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2. Mental Health Awareness with @Angelica_Creates – The Asian Sewist Collective Podcast
This Week’s Guest: Angelica of @Angelica_Creates
On this week’s podcast, we’re talking to Angelica of @Angelica_Creates about mental health. Angelica is a seamstress, pattern designer, fiber artist, DIY maker and blogger:
You can follow Angelica on Instagram at @Angelica_Creates, and see Angelica’s Renaissance Faire Costume here!
Florence Trouser by Size Me Sewing
Wilder Gown by Friday Pattern Company
Mental Health Resources
Asian Mental Health Collective
Depression and Bipolar Support Alliance
National Alliance on Mental Illness
Asian Mental Health Collective – Hotline Page [contains hotlines around the world]
National Suicide Prevention Lifeline [U.S.] – 800-273-8255, Chat services also available
NAMI Helpline [U.S.] – 800-950-NAMI (6264), Monday through Friday, 10 a.m.–8 p.m., ET, or send an email to firstname.lastname@example.org. Text services also available 24/7 – Text NAMI to 741-741.
Connect with a trained crisis counselor to receive free, 24/7 crisis support via text message
Canada Suicide Prevention Service – 1-833-456-4566. Chat services also available. For residents of Quebec, call 1 866 APPELLE (1.866.277.3553)
Lifeline [Australia] – Call 13 11 14 or text 0477 13 11 14. Chat services also available.
Lifeline [New Zealand] Call 0800 543 354 or text 4357. Suicide Crisis: Call 0508 828 865.
Samaritans [U.K.] – Free call 116 123
SNEHA [India] – Call +91 44 2464 0050
Samaritans [Hong Kong] – Call 2896 0000
In Touch Crisis Line [Philippines] – Call +63 2 8893 7603; +63 917 800 1123; +63 922 893 8944
Please note, we are a Bookshop.org affiliate, so we may make a small commission if you choose to purchase books via these links:
NAMI, Why Asian-Americans and Pacific Islanders Don’t go to Therapy
Bustle, 13 Mental Health & Wellness Resources for Asian-American Communities
American Psychological Association, Mental Health Among Asian Americans
Anxiety & Depression Association of America, Asian Americans/Pacific Islanders
Unison Fund, Mental Health Resources for Asian Communities in Canada
Rethink Mental Illness (UK), Black, Asian and Minority Ethnic (BAME) Mental Health
UC Berkeley Political Review, The Woes of the Model Minority: The Dual Existence of Asian-Americans in the United States
Anti-Racism Daily, Reject the model minority myth
Toronto Star, The ‘model minority’ myth explained. What you need to know about how it has propped up anti-Asian racism in Canada
NBC News, Largest US refugee group struggling with poverty 45 years after resettlement
Instagram Accounts to Follow
Ada: Hey y’all, before we get started today, we just wanted to let you know that today’s episode will talk about mental health, bipolar disorder, depression, stress and anxiety. If you or a loved one need support, please call the National Suicide Prevention Lifeline at 1-800-273-TALK. That’s 1-800-273-8255. We will be including their information and other information for listeners outside of the US in the show notes.
Nicole: So are either of you participating in Me Made May?
Angelica: No, I like I’m really bad at following challenges or like any sort of structured type of thing. So like I love looking at everybody’s stuff, but I don’t participate because I cannot keep up.
Ada: Welcome to the Asian Sewist Collective podcast. The Asian Sewist Collective is a group of Asian people from around the world, brought together by our shared appreciation for fiber and textile arts and our desire to see more Asian representation in the sewing community. In this podcast, we explore the intersection of our identities and our shared sewing practice.
As we create a space for Asian sewists and our allies. I’m your co-host, Ada Chen. And I’m recording from Denver, Colorado, which is the traditional territory of the Ute, Cheyenne and Arapaho peoples. I’m a marketer turned entrepreneur, and these days you’ll find me running my own natural skincare business called Chuan Skincare, C-H-U-A-N Skincare, and sharing my marketing tips on my blog, The Cultivate Method. Most importantly, for this podcast, you can find my sewing account on Instagram at @i.hope.sew.
Nicole: And I’m your co-host Nicole. I’m based out of Chicago, Illinois, the original homelands of the council of the three fires, the Ojibwe, the Potawatomi and the Odawa people. I’m a Filipinx- American woman, a lawyer by day and a sewing enthusiast. The rest of the time, you can find me on Instagram at @NicoleAngelineSews.
Ada: So before we dive into this week’s episode, Nicole, can you tell us about your current sewing project?
Nicole: Yeah, I talked about this last week. I’m still chugging along on my Filipino flag inspired make. I got the pants and they’re turning out alright. I’m making the Florence Trouser. It’s from Size Me Sewing and a red crepe from Fabric Mart. I said last week, I’ve never made pants pants before.
