Mind Stolen By Marijuana

Teenage boy wearing black hoodie smoking marijuana joint

Marijuana Turned Me Into A Schizophrenic

In the field of psychiatry, you see it all when it comes to mental illness and the various factors that contribute to it. Marijuana affecting mental health should be no surprise, despite the media not really talking much about it. Why is that? Because there’s an agenda to legalize it. I am not against legalization but it’s important that humanity is educated on the influence of marijuana on mental health.

Many teens and young adults have experienced their mind stolen by marijuana. What does this mean? Some of the stories you’ll hear is that they started smoking weed in high school and fell in love with it; their usage escalated beyond smoking joints on social occasions to smoking bowls multiple times a day by themselves at home.

Some of these patients identified as being introverted in high school to begin with. They are not afraid to admit that once they started using marijuana, they became more introverted, spending more time by themselves in isolation, lost in the internal world that marijuana dug out for them.

At some point in time, whether under the influence or not, they slowly began to feel different in regards to the way they thought and interpreted the world. Their families would clearly notice a change in behavior, eventually calling EMS to take them to the emergency room. Not all patients can pinpoint the details of the changes brought upon by marijuana.

But some of the changes noticed by family and friends is amotivation, apathy, odd beliefs, self-isolation and even responding to internal stimuli. What once was a fairly normal kid attending science class was now a socially awkward, disheveled kid who struggled to express himself; it’s very sad!

It’s not known whether the high concentration of THC in modern strains of marijuana causes schizophrenia or just helps accelerate it in predisposed individuals with a family history and genetic loading. Even if a user doesn’t become schizophrenic, transient psychosis is quite common with modern day strains; people either consume an edible or smoke too much and cannot handle the high for those 2-3 hours, eventually losing their mind in the process.

Some return back to reality after they come back down from the high and after receiving a dose of an antipsychotic, while some have permanently become schizophrenic. For those who have become schizophrenic, their lives have now entirely changed just because they chose to consume marijuana. It’s very important to find out if you have a family history of mental illness before you try marijuana.

As a psychiatrist, I want my patients to be as physically and mentally healthy as possible and this involves no consumption of marijuana or other drugs. Even drinking is dangerous and should be done in moderation! At the end of the day, education is important and remember that just because you’re witnessing legalization of marijuana in a lot of states and around the world, does not mean that it can’t harm your mental health!

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Only Eighteen And Depressed

Young depressed person sitting on ground with leaves by stone wall with head down

Multiple Failed Suicide Attempts

One of the saddest things to see in the field of psychiatry is depression that hits the lives of young ones. Anyone young is considered 18 and below because they’re either barely an adult or still an adolescent or child. Think back to when you were 18 and how you felt like you were on top of the world, mature and an adult able to make your own decisions. At the time, you weren’t able to recognize your immaturity.

But now that you are older and look back at how you used to think and behave, you quickly realize without a shadow of a doubt how immature and potentially dangerous your decision-making was back then. Now as a psychiatrist, seeing an 18 year old suffering from severe depression and two failed suicide attempts breaks my heart.

Many of these young folks already have depression running in their family; in other words, they are genetically loaded. But it’s not like they’re born depressed or it just comes out of the blue. Most of the time, it’s environmental triggers that bring out the depression. Once it comes out, because they are so young and predisposed to experiencing it, the depression hits hard.

It’s interesting because these patients can tell you about some potential triggers to their depression, but do not exactly know what caused them to become depressed. In other words, they often state that it just came upon them and it doesn’t necessarily have to be around the time of the triggers; it can be months later.

Generally, the younger the age of onset of a mental illness, the higher the chances of a worse prognosis. In the case of severe depression, suicide attempts are not a surprise. Many of these patients won’t necessarily tell you that their intent was to end it all; they either feel ashamed and embarrassed or do not know the reason themselves due to the severity of their depression, which impairs their judgment, impulse and even insight sometimes.

