As we approach the end of the year, we recognize how difficult 2016 has been to our Central Florida Community. This past year surprised us all with inexcusable situations that intended to instill fear and to crumble our character; but instead, they have challenged us to rethink our priorities and reaffirm our mission. We have seen the resilience of our community as we continue to grow united to overcome these difficult circumstances. During the month of June, right after the incident at Pulse, the help and solidarity was overwhelming. The love and support was shown in many ways – through supplies, sharing of goods and voluntary service, among others. To all the organizations, churches, families and persons that participated, our most heartfelt thanks. We wished we had kept a log with every name to recognize you individually.
We are also extremely grateful for the community partners that have helped us in providing services to those in need. In addition, we thank the agencies that continue to provide financial assistance to enable us to facilitate groups and individual sessions to survivors, family of victims or community members impacted by the tragedy at Pulse.
We understand that we are still healing and recovering from Pulse. But we are also stronger and animated. At Hispanic Family Counseling, we look forward to 2017. In the meantime, we want to once again express our gratitude for the privilege to help and to assist those in need.
We wish everyone a Happy New Year!
Denisse Centeno Lamas
Recently, I wrote a Facebook post and someone said it indicated that I hate my life. This is not something I said, but hating a life with bipolar disorder is a pretty easy thing to do. But I have to be clear on something: I don’t just have one life – none of us do. So saying “I hate my life,” is a blanket statement that just isn’t true. It’s a judgment, and it’s not fair.
This is what I wrote on Facebook:
So, people think I’m magical. People constantly ask me how a person with bipolar can write a book and do what I do. I totally get this. I guess I make it look easy.
It really isn’t. It’s really impossibly hard.
I want people to know I’m not magical. I’m struggling. It is extremely hard. I do my best to do my job, but that doesn’t make it easy. I often feel like everything is falling apart because of the bipolar — just like everyone else.
In short, while some would consider me “high-functioning,” that doesn’t mean bipolar isn’t trying to kill me one cell at a time.
In this Facebook post, I was trying to tell people – my fans mostly – that I’m human, and just like them, I have troubles with bipolar disorder. And, just like them, bipolar disorder is a very hard thing to fight. I did this because some people put me on a pedestal and I just wanted to make it clear that, no, I don’t live there. Note, that nowhere in that post did I say I hate my life.
Interestingly, some people commented on this post that I should actually share more of my personal struggles than I do.
However, one commenter had this to say:
I’ve been reading your work for a long time now, and there’s a running theme of ‘I hate myself, I don’t deserve happiness, My life is terrible’. It’d really get me down if you were the only bipolar blogger I followed. I’m glad you help people, but I’m saddened by how much you seem to despise your life. I mean, I know children don’t equal happiness, but you are voluntarily taking your genes off the market because of your disorder, you don’t think vacationing with bipolar disorder is a good idea because it can disrupt your routine and trigger an episode, and then this post. Those are just a few episodes I can think of off the top of my head where you share your misery with the masses. I mean, I’m really sorry you’re struggling atm, but it seems like you’re struggling all the time. I’m bipolar too, and I also struggle with episodes of decompensation, and yet I don’t hate my life, at least not any more than the average Joe.
And I have a few things to say about that comment.
Okay, so, yes, that post I made on Facebook is a tough one, but, in my opinion, it’s balanced out by the oodles and oodles of writing I do on bipolar disorder. I discuss absolutely everything – from myself to the condition to pretty much everything else you can think of. And while bipolar depression can make me think I hate myself and it can make me think that I don’t deserve happiness and make me think that my life is awful, these things are not empirically true, and I’m always one to state that. I have said over and over that the bipolar brain is sick and tells these sorts of lies while the mind is not and can fight them.
Let me be clear about something, I have two lives (well, more actually, but for the sake of this exercise, let’s say two): there’s Natasha’s life, easily described by biographical details, and there’s my bipolar life, dictated by symptoms. These are not the same thing.
Now Natasha’s life is fine. If you were to look at the biographical details of my life, you would see that. I live in a condo. I have friends. I brunch. I have two fabu cats. There’s really nothing to hate there. Yes, Natasha’s life has issues (like a dead fireplace I’m going to have to go into debt to replace) but these issues are no direr than anyone else’s – mental illness or not.
On the other hand, there’s Natasha’s bipolar life. This is a horrible thing indeed. This life is full of symptoms, side effects, pain and suffering. This is a life that is almost always sick to some degree. This is a life that no one should ever have to live. And yes, I hate this life terribly.