I guess I don’t know why I said pants pants, but I’ve never made pants before. So it’s been interesting. I’ve also really struggled with ready-to-wear pants anyway, the way that my body is built, of course, ready-to-wear is not built for everybody. So basically when leggings became a thing, it was like, this was life-changing for me, but I’m trying to do pants again. And so we’ll see how it goes.
Ada: I believe in you and your pants. And once you get to, once you get your pants fitting done, like, I mean, your body will change, but you’ve nailed pants. I am finally going to finish the black poly chiffon Wilder Gown by Friday Pattern Company that I started ages ago, but because it is black poly chiffon, I got a little annoyed, so I put it down for a bit, so I could come back to it and maybe have some fresh perspective for finishing it.
And I realized I may or may not like it. So I already pre-asked my sister… if I don’t like it, if she would want it. In the meantime, I actually did get a new machine or a new-to-me machine. So I happened to be at a local secondhand craft store and found a really good deal on a vintage Bernina from the Eighties.
And I think when I messaged you, Nicole, because we’d been talking about machine upgrades and fabric bans, you were like, well, I’m not going to tell you not to get it. And lo and behold, I went home on a Tuesday with a new machine.
Nicole: If you ever want me to stop you from buying something, like you have to prompt me ahead of time and say, Nicole, we’re doing this fabric and patterns ban, but you didn’t say machine ban, so yeah, go for it.
Ada: The good news is I did. When I brought it home, then I had four machines. And so I did manage to actually sell my trusty basic Janome to another beginner, sewer or sewist in the area. So that was very exciting. And we bonded over our local craft store, Fancy Tiger. And I showed her how to thread and prep the machine for everything. So I trust that it’s in good hands and now I’m down to three machines and hopefully two, because that’ll be a little more manageable in my space.
Nicole: So thanks everyone for all the feedback on our debut episode, cultural appropriation is a really big topic and we only scratched the surface last week. Remember, we’re also going to be expanding on the topic for episode six, and we’re going to try to address any listener questions that have come in. So if you have any, email us, shoot us a direct message on Instagram and we’ll try and get to them. Also, don’t forget to check out the show notes for a lot of really great information that our resources and members of the collective put together for you all, also for today’s topic.
Be sure to check out the show notes, basically the show notes are something to check out after every episode. We’ve got links to all the info that we’re going to be talking about today, as well as additional resources that might be helpful for you or people you know. With that, let’s dive in.
Ada: In the US, Mental Health Awareness Month is celebrated in May and data collected from the National Latino, and Asian American Study in 2010, found that Asian Americans have a 17.3% overall lifetime rate of any psychiatric disorder and a 9.19% 12 month rate. Yet at the same time, Asian Americans are three times less likely to seek mental health services than white people.
Nicole: And according to a University of Maryland School of Public Health study, several common sources of stress that affect overall mental health people in the Asian American community. Our parental pressure to succeed in academics, family obligations based on strong, traditional and cultural values discrimination due to racial or cultural background and difficulty balancing between two different cultures and developing a bi-cultural sense of self.
Ada: The same study found that participants reported feeling pressure to live up to the model minority myth. The model minority myth is the idea that Asians are able to rise to quote unquote honorary white status through assimilation, hard work and intelligence. This myth is used to drive a wedge between Asian communities and other communities of color, specifically Black communities. And the way that it’s used against other communities of color is that it’s basically held up against them like, “Well if the Asians can do it, like why aren’t you doing it? You must be lazy, or undeserving or a problem.”
And the perpetuation of the model minority myth and the stereotypes around it, I’m looking at you Andrew Yang and your “I’m good at math” slogan, support a perception that Asian Americans and Asian Canadians don’t need support, which means the very programs that support our community are largely overlooked, ignored and underfunded.
In addition, the myth is so pervasive that many of our communities have bought into it, hence the pressure to live up to it. But the myth is a myth, it’s false. Poverty rates among Hmong, Bangladeshi and other Asian ethnic groups are the same as African Americans. A 2020 study also found that across the country, nearly 1.1 million Southeast Asian Americans are low income and about 460,000 live in poverty, and that’s just one subset of Asian Americans.
There’s a lot more to unpack here, and we’ve got links in the show notes for you to learn more about the model minority myth.
Nicole: Absolutely. The model minority myth is both pervasive and complex. And it’s just one aspect of this Maryland study that we were talking about, but to circle back the last takeaway from this study that I did want to share is that participants reported that discussing mental health concerns is considered taboo in many Asian cultures.
And as a result, Asian Americans tend to dismiss, deny or neglect their symptoms. There have been similar findings in Asian communities across the diaspora. For example, in 2015, a district school board study conducted in Toronto, Canada, it was found that individuals of Asian origin showed greater levels of depression, stigma compared to individuals of European origin.
So according to that study the perception of social norms, the belief that depression brings shame to one’s family, a social dominance orientation, and conservative values mediated the relationship between ethnicity and depression stigma. Now, I do want to emphasize that every Asian person’s personal perspective and experience is going to be different.
