i had a glass bottle thrown at me

tfw you unsure if you just got hate crimed or if it’s just downtown la. 🙃

last weekend someone threw an empty glass bottle at me when i was walking to the vet to pick up my cat from a checkup. i was walking on main st just passing 6th—i looked around, couldn’t see anyone and i was on the phone with the vet so i just kept walking instead of making a scene. it wasn’t until i got home that it dawned on me that it was thrown on purpose (luckily only smacked my hand/wrist). the angle couldn’t have been accidental—it was thrown from behind me and perhaps from above.

i’m wondering why i’m writing about this a week later. ultimately, for two reasons—i want to talk about processing the experience and issues i think need to be addressed tied to racism or mental illness.

it took some time to process

i’ve mostly lived in metropolitan cities—los angeles, new york and london briefly. even growing up, i lived in a fairly liberal part of northern california and partially china (where you can imagine, i didn’t experience quite the same amount of racism but was still ostracized for being american and well that’s a whole other topic). although i’ve experienced racism, typically these cities are more diverse and because you have so many ethnicities and cultures together, it’s more inclusive. sure there are still clashes, but i’m not being stared at like i was when i drove through middle america in my 20s.

because i’ve lived in these “melting pot” cities, it is even more jarring when something racist happens to me because i’m reminded that i’m “other” and don’t belong. i’ve grown accustomed to being relatively comfortable and accepted.

i think this is why when i was just walking on the sidewalk and i had the glass bottle thrown at me, i was surprised and brushed it off as an odd accident only to go home and jump through the cycle of realization that i was actually targeted. this was even more jarring to me because this was the first time i’ve been in downtown la since i’ve moved back to california and i had been nostalgic. i used to work on spring st years ago and had grown to feel a certain amount of affection for the neighborhood despite its problems. it was jarring because it felt like that nostalgia was unwelcomed and returned with hostility. when i got home, it felt like a strange processing of emotions—anger that i only realized now that it was thrown on purpose and anger that i didn’t find who did it so i can discern if it was a hate crime or someone with mental health issues. i was angry and felt like i let myself down by not defending myself because i only realized too late that it was intentional.

mental health, drug addiction, and poverty need to be addressed in america

i know downtown la is shady and it’s only gotten worse during covid. in addition to the glass bottle throwing incident, i was cat called incessantly during my short walk. now, given the area and the fact that i was unable to see who threw the bottle, i’m still unsure if it was thrown because of i am asian or because whoever threw it was not all there mentally.

where is this hate coming from? i can see people who have suffered being angry about their position by responding with hate. regardless if the bottle was thrown out of racism, would this hate be as strong if society had the support systems in place to help those who are suffering so that they don’t displace their hate on others?

i mean, don’t get me wrong—i’m not making excuses for racist behavior. i hate the hell out of people who do shit like this but also i think in order to have a long term change, we need to examine why and the origin of this hate.

additionally, if the bottle was thrown by someone not due to my race but because they’re mentally ill or inebriated, why are they not getting the help that they need? why is downtown la filled with tents and suffering?

i’m fine but angry

i don’t like playing the guessing game of “was it racism or was it poverty/mental illness/addiction?” both indicate a failure within society.

with the rising hate crimes against asians, i hate being triggered like this even if it was not a racist hate crime. and if it was the latter—poverty/mental illness/addiction, it doesn’t lessen how terrible the disparities of wealth and social support available in america are.

luckily the glass bottle didn’t hit my head. it smacked the back of my hand forcefully and shattered on the ground. if i had been able to find parking outside the vet, i would’ve just waited in my car since it was curbside dropoff/pickup only anyway.

i’m angry and frustrated that i had this negative experience but can’t even have closure or clarity on what the experience was—was it racism? was it mental illness or homelessness in la? i’m frustrated that i’m even still thinking about this right now.

i’m not traumatized from this experience since it’s just another drop in the bucket to what’s happened to me and others already. when i was in high school and crossing the street to the mall, some people shouted out of a car “go back home, gook” which honestly, on brand for them to misidentify my ethnicity with a racial slur. i’ve had my hair spit on while boarding a bus in brooklyn—although that incident is similar to this one where i’m not sure if it was due to my race, if i looked like a gentrifier, or if the person was just mentally ill. this is all to say that i’m fine but all these collective experiences have made me really angry. i want to be able to defend myself when attacked verbally and physically but many of these instances i never got a chance to do so. so in addition to the anger, i sit with the guilt of not responding fast enough or processing what even happened until much later.

i wanted to share this not to gain pity or attention but to explain all the complicated emotions that go through experiencing something like this and where i think we need to go to make long term progress.

My mental health journey: medication and seeking help

Welp, I can’t sleep so what better time to write this post than now?


