My story “The Masked Asian Psychiatrist” was published in Pulse last week! I started writing it several months ago when I was on my inpatient psychiatry rotation in the last third of my PGY-1/intern year. By the end of the spring, much had already been written about the pandemic’s effect on mental health, and there were some incisive pieces reflecting on the pandemic’s effect on Asian healthcare workers (see this piece by Dr. Sojung Yi). I hadn’t seen much written, if anything, about the particular experience of Asian mental health workers, and that motivated me to write my story. The process of doing so and then editing it with input from friends and colleagues, and then with Pulse’s editor, was both therapeutic and stimulating for me. Seeing the story out in the world, and subsequently with an intriguing and ultimately heartening series of reader comments (on the story page), has been a thrill.
I highly encourage anyone interested in narrative medicine and perspectives from healthcare providers and participants, both poetry and prose, to subscribe to Pulse (both free and donation-based subscriptions are available) and help them continue editing and publishing.
For me, a large part of becoming an antiracist physician and an ally means reading and learning from the lived experiences and wisdom of BIPOC colleagues, friends, writers, and more. It also means learning to talk about how my own cultural identity—Chinese-American, immigrant, Northern California college town-raised, upper middle-class-raised, non-white, and non-Black, as well as cisgender, heterosexual, and able-bodied—and the privileges and complexities therein, have shaped my life and affect my work with patients. This Pulse story was the first time in my professional/adult life that I’ve “spoken” publicly about this. There is so much more that I wasn’t able to cover this time, but am still unpacking and writing about, and there is much more reflection and self-critique ahead.
I am grateful to all who have encouraged and supported me in venturing into this new space.