This information was collected through academic study of a set of a specific set of Asian folks now, so there’s that disclaimer, but I would venture to guess that like me, some of our listeners can immediately identify with at least one of the bullet points that we just talked about. So that’s some background on mental health in the Asian community.
Ada: And while we do believe that many of the aspects about mental health in the Asian community that we are going to discuss today are relatable to many members of the Asian diaspora. I do want to acknowledge that our discussion today is going to be very US-centric. And Mental Health Awareness Month is celebrated in the US and our guest, Angelica, Nicole, and I all live in the States. And so with that, let’s go ahead and introduce our guest for this week. We are welcoming Filipino American seamstress, pattern designer, fiber artist, and DIY maker, Angelica from Angelica Creates. Angelica is also an avid mental health advocate in the sewing community, who recently hosted a 12 hour (12 hour!) making marathon to raise awareness for World Bipolar Day and as a fundraiser for four mental health charities. We’re going to chat with her about her sewing experience, being a mental health advocate within the sewing community and a member of the Asian community, as well as the launch, very exciting, of her first pattern, the Melanie Wrap Skirt. Welcome Angelica!
Angelica: Thank you.
Ada: We would love to know, can you start off by talking a little bit about your identity?
Angelica: Sure. Yeah. So I am a Filipino American. My parents were both born in the Philippines. My parents were both born in the Philippines and my dad, back during like the Vietnam era joined the US Navy from the Philippines. And so that was kind of his like opportunity and pathway to like kind of, you know, take it, take it an opportunity to come out of poverty and come to America and seize the opportunity that is here, that many people come to America for.
And so he joined the US Navy. He served over 20 years and retired from the Navy. He married my mom and she moved here once my dad was retired and, and then I was born like a year later. So yeah, I would, I guess I would identify as like Filipino American, just cause like, you know,I’m full Filipino, but you know, grew up in America. And so the blending of those two cultures I identify with.
Nicole: Would you like to share a little bit about your day job?
Angelica: Sure. So I am a senior finance analyst at a paper company, not Dunder Mifflin. So no, I do not work with Jim or Pam, which is always funny when I tell people that. I just have to preface with it because people are like, always like, “Ooh, like Dunder, Mifflin”. I’m like, “no, we don’t make that kind of paper.”
But yeah, I am a senior finance analyst. I went the business route. And so that’s what I did. It’s a good job, it keeps me on my toes every day. It is very technical and numbers oriented and so being able to have a creative outlet to come home to is nice.
Nicole: Totally. I can definitely understand that. And so the creative outlet, at least one of them is sewing. Right. So how long have you been sewing and how did you get started?
Angelica: So I officially learned to sew in 2017. My husband actually taught me how to sew because he, where he grew up, grew up, like home-ec was still a thing. He taught me just like how to work, like the basics of my sewing machine. I actually am like a knitter, crocheter first, so like primarily up to then I was knitting a lot. I got to a point where I was like knitting sweaters and stuff, and I’m like, this takes too long. And so, and so I was like, yeah, no, like if I want to like, make my clothes, maybe I should- maybe I should pick up sewing. And so I did and then also just being like short and like just being frustrated with ready to wear.
Just in like, you know, my figure, not only being short, but also like I’m like super muscular and so I just always had a really hard time, like finding clothes, that just fit me, like right off the rack. And I’m like, I can just learn how to alter my own clothes. And so those two things were kind of like the motivation for me to start. And so, yeah, I learned in 2017 and then I didn’t really touch my machine for a year after that, other than making like fabric coasters, because it was easy. And then like summer of 2018, I picked it up again because my husband and I started going to Renaissance fairs and I was like, well, I really want to like, make an outfit, like I don’t want to buy one. I feel like it would be fun to make one. And so. Like as practice, I made like an apron, which is like everyone’s usual first project. Then after that I was like, okay, I think I got the hang of it. And then I made a Renaissance faire outfit, which I still have. And it’s just like, frayed seams all over the place. Doesn’t fit me very well, but I make do. And yeah, I’ve been sewing ever since then.
Nicole: Is that on your grid?
Angelica: My Renaissance Faire outfit.?
Angelica: I think like you got to scroll a ways, but I think it’s on there. Yeah. I can, I can maybe I’ll repost it as like a throwback.
Nicole: I’ll scroll, I’ll scroll.
Ada: Well, we’ll find it and put it in the show notes. Do you still, sew Renaissance costumes or what types of projects do you like to sew now?
Angelica: I haven’t sewn any Renaissance costumes just because we have not, I mean, COVID like there haven’t been any Renaissance faires and I’ve thought about making a new one now that I’m a little bit more skilled. But yeah, mostly I sew garments. I really enjoy tops and dresses.
I really like sewing my own activewear loungewear. I’m about to jump into lingerie sewing. Haven’t done it yet. So I’m excited about that. And occasionally I will sew like accessories or home decor items as needed, or like practical items. If my husband needs something for hunting or something like that.
Ada: Beyond coasters now?