But, as I said, my bipolar life is not my whole life. And, yes, sometimes I talk from a bipolar life perspective and sometimes I don’t. But I’m not confused about what I hate.
Well, isn’t this commenter lucky? This commenter has “episodes of decompensation.” Lucky her. This commenter doesn’t have live almost every day with some degree of bipolar. Lucky her. It’s incredibly unfair to compare lives when one has episodes of bipolar and one has an ongoing illness.
And I see this all the time. People judge me (and others, of course) for struggling all the time. It really isn’t my fault that bipolar has taken over most of my life – that is the bipolar’s fault. This judgment is unfair and hurtful. These people have no idea how lucky they are – and it’s just luck. They could be as sick as I am and they’re not. That’s the genetic lottery. They got a better hand dealt to them then I did.
And I wish they would appreciate that luck instead of judging me for not being so lucky.
Yes, when it comes down to it, I hate my life with bipolar. I hate my bipolar brain. I don’t hate the parts of it that are good, but I hate the parts of it that are sick and bad. And that’s okay. It’s okay to say you hate your life and yet still appreciate all the good things you have. And no one deserves to be judged for expressing themselves in that way.
FEATURE BLOGGER: Natasha Tracy
Repetition makes a fact seem more true, regardless of whether it is or not. Understanding this effect can help you avoid falling for propaganda, says psychologist Tom Stafford.
“Repeat a lie often enough and it becomes the truth”, is a law of propaganda often attributed to the Nazi Joseph Goebbels. Among psychologists something like this known as the “illusion of truth” effect. Here’s how a typical experiment on the effect works: participants rate how true trivia items are, things like “A prune is a dried plum”. Sometimes these items are true (like that one), but sometimes participants see a parallel version which isn’t true (something like “A date is a dried plum”).
After a break – of minutes or even weeks – the participants do the procedure again, but this time some of the items they rate are new, and some they saw before in the first phase. The key finding is that people tend to rate items they’ve seen before as more likely to be true, regardless of whether they are true or not, and seemingly for the sole reason that they are more familiar.
So, here, captured in the lab, seems to be the source for the saying that if you repeat a lie often enough it becomes the truth. And if you look around yourself, you may start to think that everyone from advertisers to politicians are taking advantage of this foible of human psychology.
But a reliable effect in the lab isn’t necessarily an important effect on people’s real-world beliefs. If you really could make a lie sound true by repetition, there’d be no need for all the other techniques of persuasion.
One obstacle is what you already know. Even if a lie sounds plausible, why would you set what you know aside just because you heard the lie repeatedly?
Recently, a team led by Lisa Fazio of Vanderbilt University set out to test how the illusion of truth effect interacts with our prior knowledge. Would it affect our existing knowledge? They used paired true and un-true statements, but also split their items according to how likely participants were to know the truth (so “The Pacific Ocean is the largest ocean on Earth” is an example of a “known” items, which also happens to be true, and “The Atlantic Ocean is the largest ocean on Earth” is an un-true item, for which people are likely to know the actual truth).
Their results show that the illusion of truth effect worked just as strongly for known as for unknown items, suggesting that prior knowledge won’t prevent repetition from swaying our judgements of plausibility.
To cover all bases, the researchers performed one study in which the participants were asked to rate how true each statement seemed on a six-point scale, and one where they just categorized each fact as “true” or “false”. Repetition pushed the average item up the six-point scale, and increased the odds that a statement would be categorized as true. For statements that were actually fact or fiction, known or unknown, repetition made them all seem more believable.
At first this looks like bad news for human rationality, but – and I can’t emphasize this strongly enough – when interpreting psychological science, you have to look at the actual numbers.
What Fazio and colleagues actually found, is that the biggest influence on whether a statement was judged to be true was… whether it actually was true. The repetition effect couldn’t mask the truth. With or without repetition, people were still more likely to believe the actual facts as opposed to the lies.
This shows something fundamental about how we update our beliefs – repetition has a power to make things sound more true, even when we know differently, but it doesn’t over-ride that knowledge
The next question has to be, why might that be? The answer is to do with the effort it takes to being rigidly logical about every piece of information you hear. If every time you heard something you assessed it against everything you already knew, you’d still be thinking about breakfast at supper-time. Because we need to make quick judgements, we adopt shortcuts – heuristics which are right more often than wrong. Relying on how often you’ve heard something to judge how truthful something feels is just one strategy. Any universe where truth gets repeated more often than lies, even if only 51% vs 49% will be one where this is a quick and dirty rule for judging facts.
