Strong Relationships Save Lives

I would not be here if it were not for a lot of people. And I’m not talking like five to ten… I have a long, continuously growing list of people who gave me the right support at the right time and saved my life. 

My hope is that telling my story could inspire you to reach out to someone you love and may have lost touch with. Small acts can make big differences.

I live with very deep, intense emotions. It’s incredible when it’s good and devastating when it’s not. I live my life one step at a time along a beautiful cliffside, stealing quick glances at the stunning view then immediately checking myself so I don’t plummet to my death with the very next step. And quite a few times, it’s been another person who’s had to spot me.

Each of these pictures represents a critical moment or person in my life and this is far from an exhaustive list, it’s only the tiniest sampling:

August 2010 - The moment I decided to move across the country and go for my PhD in endocannabinoid pharmacology

“Listen to me – you did what was right in your heart and there can never be anything wrong with that. I’m going to take your keys so you don’t drive until you’ve calmed down, but I’ll give them back, we’ll talk again, and then you can go.”

This was said to me two weeks before I decided to move to Boston at the end of summer 2010. When she finally gave my keys back, I hopped in my old 4-runner and chain smoked all the way down the 5 listening to Pink Floyd. 

January 2023

“I feel like I could hang out with you forever and never get bored.”

Laine said this to me in late July 2014. We were on a day trip to Revere Beach imbibing all the different types of green stones with special powers like strength and hope. Hope was this really small quartzy stone with green inclusions and we kept “losing hope,” haha. This summer we’ll have been together for 9 years and married for 6 of them. We both have worked very hard to build a healthy relationship; exploring our minds together has been at the core. It hasn’t been easy, but after that day we never again lost hope.

January 2023

“Swear to me on this bubbler that you will not do any other drugs besides smoking pot before you’re an adult.”

I was lucky to receive this advice from my mom as a teen. I could have easily gotten into something way heavier. Cannabis is undeniably a reduction of harm. The support of her and my step dad, Bob, is so rare for Asian parents; I’m incredibly lucky, but they’re both total dead heads so it doesn’t surprise me.

July 2019

“Fuck everyone else”

Whenever we’re all together, people stare and try to figure us out. Why are these people together, they wonder? Once a little girl from Texas blatantly said, “Wait, I don’t get it? How do you all know each other?” We get it, we don’t look like a family. My step mom will always say, “these are all my children,” and then we laugh because it looks like she has three baby daddies (four when my brother’s girlfriend is with us).

After years of researching the exponential vulnerability of alienated and discriminated populations, it’s been brought to my attention that community is the most important support by far. This means that investing our time, energy, and, yes, money into community building is a harm reduction measurement that can bring about monumental change.


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