The Box Will Always Be Full

Person wearing brown cardboard box making peace sign

So Think Outside The Box Already

How long will you keep ignoring your inner urge to seek the truth? Even when you’re presented with tad bits of revelations, you rewind back to your comfort zone of trusting your present reality, as if somehow it were the accurate narrative; this is your psychological defense mechanism hardwired into your mind. Sometimes defense mechanisms have to be snapped in order to evolve as a human being; the alternative is to continue in your present state of mind, which may not be satisfactory or purposeful to your growth as a human being.

Many people never leave the box because they either never think to do so; don’t care enough to do so; don’t know how to do so, or leave but quickly return back to their comfort zone. Let’s provide an example: ever since you’re born, you have been surrounded by authority figures. These figures have included your parents, the educational system and the government of your respective nation. When in the world have you ever been alone and free?

It’s no wonder that every time you attempt to leave the box, you start to experience psychological discomfort and come running back telling yourself, “I have trust in our government, I have trust in the system, I have trust in the process.” As it has already been said, the box will always be full, but are you willing to leave square one and upgrade, perhaps even exponentially, to higher pyramidal levels?

Are you Ready? (This is Defeating Stigma Mindfully)

Are Drugs The New Mental Health Tool?

Red mushroom beside grass and sticks

Something To Think About

Drugs have such a bad ring to them. When one thinks of drugs, an image of DARE, bad high school kids and people in prison come into picture. This is because we have been conditioned by society to equate drugs with disapproval; we have been turned off to dispose the idea of consumption and view them as dangerous and destructive. But when it comes to alcohol and cigarettes, “Please! It’s on me this time.”

With Ketamine approved for depression and psychedelic clinical trials underway around the world, it begs the question, “Are drugs the new mental health tool?” And we are not talking about recreational use. We are specifically referring to medicinal use under medically-controlled environments. Can marijuana, psilocybin, LSD, DMT, Ketamine and others be used effectively to treat mental health conditions such as alcoholism, depression, anxiety, etc?

I hope I have sparked a new curiosity in you. Now it’s your turn to do your own research and convince yourself whether drugs have the potential to provide mental health benefits. Are we doing our due diligence by researching these compounds for therapeutic use, or is this just another excuse to legalize them and get high?

Are you Ready? (This is Defeating Stigma Mindfully)

Sad Sunset

Cloudy red sunset

When The Sun Sets, The Sadness Rises

Couple more hours ’till 7 pm . . . the sun approaches 5 pm and your sadness is thriving. You scratch your head wondering why this repeats year after year. It’s because it’s normal to not enjoy darkness; it makes the day feel shorter. Shorter means less fun. Less fun means more isolation. More isolation means you feel sad. Feeling sad means you’re in a rotten state of mind again. And the pattern continues down the rabbit hole.

The key is to learn to stay positive regardless of your environment. You don’t have control over what happens around you, but you have control over your mind. It’s when you lose control over your mind that you become most susceptible to outside forces. And when this happens . . . well, you become an easy target.

Keep a positive mindset handy at all times.

Are you Ready? (This is Defeating Stigma Mindfully)

Embrace Sadness

Sad woman in black cardigan near trees

See Where Sadness Takes You

Don’t fret it. Don’t hide it. Don’t bury it. See where it takes you. See what it makes you feel. See what thoughts it brings to the surface. We all tend to shy away for sadness. We all tend to use the unconscious, immature defense mechanism known as denial. We all tend to carry on like sadness is “not me.” But it is you! It is us! There are times when sadness becomes prevalent and we have to stare it in the eye and tell it, “You’re back . . . what are you going to teach me this time?”

Sadness is not something that should bring you embarrassment; it happens for a reason. Your job is to find out that reason and learn from it. If you suppress your sadness, do you think that it’ll go away? Maybe only temporarily. Suppression means that you are consciously moving a negative emotion or thought into your unconscious and no longer dealing with it in the present moment. But one day, it’ll come back out and you’ll have to encounter it once more.

So why deal with suppressed sadness at a future date when you can just deal with it today? Don’t shy away. Sadness is here to teach you a lesson; learn from it!