The hard fact is that depression kills many lives every day all around the world. That’s why we must continue to remain strong and come together to share our stories, thoughts and feelings on a daily basis.

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Schizophrenia Gone Wild

Schizophrenic woman wearing face mask staring out the window

Coronavirus Affecting Stabilized Psychotic Patients

Many psychotic patients who were previously stabilized on their medications are beginning to decompensate from the coronavirus. It’s not necessarily that they are becoming exposed to it. It has more to do with them watching the news at home which is causing them to become worried and paranoid that they will get it. Some actually develop symptoms of COVID-19 and stop taking their medications, wrongfully concluding that their medications are causing the symptoms. This is schizophrenia gone wild.

Psychotic patients have a very fragile line of stability that they often walk on. Things such as stopping medications, environmental stressors, changes in their lifestyle or relationship disputes can be enough to put them over the edge and cause them to decompensate. When they do decompensate, it’s very obvious to family members; this is not a small and irrelevant change in behavior.

They will start to display odd or unusual behavior such as:

  • Believing that their deceased parents are calling them from the window
  • Shouting and arguing with loved ones
  • Making verbal and even physical threats
  • Calling random people at 2 am
  • Becoming catatonic and remaining mute for long periods of time

. . . and the list goes on. These are not behaviors that all patients experience; it was just a list provided for you to get an idea. When a schizophrenic patient decompensates, it doesn’t mean that they necessarily start to hear voices in their head or see things that aren’t there. It can simply mean that their behavior and thought process are disorganized. They may continuously shift positions in bed, flop their hands, ask if the apple juice on the table is alright in that position and even claim that it’s hot outside at the beginning of April in New York City.

It’s really sad to observe and talk to decompensated schizophrenics because you get a glimpse into their world and how much different their behavior is compared to people who don’t have a mental illness. Perhaps in their eyes they are not suffering but in ours they clearly are; they cannot function in society when they are decompensated. That’s why they’re in the hospital in the first place!

But keep in mind that even though a schizophrenic may not be currently at their baseline, does not mean that they cannot hold a conversation with you. Many can hold fairly normal conversations but they may make odd remarks. They’ll usually be able to answer all of your questions and many remain calm and pleasant during an interview. Just because a person has the diagnosis of “schizophrenia” does not mean that they cannot hold a normal conversation with you.

Schizophrenics are actually pretty cool!

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The Coronavirus Fear Intensifies

Brunette woman wrapped in yellow "stop" tape holding sign that says "COVID19"

100,000-240,000 Deaths Predicted In The USA

Just when we thought that the coronavirus was going away, we were suddenly slapped in the face with an update about the projected death toll expected to climb to almost a quarter million. It seems that whatever we are doing is not working. They continue to emphasize social distancing, yet the death toll is steadily rising. The coronavirus fear intensifies while we sit in our living room shell-shocked.

Now states are considering passing executive orders for people to stay at home, but what are they going to do when many will disobey these orders? Fine us? Lock us behind bars? Having people locked inside their homes like caged animals does not sound like a tactic that is realistic; it works on paper but is not applicable in real life.

I mean think about it! How can you force people to stay at home without going to work or being productive members of society? Are we going to have the government deliver us food and toilet paper? Can we even get toilet paper anymore? Amazon seems to have let us down; maybe the first time in history! What are we paying Jeff Bezos for? Get us some damn toilet paper!

Can you imagine that it’s 2020 and the United States of America is out of toilet paper and we are sitting in our homes like caged animals? The social distancing technique is showing no signs of progress and the mainstream media (some call it the “lamestream media”) is making us more paranoid and fearful of our current situation.

The mental health of Americans and everyone around the world is taking a huge hit. Many are starting to lose touch with reality and those who were already suffering from depression, anxiety and psychosis are decompensating. The truth is that we shouldn’t blame the government. It’s so easy to point fingers at others while we casually sit in our homes doing nothing productive.

