As Sunny Change and his siblings navigated the complexities of grief and healing, they realized that their experiences were not unique and that there were many people out there who had similar stories to share. They decided to use their platform to amplify these voices and create a safe space for listeners to explore their own traumas and healing journeys.
One of the things that set the Three Siblings Podcast apart is its approach to storytelling. Rather than focusing solely on the events themselves, they delve deeper into the emotions and thought processes that accompany them. This allows them to create a more nuanced and empathetic picture of what it means to deal with trauma and loss.
Through their conversations, they also explore the larger social and cultural forces at play in the way we deal with grief and trauma. They confront the stereotypes and stigmas that often surround these issues and challenge listeners to rethink their own assumptions.
Ultimately, Three Siblings is a testament to the power of vulnerability and the importance of storytelling in the healing process. It offers a space for listeners to connect with others who have gone through similar experiences and to feel less alone in their struggles.
If you're looking for a podcast that will make you think deeply about the complexities of the human experience, Three Siblings is definitely worth checking out.
· The back story of growing up (01:02)
· Inspiration for the podcast and feedback (05:16)
· Increased access to mental health (13:52)
· Benefits of working on the podcast for mental health and personal growth (21:25)
· Plans to discuss racism and advocacy (28:20)
· Taking a leap of faith to start a podcast (29:11)
Website link: Three Siblings Podcast
Charity: Dream and a Future
Donation: Donate Now
Thanks for Listening!
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Hi, and welcome to Cause Pods. I'm your host, Matthew Passing. Here at Cause Pods, we have one simple mission to highlight the amazing folks who are using podcasts as a way to raise awareness for good causes and make the world a better place, whether it's in their own local community or they're taking on global issues. Please visit us at causepods. Org, where you can learn about our guest show, their favorite charitable cause, join our Facebook group with resources for cause based podcasters, and find a link where you yourself could be a guest here on Cause Pods. Again, that's all at causepods. Org.(:
All right, folks, it has been a while, but we are excited to be back and taking you to Austin, Texas. We are chatting with Sonny Chang. He's the host and creator of the Three Sibling's podcast. It's a fascinating story with a fascinating cause, and I'm excited to be bringing it to you today. Sonny, thank you for joining us on Cause pods.(:
Yeah, thanks so much for having me. Really excited to be here.(:
Sonny, just disclosure for everybody listening. Sonny, I've already chatted once before. Sonny reached out to us for some help with the podcast, a little bit of consulting. Once I started to hear his story, I realized this is obviously perfect for the Cause Pods audience and the Cause Pods product. But to give our listeners a little perspective, take us back to the beginning. What happened in your life that led to you launching a podcast with your two sisters?(:
I'll start with the trigger warning just because there will be some sensitive subjects brought up. I have two siblings, obviously, it's called three siblings. We're first generation Chinese Americans. In 2015, my parents got divorced. My dad cheated on my mom. He had a mistress. The divorce was really messy. That led to my mom suffering from clinical depression. And during the next few years, she attempted suicide three times. And after her second attempt where she jumped from the second floor of a parking garage, fractured every limb, fractured her skull. Luckily, she survived. She was in the hospital for multiple months, couldn't walk. Eight months after that, my dad, he had heart problem since he was in his 40s, had a defibrillator. He had a heart attack and he was in a coma for two weeks before he eventually passed away. I watched him die in the hospital. Six months after that, my mom got a little bit smarter and she completed suicide by jumping from the ninth floor of a parking garage. In the span of under a year, my siblings and I lost both of our parents. My grandpa actually passed away as well during that time spent as well.(:
And the story of the podcast is just talking about that story, our journey after that, our mental health after that. I was 19 when that happened. And so I was in college trying to figure things out and never really understood what mental health was. And eventually I started seeing a therapist and psychiatrist, but it wasn't until April of 2022 that my depression and anxiety reached a high point and I just couldn't really function anymore. I was laying in bed, unable to move, unable to work anymore. I was unhappy in my job and I decided to go on medical leave. I was working at Goldman Sachs in Houston. I'm really grateful for them for allowing me to go on medical leave. I did an eight week intensive outpatient therapy program. I'd say that's probably one of the best decisions of my life to take some time and dedicated it to myself, to my mental health. After I finished the program, it was the first time I publicly shared about my mental health. I posted on my Instagram story, I said, I finished this eight week program. It was one of the best decisions of my life.(:
I'm so happy I did it. The response from it was really positive. I got 200 plus responses, people saying, Thank you for sharing this, we need more of this. And what really resonated with me the most was two people actually asked for information on the program. They asked to send the link. They said they had a loved one that they thought could positively benefit from the program. And that's when an idea just stemmed in my mind, what if we share our story? What if we talked about mental health more often? How many people could we positively impact? And then fast forward to December 2022, I work at Google now and I'm lucky enough to be on the Mental Health Wellbeing Committee for my organization where we raise awareness and talk about resources available for the employees in my organization. I did a coffee chat where I first publicly shared the story that I just shared now. And once again, the positive feedback was amazing. People were really happy that I shared that. People were crying during the coffee chat because it was such an impact on them. And that's when that podcast idea stemmed. I was trying to think, what's a good medium that we can use to share our story and reach a wider audience and try to let people know that they're not alone, inspire some hope for them, and see if we can possibly impact some people.(:
So that's led to this. And we're so happy with the feedback we've already received and continue to receive. And that's what really is my inspiration to keep going and continue to share our message.(:
I'm curious, going back a little bit, were you and your sisters close before everything that happened in 2015? Did this change the relationship in any way? Did it just bring you even closer than you were? How did that impact you three as a group?(:
I say the silver lining of my parents passing away is it made my sisters and I a tight knit circle. They're all I have left and no one else can really understand truly what I went through except my two sisters because they went through the same thing. Growing up, I'm 26 now. Tina, the middle child is 30 and Michelle is 33. When all this happened, I was the only one at home. I was in high school. They were already in college or Michelle was further along in her career. So I was the only one at home. So naturally, we weren't as close. But as things unfolded, spending more time together with my parents in the hospital and things like that, we just became so much closer. Now we have a group text, we send TikToks and things like that every day and just always talk to each other nonstop.(:
Was there any hesitation from them when you broached this topic? Because like you said, you did some stuff on Instagram, you did some stuff through work, you went through this program. Did they go through something similar?(:
Yes. Michelle has been seeing a therapist and seeing a psychiatrist as well. She has suffered through depression and anxiety, but she is such a warrior. She has been a huge mental health advocate even before I was not scared to publicly talk about it. I've learned some things from her through that. Tina is a little more reserved regarding it, a little more sheltered. And that's okay. It's a difficult subject. There's a lot of trauma involved with it. I'm really grateful and proud of her for agreeing to come on the podcast and speak on the story. She was hesitant to do it and has oftentimes thought about backing out. But I'm really proud of her strength to fight through her, the social anxiety she has to come on and talk about it because she doesn't have social media and things like that. She gets social links on things like that. But she's just been a warrior and I really appreciate her coming on and being a part of this journey with us.(:
So going back to you first talking about this and doing the Instagram live and then hosting this event that you did through the mental health team over at Google, what was it like or what were you thinking the first time you were going to not just talk about this, but broadcast this story out to the world? What were the feelings and emotions you were going through?(:
Being vulnerable for me was difficult growing up. I think that's what led to my depression and anxiety, especially being a guy mental health wasn't really talked about in the Chinese community. Most of my parents friends, they also came from China, like my parents. And being that, it just never was discussed. I say that was a contributor to my mom's depression. And so I just growing up never knew how to be vulnerable. So this was very scary, very nervew racking for me to start talking about it like this. What if people don't take it well? What if I get rejected from it? I guess is what I thought. I've always been the antsy guy, so even now, just being vulnerable and talking about things like this makes me a little antsy. But I'd say vulnerability is like a muscle that needs to be trained. And as you continue to work on it, have those uncomfortable conversations, you become more comfortable with it. It becomes easier. When I first talked about it, it was difficult. I was scared. I was nervous. But as I go further along this journey, it just becomes easier. The feedback I get from people just continues to motivate me.(:
Talk about a little bit about that feedback. What were some of the specific responses and things that you witnessed from both folks on social and also folks within your company?(:
When I did the coffee chat at Google, two people were crying and talked about how they had been struggling, and it was comforting for them to hear someone else going through tough times. And although their story and their dark times weren't the same, it was somewhat relatable. That's something I always mention is that when my parents passed, everyone told me, I can't even imagine what you've been through. I can't imagine that. But I always try to say there is no scale to your darkest day. There is no scale to your depression or anxiety. Don't try to compare and contrast your darkest time because something can impact you and your mental health the same way that it impacts me. That was some of the feedback from then. But now from the podcast, people have texted me. I've been going through tough times the past four to six months. It's so refreshing to hear someone talk about their struggles as well. It makes me feel like I'm less alone. And actually, last week, my fifth grade teacher Facebook messaged me out of the blue. She said, and she told me the story. She said the first day of my fifth grade class, she was suffering through depression and anxiety.(:
