Monday Matter: Bittersweet news, personal growth and short losers
Your weekly Foreign Bodies roundup
Every Monday, we send subscribers and gift recipients of immigrant mental health and storytelling newsletter Foreign Bodies stories we recently inhaled and adored. This is also a chance to do some housekeeping and give shout-outs and all that jazz.
First things first
A little housekeeping
Eid Mubarak! 🌙
Good morning, Foreign Bodies fam. It’s been ages. Starting today’s newsletter off with some bittersweet news: Farah, our wonderful copyeditor for the last few years, is moving on to bigger and better things across the world. I am so grateful for the love she’s given Foreign Bodies and can’t wait to continue to cheer her on through whatever the future holds. Thank you for everything, Farah! <3 I also want to wish everyone celebrating a very happy and healthy Eid. Now for a little list of what’s been keeping my spirits high these days…
my local coffeeshop
surprise visits from friends
cooking for loved ones
Sunday morning chai and eggs with the parents
my friend Stephanie’s new rescue, Ari
the honeycomb ice cream from Butter & Cream in Decatur
saucy group texts
staying in on rainy days
A musical start to your Mondays 🎧
One song to groove to, cry to, drive to and share
Just a little Monday love from American soul legend Donny Hathaway <3
Resource(s) of the week
Something helpful and interesting and cool (*storytelling opportunity)
Supporting the Mental Health of South Asian Aunties and Uncles: From Asha Rao in Brown Girl Magazine, this is an explainer and guide to encourage South Asian aunties and uncles (or elders in general) to examine and address their mental health
Mental Matters: A newsletter from therapist Nicole Lewis on the intersection of mental health and Black culture
*The Unexpected Shape Writing Academy is open for registration. This is The Collected Schizophrenias author Esmé Weijun Wang’s new 3-month writing academy boasting all the components of an MFA program without the MFA price tag—classes, office hours, co-writing sessions and more. Price: $3,000-$4,500 available with payment plans.
Personal stories I’m loving
bayou time (Maryam Ivette Parhizkar, The Rumpus): “after the flood the city keeps open its reservoir wounds/an island of trees runs through its vein engulfed with the chatter of grackles…” A snippet of poetry from Maryam Ivette Parhizkar, who grew up in a Salvadoran and Iranian family in southwest Houston and is the author of the chapbook, Somewhere Else the Sun is Falling into Someone's Eyes. Read the full poem here.
Leaving Home Meant Losing My Mother Tongue (Anandi Mishra, Electric Literature): “My class teacher complimented my parents for their hard work on my language skills. Ever so proud my parents beamed, ‘We talk in English at home.’ Born in a small north Indian town, Kanpur, Hindi was the language in which I conducted everyday domestic life. English was the lingua franca of my school life and, by extension, my social life. The third was not so much a language but a rural dialect of my mother’s native tongue, Hindi, called Dehati. My parents were obviously lying, like any proud parents… The intonation, aural feel, and written texture of my Hindi now stands forever altered in the face of all the English words I keep peppering it with.” A wonderful essay on being “unlanguaged.” Read here.
Personal Growth (Marina Benjamin, Granta): “No matter how I fixate on the thought of growing taller, I do not do the one thing in my power to make it so. I do not eat. Mealtimes at home regularly descend into the ping-pong of pantomime: You have to eat – No I don’t – Yes you do – No I don’t. I can’t explain it, or not in any way that will satisfy my parents, but the feel of food in my mouth causes me to recoil as though I’ve ingested something living: warm, wet, slimy, too hot, too cold, not resistant enough to the tooth or else too resistant… I started to eat around the time my father stopped hitting me, which is around the time when other girls, pulled out of shape by puberty, stopped eating themselves. The irony is not lost on me, but I was ready to take up space.” Beautiful, heart-rending writing from Marina Benjamin on her years of not eating and not growing. Read here.
Beautiful Short Loser (Ocean Vuong, Granta): “Where I’m from it’s only midnight for a second/the trees look like grandfathers laughing in the rain./For as long as I can remember I’ve had a preference for mediocre bodies,/including my own.” A snippet of poetry from the inimitable Ocean Vuong, author of On Earth We’re Briefly Gorgeous and the new collection, Time is a Mother. Read the full poem here.
My First Taste of Protest In a Thai Roadside Café (Pier Nirandara, Catapult): “Somewhere in Bangkok’s Old Town is a roadside café. It’s been in the same Thai-Chinese family for generations. Ninety or so years, they say. Outside, embossed lettering spells out the café name in Thai, English, and Chinese in faded gold, while clusters of wooden tables and stools fill the open space inside accompanied by the heady scent of bread. To foreign eyes, the quiet absence of royal portraits might not seem unnatural—in most establishments, the kingdom’s revered figurehead always watches over his people. In lieu of the revolving door of prime ministers with every coup, the king is the only constant.” In this lovely essay, Nirandara writes about how it took her 20 years to really look at her city of Bangkok and see it for what it is—its legacy, history of protest and more. Read here.
Whatever the Weather (Lina Tran, Guernica): “Is home still home when the weather changes? My grandfather knew the importance of weather, which charts the passage of time. It wields the power to determine the quality of a day, whether it’s clear sun against azure or bitter, wet, windy. We get to know the weather where we live. We become attuned to the moods of the sky and what comes next.” This essay on climate change and altered homelands reminded me so much of Foreign Bodies Issue 10. Read here.