Even though we are becoming more fearful of the current situation, we must remain positive and in good spirits; we cannot let our guard down. The one positive thing about social media during this COVID-19 pandemic (and for those who know me, I’ve been critical of social media in the past) is that it helps to bring us together and prevent us from feeling completely isolated within our home.

Isolation is the cousin of mental illness; this cousin should be outcasted from the family because it only brings upon us negative results. Never isolate yourself; if you find yourself doing so, go take a walk in the park and observe the people around you. Isolation is bad and you should avoid it at all costs.

Let’s continue to connect.

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Mental Health Is King

Abstract photo of naked green person standing on green and white wall with arms hanging down

We Are Here To Help Each Other Out

Losing your mind is not something that you should ever entertain. It might sound cool to experiment with drugs because they alter your reality, but many have their reality permanently altered. The mind is extremely precious: it gets us through our day, allows us to experience creative sparks, keeps us functional and provides an opportunity for enjoying the world. Mental health is king!

With physical disorders, you can still manage to function. Of course there are some diseases which rob peoples’ lives way to early. But with mental health, you don’t necessarily lose your life early, but you may continue to suffer for years at a time; some suffer for their entire lives.

It’s important to note that the mind controls the body and not the other way around. If we don’t have a brain, our body becomes useless. The brain is the most vital organ because it controls bodily functions and allows you to experience consciousness. This argument cannot be made with the heart whose sole function is to pump oxygenated blood from your lungs to the rest of the body.

Your heart doesn’t provide you with consciousness and what’s life without consciousness? The only reason we are alive is to be conscious of our surroundings and to experience this creation called “life.” Our body is just here to carry our soul and allow us to survive on planet Earth. That’s why taking care of your mental health is vital to living a good and prosperous life.

Unfortunately, many take their mental health for granted by abusing drugs, not visiting a psychiatrist when depressed or anxious and not getting the proper sleep that they need. Think of your mental health as the health of a computer. Your mind continuously downloads information every second of your waking and sleeping life; it never shuts off.

A computer does the same besides when you press “shutdown.” The problem with a computer is that if you are careless and visit random websites and download a bunch of crap, it will acquire viruses and trojan horses and begin to malfunction. The same can happen with your mental health.

That’s why it’s important to exercise, eat properly, get a good night’s sleep, socialize and maintain a meaningful life. Drugs and alcohol should be minimized or not even used at all. You should try incorporating 10-15 minutes of mindfulness a day and you should always strive to be as happy as you can. Mental health truly is king!

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Social Media Impacting Your Mental Health

Woman with pink shorts and exposed legs holding phone with Instagram on

The Exotic Lifestyles Of Instagram

With so much time on our hands during this social distancing chapter of our lives, it’s hard not to notice the exotic pictures on instagram and other social media websites. Believe it or not, not everyone is stuck in your typical apartment or house in a normal town. Many are stuck in exotic places like Caribbean islands! But does social media negatively impact your mental health?

You bet it does. But it also depends if you allow it to. Remember that everything works on an unconscious level: our interactions with others, our observation of the environment, our perception of others’ lives, etc. Everything is recorded in the unconscious mind. Social media is basically a snapshot of others’ lives in that timeframe, but it is not at all representative of how those people are feeling.

The problem with social media is that when we observe pictures that we are attracted to, we forget to remind ourselves that it does not mean that the people in those pictures are happy with their lives. We just focus on the glamour and when we do that, it has the potential to make us sad in return, because we compare it with our ordinary lives.

So what you end up getting out of social media is a small dopamine rush by noticing beautiful and attractive pictures of people, places and things at the expense of your own happiness. That’s because the dopamine rush (which is minuscule in this case but strong enough to notice) lasts for a very short time, but your unhappiness can last for a much longer time.

So what you end up doing is revisiting these social media websites to get more of your fix, rather than focusing on your life and how to improve your mental health. I’m not saying that you shouldn’t spend time visiting social media platforms, but be aware of your state of mind and how it can be easily influenced by social media; don’t be oblivious!

