Carnival of Aces February 2018: Mental Health First Aid

[This is my submission for the Carnival of Aces for February 2018 hosted this month by Sophia on the topic of “Mental Health“. You can find out more about the Carnival of Aces, read previous topics, or sign up to become a host by visiting the Carnival of Aces master post: https://asexualagenda.wordpress.com/a-carnival-of-aces-masterpost/ ]

I’ve actually been really lucky when it comes to my mental health. I was struggling to come up with a topic that was ace-related, so I’ll just talk about this really cool certification you can get.

Lots of people have taken a first aid class so you probably know what to do if someone has a broken arm or if someone is choking and you might even know CPR, but do you know what to do if someone is having a panic-attack? A PTSD flashback? What if someone you know is showing signs of depression or one of your friends has an eating disorder? Do you know what to do then?

I had to be certified in Mental Health First aid for one of my previous jobs and I felt it was a valuable experience. Just reading this post isn’t a substitute for the certification so if you’re interested please check out their website and find an instructor near you.

ALGEE.png

I’ll be going over the 5-step action plan. The course uses the acronym A.L.G.E.E. to help students remember the steps. Unlike with regular First Aid courses these steps don’t have to happen in order, the ALGEE acronym is used primarily as a memory tool

Step A: Assess for risk of suicide or harm.
This step is very important. If you think someone is going to hurt themself or someone else, drop everything and dial 911 (or your country’s emergency number). You only proceed to the next steps if you don’t think there is an immediate threat to life or safety and you can always come back to this step if you need to.

Step L: Listen nonjudgmentally.
This is the hardest step so I’m going to go into more depth. Whenever someone has a problem we have this knee-jerk reaction to a) want to help and b) give advice. There is a time and a place for that, but you might actually do the most good just being an attentive listener. Sometimes people just need to vent and they need someone to understand.

Say, for example, your friend just randomly says, “ugh, I feel fat.” Your first instinct is to be like “No! You’re not fat!” and “You’re prefect the way you are!” because they are your friend and they are wonderful, but by doing that you just completely discounted/dismissed their feelings and shut down any hope of a conversation.

A better response would be, “Why do you feel that way?” or “Why do you think that?” Asking open-ended questions continues the conversation and allows you to probe for warning signs. Maybe your friend ate two donuts for breakfast because traffic was hell and they were late to class. Maybe they have deep anxiety about their body image or an eating disorder. The only way you’ll know for sure is if you hold back on the advice for a minute and really actively listen.

I was watching a really good video on YouTube about Mental Health resources. It’s an hour long, but it covers some really good general information. One of the speakers was talking about “Remember to be human”. Ask probing questions like, “How are you doing?” “Are you getting enough sleep?” “Hey, do you need me to stop by with some breakfast tacos before your exam?” This is an easy way to check up on somebody’s mental health. Eating too much or too little, sleeping too much or too little, body aches, headaches, heart palpitations, and feeling out of breath are all physical signs that could point to a mental health problem that people could miss or dismiss if they aren’t actively listening.

Step G- Give reassurance and information.
This is different from giving advice. You’re assuring the person that you care about them, that you support them, and that you’re there if they need it. Don’t give advice, give information like:
The Suicide Prevention Lifeline: 1-800-273-TALK (8255)
The Trevor Project Lifeline: 1-866-488-7386
National Domestic Violence Hotline : 1-800-799-SAFE (7233)
National Sexual Assault Hotline: 1-800-656-HOPE (4673)
https://www.mentalhealthfirstaid.org/mental-health-resources/

The National Alliance on Mental Illness (NAMI) has a really good website to check out for information and links to resources.

Sometimes it takes a long time before people are ready to seek out help. That’s okay. It’s not a race to get better. The important thing is to be there for them and be ready with information when they are ready to seek out professional help. Keep referring back to steps A and L.

Step E: Encourage appropriate professional help.
Step E: Encourage self-help and other support strategies.

Whenever someone thinks “mental health” they automatically think “shrink”. Psychologists and psychiatrists are few and far between, very specialized, and can be very expensive. What a lot of people don’t know is they can go to their primary doctor for antidepressants and anti-anxiety medications. There are even some specialized nurses who can write prescriptions for medication.

What ends up happening is people wait weeks or even months to see a specialist when they could have gotten the same service faster from a primary care or family doctor. Social workers are another community resource that have special Mental Health related certifications. These folks will probably be your first point of contact and if you or your loved one needs a specialist they can help you find a good and affordable fit.