I’m fairly hesitant about writing on mental health since as I get older, the more wary I am about what I post online. I don’t want potential employers, peers, love interests (oh la laaaaa), etc to develop pre-conceived notions of me. I guess I’m writing this on the chance that it helps someone with similar struggles. These are things I wish I could’ve told myself earlier. Obligatory disclaimer, this is just my mental health journey and by no means a definitive guide cos lol I did not go to med school plz don’t sue me.

Don’t judge yourself for seeking help

I brushed off seeking help for years. As a very analytical, solution focused person, I figured that since I knew the causes of my discontent, I was capable of solving them myself and didn’t need help. I would also compare myself to others and think, “It’s not that bad. You just have to change this or accomplish this and then you’ll be happy.” There are a couple of issues with this approach. Of course it can always get worse. Of course compared to some other people, your life isn’t that bad but if you’re feeling a particular way, it’s valid. Judging yourself for feeling a certain way doesn’t solve anything. Secondly, seeking professional help should not be the last resort. Why wait until things are “bad enough” to seek help? Why make things harder than they need to be? Why wait until the house is burning down to start putting out the fire? It makes no sense. You don’t need to do it alone. You don’t need to feel guilty, self-indulgent, or weak for seeking help. You also don’t need to have a disorder to warrant seeking help—everyone can benefit with some perspective and skills for dealing with difficult situations. Self diagnosis or thinking you can solve your problems alone is often inaccurate. I discover things during therapy that would seem like common sense to most people but I never realized on my own.

Acknowledge the physical validity of mental health

Without getting into details, I’ve struggled with mental health most of my life. As a first generation immigrant, I’ve been in fight mode from an early age to overcome hurdles and succeed. Throughout adulthood, I’ve had to push through tribulations in succession. As a result, it’s very difficult for me to not fixate on the worst case scenarios (hello, catastrophizing) and turn off survival mode. Because I was able to pinpoint specific causes of my frazzled mental state, I denied that there were chemical causes to my mental health. It was only when I had “accomplished” and “fixed” my problems but was still crying everyday that I started to accept there may be chemical imbalances that contributed to my continued depression.

What I’m getting at is that mental health is physical as well. It’s complex and there are many contributors (trauma, genetics, environmental factors) but if you have a chemical imbalance, that is an actual physical thing. I resisted taking medication for the longest time because I thought my problems were cognitive or situational but you have to accept that sometimes there really is a physical issue. If you had other illnesses that were treatable with medication, why would you resist so much? Would you tell a diabetic to refrain from insulin shots? If you had a physical issue like not being able to see far away, would you go through life stumbling into things or would you get a freakin’ pair of glasses or contact lenses? If you’re sinking into an abyss for no reason and your neurotransmitters are strugglin’, help ’em out, ok? The way my psychiatrist explained it, medication and therapy go hand in hand. Imagine a water faucet with two handles—one representing medication and the other representing therapy. As you gradually re-wire your brain/behavior through therapy, you can start to turn down the other handle and vice versa. It’s a balance.

I’m not saying that medication is a cure all, but in my particular case, being medicated allowed me to feel “normal” for the first time in my life. Nothing else in my life had changed other than taking medication but my life was completely different because of it. With that said, don’t get discouraged if one medication doesn’t work out. If one pair of shoes don’t fit, it doesn’t make sense to swear off all shoes forever and let rocks cut up your feet. Sure, there were some drawbacks (dosage initially too high so I was falling asleep during the day) but it has improved my quality of life significantly.

I really wish I had sought professional help earlier and accepted the physical validity of mental health which brings me to the next item…

Prioritize your sanity

Don’t put off seeking help until you’re in full meltdown mode. Don’t tell yourself “It’s not that bad yet” or “I can’t afford therapy.” It’ll be harder to dig yourself out at that point and therapy can be more affordable than you think—many doctors take insurance and there are affordable options a Google search away.

It’s not fun to go through your insurance list, research, and call up a bunch of doctors especially when you’re already feeling overwhelmed but I promise you, you really just have to do it once and then you’ve gotten it over with.

Set aside one night after work to make the list and spend half an hour the next day during your lunch calling up places. You can even use apps like ZocDoc sometimes for scheduling appointments with zero to little fuss. If you really can’t handle it, tell a friend or family member and get them to help. I got to a point in high school when I was worried that I’d try to kill myself again. As much as I hated asking my parents for help and despite their cultural lack of exposure—and really, stigma against mental health (Asian cultures aren’t really the “let’s talk about our feelings” type), they recognized my plea and got me the medical attention I needed. If you can’t seek help yourself, it’s important to let your loved ones know.

Mental health is important and someone loves you even when you may not love yourself.