Hi APC! I’m Aoi Tsuda, an 18-year old psychology student from Japan, living in California. I am a mental health activist and musician. I grew up in Japan, Indonesia and now, the United States, which had blessed me to be surrounded by different cultures and learn multiple languages. However, when I moved to California at the age of 13, I was struck with culture shock and I had a difficult time adjusting to American culture, I started developing some mental health issues and my Asian family had a hard time understanding my struggles. Throughout high school, I spent a lot of my time battling anxiety and depression, and it weighed me down so much that at one point, I didn’t want to live with myself anymore. But I worked hard towards recovery and found my way to cope – through music and activism.
I found that mental health is something that is not discussed in every society and especially in my home country, Japan. People of all ages are struggling with loneliness and they feel as if they are not good enough for the world. Being sick and tired of feeling worthless, I decided to write this song, “For The First Time,” with the help of my classmates and my teacher, Michael Simmons. Through the music video’s elements of Japanese culture and animation, the creators and I hoped to reach a wide variety of audiences and to raise awareness about the challenges of mental health. Although the road to recovery may not be an easy one, I believe that it is completely possible to fight through the obstacles and commit to loving our most authentic selves.