S he didn't want to go to class that day. S o someone pushed her and pushed her. S he said that because of that, that inspired her to keep going. And just hearing this now just continues to inspire her. And she said that back then, my fifth grade class saved her life. So just hearing things like that is powerful, really.(:
That's incredible. I'm fascinated by something you said a few minutes ago that I wonder if you've seen this across the spectrum with the audience, but you said Chinese culture doesn't really talk about mental health, or there's not a big focus on it. And over the years of doing cause pods and talking to other folks about mental health, I feel like there's very few cultures that have or put a priority on mental health. Are you wanting to are you finding that your audience tends to align more closely with your background, or is it pretty diverse? And then have you come across anybody where it's like, Well, no. In our culture, mental health is very important. And you're like, Oh, really? That to me would seem like the outlier compared to what you have experienced and what I think many others have experienced.(:
Yeah, that's definitely an outlier. I don't think I've gotten that yet. I mean, that's the whole point of this, right? To make it more normalized in cultures. Yeah, exactly like you're saying. Lots of reviews on Apple are saying it's nice to hear first generation Chinese Americans talk about things like this because it wasn't really talked about in our families. And one of our first guests in our episode on depression and suicide in the LGBTQ community, he is Greek. And he talked about how mental health isn't really talked about as much in the Greek community as well. I think it just ties into the immigrant status for people just coming from a different country, trying to succeed in America. It just seems like mental health would be a weakness. It's basically you versus the world. You're trying to live the American dream. You're trying to succeed in whatever way possible, and you don't want to show this weakness to other people. And so I think that's why it became stigmatized in cultures and immigrants because they don't want to appear weak to others.(:
I wonder if today, one, we're seeing a turn in the tide there because, one, folks like you who are so bravely talking about your trials and tribulations, going through mental health and facing it head on and finding the benefits of going through it. But also the increased access and awareness to mental health facilities. We are talking on a podcast and probably one of the largest advertisers in the space right now is Better Help, a platform specifically for folks to be able to find convenient mental health partners to work with. I wonder if in your work, if you're starting to see a little bit of that, too.(:
Yeah, I've actually used Better Help to find a therapist. I went to TT Austin, then I moved back to Houston. I had a therapist in Austin, but I wanted to see someone in person, so I used Better Help and found a therapist. Just the amount of resources and tools available are definitely making it easier and helpful for people. One thing I talked about in one of our episodes is that the internet has definitely helped people. In our episode, we specifically talk about the gay community. What if you're growing up in this rural farm town where being gay is less accepted? People now have the internet. You can go on Reddit or something and find a community and just feel more comfortable if you're physically somewhere where it's less accepting. Just having those resources and people that you can now talk to and relate to online is huge, I think, for mental health. I want to shift.(:
A little bit more to your podcast. One thing that I think folks will find fascinating, most of the people that we talk to, most of the shows that we highlight on Cosmods, it usually follows the more traditional common format of somebody just talking about their thing or someone interviewing other people on the topic that is of interest to them. But you guys have a little bit more production that goes into this, where you have a little bit more of a, I'm going to call it a script, a format that you're looking to follow. Tell us a little bit about what.(:
The structure of your show is, how you've organized these episodes, what the game plan is, and how you got to that. It definitely took time. We launched March 6, but we were ready to launch January, and we were audio was nowhere as good. We were just talking without an outline in every episode. After doing lots of research, this has been my passion project, just late nights reading blogs, reading different material, watching videos, just learning what works and what doesn't work, and talking to other successful podcasters. We realized what was really important that we needed to get out there first is why we're doing it. And that's the story of Losing Our Parents. So season 1, we reshifted everything, we rerecorded everything. Season 1 is a memoir style season where we first talk about the story of losing our parents in full with all three of us talking. And then we all give our different perspectives. And I think that's important because although the story is the same, there's some small details and things that are different. And also where we were at when our mom attempted suicide for the second time, I was in Austin, Texas, still in school.(:
Michelle, the oldest sister, was in Paris and Tina was in Houston. And so hearing Michelle talk about her, she was sitting at a French cafe outside with her friends. And she got this call from her dad that our mom had jumped from the second floor of a parking garage and she had to fly from Paris. And I said, I can't even imagine having to fly eight to 10 hours back and just have that on the back of your mind. The point of views were really important to get those different details. And then we did a best friend's point of view, which I think was really important as well. Getting an outside perspective. I had three of my best friends come and talk about being there for me and being such a great support system for my family and me and just talking about how knowing us has impacted their mental health, helped them learn how to be more supportive and continue the conversation of normalizing mental health. Sorry. After that, we did a What We Learned episode and just talked about how we've grown, seeing therapists and things like that. Now we've started season two.(:
This is where it becomes a more traditional podcast format where it's conversations on a different topic on each episode. The first episode we've released is, like I said, it's on depression and suicide in the LGBTQ community. Our guest, he struggled with depression and anxiety growing up gay and eventually coming out. He was suicidal because of that. It was a great, really powerful topic. We pulled some statistics from the Trevor Project, which is a great resource.(:
We just had a great conversation on that topic. Like you said, you're putting a lot more production value, a lot more thought, a lot more scripting into this content that you're putting out there. How many hours are you putting into each episode? I know that your sisters are showing up, they're recording, they're pouring their hearts out. There's definitely... It takes a lot of work and a lot of effort and a lot of strain to do that. But you're really the one who's slicing and dicing the.(:
Audio, doing all the back end work, supporting everything. What time are you putting into the show? I can't even count anymore how many all nighters I've pulled just because it's honestly fun for me when people say it's work and it's a grind and it gets difficult, then maybe you should stop doing it. But for me, it's been a fun learning process. Me staying up all night and researching and working on outlines and working on marketing material, it's fun. It continues to be a learning experience for me, and I love that. But I guess in terms of a number value, I'd say easily probably 20 plus hours a week just preparing outlines, researching, finding what works, creating marketing material, and more of the admin work. I'd say probably around 20 hours a week.(:
Because this is so deeply personal to you, and I mean, that's true of most of the people who we chat with on the show, but because this is, to an extent, reliving a trauma, is it partially therapeutic to be working on this? Does it help you in other ways that you maybe didn't think it would when you started this venture? Oh, definitely.(:
It has been very therapeutic, very beneficial for my mental health and my sister's mental health. We've talked about things that we've never talked about with each other, learned things that we've never learned about each other just through having these conversations. And it's helped us grow so much closer. Michelle and I have seen therapists and psychiatrists, but Tina hasn't. And I think it's been great for her as well. It helped us break out of her comfort zone a little bit and just grow closer as siblings, as family. And it has been very therapeutic for me. Traumatic events, it's easy to make those memories hazy and you want to forget about them. And so bringing those memories back up brings a different perspective and a different light on what happened. And it allows us to become more at peace with what happened is how I think about it. Have any of the mental health professionals who you've worked.(:
With provided any feedback, not so much on the show itself, but just on the efforts you're putting into the show as far as the benefits or whether it might be concerning to them that you're doing all this work on the show and going through all this recapping this so often in your daily life? Yeah.(:
So the therapist I'm seeing now was the individual therapist that I got paired with during my outpatient therapy program. He specializes in grief and trauma, and he's great. He's really smart, knows how to talk about different subjects and just relate to me a lot. And he's seen me in the program. He saw me when I was struggling at my lowest point. What he said the past few months is there's a spark in your eye. There's an energy now when you come and talk and you seem excited and motivated. I think that's great. He's probably tired of me talking about the podcast. He's probably like, All right, just talk about what's really going on. But I'm just like, Oh, my God. This is what I'm.(:
Doing on the podcast. This is what I'm talking about. I think that's the.(:
Official sign you've made it as a podcast, or is when the people.(:
Around you are like, enough about your podcast. Exactly. Just tell me when to shut up. Specifically about the podcast itself. You've never really produced audio media content in general. You're really fresh going into all this. What were some of the big lessons you learned along the way? And to somebody else hearing this and thinking, this might be a great medium for me to raise.(:
Awareness, deal with my mental health issues. What would be your advice to the next person? I think first, understand what the purpose is for you starting the podcast. I say that getting downloads and followers is great, but you need to You need a true purpose for doing it. And like I've said, it's raising awareness and being able to hopefully positively impact someone. So having that purpose is what continues to drive me. Be humble. I've done so much research, but there's still so much I can learn. That's why I met with you to get feedback on the podcast. I continue to use Twitter and Reddit to learn different things. So I continue to want to learn and just try out different things. Don't be afraid to do something different. Don't be afraid to go down the... I can't think of the word.(:
Go down the unwalked road. I don't know.(:
The rabbit holes and the path less taken.(:
Yeah, the path less taken is what I was looking for. What has been the most enjoyable part about creating and producing.(:
And publishing your own podcast? Like I said, growing closer with my sisters, but just the amount of love and appreciation I've received from not just my friends and family, but people that I don't even know that well, people that message me or Instagram messaged me or text me and just say that they love it. And I think what was the highlight was when we threw a launch party for it. And I was only expecting to be a few people to show up. But the amount of people that came just was a perfect metaphor, almost, for what the podcast is about. It's about moving on past this grief and trauma and enjoying time and with the people you love and just appreciating those good moments and just continuing to carry on.(:
As part of everyone's appearance on Cause Bob's, we like to not only talk about their show and their journey and their cause, but also we like to raise awareness for another effort that they think is important to them. For today, you are highlighting the Dream and Future by Dream Away Foundation. Tell us a little bit about what the Dream and Future Foundation does and why they mean so much to you.(:
Yeah. T hey're actually based in Austin as well. I've had the opportunity. I know the president, she's a friend of mine. When they heard about the podcast, they thought it was just a natural fit to work together. I've met the CEO and President, and they're all about improving the lives of the youth and anti bullying and helping the youth, especially those of different backgrounds, just live a better life, have more access to resources and things along those lines. I think that's extremely important being a first generation Chinese American. I think bullying is one of their big things, and I think that's especially prevalent in today's day and age, especially with social media. And I think that's just really important to continue to spread awareness for the youth and help them have the resources available to be better people, continue to help others and help them grow. So we are in the works of planning a couple of charity events just to raise awareness and raise money to help raise awareness for their cause. So I'm really excited to be working with them.(:
And are they doing anything specifically with the show yet, or have you partnered on the show itself in any way?(:
We haven't yet, but there are plans to do an episode with them. The CEO, she also is an immigrant of Asian descent, and her family live in Florida, and her daughter, who is 18 or 19 now, I believe, she dealt with a lot of racism and things along those lines. So that's a subject that is of extreme importance to her and her family. And she has spoken that she wants to come and talk about that subject. And I think I can relate to that. My sister and I can relate to that just also being Asian American and having had dealt with things like that growing up. So that'll be great. And then, like I said, we have a couple of events that we are going to start planning.(:
So again, before we let you go, anything else that you want to share with our audience or share with prospective podcasters out there who are thinking about using this medium specifically to take on or advocate for a cause that matters to them?(:
Yeah, it seems scary. It's like, how do I start a podcast? There's so much to learn. There's so much to do. But take that leap of faith. The podcast community is extremely kind, willing to help. There's so much to learn, but there's so many people willing to help. And so take that leap of faith. You never know who you can impact, who you can positively impact, and how many people you can impact. I know even if I only received two people saying something positive and that I impacted them. That's all that really matters. Whether it be two people or a thousand people, as long as I left a positive impact on someone, then I did what the goal of my podcast was supposed to about having a cause. And that's what inspires me, like I said. And I hope that if there's a cause or something that you want to talk about, that is what your inspiration is and what continues to drive you. Just continue on, continue to learn and continue to try to be the best you can be and truly live the words that you say in your message.(:
I don't think I could have said it any better myself. The show is called The Three Sibling's Podcast. It is available on obviously all the platforms, so you can find it. We will throw a link to the show here in the show notes where you can find it very easily. We would encourage you all to check it out and see the future episodes that are coming down the pike. Sonny Chang, host and creator of the Three Sibling's podcast, thank you so much for joining us here today.(:
Thank you so much. I really enjoyed it and had a great time.(:
Thanks for listening to this episode of Cause Pods. If you've been inspired by the work of our guest, please check out the show notes to this episode in your podcasting app or at causepods. Org. There you will find links to their show, their website, their podcast links on Apple, Google, Spotify, as well as a link to support the charity that they highlighted here in this episode. You will also find at causepods. Org a way to subscribe to this show on your favorite podcasting app, how to sign up to be a guest on this.(:
A link to our Facebook group, which is going to have special resources just for the folks who are podcasting for a good cause. I can tell you, right now, we've got one great deal from our Friends at PodP age, but you're only going to learn about it and get that special deal if you are a member of the Facebook group for Cause Pods. Before I go, I should say thank you in particular. The show is edited and produced by Ben Killroy of the Military Veteran Dads podcast. What a great job he has done. A ll this is made possible because of the great support that I receive from Shannon Rohas here at the podcastconsultant. Com. Once again, if you want to learn more, go to causepods. Org. Thank you so much and we will see you next time on Cause Pods.