If repetition was the only thing that influenced what we believed we’d be in trouble, but it isn’t. We can all bring to bear more extensive powers of reasoning, but we need to recognize they are a limited resource. Our minds are prey to the illusion of truth effect because our instinct is to use short-cuts in judging how plausible something is. Often this works. Sometimes it is misleading.
Once we know about the effect we can guard against it. Part of this is double-checking why we believe what we do – if something sounds plausible is it because it really is true, or have we just been told that repeatedly? This is why scholars are so mad about providing references – so we can track the origin on any claim, rather than having to take it on faith.
But part of guarding against the illusion is the obligation it puts on us to stop repeating falsehoods. We live in a world where the facts matter, and should matter. If you repeat things without bothering to check if they are true, you are helping to make a world where lies and truth are easier to confuse. So, please, think before you repeat.
FEATURE BLOGGER: Tom Stafford
The morning of June 12th impacted not only the city of Orlando, but the entire World. It was a moment where everyone let all hate aside and stood up for love and humanity. The City, the Country, the World was #OrlandoStrong.
Hispanic Family Counseling, immediately recognized that the City needed our help. With certified, culturally competent therapists, the first two weeks we were able to provide:
This translated to 960 hours of community service which impacted 312 people in critical need.
At Hispanic Family Counseling we make sure that the mental health services provided to our Hispanic community are of upmost quality. As a result of the bonding created through these interactions, therapists were invited and attended viewings of families who they assisted and have been servicing since the tragedy.
Hispanic Family Counseling has been working with 44 survivors and family victims several times a week, or as needed since the tragedy of June 12th at Pulse Nightclub occurred.
After PULSE, many victims were left without jobs and little to no money for rent and car payments. Transportation itself became a huge challenge. The Ford Fund, provided an SUV to mobilize clients and therapists and better facilitate their needs during these difficult times.
We have also distributed $1,560 in gift cards as well as several bus passes and a number of goods and donations received from:
Giving back to the Community was in full effect in the city of Orlando. Everyone took a stand and united to help one another. #HispaFam provided or facilitated the following:
HFC has conducted community outreach by participating in 23 press conferences and interviews including among others:
Not only is giving back to the Community important, but so is being involved with different entities, businesses and organizations willing to make an impact in the community by assisting them with their dire needs. Among the many meetings taken to assist survivors, we have been involved with:
At Hispanic Family Counseling, bettering the quality of life for our clients is what we live by, but we also believe in best practice. Therefore, we responsibly take care of our greatest assets who are our therapists and staff.
To provide the best service to our community, especially during crisis intervention, we have been offering the following for our team:
At Hispanic Family Counseling, we take pride in aiding survivors and family victims of this tragedy. Our culturally competent, highly trained professionals not only counsel, but educate and bring awareness to our community. This evinces our motto of: bettering the quality of life for all families and individuals suffering from Mental Health conditions.
During the past two months our community has been hurting, we continue to mourn. We experienced probably the most traumatic event of our lives. It has been extremely emotional. It also feels as a personal attack given that all this happened in my community, to my people.
The level of frustration, pain and hurt is surreal. HOWEVER, I believe that we are a resilient community, and while we continue to grieve, I do believe that we will heal, never forget, but heal. I am very grateful for all the help, donations, and assistance we have received over the last two months. There have been many donations provided by community leaders, from large institutions to humble individuals. We value and humbly accept your contributions and promise to channel them to those in need to the best of our abilities. Thanks for your support to #HispaFam.
Hispanic Family Counseling was created in 2012, with the desire and passion to help our community. The Latino community of Central Florida has substantially grown over the last decade and there are not many agencies that specifically target the necessities that we have as Hispanics, starting with the language barriers, but beyond that helping with the acculturation and assimilation process.
Our vision could not be more precise for this difficult moment: “To be the haven of strength to those in despair and help them embark on a journey of hope where perseverance coexists with education, truth lives with optimism and healing is the destination.”
With peace and love,
La mañana del 12 de Junio llegó con una tragedia que impactó no solamente a la ciudad de Orlando pero también al mundo entero. Fue un momento en el cual todo el mundo decidió dejar el odio y la injusticia atrás y poner el amor y la humanidad primero. La ciudad, el país, y el mundo estuvo #OrlandoStrong.
Cuando nos enteramos de lo ocurrido, en Hispanic Family Counseling nos dimos cuenta que la ciudad necesitaba de nuestra ayuda. Con terapistas culturalmente competentes y certificados, en las primeras dos semanas pudimos proveer:
Los servicios ofrecidos fueron equivalentes a 960 horas de intervención directa, las cuales impactaron a 312 personas necesitadas.
