Last month, a Chinese worker at Amazon jumped from the top of the Amazon building. He survived, but broke his legs. He is now at a psychiatric hospital in Seattle.
For many, the holidays are a time of joy. But for some people — particularly those living with depression — this time of year can be especially difficult. Depression can lead to constant feelings of worthlessness or guilt, fatigue and loss of energy, impaired concentration, loss of interest in almost all activity, insomnia, and recurring thoughts of death or suicide.
For many Asian Americans, depression is an unfamiliar word. Or there is a stigma attached to it, or shame. University of Washington graduate Brandon Hadi spearheaded the API Mental Health & Wellness Summit for Asian and Pacific Islander (API) students in the spring. He said APIs are the least likely to seek mental health treatment and the most likely to drop out. We fear being a burden to others.
According to 2007 data from the National Center for Health Statistics, female Asian Americans, ages 15 to 24, were second only to Native Americans in their rate of suicide deaths. A study in 2005 found that Asian American college students are more likely to seriously consider suicide than their white peers. In addition, researchers have found that women of Asian ancestry who were born in the United States are at higher risk of suicidal thoughts and attempts than others, including immigrant Asian women and U.S.-born Asian men.
What can you do?
- Acknowledge your feelings. It’s normal to feel sadness or anxiety, and it’s OK to cry or express your feelings. You can’t force yourself to be happy just because it’s the holiday season.
- Reach out. If you feel lonely or isolated, seek out community, religious or other social events. They can offer support and companionship. Volunteering is also a good way to lift your spirits.
- Be realistic. The holidays don’t have to be perfect or just like previous years. As families change and grow, traditions and rituals often change as well.
- Learn to say no. Saying yes when you should say no can leave you feeling resentful and overwhelmed. Friends and colleagues will understand if you can’t participate in every activity. If it’s not possible to say no when your boss wants you to work overtime, try to remove something else from your to-do list.
- Maintain healthy habits. Don’t let the holidays become a free-for-all. Have a healthy snack before holiday parties so that you don’t go overboard on sweets or drinks. Get plenty of sleep and incorporate regular physical activity into each day.
- Take a breather. Make time for yourself. Just 15 minutes alone, without distractions, may refresh you enough to handle everything you need to do.
- Seek professional help. Despite your best efforts, you may find yourself feeling persistently sad or anxious. If these feelings last for a while, talk to your doctor or a mental health professional.
Don’t let the holidays become something you dread.
Hadi’s goal is “to address stigma around mental health, so we (APIs) can one day speak about mending a broken spirit the same way we talk about fixing a broken arm.”