Nicole: So, where do you get your inspiration for sewing?
Angelica: The sewing community is awesome. Like, I get a lot of inspiration there, especially on Instagram. Like, I don’t know how many things I have in like my Saved, like yeah. In the, you know, how you can save people’s posts. So I have so many of those, like, and I just like, I can’t look at these right now cause I have so many projects, but very inspired by everyone.
And I also enjoy looking at like fashion in shows, TV shows that I watch. I don’t know if you’ve watched Schitt’s Creek, but.
Ada: I just started!
Angelica: It’s so good. But, Alexis, who’s the sister in it. Her clothes are amazing. I love her style. I admit that I watched Riverdale, which some people make fun of me for, because it’s like a teen-y show or I don’t know, but I watched Riverdale and Betty Cooper’s style is like amazing, like very preppy and like chic and I love it. And then also like celebrity fashion. Jennifer Aniston has always been like my style icon cause she’s very casual chic. She makes a white t-shirt and jeans just look so good. And also Jennifer Lawrence, like I think her style is also fairly similar, but like when she glams it up, she glams it up and like in a not completely like out there, you know, like, look, it’s very like simple and I love that. So I would say like those three things. Oh and Pinterest of course.
Ada: Now that you say it, like I’ve been following you for a while, and now that you say it like Alexis from Schitt’s Creek and then both Jennifers and all of that and the, I, it kind of, it makes sense. Now I was like trying to pinpoint your style because I think there are some things that we share between your grid and like what I want to make or what I currently own. I was like, I don’t know what the words are, but like, that’s basically it, if you were to describe it and I, too have many posts saved, in Instagram and Pinterest.
Ada: Your handle on Instagram and your blog are called Angelica Creates. Right? So can you tell our listeners about what the focus of your blog is?
Angelica: Angelica creates, I came up with, cause like, I didn’t want to be pigeonholed into like sewing or this or that. And I’ve just always like picked up different creative things, like mostly in like fiber arts and sewing. I like to keep pretty broad so that it gives me room to share other things, but I do mostly sew and share sewing content and things that I make.
And, um, and so you’ll see that on my blog too, with the occasional knitting project or whatnot. My tagline for my blog or brand I guess, is “Make, share, inspire.” So, you know, just, I like to share things that I’ve created to hopefully inspire others to like, sew that pattern or sew something like that. Or even just like, if you’re a non sewer and you happen to follow me, it inspires you to take up sewing. And so that’s kind of my goal.
Nicole: So, you are a self-described mental health advocate. Now, what does this mean and why is it important to you?
Angelica: I am very pro talking about mental health and pro education around mental health, And just like being transparent about it. And so it’s really important to me because I have lived with some level of mental health condition for almost my whole life. And for most of my whole life, like, I didn’t know.
Like you mentioned in the beginning and the introduction, it’s very taboo in Asian communities and you just, which I’ll get into later, like talking about some of those issues. It’s not really something that’s talked about. And so never really, it never really crossed my mind or my family’s mind, just cause that’s how we have been conditioned.
In the summer of 2019, I was diagnosed with a bipolar two disorder and ADD and like I had a really – I had like a deep depressive episode in summer of 2019. And I was like, okay, like I, obviously, this is like, it, it just got worse as I got older, which is very common.
And with bipolar disorder, most people don’t get diagnosed until like their mid twenties, mid to late twenties. And so like I followed that exact trajectory. And so yeah, I got to a point where it was really bad and I was like, okay, like, I need help. And so I seeked it out and I was diagnosed. And ever since then, like, I’ve just, it’s been really great because knowing, you know, exactly what is going on with me has been very empowering because I know exactly how to care for myself now and my life is like a thousand times better now because of it. It’s important for me to talk openly about these things, especially being Asian, because, you know, I don’t want anyone to like experience symptoms for so long without being diagnosed. And like I said, my quality of life is improved, and like, to me just being candid about it, it’s like, I don’t like it’s, it’s only a part of me. Like I don’t identify myself. Like I am. This or I am that like, I am bipolar, but it’s still important for me to talk about because I just want to let it out in the open and not hide it because that just causes more stress and anxiety. When you feel like you need to hide what’s going on with you from other people.
And also like, if somebody has a problem with the fact that that’s part of me, then, like, I don’t need that negative energy in my life, so I am, I am open about it. Also like just normalizing the conversation, I think over the years, you know, like celebrities and just people in general over the internet are, you know, being more open about it and as much as I’m like, it’s hard that so many people do deal with like mental health conditions.
It’s also good that people are talking more openly about it. If we just normalize the conversation around it, then people won’t see a diagnosis as being bad or like that they are now officially a quote, quote, crazy person or something like that, you know? And so just knowledge is power for everyone.
Nicole: So when I learned about this aspect of your work and who you are in terms of being a mental health advocate, that really spoke to me. I definitely being an Asian woman and growing up in a household with, you know, first-generation, or also my grandparents, it’s mental health wasn’t prioritized.