And definitely don’t envy the exotic lifestyles which you notice on Instagram. Being envious towards others’ success will only make you miserable and prevent you from developing your own success. Don’t be that person. Rather, be appreciative and happy for others’ success. Would you want others to be envious of your success? I hope that you wouldn’t.

We are supposed to live happily together by teaching, sharing and helping each other. Our goal is to try to diminish the negative traits in humanity and promote new positive ones that can be passed down to future generations!

Are you Ready? (This is Defeating Stigma Mindfully)

Trials & Tribulations During The COVID-19 Disaster

Sad brunette white woman sitting outdoors near train tracks during daytime

Isolated With Painful Memories

As every day passes, we continue to hear more negative news in the media regarding new developments on the coronavirus pandemic. President Trump is calling this a Chinese virus, the democrats and republicans continue to bash each other’s heads and hospitals are becoming overwhelmed, all while people continue to remain isolated at home with no end in site. Trials and tribulations during the COVID-19 disaster is something very real and common!

Many people are losing their jobs! Can you imagine how it must feel to be temporarily laid off not knowing when your next paycheck will be? Especially for people who don’t have enough money to pay their next couple of rents! And it’s not like you can run outside and find a corner job to hop on; who in the world is hiring these days?

During these sour times, relationships also tend to go south. Couples break up with each other, marriages fall apart and parent-teen relationships become more disturbing. The regular rhythm of people’s lives has been disrupted and many do not handle change well. In fact, the most successful people in life are masters at effectively handling change, but when it comes to relationships, that can be quite difficult if the two parties involved are not mentally and emotionally stable!

Unfortunately, many are catching COVID, making their home experience even more difficult than it originally was. This is especially true for states such as New York, Louisiana and Michigan. Let’s not forget how hard-hit Italy, Spain and China are! And the worst part about it is that the virus is showing no signs of slowing down; a hungry eating machine, it plans on devouring as many human lives as it possibly can.

And then there’s mental health. When you already are suffering from depression and anxiety at baseline and have to deal with trials and tribulations during social isolation, things can escalate rather quickly! Especially when you are also experiencing painful memories of your past; these tend to come out at random times, like when you have a lot of free time on your hands.

This blog was created to help us come together not only during terrible times such as these, but every single day going forward from now on. The goal is to make as much of humanity connect on mental health issues as we possibly can. Only through honesty and forthcoming conversations will we be able to achieve this. One way that you can contribute is by sharing this blog with all your friends and family and by spreading the word about The DSM Ready Movement on your social media platforms!

Together we will one day be able to make The DSM Ready Movement become a reality in the eyes of the entire world!

Are you Ready? (This is Defeating Stigma Mindfully)

Isolated Heart

Isolated sad man sitting on brown wooden windowsill across buildings

Searching For Connection In A Time Of Crisis

The alarm rings precisely at 8:00 am. Your eyes open to the same four walls surrounding your physical presence. As you sit up in bed and look outside, not much movement can be observed . . . you’re still in a state of quarantine. You start to wonder if your mind or your heart feels more isolated. You quickly feel it in your chest, “My isolated heart at it again.”

You wonder if anyone else is feeling this way: isolated, broken, lonely, sad, miserable, hopeless and anxious. Does it even matter if anyone else is feeling like this? You can’t reach them anyways. Texting and calling feels superficial at this point. Your interest in virtual connections has been saturated; it feels superficial and distant.

You just want someone who can understand and share your pain. But why would you want others to share your pain? Isn’t that evil? Perhaps at this point in time, social distancing is making you bitter and you no longer care for others. But then your mind starts rationalizing on how your heart has gone crazy.

Usually it’s the other way around; your heart attempts to correct your mind which is prone to experiencing evil thoughts. But during this coronavirus pandemic, your isolated heart is becoming susceptible to evilness. Your mind is already affected by evilness but it tries to salvage your heart because it knows that without a pure heart, it will let you down.

