Mental Health Association Hope & Courage Award

Hello readers,

I won an award! Specifically, the Mental Health Association Hope & Courage Award in the Client category, which goes to the most impactful mental health advocate in Orange County who has received mental health services. Huge honor!

I didn’t expect to win, and apparently I sat there looking shocked for a few seconds. People had to tell me to stand up and walk onto the stage.

I also didn’t prepare much for a speech, which ended up with some Hufsa babbling (which is always awkward but very genuine too).

From my memory, my speech went something like this:

I didn’t prepare a speech because I didn’t think I would win, but I am honored to receive this award. This award really goes out to the people who have helped me in my recovery. This isn’t the Oscars, so I won’t list them, but I will say my mom is here in this room. (10 second ovation for my mother)

This award also goes out to the other nominees and to the people here. Everyone in this room helps individuals with mental health conditions find recovery and I am so thankful for all of you.

(turning to CEO) Do I have to talk more?

And then I was ushered off stage in my shocked state.

Pictures!

Never been so honored and complimented, so I revamped the website. Changed pictures, included new information, made sections more concise, and made the site MUCH more mobile friendly. Yay for Photoshop trials!

Words to Prepare Me for the Next Presidency 

My dearest friends, I began this post with something that many people, including myself, don’t want to hear: that things are going to be okay. 

With one addition: Only as long as we remain vigilant and active. 

I’ve watched my groups be affected. Islamophobia has spiked, is rampant, and will not decline anytime soon. Finding out that two mosques were burned down across the country in one week almost broke me, if I’m going to be honest. When my people get terrorized, who is there to say something about it? The room is quiet but a few whispers.

And then there is my fellow mentally ill, a term I use with great endearment. With the repeal of ACA, I don’t know how many people I serve will lose their access to mental health treatment, and that kills me. I’m brought to tears every time I think about it. And I know there will come the day, this year, when I will have to seek new insurance without the protections of ACA. As it stands, that could mean that I will lose access to my desperately needed treatment. Which, honestly, could mean that I will die. 

But for me to fixate on these things — without doing anything about them — means that I would lose sight of the bigger picture. I know that I am one of the few, or only, mental health advocates and Muslim people that many people know. I need to remain strong, to be that example, to show that my groups are strong people. My fellow Muslims, mentally ill, and women are all far stronger than me, and I must represent them to the greatest of my ability.

So with that I just focus on what I can do now. Continue to advocate. Try my best to stay updated on politics. Take some time at least once per month to just sit down and make calls or write emails. Write a blog post every once in awhile (no promises though). Do not divide myself from people I care about because of political differences; seek to understand and work together. The list goes on.

I have to stay strong and know that it’s not over. Is it not so encouraging to see how many people are speaking up and becoming politically active? We cannot deny that if we look back in history and note that regardless of what’s happening, we have in fact made progress, and we will never regress to the point where we have slaves, segregation, and complete inequality for women ever again. Never.

Remember, we always have the opportunity to make history. 

I love you all. Whether you are feeling dismayed, sad, depressed, horrified, angry, the same, better, or worse as me, apathetic, ambivalent, or hopeful — I support you. And I swear to myself, that in the end, it WILL be okay.

Suicide Hotline: A Lifeline as Important as 9-1-1

Can you imagine a world where Robin Williams was still alive, and spoke as openly about his depression as his alcoholism, where he declared the importance of reaching out for help in direst of times: when one is suicidal?

Unfortunately, he is gone (and may he rest in peace). But I am trying to do these things in his stead. September is National Suicide Prevention Awareness Month and today I only have one message to convey: the Suicide Crisis Line number.

800-273-TALK (8255)
Open 24/7 and is free
Chat is also available on their website here

Any amount of suicidal thoughts merits a call.

Please, save this number in your phone. You never know if you or someone you know needs it. The number has saved the lives of many people I know, and from the account of one of my friends:

It was 4:30am when I went downstairs to get a glass of water. I cried as I walked up the stairs, because I was going to overdose on my medication. After typing up a suicide note, before I clicked send, something stopped me. I don’t know what made me do it, but I started looking through my contacts. I found the number for the Suicide Prevention Lifeline. I spoke with a guy named Andrew who talked me about my current problems and options. Before I hung up with him, he asked me if I would call back if I felt the urge to commit suicide again, and I promised I would.

The next day I saw my therapist. Eventually I did check myself into a psychiatric unit voluntarily, but if I didn’t speak to Andrew, I wouldn’t be here today.

The Suicide Prevention Lifeline saved my life, and I know I’m not the only one.

-J.L.

I hope that none of you ever has to call that number. But it is there if you need it.

Lastly, know that you can call 9-1-1 in case of a psychiatric emergency as well.

