In a series of profiles, we at MQ Mental Health Research would like to introduce you to some of our wonderful MQ Ambassadors. Representing our charity, our ambassadors help spread the message of what MQ does, why mental health research is so important and lend their voices to lived experiences and expertise in mental illness.
MQ Ambassador Amazin LeThi, who is also an athlete, LGBTQ advocate, DEI counselor, and author, sat down with us to share her experience with mental health conditions and why she became interested in MQ Mental Health Research.
Amazin, thank you very much for chatting with us. First of all, what are your interests and favorite things about being alive?
Going to the gym, walking in nature with my dog, art and culture, traveling and reading. My favorite thing about being alive is being able to pursue my dreams and make a difference in the world.
Could you tell us a little about your mental health conditions?
In the relentless pursuit of self-mastery, I have crystallized the truth: my mental health is not a mere complement to my physical well-being; It is the dominant power that demands parity.
Every day, I methodically create a fortress of self-love and care around my mind, body, and spirit—a purposeful commitment etched into the very fabric of my existence.
On the mental health roller coaster, I ride the highs and lows without self-flagellation. Instead, I have perfected the art of listening to subtle cues, adopting self-kindness as my compass through the undulating terrain of my wellness journey.
Could you give us a summary of your experience?
I have weathered formidable mental health storms, enduring severe episodes compounded by the weight of depression and homelessness in my youth.
Throughout this tumultuous journey, I ardently maintain that my lifelong immersion in sports as an athlete is not just a backdrop but an unbreakable anchor. It has proven to be a lifesaver, strengthening my mental resilience and serving as a foundation for my overall well-being.
When did you first experience symptoms of mental health problems? What were those symptoms?
During childhood I suffered toxic trauma along with confusion about my sexuality, which became the ground for my initial confrontation with mental health issues: depression, anxiety, and the relentless grip of panic attacks. This first battlefield was where the seeds of resilience took root amidst the tumult of my mental well-being.
What stigma have you faced because of your mental health conditions?
Being defined and judged by your mental health and subjected to negativity during a mental health episode is a harsh reality. It is a time when the shadows of perception cast a relentless light, painting a vivid picture of the challenges faced by those struggling with the complexities of their mental well-being.
What misconception bothers you the most about your mental illness/illness in general? Why do you think it persists?
A prevalent misconception persists that suggests people struggling with a mental health disorder can “snap out of it” effortlessly. Unfortunately, reality does not align with this oversimplification.
Instructing someone to “control themselves” during the throes of mental illness is as absurd as ordering someone to write with broken fingers: a callous directive that ignores the profound complexity and challenges inherent in the experience of struggles for health. mental health.
What do you think are the biggest misconceptions when it comes to mental health in general?
Mental health is not a visible affliction, free of physical marks such as a rash. This lack of tangible evidence often fosters disbelief, making it difficult to openly discuss the real struggles one faces. When it comes to mental health issues, questioning one’s ability to perform even the simplest daily tasks adds to the burden.
Within the Asian community, a pervasive cloak of shame shrouds mental health, making it an unspoken taboo, a topic treated as if it exists in the shadows, dismissed and invalidated.
What do you do day by day or week by week to better manage your symptoms and mental well-being and what has helped you the most?
I make sure to prioritize my physical and mental well-being with a regular physical and mental health routine that includes regular exercise, meditation and yoga. This also includes a daily break from technology with a ‘Do Not Disturb’ that turns on my mobile phone each evening until the next day.
I also make sure to stand guard at the door of my mind by restricting news and social media and a few hours beforehand by distancing myself from all technology to rest my mind and prepare it for sleep.
Animal therapy has been an integral part of my mental well-being. I cannot emphasize enough how important having a dog has been to my overall well-being.
What lessons have you learned from your experience with mental illness??
During my journey through mental illness, I have learned that beneath the veneer of vulnerability lies an untapped reserve of resilience, far more potent than I imagined.
The crucial lesson: perpetual self-kindness, recognizing that navigating the intricate terrain of mental health requires self-compassion.
Additionally, my lifelong athletic experience has proven to be an invaluable ally, strengthening my mental well-being with the tenacity and discipline inherent in the athlete’s mentality.
Are there advantages to having a mental illness? What are they, if so?
An unexpected ray of hope emerged: I have forged a great ability to tune in and a deep awareness of the intricate nuances within my mind and spirit.
This heightened sensitivity serves as an unwavering compass, skillfully navigating the complexities of my inner landscape, fostering a deep connection that allows me to face the challenges of mental health with resilience and self-understanding.
How did you get involved with MQ? Why did you become our ambassador?
I thought my involvement in the organization would be a perfect fit. I had wanted to get involved in a mental health organization for some time, but waited until I could find the right one that shared my passion and mission of specifically supporting the Asian and LGBTQ community.
Representation matters and the Asian and LGBTQ community has one of the highest rates of mental health issues. Being an MQ ambassador and sharing my own journey with mental health I hope it helps others know that they are not alone and that we have a shared collective. history.
What do you want research in the world of mental health to investigate next?
The intersection of LGBTQ, youth and race, mental health in the sports context. It is important that we look through an intersectional lens when conducting mental health research. This is my lived experience as a queer Asian athlete. I know very well that my overall well-being and mental health benefited from sport, but many of my mental health experiences as a child also came from the hostile environment created in sport.
What is special about MQ?
As MQ says: ‘Research leading to better treatments, better support and faster diagnoses for all people affected by mental illness. This benefits the entire future of mental health, and that benefits us all.”
This is what makes MQ so special: research is at the heart of MQ’s mental health work.
Our thanks to Amazin for sharing his story, highlighting why research is important for mental health and why the work MQ Mental Health Research does must continue.