Talking To Mental Health Patients

Male psychiatrist sitting on couch talking to patient with hands on head

Holding A Normal Conversation

Many mental health patients are sick of their doctors, friends and family members always asking them questions about their illness. Imagine always being asked the same questions, “Any auditory or visual hallucinations? Do you believe others can put thoughts into your mind? How’s your mood? Do you have any anxiety? How’s your sleep and appetite?” It not only feels robotic to ask them the same questions every day, but it also feels robotic for them to provide the same responses.

Don’t get me wrong; psychiatrists do need to ask these questions in order to assess patients’ mental status, but we also need to learn how to incorporate more normal conversations during our encounters. When we ask mental health patients the same questions every time we see them, it can make them feel like they are less than us. This is because we give them the impression that they are “different” and that we can’t hold normal conversations with them.

At the end of the day, mental illness or not, patients are still human beings who can hold normal conversations and discuss everyday events; we must treat them like so. You’ll bring much more happiness into their lives if you can discuss everyday events without jumping to questions that dig away at their symptoms. A patient will tell you their symptoms even if you don’t rush to those particular questions, because they are the ones suffering from the symptoms in the first place and need them addressed.

So let them discuss everyday events and address their symptoms at their own pace. This applies to whether you have a relationship or friendship with a patient; don’t look at them differently and definitely don’t treat them differently. Do you treat people with diabetes differently? The same applies with mental health patients. Even if they are extremely psychotic but not dangerous to anyone, you can still say something as simple as, “Hi Leonard! Hope you have a good day.”

At the end of the day, let’s normalize mental health and hold normal everyday conversations with each other. Forget the stigma and judgmental ways of the past; those need to be buried for good. Rather, let’s move forward together and create a worldwide platform that will be of help to anyone in need. This platform should be based on honesty, love, sincerity and the desire to improve and help one another.

Are you Ready? (This is Defeating Stigma Mindfully)

I Am Free Of Marijuana

Marijuana leaf symbol with chromatic colors

Positive Affirmation: Cannabis

“I am free of marijuana because I realize that it’s not necessary for me to use it in order to be happy and find joy in life. Even though marijuana may be fun, I find pleasure in socializing in a sober state of mind, enjoying my senses without having the munchies and watching movies and listening to music without experiencing an altered perception of my reality. I also enjoy to not cough up a lung or experience mini panic attacks when I am getting high. I also prefer to have a clear conscience and not feel guilty when I am high. I am free of marijuana!”

Are you Ready? (This is Defeating Stigma Mindfully)

I Am A Great Athlete

Female athlete jumping above ground near sunlit sky

Positive Affirmation: Improving Your Athleticism

“I am a great athlete because I have what it takes to work out longer, run father, lift more and compete at a higher level than ever before. Even if I’m not naturally athletic, I am improving every day because I have the will, drive, motivation, strength and determination to keep improving my athleticism. I no longer give up when I lack strength and I no longer give in to others when they put me down. I am capable of doing extraordinary things and one of these things is being a great athlete. I am athletic!”

Are you Ready? (This is Defeating Stigma Mindfully)

Experience Your Sadness

Sad woman leaning on windowsill staring outside

Not Running Away From Sadness

Whenever we experience sadness, we tend to bury it right away rather than allowing it to linger. This is because nobody likes the feeling of sadness so it’s easier to just brush it under the carpet and clean it up later. The problem with doing so is that you are not processing what is making you feel sad in the first place. Even though sadness is an uncomfortable emotion, you want to fully immerse yourself in it and see what thoughts and feelings will come out of it.

For some, it’s not an easy process because they feel like their ego is being jeopardized. They believe that if they feel sad, their masculinity is being threatened. For others on the opposite end of the spectrum, they tend to spend too much time dwelling over their sadness, experiencing it all day and never letting go of it. You don’t want to be at any end of the spectrum; the happy medium is always best.