In the news
Relevant news coverage that doesn’t really fall under our larger mission to de-stigmatize through personal storytelling, but is still essential reading for anyone who wants to stay up-to-date on immigrant and refugee mental health as well as general mental health news.
School-based health centers are a lifeline for refugee and immigrant students (The Seattle Times): International Community Health Services provides health care for everyone, regardless of income, insurance or immigration status. In this sponsored profile, you can read more about the impact of their mission. Read here.
‘Without Papers, Without Fear’: Meet the NM Activist Dedicated to Lifting Up Undocumented Young People — Just Like Him (Beth Hawkins, The 74 Million): “After so long guarding his family’s secrets — fleeing drug gang violence in Chihuahua, taking refuge in a relative’s garage in Albuquerque — everything about the experience moved him. His undocumented status was just the heaviest layer of the shame he’d been accumulating ever since he was 7 years old.” A lovely profile on Eduardo Equivel, co-director of the Dream Team, which has 13 chapters in schools in Las Cruces, Santa Fe and Albuquerque, New Mexico, and provides a system of support that helps students push past shame and isolation. Read here.
The FedEx shooting traumatized many Sikh workers. A year later, a new program hopes to help (Rashika Jaipuriar, Indianapolis Star): Reflecting on Indianapolis’ deadliest mass shooting in 15 years, Jaipuriar speaks with Komal Chohan, whose grandmother was killed in the shooting. “I just think it was too much … too much to handle,” Chohan said. The mix of trauma, survivor’s guilt and loss of a loved one “just makes it so much harder.” Now, the Eskenazi Health and the Immigrant Welcome Center, an Indianapolis nonprofit organization, are partnering to create a Virtual Resiliency Center for survivors, victims’ families and others affected by the FedEx shooting. Read here.
Growing Up an American Child of Undocumented Parents (Graciela Mochkofsky, The New Yorker): A profile of the new documentary “Mija,” which “considers the burdens imposed on an increasingly politicized generation.” The feature documentary from filmmaker Isabel Castro debuted to strong reviews at Sundance in January and will be released in theaters and streamed on Disney+ later this year. Read here.
Why American Teens Are So Sad (Derek Thompson, The Atlantic): In this write-up based on new data from the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention, Thompson writes the United States is experiencing “an extreme teenage mental-health crisis. From 2009 to 2021, the share of American high-school students who say they feel ‘persistent feelings of sadness or hopelessness’ rose from 26 percent to 44 percent… This is the highest level of teenage sadness ever recorded.” Read here. | Also read: ‘It’s Life or Death’: The Mental Health Crisis Among U.S. Teens (New York Times)
New research 📑
Report: Asian American and Pacific Islander LGBTQ Youth Face Unique Mental Health Challenges, Increased Racial & Ethnic Discrimination (Trevor Project): A new report recently released by The Trevor Project, the world’s largest suicide prevention and mental health organization for LGBTQ young people, explores the mental health and well-being of Asian American and Pacific Islander (AAPI) LGBTQ youth. According to the report, which surveyed 34,808 people that included six major AAPI groups found 40% of queer Asian American youth considered suicide last year. Read more here.
Anxiety and depression symptoms and their association with discrimination and a lack of social support among first- and second-generation immigrant adolescents (International Journal of Intercultural Relations): A new study shows first-generation immigrant adolescents reported more mental health symptoms than their second-generation counpoterparts, primarily due to experienced discrimination and the ability to discuss personal matters with parents. Explore more here.
One sorta unrelated story on my mind
The Loneliest Man in the World (Abhrajyoti Chakraborty, HazLitt): “I fell quickly for Khan: those pauses, those eyes. How they made you think there was more to him than he let on.” In honor of the late acting legend Irrfan Khan, an adoring essay on his work and too-short life. Read here.
Books and collections I’m currently reading (plus reader-recommended works!)
Currently reading: What My Bones Know by Stephanie Foo, a memoir of healing from complex trauma
Reader rec from Hanna L.: Made in China: A Memoir of Love and Labor by Anna Qui, in which she writes about being sent by her mother to work in her family's garment factory in Queens, New York
Remember, we always have tons of wonderful stories and resources available at foreignbodies.net.
Love to see it
Shout-outs, thank-yous and more
A thread from therapist-in-training Sahaj Kohli worth your time:
We love to see a defender of boundaries.
If anyone would like to chime in:
For anyone with the means to give, Stanford University psychiatrist Dr. Rania Awaad is working with a team of providers to launch a new Muslim mental health clinic.
Leaving you with a reminder from Billie to stop and smell the flowers.
That’s it for now.
Did you absolutely hate this? Open to criticism and suggestions. See ya later!
Special thanks to our Foreign Bodies Sustaining Members Kris B., Hannah B., Safurah B., Alex C., Alma C., Rebecca C., Rodrigo C., Esmé D., Katie H., Katya S., Jack L., Liz S., Puja S., Roz T., Diane W., Samantha W., Alan Y. and my mama. If you’re a sustaining member but not listed here, just shoot me an email!