Cognitive Distortions Are Not Limited to People with Mental Illness, So Let’s All Learn about Cognitive Behavioral Therapy (CBT)

People with mental illness are taught about the cognitive distortions we have, which ranges from black and white thinking (a.k.a polarized thinking), to overgeneralization, to catastrophizing. However, after learning about and practicing Cognitive Behavioral Therapy techniques for 6 weeks, people can dramatically change the way they think, feel, and behave.

Cognitive behavioral therapy (CBT) is a short-term, goal-oriented psychotherapy treatment that takes a hands-on, practical approach to problem-solving. Its goal is to change patterns of thinking or behavior that are behind people’s difficulties, and so change the way they feel.

– PsychCentral article, In-Depth: Cognitive Behavioral Therapy

CBT 15 distorted thinking

Source: https://counselingcenter.gwu.edu/sites/counselingcenter.gwu.edu/files/downloads/15%20STYLES%20OF%20DISTORTING%20THINKING.pdf

These are the 15 styles of distorted thinking I learned about. Filtering is an awful problem, where people might only focus on their mistakes and not their accomplishments. People who are depressed will frequently only notice and react to the things that contribute to their depression. Polarized Thinking (a.k.a. Black and White thinking), means that people will see a person, circumstance, or the world as one thing: “I am all bad,” “I am a failure,” “I can’t do anything.”

Self-talk is very powerful in combating these thoughts. For example:

Hey, me! You’re having polarized thinking again! Remember, nothing is all good or all bad, and everyone has successes and un-successes! -Good CBT practice

It’s funny, though, because as I have started getting back into reading news and social media, I’m noticing that society as a whole has distorted thinking patterns. Seriously, (almost) everyone needs to be taught CBT. One class on Distorted Thinking in schools may do wonders for society.

To walk you through an example, I’m going to reference comments made about mentally ill individuals.

15 Styles of Distorted Thinking from Everyday People on the Topic of People with Mental Illness

  1. Filtering: The news only shows instances of mentally ill people being violent and dangerous.
  2. Polarized Thinking: “All of the mentally ill are incapable of holding jobs and fellow residents.”
  3. Overgeneralization: The news shows us the worst of mentally ill people, so average people believe that all of us are like that.
  4. Mind Reading: “Everyone feels the same way as me about the mentally ill.”
  5. Catastrophizing: “What if we allow the mentally ill into our neighborhoods through public/affordable housing? What if we have a homeless shelter near our neighborhood? Our children will be assaulted and traumatized!”
  6. Personalization: “My son gets so agitated. I do not know what I’m doing wrong.”
  7. Control Fallacies: “I feel like the government is controlling us by expanding Medicaid. Why won’t they listen to us that we shouldn’t waste our government money on insurance for those people?”
  8. Fallacy of Fairness: “It’s not fair that we don’t want the mentally ill in our backyard and the government is not listening to us.”
  9. Blaming: “I don’t understand why depressed people can’t get out of bed. They are so lazy.”
  10. Shoulds: “People shouldn’t have to take meds to feel better. People shouldn’t have to live off welfare. People should be able to get jobs and take care of themselves.”
  11. Emotional Reasoning: “I feel like mentally ill people are scary so they must be bad for our society.”
  12. Fallacy of Change: “If I tell my friend that he is not depressed, he will get out of bed.”
  13. Global Labeling: “Mentally ill people are violent and disturbing.”
  14. Being Right: The people who spam Twitter saying that psychiatry is BS and that mental illness is not real.
  15. Heaven’s Reward Fallacy: “We have been putting all of our efforts to point out what BS mental health is. It’s not real. The world should understand.”

To be fair, I think a lot of these distortions have been taught to us and extremely, extremely, extremely exacerbated by negative influences like the media and previous societal norms.

IDEA: Regardless of who you are and what you fight for, I encourage you to make a post pointing out any of the Distorted Thinking patterns related to the general public’s perception your issue, whether it’s related to religion, abortion, gun control, consent, etc. Let’s show the world how messed up our thinking is so we can fix it! And if you feel like you don’t know CBT well enough, just pick the one you find most applicable and understandable – Polarized/Black and White Thinking, Overgeneralization, and Catastrophizing I’d say are pretty easy to understand.

P.S. If I remember correctly, Cognitive Distortions has been renamed to Unhelpful Thinking Styles in more recent therapeutic worksheets.

AND I AM BACK!!!

Mentally-Chill.com has successfully been transferred to WordPress, where I hope to become part of a strong blogging community. It was good times, Blogger, but I must move on. Thanks to the folks who helped me with the transfer. I’ve also redesigned the website to include more information about me.

 

Transitioning

I am trying to import my posts from my Blogger page, as well as transfer my domain name. And of course, trying to finish parts of the website. If you happen to stumble on this, please be patient as I finish this up!