Charlyne Yi talks to us about depression, anxiety, and finding hope
Charlyne Yi — actress, comedian, writer, musician, brilliant human — has been on our radar for quite some time now. The 29-year-old is a hustler; and whether she’s cracking jokes on stage and screen, or making our hearts swoon with her singing, or killing it as Dr. Chi Park on House, our love for her remains ever-growing.
But for all of Charlyne’s many accomplishments — and, trust, there have been many — we would argue that her latest is perhaps one of our favorites. Charlyne’s first book, Oh The Moon, comes out today; and it is filled to the brim with warmth and wonder and weirdness. The book features “stories from [Charlyne’s] tortured mind,” along with illustrations to go along with them — and it is absolutely incredible.
For anyone who needs a reminder that life is precious and beautiful and worth every second, Oh The Moon is it. The book is a triumph. It tackles depression and anxiety and love and relationships in relatable and unexpected ways. It is as sweet and lovely as it is heartbreaking and honest. As someone who has coped with mental health problems for many years, the book was a surprising comfort that had me tearing up more than once.
We spoke with Charlyne about Oh The Moon, her future plans, and the best advice she has to offer for anyone who’s struggling with demons of their own. Find out what she had to say below, and get a copy of Oh The Moon for yourself right here.
HG: First of all, Oh The Moon was delightful and weird and beautiful and devastating and so, so great. I loved it. What inspired you to create the book?
CY: Thank you. I guess I was just making the invisible visible. I was drawing a lot and was unconsciously dealing with feelings of mine that I didn’t know how to deal with. For instance, in an old notebook I drew Bernard trapped in a snow globe (I was feeling stuck), a lot of doodles about love, I drew the man inside the alcohol bottle (I started to drink a lot (for me (two drinks))). I guess I was inspired to write the book because I was sorting out my own demons.
HG: In the intro, you talk about all the strangers you’ve met who opened their hearts to you and shared things they’ve learned. What’s your favorite piece of advice you received during that time?
CY: Communication is the air to any relationship (family, friend, romance). Without communication, a relationship dies.
HG: Do you have a favorite story in the book?
CY: She’s All Legs is very close to me. It’s because I have no torso. And all the guys always holler at me “Damn she’s got legs for days.” Just kidding — I’m only 5’3″ and my legs are only ten inches long.
I wrote that story because of several dreams I had about having to fight the Devil. I am not religious so I am not sure where the Devil came from in my dreams. I originally was going to write this chapter as a Romance Novel but got too nervous to write anything “sexy.” I kept thinking of stereotypes of how women could be described as “all legs” or “legs for days,” and wanted to turn that phrase into something less objective and something powerful. So I created Agatha, a badass who literally was all legs who kicks butt.
Also, I had had dreams of the love interest in that chapter and, later in life, I met my fiancée who looks a lot like him. He and his family even think so.
HG: I found Oh The Moon to be really comforting in a lot of ways. For the most part, it felt like most of the stories were about characters who felt out of place, but still managed to find their way. Do you have any wisdom to impart on us weirdos trying to do the same?
CY: I think a lot of people deal with depression. And it’s easy to forget that a lot of us come from residual pain. So many of our grandparents have gone through war. In the Philippines, my Grandmother had to sell sweet potatoes to the enemy (with the abuse that came along with it), and my Grandfather saw his father buried alive — which shaped them both into very specific people. Though kind people, they unconsciously passed on their pain to my mother, and so on. Sometimes pain echoes, and we forget we are one step further from the deep scars in our veins. I think everyone comes from a strange and painful background, and we’re all learning how to move forward, we’re all just trying to survive and build good memories along the way. But it’s easy to forget our bloodlines carry this sort of weight when we’re surrounded by modern day technology and taxes and bills. . . and ice cream.
I think keeping perspective of where you came from sometimes humbles your soul and reminds you that there is hope, and reminds you to keep moving forward, and to be the best person we can because our efforts count because we’re all connected.
HG: The “farewell” at the end of the book was one of my favorite things that I’ve read in a really long time. Thank you for writing it. What do you hope people take away from Oh The Moon?
CY: I wish they’d take away a little hope.
HG: Do you have any other upcoming projects on the horizon?
CY: I am starting a shoe cobbling business, hand stitching Scandinavian Turn Shoes that Vikings used to wear.
Oh The Moon comes out today — and you can buy it right here.
(Images via Charlyne Yi.)