En “Hispanic Family Counseling” mantenemos una relación personalizada y nos aseguramos de que los servicios brindados sean de calidad. Como resultado de la buena relación creada con los terapistas, éstos fueron personalmente invitados por sus clientes a participar de los velorios y/o servicios fúnebres de sus familiares y/o seres queridos.
HFC continúa trabajando varias veces a la semana, según sea necesario con 44 sobrevivientes y/o familiares de las víctimas de la tragedia ocurrida el 12 de junio en la discoteca Pulse en Orlando.
Después de PULSE, muchos sobrevivientes perdieron sus trabajos y quedaron con poco o nada de dinero para pagar rentas, cuotas de carro y cubrir sus necesidades. La transportación se convirtió en un gran desafío. Gracias a “Ford Fund”, quienes nos proveyeron una camioneta para transportar a clientes y facilitar los servicios necesarios en tiempos difíciles.
Hemos distribuido $1,560 en tarjetas de regalo, pases de transportación, artículos y donaciones recibidas de:
El respaldo de la comunidad fue inmenso y todos se unieron para ayudarse los unos a los otros. #Hispafam proveyó:
El alcance comunitario fue hecho público por medio de nuestra participación en 23 ruedas de prensa y entrevistas con varias entidades, tales como:
El dar a la comunidad es tan importante como involucrarnos con diferentes entidades, negocios y organizaciones que están dispuestos a hacer un impacto en la comunidad asistiendo con sus necesidades. Participamos de muchas reuniones para ayudar a los sobrevivientes, algunas de éstas con:
En Hispanic Family Counseling, mejorar la calidad de vida de nuestros clientes es nuestra meta principal, pero también creemos en las mejores prácticas profesionales; por eso, es indispensable cuidar de nuestro más valioso tesoro que son nuestros terapistas y personal administrativo.
A fin de proveer el mejor servicio a nuestra comunidad, y especialmente durante intervenciones de crisis, hemos involucrado a nuestro equipo de trabajo en las siguientes actividades:
En Hispanic Family Counseling, nos enorgullece poder ayudar a los sobrevivientes y familiares de víctimas de la tragedia. Nuestros profesionales, culturalmente competentes y con alto nivel de entrenamiento, no sólo dan consejería; también educan y promueven la concientización en nuestra comunidad. Toda esta labor es realizada con nuestro lema en mente, mejorar la calidad de vida de todas las familias y personas que sufren de condiciones de la salud mental.
En los últimos dos meses nuestra comunidad ha estado dolida, estamos en luto! Hemos vivido un evento que probablemente ha sido el más traumático de nuestras vidas. Ha sido emocionalmente muy fuerte para todos. También lo he sentido como un ataque personal al ser parte de esta comunidad. Esta tragedia le ocurrió a mi comunidad Hispana y a mi gente.
El nivel de frustración, el dolor y el vacío es enorme; PERO, sé que somos una comunidad fuerte, y mientras continuamos el duelo y nunca lo olvidaremos, seremos capaces de sanar y perdonar. Estoy muy agradecida por la ayuda, donaciones y asistencia que hemos recibido en los últimos dos meses. Han sido muchas las ayudas de grandes y poderosas instituciones para gente humilde y en necesidad. Valoramos y humildemente aceptamos sus contribuciones con la promesa de canalizarlas a los que lo necesitan. Gracias por su apoyo a #Hispafam.
Hispanic Family Counseling fue creado en el año 2012, con el deseo y pasión de ayudar a nuestra comunidad. La comunidad Latina en la Florida Central ha crecido sustancialmente en la última década y no habían muchas agencias específicamente dirigidas a las necesidades que tenemos como Hispanos. No solo la barrera del lenguaje sino también ayudar en los procesos de culturización y asimilación.
Nuestra visión no puede ser más precisa en este momento de dificultad: “Ser el pilar de fuerza para los que se encuentran en desesperación y ayudarlos a embarcar en un trayecto de esperanza en la cual la perseverancia coexiste con la educación, la verdad vive con el optimismo y el destino final es sanar.”
Estamos aquí para asistir a nuestra comunidad, estamos aquí para servirle a usted. Por favor, no dude en contactarse con nosotros al (407) 382 -9079 o a través de nuestra página web www.hispafam.com si hay algo que podamos hacer para ayudarle.
Con mucho amor y paz,
The past month has been a difficult one not only for the City of Orlando but for the entire nation that suffered along with us during the tragedy at Pulse Nightclub the morning of June 12, 2016. Innocent lives were lost and a city was shut down as the pieces to the horrifying nightmare were being put together that early gloomy morning.