This involves experiencing sadness when it kicks in but also knowing when to turn it off when certain circumstances arise. If you’re at work, it’s better to suppress it for the time being and revisit it later on. But if you’re at home and have nothing important to do, you can try practicing mindfulness while also becoming in touch with your sadness. This will allow you to process the thoughts associated with your sadness and potentially help you recover from it.

It’s always better to process your sadness rather than leaving it unhinged. There’s almost always a reason that you are feeling sad and you need to get to the bottom of it. Don’t be afraid to reveal new thoughts and feelings which are foreign to you; this is the process of growing in life. And always remember that you are never alone in experiencing sadness; millions of people all over the world are experiencing it with you this very moment.

What are some things that you are sad about?

Are you Ready? (This is Defeating Stigma Mindfully)

I Am Free Of Drug Use

Man in gray hoodie covering head holding drug needle

Positive Affirmation: Staying Clear Of Drugs

“I am free of drug use because they bring nothing but pain, destruction and addictions. Drugs, whether cannabis, alcohol or anything that alters the brain affects my sanity, personality and spirit and I prefer to stay clear from these substances. Drugs distract me from my life purpose and internally destroy me, throwing me off my course for success. Therefore, I stay clear of drugs and find happiness within myself and the environment.”

Are you Ready? (This is Defeating Stigma Mindfully)

I Am Kind-Hearted

Colorful church window baptism

Positive Affirmation: Heart Of Gold

“I am kind-hearted because I have learned through my life experience that doing the opposite has never resolved any problems. Weak people rely on hate and division, but I rely on God’s love which he has shared with the world before our creation. I am kind-hearted because this helps the world evolve into a better place, whether or not others recognize it. I am not like the rest because I am not of this world as God teaches us in the bible. And that’s why I am kind-hearted!”

Are you Ready? (This is Defeating Stigma Mindfully)

Getting Your Workout On

Female tennis player hitting backhand on red tennis clay court

Working Out Even When You Have No Drive

One of the most challenging tasks throughout the day is working out when you have no motivation. Growing up playing competitive tennis in the USTA juniors, I felt the experience of having days when I lacked drive and motivation to practice or even compete in tournaments. The worst part about it was traveling to other states for tennis tournaments and attempt to compete in 90 degree weather with no passion for the sport. When you have no motivation to exercise or compete, it often feels like you just want to quit.

But quitting gets you no where exciting when it comes to that realm. The more you allow your lack of motivation to prevail, the harder it’s going to become to get back into a solid routine. That’s because it’s not easy to work out, exercise or competitively play a sport. You have to power through even on the days when you don’t feel like doing it. That’s because if you can get through those days successfully, you often end up with a renewal of energy and interest for your next session.

What you don’t want to do is power through on those days and not enjoy it one bit. This is because it will lead you to burning out rather quickly. I felt that with tennis when I was 14. I was an extremely hard-working tennis player who reached a national boy’s 14 USTA ranking of 69th in the country. But as I entered high school and realized that I didn’t have many friends and that my entire life revolved around going to school and getting yelled at by tennis sergeants at the local tennis club, I lost passion for the sport.

It’s not that I ever disliked tennis to begin with; otherwise, I wouldn’t have played for that long (by the way, I still play tennis today). But as with anything in life, you need a balance of different activities. Even if you are focused on working out, exercising or playing a sport, make time and room for other activities as well, such as socializing, spending time with family and friends and even kicking back and watching a documentary or two. You are not a robot to be doing only one repetitive task continuously.

So whenever you feel burned out or have no drive to work out, remember to push yourself to still get some in that day, but mix it up with other activities as well. On the other hand, you don’t want to just stop working out because then your lack of motivation will take over and you’ll soon lose interest altogether. It’s normal to lose interest in exercising here and there, but don’t lose it completely to the point of quitting.

Are you Ready? (This is Defeating Stigma Mindfully)

Gray-Hearted Individuals

Angry brown Indian male pointing finger with open mouth

People Who Get Under Your Skin

We have all experienced being around people who get under our skin; there’s no avoiding it. These individuals roam the world like wild flock, crossing your path at predictable and unpredictable times. Some of these people you have to work with and see them on a daily basis while others randomly come and go. Whatever the situation, almost anyone will agree that they are a pain in the ass to deal with. Not only do they get under your skin, but they get under many people’s skin.

