Emily Wu Truong
The move from Arkansas to California took a drastic toll on Emily’s physical and mental well-being. She struggled to fit in and was constantly bullied by her classmates. From her childhood into her teen years, Emily experienced feelings of helplessness, hopelessness, anxiousness, lack of motivation, and suicidal thoughts. In the summer of 2013, Emily explained that she felt as if her “spirit was crushed” and had an “overwhelming sense of rejection come over her.” When she took on two part time jobs, Emily felt as if she had been under-appreciated and taken for granted. The circumstances had emotionally triggered something inside her, leaving her with a loss of self-hope and aimlessness.
When Emily returned from college, her parents had no idea that she was depressed. Emily said in an interview, “I felt so much shame. I was not proud of myself for not being able to be as ‘successful’ as others would expect me to be…I felt as I had nothing going on in my life.”
In 2013, Emily received the news of her diagnoses of depression and anxiety. She was relieved because finally she was able to get the help that she needed. Unfortunately, once she disclosed the mental health condition, Emily faced strong community stigma. While visiting and confiding with a former teacher who taught psychology and peer counseling, Emily explained her feelings of “frustration” and being “misunderstood.” However, instead of the teacher providing support, Emily soon found out that she was seen as the “crazy lady.” The pain of being misunderstood hurt Emily but did not keep her from finding support.
However, Emily soon found her voice as she became involved in multiple NAMI programs including In Our Own Voice, Ending the Silence, and Parents & Teachers As Allies programs. In an interview she stated:
“NAMI has surely provided me with the platform to share my story, and I always have a cathartic feeling each time I go up in front of an audience. My partnership with NAMI has become so meaningful to share the message that with help, there is hope, and that being diagnosed with a mental illness is not a death sentence.”
In 2015, she received the Woman of the Year Award from Senator Ed Hernandez and her whole family from Taiwan attended to celebrate her award and achievements to reduce the stigma around mental health and mental illness in her local community. Emily is one of the leading advocates in mental health and recognized motivational speaker.
For Emily, the road to recovery is based on strong support from many people in her community. Despite her initial circumstances, Emily takes those experiences and helped to redraw a way to help those affected mental health conditions. To this day, the passion Emily has is present both in her outer fashion for mental health as well as her inner beauty for helping communities from all over the United States.