You can be proactive and look for resources in your community that might easily be overlooked. https://www.nami.org/Find-Your-Local-NAMI

Maybe now you’ll want convince your work or school to host a Mental Health First Aid course, but for the moment take some time to become better prepared to support someone else or your own mental health by checking out and exploring the NAMI website. Write down or save some of those important numbers for someone who might need them and check out these resource pages:
https://www.nami.org/Find-Support/LGBTQ
https://www.mentalhealthfirstaid.org/mental-health-resources/

I’ve been super lucky when it comes to my mental health, but it’s still a load off my mind to know that there are some places I can go to or numbers I can call if something ever comes up.

Advertisements

Lingistic Relativity (a.ka. My Personal Pet-peeve)

This article about how a language’s future tense structure affects its speaker’s savings practices popped up on my twitter feed and sent me into a right tizzy. “Hate” is a strong word, but if there’s one thing I hate it’s Lingistic Relativity theory, aka Sapir–Whorf Hypothesis. I am obviously bias when it comes to lingsuistic relativity, so I’m going to review my virtue epistemology cheat-sheet before I start ranting.

My first objection is Mr. Chen isn’t a linguist or psychologist; Mr. Chen is an economist and therefore he would have needed to do his due diligence by consulting language experts for his study. My second objection is that the TED article is nearly five years old and does not include any rebuttals to Mr. Chen’s findings by psychologists or linguists.

It just so happens I have one rebuttal on hand because reading (or rather listening on audible) to my favorite linguist rip neo-Whorfianism a new one gives me such joy.

In his book, The Language Hoax: Why the World Looks the Same in Any Language, American Linguist Professor John H. McWhorter has a short section dedicated to Mr. Chen’s study and includes a graph from the study:

image006

There’s a visibly huge difference between Luxembourg and Greece, but if you exclude those two extremes it looks to me like there’s not really a significantly huge difference between savings rates. If you exclude Luxembourg, then the next two countries with the highest savings rates are South Korea and Russia, both of which Chen marks as languages with future tense markers. This is a problem according to Professor McWhorter

Chen, although making a diligent effort to consult the grammars, was misled by the fact that ultimately, grammars can be unreliable when it comes to explaining whether or not a language “marks the future” as regularly as English does. For example, Chen has Russian as a future-marking language. And indeed, you can get that impression from a grammar of Russian that devotes itself to telling an English speaker that you express the future by doing x, y, and z. However, Russian does not have anything you could call a future marker in the sense of English will or the future tense conjugations you might recall in French and Spanish.

It is part of learning Russian, in fact, to wrap your head around expressing the future by implying it, through bits of stuff that mean other things…In Russian, the future usually piggybacks this way on something else. The details are oppressive and, here, unnecessary, but suffice it to say that while in English the big distinction is between now, then, and later, in Russian the big distinction is between “flowing along” and “bang, right then,” whether in the past, present, or future. The future, in Russian, is largely expressed as one of various takes on “bang, right then.” So, ja pisal means “I was writing,” that is, flowing along writing. But add na– and say ja na-pisal and it means “I wrote”—right then. Tell someone to write something (right now) and you say Na-pishi! In the same way, to say “I will write” you use that same na– bit and say Na-pishu. The idea is that you are not talking about just writing along, over a period of time—rather, you mean you will start some writing. Right now, writing will start.

But this means that in Russian, there is no marker you can think of as being specifically for expressing the future. Russian offers no table of future tense endings to learn. A Russian struggles to explain to an English speaker what “the future in Russian” is, typically resorting to just giving examples like na-pishu whose endings, in terms of conjugation, are in the present tense. True, you can use the be verb to say “I’ll be writing”—ja budu pisat’. This is the kind of thing Chen likely came across…Overall, to learn Russian as an English speaker is to ask, at some point, “How, exactly, do you put a verb in the future?”

So that means that on Chen’s chart, the Russian bar should be white. Now, as it happens, if it were white, that would be good for Chen, because Russians are actually good savers. For him, Russian as a future-marking language is something he has to classify as “noise,” because his idea is that languages that mark the future make their speakers save less money. But this actually creates more, not fewer problems.

Russian is part of a family of languages, the Slavic brood, that largely all work the same way. The facts on the future are the same for Czech, Slovak, and Polish. Predictably from his take on Russian, Chen codes all of them as future marking. Yet on his chart, Czechs are good savers (another problem even under his analysis), while Poles are bad ones, and Slovaks are somewhere in between.

This leaves Chen in a muddle no matter how we parse the data. We might say that even if Russian and friends don’t have a word or prefix like will that is only for future, they do require a speaker to do something to make the future, even if that something can also be used for other things. So, we could say that calling them nonfuture languages is splitting hairs. But then, why are Russian, Czech, Slovak, and Polish spread all the way across the grid? Shouldn’t they, if grammar shapes thrift, cluster?

