I’ll start this off by introducing myself, my name is Maly Mann and I am a 22 year old from Long Beach, CA. Currently, I’ve found myself with Los Angeles as my stomping grounds which is lovely to say the least. As of late, I have found positivity and self-care easy to come by because, well, I allow it in my life and I am not as fearful of believing in the good like I was as a pre-teen, teen, and even young adult. It has been a wild time in my life with extreme ups and the lowest of lows of which I’ll explain in small detail but for now I have this to say: nothing is impossible.



I will try my best to not make this write long and overdrawn rather than short and somewhat to the point but let’s start from birth, shall we?

I was born in Long Beach, CA in St. Mary’s Hospital on April 28th, 1996. The youngest of six children under the care of my parents. My father, Mith and my mother, Ngorl emigrated to the US from Cambodia after the Khmer Rouge in the 70s. With them, they brought three beautiful children and popped out a few more (haha, me) when they made home in the states. My parents came to the US with absolutely nothing, a lack of education, money, security, and a home but they did come with some feelings of anger and stress, the two solutions that make for a poisonous potion.  

With that said, I grew up in an environment not so suited for the young. Plenty of screaming, fighting, crying, and cold air. I am not saying my parents were not loving, they were and I am so thankful that they made a life here for my siblings and I, I owe them the world but the stresses of their past from home still haunted them and the anger they felt from not being able to guide a successful life grew stronger and it created a bomb that in time, exploded leaving my siblings and I to get hit with the shrapnel.

Here is the quick lowdown on the years I could remember that left me with so much feeling that I can’t express the feelings into written words. From eleven to fifteen: At eleven, my oldest sister moved out and she was our saving grace. Her leaving the home made us fearful because we had to learn how to fend for ourselves, feed ourselves, treat ourselves with the love she would give us when my parents were at work which was every single day Monday through Sunday from 7am to 11pm and when they weren’t working, they still weren’t home. At 14, my pup passed away, he was my best friend and I had him for 8 years. Our neighbors pitbulls got out of their backyard and attacked him in front of me, I screamed, I cried, I yelled, and when someone heard me it was too late. He was put down hours after and I refused to say any good-byes. I still regret that to this day and in that same year, the worst of the absolute worst occured. My father was sentenced two years in the county jail for domestic abuse influenced by alcohol (again). My mother was bedridden for weeks in recovery. I don’t want to get into the nitty gritty details. My father got out early for good behavior, and he’s never touched a drink since then. He’s a better man now and I’m proud of him. At 15, my grandfather passed from lung cancer. He was an incredible man who always smiled, danced, and gave me hope. He was a father figure to me. I was broken. He was the only grandparent that I had met and I loved him more than I can express into words.

There is that, a mixture of death, an alcoholic father, and a passive aggressive mother sprinkled with a bad living situation (bad neighborhood), lack of food, and lack of tangible tender loving care. There’s a lot more but I don’t need to really explain the others, those are the main things that shook me to the core. Especially right before getting into hell on earth, high school.



I was going into high school with so much confusion and despair. How do I make friends? How do I act towards people? What do I do or say? I had absolutely no idea. All my siblings were getting older and moving forward to try to get their own lives on track so they could get out of the house and I? I just dove into whatever that required me to be away from home. Clubs, groups, after school programs, etc. I was surprised I did well in the first two years of high school. I was torn up inside but I realized school kept my mind occupied on things outside of my own world. Learning about things I had never really understood and keeping that love to get out of the bad parts of my own head. The last two years of high school were… not as good.

I’ll start off by saying I was a frequent girlfriend, I kept occupied with boys well. I ended up in a pretty serious high school sweetheart relationship from Junior to Senior year, he was an amazing friend and boyfriend but like most relationships do, we had our issues but we had issues separate from each other. I hadn’t realized then that I was still a broken person, from my head to my toes I was beveled and bruised but no one noticed because I was good at the whole facade thing.

