The miracle cat Turkey

Who Will Help?

As the founder of a nonprofit organization in the process of getting off the ground, I think it’s important to show vulnerability, but finding the line can be challenging. If you’re too vulnerable, people will be put off; lacking vulnerability is inauthentic. 

Maybe this is too raw. Maybe it isn’t. We are all fighting invisible battles daily, and lately, I’ve faced a lot of stressors. 

I celebrated my cat’s cancer remission too early. He came back from the brink of death with a clean bill of health when I spent two months with him this summer. He passed away Tuesday morning without warning, precisely twenty-one days after I left him. I gave him the best final months of his life, where he was the center of my attention, but ultimately, I couldn’t save him. Physical and mental health are intertwined, and care and support must be continuous. 

This cat is the love of my life and the glue that has held our family together for the past 16 years. Many would probably say, “He’s just a cat,” but he was there when other humans only came when they wanted my time, expertise, money, etc. His love was unconditional. He was important because, as a busy mother, wife, and executive, I have so little to myself where I didn’t have to strive for parenting successful, well-balanced kids, scaling sustainable business operations, employee welfare…

Along with the sadness comes so, so much anger. 

I’m mad that the lack of services in Taiwan forced me to leave my life, husband, and my cat behind in order for my kids to get autism therapy in the US and the best chance to receive education with accommodations. Behavioral healthcare is difficult-to-impossible to obtain internationally. 

I’m mad that, despite my wishes, my cat went through painful resuscitation and intubation for hours before being released from this world. It was hard for my husband to let him go because the cat was also his only constant companion for much of the year after my kids and I left for the US. 

My entire family is grieving now. My husband and kids can’t sleep and have many other symptoms that indicate they need help. They all go to me for help, so I limit my pain and desire to totally shut down to non-work, non-school hours. I still have to get everyone fed, get to and from school, and recover. I’m used to sacrificing this way, but I can’t deny that it’s not sustainable. 

By now, you’re thinking, “Go get help.” 

Well, I did! Which is why I’m also mad that, despite all the recent private funding for mental health, the only person I can reach on the phone is someone who’s ready and able to direct me to long lists of providers…but none of the providers are taking new clients. 

I am privileged enough to be able to take time off from work, but critical curaJOY grant proposals are due this week (whew!), and this work is top priority so that my exact situation wouldn’t keep happening to our community. 

People in emotional distress need immediate and meaningful help, not just one-off emergency room visits or “fake help” of referrals to overscheduled providers. And this is not just a “me” problem. You, your family, and your community are in this with me. Without good social and mental health, how will our society stave off substance abuse, suicide, school dropouts, or crime?

Caitlyn Wang Avatar

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