But then if we accept that these four languages are not future marking and should all be white, then that distribution is still a fatal flaw. What is Polish, in particular, doing way over on the right with the bad savers, when Poles (as I have confirmed in exchanges with a Polish speaker while writing this) have the same hard time telling an English speaker how to “make a verb future” as Russians, and for the same reason? We might add that Czech and Slovak are essentially the same language—why would their speakers be so many bars apart if we are really seeing a meaningful correlation between grammar and having the discipline to save?

Meanwhile, Slovenian is also a Slavic language and, as it happens, it does have an actual future-marking construction. But on Chen’s chart, aren’t Slovenians a little too far leftward in the thrifty realm for people with a future-marker that supposedly should be discouraging them from socking funds away for a rainy day?

And there’s some more. For example, Korean, too, requires an English speaker to give up the idea of a “future marker.” Nothing in Korean corresponds to will—Chen may have gotten an impression otherwise from a suffix that is translatable as roughly “could” or “might.” But that’s not will.

Whether we keep the four Slavic bars black or white, their spreading all the way across the thriftiness grid, in combination with the Korean problem, renders Chen’s chart a randomness. Ultimately, it comes down to this. Given how Chen’s chart actually corresponds with the grammars in question—such as that future-marking Slovenian is right next to Anglophone Australia but twenty-one bars leftward of the Anglophone United States—how plausible is it that the reason savings rates in the United States have been so low has anything at all to do with the word will?

I also noted that Ireland is not clustered with Australia, US, or UK. Another thing that bothers me is that language doesn’t obey country boarders. Languages will have different “shades” depending on how close they are to other languages. A country may have an official language for business, but citizens will speak their native language in the home. The whole Chen study just does not make sense to me.  I think it’s a case of saying it’s the buggy pushing the horse.

Your language doesn’t shape your world view; It’s your world view, i.e. your culture, that shapes your language.

/rant.

Carnival of Aces August 2017: “Post-Fact” and “Alternative Science”

[This is my post of the Carnival of Aces for August 2017 hosted this month by Asexual Research. The topic this month is “Asexuality and Academia“]

I really shouldn’t have struggled with this topic as much as I have since I’m a) asexual and b) a student. For my post I’m going to write my reaction to This Article titled “In Post-Fact America, Alternative Scientists Put Belief Ahead Of Fact” by secondnexus.com.  I originally saw a link to the article on twitter.

My biggest issue with the article is this part-

“…this alternative science — that is, science based solely on opinion supported by no evidence or proof — is gaining influence and demanding equal access.”

“Science” that is not based on evidence or proof is NOT science and should not be called as such. The article is both criticizing and legitimizing pseudoscience by calling it “science” and its practitioners “scientists”. My concern is that media outlets are, intentionally or otherwise, legitimizing “alternative-facts” and a “post-fact reality” by how they talk about them.

My favorite movie of all time is Denial (2016), a courtroom drama based on the book History on Trial: My Day in Court With a Holocaust Denier by Deborah Lipstadt. It’s not really a “how-to” when it comes to dealing with post-fact individuals… actually, I’m going to do like they do in the film and call them what they are: liars. The film isn’t a “how-to” when it comes to dealing with liars and falsifiers, but it presents the problem in a “dragons can be beaten” kind of way which is something that I need on occasion.

Liars have it easy. The common man isn’t going to take the time to fact check, especially if there’s a grain of truth to what is being said. It takes tremendous time and effort to get to the bottom something. Researching is a learned skill and it’s not a skill I personally learned easily or willingly to be honest. I hated doing research for classwork because the emphasis was on the process, not the necessity. 

I realized research was a necessary skill when I had to sign my own medical consent form for the first time and the form said in plain text, “Medicine is not an exact science.” I looked at the receptionist and asked, “What do you mean ‘medicine is not an exact science’? Shouldn’t it be the oldest and the most exact science there is?” It’s no wonder that shortly afterward that I discovered asexuality by doing my own digging. I realized that I needed to seek out information relative to me. I had to start asking my own questions without relying on the answers being spoon fed. Research became necessary.

Unfortunately there is so little research about asexuality. 1% might not sound like a lot, but redheads (like me) make up about 2% of the world population and there are some very important, medically relevant quirks doctors need to consider when treating a red haired person. It really sucks when I’m in the middle of a dental treatment and the Novocaine is starting to wear off.

I’m worried that media outlets are fueling the “alternative-fact” mindset. I’m worried this will hinder asexual awareness efforts. I need asexuality to be taken seriously for my own health and sanity, but I have to wonder if the truth of asexuality is enough to compete against the much louder, more controversial, and perhaps more news worthy beliefs of liars and falsifiers. I also have to wonder, do they outnumber us?