One thing to keep in mind is that attempting to understand where they come from will do you no good in the long run; you’ll often never find out. You may ask yourself why. The reason is because they will not change their perception and attitude towards you; if they haven’t after a month, six months or a year, then they never will. So why bother wasting your energy attempting to under them?

I call these people gray-hearted individuals because it’s not clear whether their hearts are filled with love or hatred. A lot of times, it feels like they are in-between; on some days you are able to sense some love while on others, all you can feel is anger, jealousy, envy and hatred. One thing that you know for sure is that their hearts are not full of love because otherwise, they wouldn’t be rude and mean to you in the first place.

People who carry a lot of love in their hearts do not consistently get under your skin. These are the people who you can feel their love radiate not only onto you, but onto everyone in the room as well. These are the people who even if you don’t have much in common with, you can sense that they are loving human beings. Remember that you don’t have to have something in common with someone who is loving.

But these gray-hearted individuals are bitter and lack a heart full of love. If they feel threatened in any way by you, they are quick to jump on your back to stab it a few hundred times; it’s almost an automatic response for them because they have been doing it their entire lives. On the other hand, if you get on their good side, they decrease their attacks on you, but at what expense are you willing to sacrifice your sanity to get on their good side? If you can do it by still being yourself, then that’s what you call emotional intelligence!

What is your experience like with these gray-hearted individuals?

Are you Ready? (This is Defeating Stigma Mindfully)

You Are Free Of Emotional Pain

Red human eye with pink liquid dripping out

Positive Affirmation: Emotional Pain

“I am free of emotional pain because I am in tune with my emotions and I am in control of them at all times. Even when people hurt me, I know how to immediately recognize negative emotions and process them effectively. I don’t allow emotional pain to hold me back in life. Emotions are like clouds that come and go; I observe and process them and allow them to float away. I am in control of how I feel today and tomorrow!”

Are you Ready? (This is Defeating Stigma Mindfully)

The Different Chapters Of Life

Open book on brown wooden table next to coffee mug

Life Is Made Up Of Many Different Chapters

There are moments in life when you start to realize that things may not be going your way. You start to realize that it’s the beginning of a new chapter but you also start to worry that it may not go your way. Sometimes you start telling yourself that it may be the worst four months of your life that are about to follow. You even wake up sad asking yourself, “Do I even want to go to work today? Do I even enjoy what I do?”

What you are experiencing when this is happening is the transitioning from an old chapter in your life into a new one. No one likes transitions; it’s human nature to feel uncomfortable with changes and to prefer to remain in one place with everything already going your way. But life has many different chapters in store for you and when these changes are ready to happen, it means that it’s time to finish an old chapter and start a new one.

Sometimes you have to hop onto a new chapter in order to improve. You might not recognize the improvements at first but in the long run, you’ll come to appreciate the new chapter that was opened up to you. This is because your new chapter may be cloudy at first; everyone handles changes differently. Some people have a harder time letting go of previous chapters in their life and moving on; these are the ones who have a lot of potential to benefit from future changes.

Just remember that you are not the only one who dislikes changes in life. Many people experience difficulty moving on in life and you have to remind yourself this whenever you are feeling down. The last person that you want to be angry with is yourself. It may or may not be your fault that you are experiencing a new chapter, but you never want to take it out on yourself or others. Just go with the flow and begin the new chapter as life has it set up for you.

In the end, experiencing the different chapters of life helps shape you into the person you are. Don’t fear change but learn to let go of your past and accept your new future. It’s not easy to step out of your comfort zone, but it feels awesome once you get the hang of your new chapter and start noticing the benefits and positive changes in your character and in your life. Don’t be discouraged when the road becomes bumpy and you start feeling insecure and uncertain with yourself; we all go through it!

Are you Ready? (This is Defeating Stigma Mindfully)