Muslim-American Mental Health Advocate Melody Moezzi is Putting Up a Fierce Fight (Interview by Linea Johnson)

In 2013, I was attending a conference by the Depression Bipolar Support Alliance in Miami to receive their Life Unlimited Award for my work in mental health as an advocate and author. I had been in the advocacy world for about six years, and the book I’d co-written with my mother about my struggle with bipolar and her struggle to help me had been out for a year at that point. In other words, I was feeling pretty confident in my abilities as an advocate at that point, but of course, I knew I still had much to learn. But after years of speaking, I was struggling to find female advocates that were my age and on the circuit in the same way I was. Though I was constantly speaking to large audiences, a part of me felt alone in my advocacy. And then I met Melody Moezzi.

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LIVING WELL by Melody Moezzi

For me, wellness is about being able to fulfill your purpose in life. It’s not about the absence of illness or disability-certainly not in my case, as part of my purpose is to fight the stigma and discrimination surrounding illness and disability. To be well in my book is to be doing that which you are meant to be doing-not based on the judgments of yourself or the expectations of others, but based on the unique design and demands of your own singular soul. For me, that means creating art and pursuing justice-and doing it all, as much as possible, through love. In order to live well-that is, to be able to do that which I am meant to be doing-I need to take care of my body, mind and soul. This means eating largely real food with ingredients I can pronounce and exercising (which I admit I’m not that great at, but I try). It also means taking medication, attending weekly therapy, engaging in daily prayers, and spending quality time with the people I love most. Ultimately though, I don’t think that we always need to be well in order to live well. A lot of living well-especially for those of us living with mental health conditions-is about learning how to manage when we’re not necessarily feeling our best. As I see it, to be well is to experience the full range of human emotion and experience with grace and curiosity-to wonder what each experience and emotion has to teach us instead of immediately judging ourselves and the events in our lives as necessarily good or bad. Often, the same experiences that I felt were the worst things to ever happen to me (a pancreatic tumor and bipolar disorder, for example) at the time turned out to be the best things to ever happen to me, because they helped me the most along my journey to finding and following my true purpose in life.

Melody Moezzi, an Iranian-American writer, activist, attorney and award-winning author.

To learn more about Melody’s journey to wellness, please read her memoir, Haldol and Hyacinths: A Bipolar Life.

To hear Melody’s message of hope, please watch the video below.

https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=zJp5mxd5aoI

The Huffington Post: This Proud Iranian-American Muslim Will Not Hide Or Shut Up

On Sunday, I joined more than a thousand demonstrators at Raleigh-Durham International Airport to oppose an unconstitutional executive order signed by President Donald Trump last week. The order attempts to block refugees from entering the United States for 120 days (or if they’re Syrian, indefinitely) and to prohibit U.S. entry to nationals of seven Muslim-majority countries (Iran, Iraq, Libya, Somalia, Sudan, Syria and Yemen) for 90 days.

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BookRiot: A Nonfiction Reading List in Honor of Carrie Fisher (List by Katie MacBride)

There were too many painful losses to count in 2016, and the death of Carrie Fisher was among the most painful for me. I’ve never seen any of the Star Wars movies–-I never got around to it as a kid and now it’s just fun to watch people’s horrified reactions when I tell them I’ve never seen the iconic films. I read her memoir, Wishful Drinking, the year I got sober. I related to Fisher on many levels–-as a recovering alcoholic, as a person who has learned not to be ashamed of her depression, as someone who is really and truly obsessed with her dog, and as a woman who has always found humor in the blunt, the sarcastic, and the inappropriate. So inspired not just by Wishful Drinking but her entire life, here are 10 non-fiction books I think the Great Carrie Fisher, Our Misfit Queen, would appreciate.

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The Huffington Post: Taking Post-Election Comfort From An Unexpected Place

Today more than ever, love is in order. As an Iranian-American Muslim woman of color living with a disability, I grieve for our country given the results of the latest presidential election. I was born in the United States. I love this nation. I have studied its laws and its flaws. As an author, attorney and activist, I have fought with my words and actions to make it a better place. But only recently have I come to realize that fighting isn’t enough. Love is in order.

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Bipolar [bp] Magazine: Maria Bamford Turns Bipolar into Funny Business

I’ve been a loyal fan of comic Maria Bamford’s ever since watching her ingeniously frank and vulnerable web series The Maria Bamford Show. In it, she highlights her personal struggles with depression and anxiety while acting as herself and a panoply of other characters—including members of her quirky Midwestern family, who feature prominently in much of her comedy.

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The Huffington Post: 5 Tips For My Fellow Muslims

Muslims are increasingly under attack—both from within and without, both domestically and globally. We are being slaughtered by those claiming to be Muslim but ignoring the most basic tenets of our faith, those forgetting the meaning of the words with which we begin every single prayer—calling on a most “compassionate” and “merciful” God. On the other hand, we are also being slaughtered by those duped into believing that these vicious so-called Muslims (who have dismissed and disgraced our faith by claiming it, building organizations they insist on calling “Islamic”) represent all Muslims.

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Think Piece: Interview by Adam Wahlberg

Melody Moezzi was born in Chicago but considers herself equally Iranian as American. Her parents emigrated to the United States after the 1979 Islamic Revolution. And while Moezzi was raised here and has made a life here, earning a law degree and building a career as an author and social commentator, her heart and thoughts are never far from Persia. This is evident when you read her beautiful memoir Haldol and Hyacinths: A Bipolar Life. What makes her book so original and valuable is how she examines cultural thinking about mental illness in both parts of the world. As she writes about her Iranian heritage, “My people don’t do psychotherapy. It just isn’t our style.” But it’s her style now. The story of how she got there is remarkable. We spoke with Moezzi recently about her book, her life now, and how the past keeps revisiting us, in big ways and small, whether we want it to or not.

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Ms. Magazine: The U.S. Has a Lot of Work to Do in the Wake of the Orlando Shooting

Before we even knew how many innocent lives were lost in the massacre at a gay nightclub in Orlando on Sunday, many were already rushing to lay blame. Media commentators, politicians and bystanders alike speculated out loud. Anyone who could do something like this, many agreed, couldn’t be one of us. Our kind could never be capable of such inhumanity. It must be a Muslim, a maniac, an immigrant, an other. And while the gunman claimed to be Muslim, and according to an ex-wife at least, appeared to have had bipolar disorder—he was also an American, born and raised.

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The Huffington Post: Ten Things White People Need To Quit Saying

While I’ve never been especially fond of political correctness for its own sake, I’ve encountered enough well-meaning white people embarrassing themselves to know that a brief tutorial can’t hurt. For those who insist that they could never say anything racist because they are not racists, I present a quick reminder: Just because you didn’t intend for something to sound racist, doesn’t mean it isn’t, and just because you don’t think you’re a racist, doesn’t mean you’re not. I refer you to the Washington Redskins and every idiot who insists that Native Americans should be “honored” to be so warmly insulted. Newsflash: Determining whether this team’s name is racist is not up to anyone but Native Americans. If you are not Native American, your opinion on the issue is at best irrelevant. I know it’s hard for some to accept, but white people don’t get to determine what is and isn’t racist.

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The Huffington Post: Brief Encounters of the Muslim Kind

Last week, the American Civil Liberties Union and the Oklahoma chapter of the Council on American-Islamic Relations filed a federal lawsuit on behalf of Raja’ee Fatihah, a Muslim-American Army reservist who was denied service at an Oktaha gun range based solely on his religion. According to the lawsuit, the Save Yourself Survival and Tactical Gun Range had posted a sign that read:

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