Are you Ready? (This is Defeating Stigma Mindfully)

When Patients Split

Frustrated man by a window

I Want A Second Opinion

There are times when patients will blame their psychiatrist for worsening symptoms, “I don’t think the medication is working; my suicidal thoughts have gotten worse since starting the antidepressant; I want a second opinion!” Patients will split due to many reasons:

  • Age and immaturity
  • Lack of patience
  • Frustration and taking it out on their psychiatrist
  • Unconscious inner conflicts
  • Boredom with therapy
  • Drug use and getting carried away

. . . and many more. As a psychiatrist, you have to understand that it’s better to allow the patient to seek another provider’s professional guidance than trying to convince them to stick around. As a patient, you have to understand that we are not perfect and cannot always effectively help you with your problems. As a patient, you should also understand that seeking a “second opinion” does not mean that you will be satisfied and might actually set you a few steps back, because that means that you have to start all over with a psychiatrist who does not know you.

The best recommendation for psychiatrists is to stick by their professional expertise and utilize empathy as much as possible. The best recommendation for patients is to trust their psychiatrist and avoid making impulsive decisions based on frustration encountered in therapy.

Are you Ready? (This is Defeating Stigma Mindfully)

When Depression Haunts You

Man hugging his knee statue

Uncontrolled Depression

You may have experienced depression five or ten years ago but it doesn’t mean that you’re now in the clear. Depression can always reemerge like a deadly virus that no one expected to turn into a pandemic. That’s because unresolved depression can go unnoticed for years at a time, only to make itself noticeable unexpectedly. You may have been feeling depressed the whole time and not even know it; sometimes life has a way of keeping you distracted from your own feelings!

The last thing that you want to do is ignore your depression and bury it somewhere in the closet hoping to never having to deal with it; this is a recipe for disaster. Depression is not something that you sweep under the rug only to return to it centuries later. The symptoms of depression are too powerful to ignore and they will soon catch up with you; you will either seek treatment and recover or spiral down into a dark pit full of misery, alcohol or drugs.

So what is my recommendation to you? Don’t be afraid; don’t be shy; don’t be ashamed to seek help and talk about your feelings. What’s the worst that can happen? Nothing. You have everything to gain by opening up to a psychiatrist, therapist or psychologist and seeking treatment and better days. It’s time that you put your ego aside and seek the care that your mind, body and soul deserve!

Are you Ready? (This is Defeating Stigma Mindfully)

The Unpredictability of Psychosis

Grayscale photo of psychotic woman holding belt around neck

0-60 In a Heartbeat

One thing to keep in mind with psychotic patients is that their behavior is very unpredictable. They can literally be having a pleasant conversation with you for 5-10 minutes, and 15 minutes later, they are yelling, cursing, agitated, banging on the walls and demanding medications! You scratch your head and wonder, “What in the world? I was just talking to them and everything seemed to be going well!” Psychosis could care less if everything was going well; when it wants its patient to terrorize, it will unleash all of hell’s dogs to get its fix. This does not mean that you should always expect psychotic patients to become dysregulated and violent; just be aware that the chances of that happening are higher than with other patients.

Are you Ready? (This is Defeating Stigma Mindfully)

I Am Free Of Pain

Topless sad woman holding head down with both hands

Positive Affirmation: Mental Pain

“I am free of mental pain because I have learned to manage my negative emotions and redirect my attention on the positive things in life. Whenever I feel sad, I allow the pain to surface without any hesitation, as I know that if I try to fight back, the pain usually persists even longer. I give my pain room to breath but I do not identify with it because my pain is not really mine; it just comes and goes like the foreign clouds in the sky. Just as I cannot feel the clouds in the sky but just observe them, the same applies to my emotional pain; I can’t physically touch it but just observe it from the sidelines. Just as I can’t make a storm go away, the same applies with my emotional pain; I let it take its course until it evaporates into the distance. I am free of pain because I have learned how to respect my mental health and take care of it on a daily basis!”

Are you Ready? (This is Defeating Stigma Mindfully)

Depressed As A Doormat

Grayscale photo of depressed woman sitting next to window holding doll

When People Stomp All Over You

There are many people who were raised to not disobey their parents and argue back, but at a very extreme level. As children, they feared their parent’s disapproval and did everything they could to appear perfect. As they slowly exited out of adolescence and entered the real world, they soon realized that the way they were brought up was not suitable with people outside their culture. They found themselves to be depressed by their interactions with others because they always cared about what others thought of them; they also never had the strength to stand up for themselves.