And you know, it’s not. It’s not that they’re bad, you know, it’s just, it’s just part of our culture. And so just in the spirit of de-stigmatizing mental health, I have also, about six years ago was diagnosed with depression and about two years ago was diagnosed with anxiety. And I try to be honest, I try to be honest about it, particularly in social media, like I’ll disappear for a little bit, or if I’m feeling upset about something and, and it feels right to share, you know, I’ll share it because I do believe that sometimes when it’s hard for me to even talk about it, I try to do it for the sake of normalizing.
And so when I, when I found your profile and I saw that you share this way, it really resonated with me. So thank you for being that mental health advocate. You give me bravery and, uh, you know, all that to take with. So I really appreciate that from you.
Angelica: Yeah, I’m happy to do it. And like there’s some days where I just like the anxiety kicks in and I’m just like, why am I doing this? Like what? And I keep telling myself, like when I was getting diagnosed and just like reading other people’s stories, it’s like, well, that helps me. So for me, it’s just like paying it forward.
Because I don’t know who’s going to come across what I have to say, but maybe it’ll help them. And sometimes, like, I do have anxiety about like, being so open or whatever, but I mean, you know, people are open about like other like health ailments and, you know, just because you can’t see mental health conditions, like, you know, sometimes like that’s another thing that makes it difficult sometimes.
Nicole: Yeah, totally.
Ada: And I think part of it normalizing, it is like by you setting an example in sharing your story, like other people who may not have those words, because they either didn’t grow up, you know, being exposed to the concept or the term mental health, right. Can actually are more empowered by hearing that and starting to understand and recognize, you know, when they should seek help.
And I think that’s, that’s just super important. So I would love to know you did kind of touch on it before. What are some mental health concepts that are unique in Asian communities that you’ve seen?
Angelica: So I think that with like various mental health conditions, like depression or add, like, it can be interpreted to other people around them, especially in the Asian community as like a character flaw or that. Like you just need to stop being lazy, work harder. Like, why don’t you be more like so-and-so which, you know, I hear a lot. Like I’m very thankful that I personally didn’t hear a lot of that, but like I have heard other friends’ parents say stuff like that or, you know, and so like, I think that, yeah, there’s just this thought that like, it’s not real and you’re just lazy and you just need to like work harder and suck it up.
I think too with ADD, ADHD, they’re just in society in general, like, there’s this, and I’m speaking about these things. Cause like I know about them personally, so I’m sure with other mental health conditions, there are other nuances with them. But like, and for, just for example, like add or ADHD, like I feel like society in general associates, those conditions with people who are just like troublemakers or like all over the place, can’t sit still bad at like, you know, bad grades and that kind of stuff. And like, you would never think that like, especially in Asian culture, because we are taught to be like law abiding or just very like we’re just taught to like be well-behaved and like don’t cause a scene, like be quiet and, and sit still, like don’t bring attention to yourself. And so. Like, I was like, well, I have good grades. Like I’m not causing trouble at school. Like, I don’t think that, you know, this is something that I struggle with, but like, I also struggled with reading in school because I would read a paragraph like 10 times. And like, sometimes it still just would not stick in my brain or just like, I was always very hyperactive, like always doing extracurriculars and people just thought like, Oh, she’s so ambitious. Like, look at her doing all this stuff. But as I got into my adult life you know, there are other areas of my life that it started affecting.
You just don’t know until you see somebody like a professional and talk to them about it.There’s just like those character things that, like character flaw that people in Asian communities may associate that with. And then I think you mentioned earlier too, like bringing dishonor to your family, or like tainting your like family name, like having some sort of label of a diagnosis might bring shame to your family or just the fear of failure, like having to like really push through depression, like through college and things like that, because like you had no room to fail.
And if you failed, then that would bring shame to your family and it would just not be good. And so I think that’s another thing which kind of goes along with repressing emotions, like just stay focused in your education and career. I think it all is like a web that just like, kind of all goes together.
And then also, like the last thing that I have here in my notes is just like guilt. Especially for those with immigrant parents, I think like you have this guilt, like: I shouldn’t feel like this. I don’t deserve to feel like this. Like, my family made a lot of sacrifices to provide for me and our family. And they came here, like they escaped, like, you know, maybe they, you know, escaped from a life that was not good and came to America. And so I just need to suck it up. Like this isn’t that bad. Like they probably went through a lot harder stuff. I think there’s a lot of guilt involved, too.
Ada: Yeah, I think I’ve, I’ve chatted with a few friends about this and it’s like, even once you have a diagnosis, like your, a lot of the times, I think a lot of families want you to like, keep it secret because they don’t want you to bring that shame or that guilt, or they don’t want to feel like. They don’t want other people feeling sorry for you or sorry for them, but really like, there is nothing to feel sorry for, because there’s, it’s not your fault. Like it happens. And I think a lot more people have mental health illnesses than we normally like kind of acknowledge.
