• Mental Health & Disability

    Disability is a tricky subject. I've explored my own experiences with psychiatric disabilities as well as thought about larger societal issues.

    The book cover for "Positive Interactions with At-risk Children," which shows a plant growing out of dry soil.

    Routledge, 2019

    An academic text for teachers cowritten with Mojdeh Bayat, Ph.D. This book follows the as-of-then latest neurobiological research on the effects of trauma and stress on the developing brain, and includes Bayat's novel Resilience-based Interaction Model (RIM), which combines behavioral and emotion-based theories of development with practical steps for teachers and parents—all of which centers the child and their needs.

    The cover for "We Made Uranium!" which shows two people on a wooden bike-y machine.

    Content notes: disordered eating, depression, mentions of suicidal ideations, and emotional abuse

    The University of Chicago’s annual Scavenger Hunt (or “Scav”) is one of the most storied college traditions in America. Every year, teams of hundreds of competitors scramble over four days to complete roughly 350 challenges. The tasks range from moments of silliness to 1,000-mile road trips, and they call on participants to fully embrace the absurd.


    We Made Uranium! shares the stories behind Scav, told by participants and judges from the hunt’s more than thirty-year history. This anthology includes my piece, "Item 229, 2013: The Final Feast."

    The logo for The Rumpus, which is in white on a red background, except for "the" and "R," which is red on a white background.

    Content notes: Ableism, ABA. This and my other Rumpus piece are two of my favorite things I've written.

    In 1938, a man receives a thirty-three paged letter. It describes the history of Donald T., aged five years and one month, from his birth, to eating habits, to attitude. In 1943, the same man publishes a paper in the Pathology section of Nervous Child. He talks about eleven children, eight boys and three girls, all of them similar to Donald.


    This is Leo Kanner, a name which will never fall on your lips but will bleed into mine, and our mother’s, and maybe even our father’s. This is Leo Kanner, the man who really names you.


    See also:

    The Bitch Media logo, which says "bitch" in maroon and "media" in red, all lower case.

    At the beginning of my fellowship at Bitch, I read an incredible piece by Kara Melton about the assumption of whiteness in virtual reality spaces. Since then, I’ve wondered about the assumption of ability in virtual reality and video games as a whole. How often are disabled characters featured? How often can you play a disabled character? And what does it mean if the industry is ignoring yet another marginalized group? (Despite the common misconception that most gamers are white teenage boys, adult women actually make up the largest group of gamers in the U.S., and a 2015 Pew Research Center study showed that Hispanic and Black people are just as likely as non-Hispanic white people to play games. And yet, both female characters and characters of color are vastly underrepresented in games.)


    See also:

      broken image

      Content notes: Discussions of anxiety and depression

      What is remarkable about so many games is how I can forget about my personal failings and the marginalized identities that define my interactions with the world. I don’t have to worry that people think I’m a girl instead of non-binary. I don’t have people erasing my queerness because I’m married to a cis man. No one ignores my Persian background and Muslim faith because none of those things matter when I’m trying to stop Daein from killing all laguz and taking over the continent. Only when something from my everyday life does come into my game—like fat-shaming, for instance—do I suddenly remember where—and who—I am.


      See also:

        The Washington Post logo, which is black text on white background in a gothic font.

        Content notes: Emotional abuse, mentions of suicidal ideations and eating disorders

        What I didn’t expect was the silence from our mutual friends. I waited for the texts and emails that never came. I waited for them to say that they had no idea things were that bad, that they couldn’t believe what had happened under their noses. I hoped that, now that they knew, they would stand up for me by coming back. Instead, pictures of him with our old friends kept going up, one by one, on social media.

        The Grok Nation logo, which is the word in dark blue with some of the bottoms smudged away.

        Content notes: Discussions of anxiety/depression (and medication), eating disorders, and emotional abuse

        It’s easier to look back and want to be the person I once was, because I know who that person is. That person was so deep in illness that it was all they knew. They weren’t responsible for themselves, in a way, because they were deeply responsible. But I also know how to take care of that person I once was, because that person became me. I got me to here—with help, of course, but nonetheless, I did it. And if I met myself again, the one who was literally crazy, I would know how to care for them.


        See also the Happiness Hit series, on using the science of mental health to boost your mood

        The Mental Health America logo, which shows a bell in the corner and a yellow check crossing through the blue H and A. There's the address for the Illinois chapter in Chicago, and the side says "Changing Minds. Changing Lives."

        Content notes: Anxiety, depression, self-harm, suicidal ideations, eating disorder. This piece was originally published as part of the "Manifesting Healthy Futures" project.

        I can explain why: you didn’t think you were worthy of love. You hated yourself, your body, your personality, your passions and laugh and everything that made you the imitable Naseem. You hated that you weren’t the gentle breeze you were named after; you hated that you were a hurricane that couldn’t be stopped. You wanted to carve into your flesh and burn in there your worthlessness, that everyone around you deserved better, that if you weren’t living a life that was only for others, you were meant to die.

        The Newcity logo, a giant red N on a white background.

        When I first set foot onto the quad—actually, it was the Ida Noyes courtyard, stone arches and grassy front—I was a goner. The Core’s opportunities thrilled me, even though the gym requirement totally blew; Northwestern, which I had visited that morning, sucked. What sealed it for me was when my tour guide paused by the Oriental Institute and asked which famous archeologist worked at the UofC.


        If only the snakes were just the literal kind.