister’s suicide, I developed an auto-immune disease called Cholinergic Urticaria (CU). It’s a disease where I become allergic to my own sweat! I acquired this disease during the summer time and it was f*cking hot. I got this debilitating disease while trying to finish school.
I loved martial arts, still do. While I had CU, every time I tried to exercise, my entire body would break out in a rash. The itchiness was not only unbearable, my skin felt like it was on fire. I felt extreme pain every single day. I could not even walk around the block without being in agony. The disease even ruined sex.
I took massive amounts of antihistamines as my doctors suggested, but nothing worked. The itching and burning would not disappear. Sometimes, I would get dizzy too. While working as a student chiropractor, I had to take frequent breaks, and sometimes the senior doctor needed to take over a patient's treatment because I doubled over in pain while providing manual therapy for a patient.
The autoimmune disease lasted for eight months. I wanted to die from the physical pain and the mental anguish that came with it. Doctors suspect that my body developed an autoimmune disorder in response to the extreme stress that came with my sister’s death. I don’t know what happened, but the disease went away on its own. Occasionally, when I become stressed or don’t get enough sleep it comes back, although it’s not as devastating as before. The eight months when the disease tortured me every day was the worst eight months of my life.
My story would not be complete unless I talked about my own suicide attempts. I’ve tried to kill myself three times. At age 16, I tried to hang myself in the bathroom. At age 20, I tried to hang myself in my college dormitory. At age 22, I tried to strangle myself. There may have been additional attempts that I don’t recall. There were so many times when I wanted to die. So, so, so many times.
If I could tell you what the solution to severe depression is, I would. Alas, it’s different for everyone and they’re no magic pill or one-size-fits-all treatment. However, I will say this, if you get into a car accident and break a bone, no one would ever say to you, “It’s all in your head, just get over it.” If a bone breaks, you go to a doctor. The same should apply to mental health. If you’re in emotional agony and it’s not getting better on its own, it likely won’t disappear, so find a mental health professional that you trust.
I come from a culture where talking about mental health is taboo. Some of the older people in my own family still don’t believe that mental illness exists, even after my sister killed herself. Fortunately, you and I know better.
Mental health is similar to physical fitness. You won’t feel like you can do intense exercise at the gym every day, and you won't be happy every day. There WILL be ups and downs.
If you stop eating well and stop exercising, your body won’t be healthy. This applies to your mind as well. If you stop taking care of your mental hygiene, you’ll suffer psychologically, so do what you need to to take care of yourself.
I’m a work in progress. I still struggle with depression sometimes. I have some dark days where the thought of suicide crosses my mind. One of the things that help me is going to talk therapy regularly. It took me years to get to where I am now (relatively mentally healthy). It won’t take years for you to get better. Just know it may take a few tries before you find something that works for you, but eventually you will.
In life, I was given the short end of the stick in many regards, however, a wise man once said to me, “Although you can justly blame your situation on your parents and society, you still have to live your life.”
Know this: you are not a victim. Not anymore. You are a survivor. A warrior. Fight on.
I’ll leave you with a link to a 1-minute video that will empower you.
May you heal and live a life that’s worthwhile.