“A Political Cost of Social Unorganization”by thenoteswhichdonotfit

A while back I did this post about activism and political engagement, but something I missed was individual effort versus group/organizational effort. This post, A Political Cost of Social Unorganization, by Sara K. brings up a really important point that the most effective political impact isn’t accomplished on the individual level, but by politically active groups and organizations. It’s tough if you’re an introvert/ambivert like me and don’t warm up to groups very fast or really have time to be politically active on top of daily life. However, doing anything is 100% better than doing nothing so go ahead and check out the posts mentioned above.

Carnival of Aces February 2017: Resistance, Activism, & Self-Care

[This is my submission for the Carnival of Aces February 2017 on the topic of “Resistance, Activism, & Self-Care” hosted this month by The Asexual Agenda (click link for more info on what a “blogging carnival” is and to see previous topics)]

Frustrated by recent political actions and inspired by the Women’s March, a wonderful group of folks came together to hold an 8 hour conference this past weekend called the Rise Up – Texas Action Event in Austin, TX to talk about current issues, ways to take action, and to exchanged some ideas and best practices for resistance and activism. I was able to attend this event so I’ll be sharing my 6 take-aways from this conference for my Carnival of Aces submission.

Continue reading “Carnival of Aces February 2017: Resistance, Activism, & Self-Care”

Carnival of Aces for November ’16: Relationship Anarchy

[This is my submission for the Carnival of Aces November 2016 hosted this month by Dee of It’s An Ace Thing for the topic of “relationship anarchy”. The Carnival of Aces is a monthly blogging carnival centered around a particular topic. For more information about the CoA see the >>Master Post<<]

When I first saw the topic for this month I was a little skeptical (having never heard the term before), but after reading into it a little more I can see how relationship anarchy would appeal to many people (including myself). As an aromantic asexual I shy away from the idea of relationships because of the expectations that come with them. We’ve all seen the Hollywood romance model: Boy meets girl, they date, they sex it up, they fight, they make up, sex it up again, roll credits. It’s all very formulaic and I am all for breaking that standard model.

I’m slightly romance-repulsed. If a random person walks up and tries to hit on me I’ll either a) not realize that’s what they’re trying to do or b) internally-freak-out-and-give-them-the-choice-of-solving-three-riddles,-completing-an-impossible-task,-or-going-on-quest. Then to make things even more complicated, I’m a nonbinary gender (agender). So following the standard relationship model does not work for me and my only option really is relationship anarchy.

What’s the point of a relationship without sex or romance?” Well, just because I don’t feel romantic or sexual attraction doesn’t mean I don’t feel any attraction at all. I still feel sensual attraction. If I were to confess to a ‘sensual-crush’ (and I did that just today actually), I would say, “I want to hug you. You are allowed to enter into my personal space.” and I would consider them an acceptable cuddle-buddy. Words like “dating” freak me out, but despite all that I still want to have healthy and wholesome relationships.

Relationships of all kinds are defined by unwritten rules that dictate what you can and cannot feel and what behavior is considered normal. For me that is very oppressive. I would love to live in a world where my “before everyone else” is a mutual platonic partnership. I would love to live in a world where my “love” for my mentors is just as celebrated and talked about as a romantic love for a significant other would be. I would be over the moon if the social norm was that one of the first questions people ask me is NOT “do you have a boyfriend/girlfriend”?  and instead, “what is your most significant relationship?”

Right now my most significant relationship is with my tai chi mentor because they are making the most positive impact on my life right now. I want to be able to talk about and celebrate that relationship with others, but I can’t because of the social expectations. If I talked about a mentor like I want to people would think it’s weird or they’d mock me for having a “secret crush” when it’s not like that at all. I usually do fall “in love” with my mentors, but it’s always in a non-romantic way. I see those kinds of relationships as reverent and worth celebrating and talking about, but because of our social norms I can’t do exactly that.

I want Hollywood to tell a “Falling in Best Friends” kind of story. I want Hollywood to STOP KILLING OFF THE MENTOR CHARACTERS because that’s the only way they know how to talk about the relationship. I want us as a society to stop worshiping romantic love like it’s the end all, be all way. I believe all kinds of relationships are worth celebrating and talking about. I didn’t have a word for it before, but I guess “relationship anarchy” is what I’ve been wishing for all along.

If you’re into me, then you’re not straight: Orientations and attractions to non-binary people

Hey there, folks! Check out this awesome post by valprehension touching on Non-binary erasure and complication when is comes to orientation labels. The title says it all.

Non-binary people are a weird position in the dating world (ok, I mean, we’re in a pretty weird position all the time to be honest. But anyway, today I’m talking about the dating world)…

Source: If you’re into me, then you’re not straight: Orientations and attractions to non-binary people

My number one take-away from the post was the mention of the complication that came with people identifying as “straight” while still being sexually/romantically attracted to non-binary individuals and how “straight” and “heterosexual” don’t mean the same thing. I greatly enjoyed the post and will be thinking about this topic in the future.