Your upbringing defines your adulthood to a great extent. It’s when you’re a child and adolescent that your personality is molded and shaped into the person who will carry you to the end of your days. If your personality is not shaped well from a young age, you will experience difficulties in relationships later on in your life. When people stomp all over you, it means that you do not have the courage nor strength to argue back and stand up for yourself.

You give others the power and even turn them into authority figures, similarly to what you did with your parents growing up. When others make fun of you or point out your flaws, you become ashamed of yourself, almost internalizing and believing everything they say, rather than standing up for yourself. You may even experience what some like to call a “shutdown;” an episode of low energy, drive or motivation to do anything besides being paralyzed on your couch or in your bed. You become a doormat and everyone keeps walking all over you.

Even though you may have a job, raise children and still be functional, your interactions with others limit your happiness. If people are nice and get along well with you, then you find yourself having no problems. It’s only when those who argue back and critique you that you become frozen in time and no longer know how to react. You want to fight back, experiencing an internal desire to stand up for yourself and tell them, “stop saying these things! They are not nice and I don’t believe in what you are saying!” But sadly, you never learned how to do that growing up.

But it’s never too late! Psychotherapy is the process of analyzing your life and learning how to change your thoughts and behaviors. Anyone can benefit from psychodynamic/psychoanalytic therapy; you don’t need a mental illness to be qualified for therapy. If you find yourself in this category of persons who are functional but struggling with depression and problematic behavioral patterns, then I highly recommend you start psychotherapy! You will not regret it.

Are you Ready? (This is Defeating Stigma Mindfully)

Depressed Americans

Depressed Hispanic woman crying while laying on gray furniture

Coronavirus: An Era Of Depression

I have talked to so many mental health patients who are sitting at home in a depressed state of mind ever since the coronavirus pandemic started. The key word is at “home” because they are functional and not so depressed that they require a hospitalization, but this does not mean that they don’t experience some of the symptoms that come with depression. Even before the coronavirus, there were many Americans already depressed; now, that number has substantially increased.

Some of the symptoms of depression may include a decreased sleep, decreased interest in activities, decreased concentration, decreased appetite, guilt, loss of energy, slowing of body movements or even suicidal ideations. Many Americans experience at least a few of these symptoms while sitting at home with no agenda for the rest of the day. The recurring theme is that they lost their job and are not leaving the house; in other words, they lack activities to keep them preoccupied during the day.

Some people also become very anxious at home and anxiety and depression often go together. They will complain that there’s so much negative news or that people in the neighborhood are not wearing masks, “as if they don’t care that there’s a pandemic going on.” What’s important to understand if you are a reader who identifies with these thoughts is that we cannot force others to wear masks, nor should we expect them to; it’s a free world and people have the right to do what they want.

So why am I pointing out the obvious? Because clearly it’s making you anxious and more depressed that others aren’t following health officials’ recommendations. But why are you getting hurt in the process? You should not be anxious or depressed because of external factors; you need to learn how to put uncontrollable external factors aside and focus on bettering your life. Do your due diligence by wearing a mask and washing your hands but don’t expect others to do the same.

It’s not easy being home because of the coronavirus and not having a job. Some people work from home but still feel depressed because their previous routine of leaving the house and coming back in the evening has been taken away from them; they are not used to using their home space as a work environment after working away from home for over twenty years. As I have mentioned in many previous articles, depression is like a wave and many times you don’t see it coming; you just have to ride it out without falling down.

This coronavirus is a similar wave but much bigger and deadlier. It may be harder to hold on but it’s definitely doable. So don’t allow this wave of depression to knock you off your surfboard. Many people are experiencing the negative emotions that you are; you are never alone in this. So maintain a positive mindset, keep yourself preoccupied during the day by finding work, taking long walks outside, reading, exercising and socializing with others. Don’t allow anxiety and depression to get to you and certainly don’t allow them to bring your down!

Are you Ready? (This is Defeating Stigma Mindfully)