And there you are stuck in the middle of three components: a fragile mind screaming for substances as a form of entertainment, a depressed heart that is now bleeding tears rather than oxygenated blood and you. You are the third component who has to quickly get your mind and heart under control or you will go down with them.

But how do you avoid going down? You stay positive during times of adversity and you connect with people who can understand your pain and who are going through a difficult experience themselves. When we connect and share hope and love, nothing can bring us down. This is one of the goals of The DSM Ready Movement.

Are you Ready? (This is Defeating Stigma Mindfully)

Silently Panicking

Brown and black desk globe with yellow "stay home" sticky note on top of it

Living In A Ghost Town

The coronavirus pandemic is every bit as mental as it is physical. You are not in the clear if you don’t have physical symptoms because your perception on reality has now been altered. It’s not like you purposely altered your perception; it just happened as a reaction to the virus infecting humanity. Just take a look outside and you will see how quiet the streets are; ghosts have replaced human beings.

New York is not what it used to be. It now takes 30 minutes to get from eastern Queens to Washington Heights where Columbia University is located; on a normal day, it would take 45-60 minutes. Walking down the streets of Manhattan, very few people can be observed. Almost everyone is wearing a mask and you don’t even have to wait at a red light if you are attempting to cross the street; no cars are coming in the opposite direction!

There are more parked cars than there are moving vehicles. Sadly, people are either at home or in the hospital; society feels totally shut down. At least hospital cafeterias and coffee shops remain open; there are no lines and the food options have decreased greatly. But you can still get a nice warm veggie pizza however!

No more long Starbucks lines. You can now receive your Caramel Frappuccino in a couple of minutes. But as you slowly make your way back outside, you unconsciously start to panic after you see the empty streets again. You also develop a dry cough . . . “Does this mean that I have COVID-19?”

As you very well may now, this time of the year you are still susceptible to acquiring a common cold or the flu. But because of the coronavirus slowly destroying society, you start to freak out when your cough persists. Your anxiety level starts to build as you wonder if you are walking around infected. If you are living alone at home, you start to become sad as you start to feel isolated and distanced from society.

But then you remind yourself that the rest of the world is isolated at home too and that you’re not the only one. But does that help?

Are you Ready? (This is Defeating Stigma Mindfully)

Crack Stole My Leg

Depressed man wearing black hoodie with head down sitting on train track

Depression And Drug Use

If you think depression and drug use don’t go hand in hand, think again. Depression seeks drugs and drugs feed off depression; they’re the best combination to keep you suffering and to lose hope for the future. Uncontrolled depression whispers in your mind to alleviate your suffering with drugs and drugs whisper back, “I’ll take care of the rest.” But when drugs and depression gain too much power, suicidal ideations begin to make an appearance.

Suicidal ideations in the context of drug use and depression is a very bad situation. The problem is worsened by a low socioeconomic status, poor family support and bad friendships. The problem is that patients in these situations do not see the light at the end of the tunnel; their minds are too clouded by mental illness and substance addiction.

Many of these patients do not use soft drugs such as marijuana or psychedelics. When you are facing homelessness, unemployment and a past psychiatric history of depression or schizophrenia, soft drugs have no place on one’s plate. Drugs such as crack-cocaine and heroin better fit the picture.

The problem is when hard drugs are used on top of psychiatric symptoms such as depression, suicidal ideations or auditory hallucinations, judgment, impulse and insight become impaired. When these mental processes become impaired, so does one’s view on suicidal ideations.

Suicidal ideations unfortunately become the only sparkling light at the end of the tunnel. And sometimes this sparkling light is intensified by the track gleaming lights of passing trains. Patients in these severely depressed and addicted mindsets see an opportunity to end their living nightmares by jumping in front of a train.

And jumping is what they sometimes do . . . some survive while some lose their leg. This is never the solution but when living under such cloudy and foggy mental conditions, your decision-making becomes greatly impaired. That’s why it’s so important that we advocate for mental health and substance abuse support worldwide; these people depend on us and are thankful for our desire to help them once again live a life full of happiness and love!

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