At Hispanic Family Counseling, we have been working non-stop to help the surviving victims and their families cope with the tragedy. Our Executive Director, Denisse Centeno-Lamas, alongside other therapists, were the first ones on the scene that morning ready to assist the needs of the desperate people entering the First Unitarian Church where families and First Respondents were present.
As result of the tragedy, Hispanic Family Counseling offered free services for surviving victims and their families for a period of time. The office doors were open to donations from people, businesses and entities from all over, willing to help families in need. We are so thankful to entities like the University of Central Florida, The City of Osceola, The Rosen Hotels, Wellcare, Red Lobster, and others who were ready to bring us meals, water, gift cards and more for us to give away to victims and families. The city really came together for each other and it was a blessing to see the helping hands that were ready to work.
HispaFam too wanted to help the city at a much closer level so we teamed up with #ProyectoSomosOrlando in order to unite with the Hispanic Federation and be one of the culturally competent providers for Mental Health Counseling to those in need after the Pulse Nightclub Tragedy.
Soon #ProyectoSomosOrlando got international recognition with the partnership of Jennifer Lopez and Lin-Manuel Miranda once the two agreed to join forces and come together on a song that would impact the world and send a message of LOVE. Proceeds during the first three months of the single “Love Make The World Go Round” are going directly to #ProyectoSomosOrlando which will use the funds to provide free services to those affected by the tragedy at Pulse Nightclub.
HispaFam said present at the live performance on the Today Show in New York as Jennifer Lopez wowed the crowed in her white lace top and high-waisted pants giving the Selena illusion. Lin-Manuel also stole the show with his feature while they circled the lighted panel showing an image of a rainbow-colored globe.
The crowed had multicolored flags that were held high and moved to the beat while the song played. At the end, Lopez had everyone in the audience take the hand of the person next to them in and hold it high as the performance came to an emotional end.
It was an emotional sight to see as the crowd and the survivors that were present that day together sang in unison “Love Make The World Go Round” with no care in the world, with a simple smile on their faces. As we continue on living with this reality we just pray and hope for the best and know that as a community we must come together and be there for our fellow Pulse survivors, their families and loved ones.
The tragedy in Orlando has shaken up the city into uniting and standing up for their city beautiful. Waking up to the news on Sunday, June 12th produced a well of emotions that can be quite overwhelming if you aren’t sure how to manage them. Our friends at Upworthy.com posted a blog recently with 11 Small Ways To Feel Less Helpless This Week From a Trained therapist. If you’re feeling lost, helpless and alone and don’t know what to do or where to turn, this could be just what the doctor ordered. It’s going to be a long road. Please, take good care of yourself this week. Seek out the support and resources you may need to deal with how the events in Orlando affected you. We are #OrlandoStrong.
To help you hold the weight of this world, I want to offer some actionable suggestions for things you can do this week, both psychologically and socially. Hopefully, these small things will help you process, feel less helpless, and even help those around you this week:
There’s no such thing as a bad feeling (though some may feel more comfortable than others). Allow yourself to feel today, tomorrow, and this week, and to be with whatever comes up for you around this. Process your feelings safely and constructively.
Connect with your loved ones, your local community, your larger communities (even if by phone or over social media). Share how you’re feeling. Talk it out, let others hold space for you while you hold space for them.
This is so important with news being blasted at us from every angle. Monitor how much news and content about the tragedy you can tolerate before it starts to feel like too much.
Garden, cook, knit, craft, go for a long walk, journal, sit outside in the sun. Do whatever you know helps you feel grounded, safe, and healthy.
Routines and schedules can be incredibly grounding in times of stress. Keep up your daily and weekly rituals.
Moving your body can help process and metabolize the stress and anxiety you may be feeling. Add in an extra walk or two and really make grounding and focusing on your body a priority.
Create art and process your experience through creation.
If you need additional resources, book a session with a therapist, speak to your local clergy, or call up a trusted mentor. Let those who care about you help you.
Donate blood, send money, participate in activism around gun-control laws, help staff a help line, bring food and water to those in line to donate blood.
Check out your local YMCA or church or university offerings to see if they’re hosting a support group for those impacted by the tragedy. If none are offered, consider hosting one with a friend or local helping resource.
Yes, pray. Whether you believe in God, Allah, Gaia, or Universal Spirit, close your eyes and ask something greater than you for guidance in troubled times. Receive the support that can come from being in prayer.