Angelica: For sure. I think that in Asian community is like, people definitely are starting to talk about it more. And I don’t know if you know Jo Koy, or are a fan of Jo Koy, but he’s a Filipino comedian, Filipino-American comedian. And I just read his book that came out: Mixed Plate.
Ada: He has a book?
Angelica: Yeah, it’s amazing. You have to read the audiobook because he narrates it and does all the accents, but he opened up about like his brother having schizophrenia and it’s like, you know it, and yeah, to me, it was just like, yeah, like people need to open up about this more. Because I feel like a lot of Asian families or in Asian culture, people think like, no, this can’t happen to us or whatever, but it can happen to anyone. Mental health conditions do not discriminate.
Nicole: Everything that you said, the things that you touched on guilt, shame. It resonated hard with me. I think in my own mental health journey and, you know, while we started the episode by saying everyone’s journey is personal, it also is really amazing to see these common threads that we all experience, you know, at least, you know, as we’re discussing it today as part of our Asian identity, that feeds into our separate but related, you know mental health illnesses. As you were talking, I was just sitting here just like, yes, yes. All of these things.
On March 27th, you held a maker’s marathon event to raise funds for mental health focused organizations. Can you tell us a little bit more about this event and why you decided to do the marathon event?
Angelica: Yeah. So World Bipolar Day is on March 30 every year. And, it falls on Vincent van Gogh’s birthday, people have posthumously diagnosed him with bipolar disorder. And so on March 27th, I did a 12 hour making marathon. I’ve been thinking about doing something for World Bipolar Day for like a year now. How can I tie, like making and, and that in while also like raising money and raising awareness, so I was like, well, I’m just going to do it. And, I don’t know how it’s going to go.
I don’t 100% know what I’m doing, but I’m going to tell people I’m doing it and I’m going to do it. And so that’s what I did. I spent 12 hours on a Saturday, just working on some creative projects and it wasn’t just sewing. Like I was working on this macrame project for like some decorations for my sewing room.
And so I worked on a lot of different things. But throughout the day, I went live on Instagram and discussed mental health and also the organizations that I was donating to dedicated to mental health. So the four organizations that I chose, it was really important for me to donate to BIPOC mental health organizations. Because as you mentioned earlier, like, very underfunded. And so I donated to the Loveland Foundation, which provides therapy and resources, primarily for Black women, Asian Mental Health Collective, which is mental health resources for the Asian community, and then Latinx Therapy, which provides therapy and resources for the Latinx community. Then I also donated to the Depression and Bipolar Support Alliance. I’m a member of their young adult council as of recently and a lot of great resources there that helped me out when I was going through like my experience and being diagnosed and trying to find some help and resources.
So, those were the four organizations that I chose. I raised $880, and I split that out equally to each of the organizations. I was very happy with the results of that.
Ada: I think I remember seeing your post, but when you were promoting it like the week before, and I was like 50 bucks, Asian Mental Health Collective group, here you go. And I was like, like immediately, just like, this is great. I love this. So I’m sure there are at least, you know, a few others who were also donating to all those great organizations. I’m curious on the day of, you said you did quite a few projects, so what was it like actually making for 12 hours?
Angelica: Oh yeah. Well, by the end of the day, I was so tired. I was like, I need a break. Actually it not only was tiring, like throughout the day, but it actually affected me for a whole week, which is pretty common. Like I get exhausted very easily. For a whole week, like I did not touch anything, but I just had to work very carefully because I’m very prone to making mistakes and I really suck at reading instructions.
And so I was like, okay, I have to, like, if I’m going to do this for 12 hours, I have to really focus, like drink some coffee. I ended up only making like one workout top and then like, I finished my macrame wall hanging, which took quite a while, but that’s fine that, like, I only worked on two projects because I also spent a lot of like, half that time talking about mental health in my stories or my Instagram Live and, and Stories. And so that was like, that was also, you know, very important.
Ada: You say only, And I say, wow, that’s still a lot.
Nicole: So yeah, I popped in as well to check to check in and. I don’t think even in 12 hours, I could probably sit and do one thing because I do things in a chunk. So I admire your stamina despite how draining it was for the sake of these four organizations.
So I love that. Do you think you’ll be doing it again next year?
Angelica:I would like to, I would definitely like to get more people involved and kind of make it more of a thing. So I don’t know how I’m going to do that, but
Ada: Maybe we should work on that. Maybe we can promote it again on the podcast.
Nicole: Yeah, we’ll talk.
Angelica: Yeah, so yeah, I would like to do it again. Not, not even just for World Bipolar Day. Maybe find another time that you know, captures like all mental health, and do it then like maybe May next year for Mental Health Month.
Nicole: I think October is World Mental Health Day. Maybe that’s too soon for a 12 hour Make-a-Thon but…
Angelica: Lots of opportunities though.
Nicole: Absolutely. So what would you say to an Asian person who may feel like they need assistance, but are afraid to speak out themselves?