I developed a pretty bad drug and drinking problem the last two years of high school. Sneaking out of school to smoke cigarettes, drinking every weekend, and taking my friends adderall on the daily which induced an interest in more and more and more and more. Whatever could take the pain away, I did it. The mixture of substances and high school angst lead to another issue, I developed a bad problem with barely eating. Well, not eating. I was so wrapped up in looking a certain way. Looking healthy and pretty because I needed to hide the fact that I was breaking inside and I also wanted to be liked, to be seen as appealing. Not to mention, my boyfriend at the time jokingly called me fat and that was the straw that broke the camel's back. I became a vegan for ‘personal reasons’ it was just an excuse to…y’know. I became frail, and lifeless looking. I fainted multiple times at school and at home. I told my sisters I was too tired from school or I was ‘sleepwalking’ and they usually believed it. Everyone thought I was just losing weight from being vegan, it was a damn lie. I eventually lost it, I was so angry all the time from my lack of vitamins and health. My depression grew and I knew I needed help so one fateful night, I came home and broke down in front of my sister Tina and from there I seeked help. I got it. It was hard but it isn’t impossible to get better. You just have to speak up, not be fearful of judgements and a matter of fact, not to be fearful of other’s love.

At the end of senior year, my boyfriend became my ex-boyfriend because I was in too much of a depressive state and I needed to be alone which was somewhat true but I got worse, moved out of my family’s home immediately and moved in with my friend, Susie. We practically lived at the bar. I ended up moving in with a new found boyfriend a few months later right before I started college and well, that was when I learned more about myself than ever. I watched my family slip away and my friends leave my side because I was becoming someone else. I definitely was and I didn’t see it until every single person I loved walked out of my life.


I left the situations that induced the loss and became better, I quit drinking. I spent more time with my family and friends. I learned how to be okay with being alone. Constantly reminding myself that you can not find comfort in the arms of another all the time. You can not look for yourself through the eyes of the person you surround yourself. You have to look deep within yourself, dig into your darkness and show yourself that dim light that’s deep within the pockets of your lungs. Get in there and when you see it take the deepest breath to turn that dim light bright.

I did this, and tried to do it often. It hurt to move forward and allow change into the spaces that I was most comfortable but I learned that comfort does not necessarily mean happiness. You can not erase bad memories in comfort, and you sure as hell can not erase pain in the silk lined bed of comfort. It is not that easy. To allow yourself to understand happiness and to feel it to the point where it is almost physically tangible requires speaking up, opening up to yourself and to others. Scream out what made you hurt, write letters to the ones that hurt you and burn them and hug the people that taught you love.


Pain is okay.

Pain is not to be embarrassed of.

Talk about it. Please. Talk about it.

Speaking up is the first step to overcoming trauma, stress, and depression. Allowing yourself to move with current. Spew out the words and just release.

The release took years for me and I still see myself as a work in progress but move fluidly and remind yourself that you are responsible of giving you the love that you want and we have ability to take care of ourselves more than anyone else. Take your time, don’t rush the change and allow yourself to let the good in. Take all the bad, and clean it then pick out the little strings of lessons it leaves you with. Hold those lessons tight near your heart.


I want to leave this write by saying thank you for reading. I am sure it was far too much to even grasp fully being I write with so much vehemence.  

But lastly:

1. Try to dance until you don’t realize which direction your feet are moving.
2. Today is a new day. Yesterday you were worried about something but was it worth all the worrying?
3. Remind yourself you’re the change you want to see.
4. Don’t forget to take a deep breath.
5. Move with the current, feel it, and let go.
6. You are loved. You are cared for. You may not see it and you may not be able to hold the feeling, but you are.   
7. Words can be our enemy if we don’t use them.

Warmest hugs and endless love,



Transparency is a shared journal that is curated by Tiana Petrullo in collaboration with a beautiful community of contributors who have offered to share their personal experiences with mental health. To encourage a contribution of the most raw and real experience, minimal guidance was given. All stories have been willingly shared and are written to reflect what is personally most prevalent to the writer. Together, we offer an expansion of knowledge, awareness, and acknowledgement.