Angelica: I think first, just because this is really important, this goes for anyone, like if you feel like you are in danger to yourself, like please call a hotline, seek a hotline, go to the hospital. Like there is no shame in that. Get immediate help, if you were struggling immediately. As far as the Asian community, it’s very easy to think you have to go like all or nothing as far as telling people like if you tell somebody you have to tell everyone or, you know, that kind of mindset. Don’t think about having to tell everyone right away.
Like if you have somebody in your family or friend circle that you feel comfortable with and trust, find somebody. Because that person can then check in on you, make sure you’re doing okay. Who knows maybe, you know, they might have experienced that before, or might, you know, be able to point you in the right direction.
Because I think it’s really important for somebody, at least in your circle to know that you aren’t feeling optimal. They can, you know, help you out. And kind of field other people, I guess. Because like, for me personally, you know, whenever I was experiencing depression and just not doing okay, like before I was diagnosed and didn’t know how to communicate, I would just lie to people.
Like I would lie to people. Like my one go-to lie was always, “I have a migraine”. Because nobody will question that. If you have a migraine, you can do anything. And so that was like my number one lie that I went to. But if you have somebody in your circle that knows you, aren’t feeling okay, then that can also provide cushion if you’re having anxiety about telling other people that you’re not feeling okay, then maybe that person would be like, yeah, I just, you know, don’t, I don’t think that we can do that. Or like, you know, especially with friends that are, they’re wanting to hang out. That’s also really hard. And then I think another piece of advice is like, if you need to tell somebody in your family that might not understand mental health, I, I have learned that taking an information and fact-based approach with it has been very useful because I think, you know, in Asian culture, like the repression of emotions is very common. And so it’s hard sometimes to empathize with the emotions of other people, if you are personally, refreshing your own emotions. And so if you take things from a fact based science, informational approach, that helps you know, it could be something like, this is what I’m experiencing.
Like my brain, chemicals in my brain are off balance or, you know, whatever is, you know, whatever the actual, scientific thing that’s going on. You know, my chemicals are off balance and I need help to treat them like throwing in the science seems to help a little bit because people can then relate to that.
Like, “Oh, that’s like being a diabetic and your insulin being off” or you know, so you can kind of relate things to that. I guess like the next step, if you don’t feel comfortable telling somebody in your family or friends, like if you really just have a lot of fear and anxiety around that, like if you have the means to do so, like definitely seek out a therapist. You can even talk to your primary care provider. This is something like I had a meeting with my Depression Bipolar Support Alliance, Young Adult Council. And they were like, you know, I always tell people like go to your primary care provider, which people don’t think about, but they can then point you to the resources if you don’t know where to start.
And a lot of hospitals also have like a behavioral health department. And then I think lastly, if you’re not in a position to seek therapy, you can go to websites of organizations that are dedicated to mental health. I recommend the National Alliance on Mental Illness, which covers a lot of various mental health conditions or the Depression and Bipolar Support Alliance. Those organizations I know have like peer to peer type support, or there are also local chapter meetings to talk with others who also have lived experience with mental health conditions.
And you know, it just depends on your comfort level, but those are available for free. That would be my recommendation.
Ada: Those are all great resources. I wanted to share that I think for many of us, especially women of color, we need to advocate for ourselves. Especially in the US healthcare system, too. I personally went to my primary care physician and asked for a referral and had told her a little bit of what I was going through and she actually just dismissed me, and this was another woman of color. And so I think we have to remember that doctors are humans too and sometimes, they are subject to biases and may not necessarily be giving us everything that we need. And if someone tells you no like that, and you know something is wrong, you are going to be the only person who can advocate for your own mental health and seek the resources that you need.
Angelica: I do want to add one note about like seeking out your primary care provider, which, like you kind of telling your experience with that like one women’s health is another topic, but like women’s health very is very shoved off to the side. I’ve had my fair share of having to like march into my doctor and be very like, stern about what I needed.
But yeah, like your health, you are in control of your health. And I feel like some primary care providers, like we’ll just prescribe you an antidepressant or like even urgent care. Like, and if you like immediately feel like you need it, like, I mean, make your choice on what you feel like you need in that moment.
But if you are hesitant to take medication or, you know, tell them that, like, don’t feel obligated to take the meds because they’re providing it to you. You can say, no, I don’t feel like that’s what I need at the time. Especially if you’re going through a difficult time, like tell them, I don’t feel like I need that. I feel like I just, I need therapy or a therapist to support me, or like, just tell them exactly what you feel like you need at that time. Or like, I would prefer to be referred to a psychiatrist because psychiatrists know and are fully educated on the various different mental health conditions more in depth, in comparison to a primary care provider.
They will better know which medication will work for you. There sometimes is just like this blanket medication that people wil prescribe to everybody. And so that is my addition to the primary care provider recommendation.
Ada: All of that advice is great and I hope our listeners really take that to heart. I wanted to end our conversation talking a little bit more about you and the launch of your first pattern, the Melanie wrap skirt. Can you tell us more about what the process of making your own pattern was like?
Angelica: Yeah. So I just, uh, generally winged it. I will be 100% honest. I like winged a lot of it because I have been wanting to make patterns for awhile. Like mostly because it came from like personal gaps as well. Like I had some ideas of patterns that I wanted to create because I haven’t come across like that perfect one for myself.
So like, you know, I had been working on like some concepts of different pattern and you know, testing out different samples and whatnot. So I worked with the pattern drafter and grader to create the pattern and the size range. And I worked on creating the instructions and everything else as far as like construction of the skirt. And like for my artwork, like I commissioned some of my artsy pals, this is gonna sound, so this sounds so nerdy, but I commissioned some of my like art friends in my Final Fantasy 14 gaming group. Cause there’s a lot of very…
Ada: If you can draw Final Fantasy stuff, you can draw very well.
Angelica: Yeah. Lots of talented artists in my group. I just wanted to add some fun artwork to it, like, rather than like the typical line art or like technical sketch.
So I kind of went with like an anime style art because that’s just like me and who I am. And so just throwing in those elements too, but yeah, so that’s like kind of how I put it together. and it was a fun learning experience. I’m very excited to put out more patterns and hopefully, you know, they also are what other people are looking for, so, yep.
Nicole: What do you feel like your biggest lesson learned came out of this experience?
Angelica: For sure, like patterns take a lot of work to create like mad respect for everybody that, that creates patterns for others because it does take a lot of work and effort. And another thing that I, you know, just had to tell myself, it’s like, nothing has to be perfect from the get go.
You know, I receive emails from pattern companies that I have sewn from and they send out revisions, like, you know, like not letting perfection get to your head. And also like learning, not to force my creativity. Thankfully I have a full-time job, so I can take the time I need to build my patterns out and make sure that I’m in the right headspace to do so.
But if I force myself, like, okay, today for two hours, I’m going to work on these instructions or whatever. And the same goes for like, even my own sewing practice. Like I feel like if I push it, then it stops being fun. So I had to learn that as well, especially when you bring in the business aspect to it, like that can ruin it for a lot of people.
And I didn’t want to ruin it. Like I really do enjoy what I’m doing and I enjoy all aspects of sewing. So I didn’t want to let my mindset get in the way. And I think part of that is like, I kind of like drew. Inspiration on that from like some of my favorite musicians. Like they don’t force themselves to create music.
Like if they’re not ready to put an album out or like, don’t want to release a song, like they won’t, they will wait. Like I’ve been waiting for like one of my favorite artists to drop an album for, like, and she’s been working on her album for like two years. It’s like people’s creative processes are different. I respect that.
Nicole: Very cool. Well, we are looking forward to whatever you have coming up next for the sewing community. Thank you so much for joining us today, Angelica. It was a really great pleasure to speak with you. Can you tell our listeners where we can find your work?
Angelica: Yeah. So my blog is where all my makes are, which is Angelicacreates.com. My patterns and store currently is on Etsy, which is etsy.com/shop/ShopAngelicaCreates. And then, I am frequently on Instagram, like as far as like socially, and so send me a DM or you can chat with me on Instagram @Angelica_creates.
Ada: Thank you so much for joining us on this week’s episode of the Asian Sewist Collective podcast. Next week, we’ll be speaking with Nandita from, at @ditadivine on Instagram, about pattern testing. In our other upcoming episodes, we have special guests talking about all sorts of topics like quilting bag making, and even some fabric history and garment history. If you like our show, you can support us by following us on Instagram @AsianSewistCollective. That’s one word Asian Sewist Collective, and you can spread the word and tell your friends.
We would also really appreciate it if you could rate, review and subscribe to this podcast on Apple Podcasts, PocketCasts, Spotify, or wherever you get your podcasts. As we mentioned before, all of the links and resources we mentioned in today’s episode will be in the show notes on our website at Asiansewistcollective.com. And we’d love to hear from you, email us with your questions, comments, or even voice messages. If you’d like to be featured on a future at asiansewistcollective@ gmail.com.
Nicole: This episode is brought to you by your co-hosts Ada Chen and Nicole Angeline. The topics we covered were researched by Eileen Leung. This episode was produced by me, Nicole, Angeline, and edited by Leslie Rehm Hunt. Thank you so much to the other members of our collective who made this week’s episode a reality. This is the Asian Sewist Collective podcast, and we’ll see you next week.
Ada: If you’re struggling with your mental health, know that seeking help is a strength and not a weakness. If you or someone you care about needs help, call the National Suicide Prevention Lifeline 1-800-273-TALK. That’s 1-800-273-8255. It’s a free, confidential and 24/7 support line for people in distress. They offer prevention and crisis resources for you or your loved ones and best practices for professionals. We are going to include a link to their website and the phone number again in our show notes and we’ll include resources for those of you who are outside of the US as well.