Can't Keep My Eyes Open

Tired young man laying in bed with sunrays shining on face

Exhausted But Still Kicking

The lack of sleep is a silent killer, similar to uncontrolled high blood pressure. While high blood pressure viciously attacks your organs such as your brain, heart, kidneys and more, the lack of sleep nonchalantly attacks your mental well-being. And so you start to rely on coffee, energy drinks, stimulants or a bunch of sugar.

While not the best way to go about your day, millions of people worldwide are sleep-deprived due to a poor sleep hygiene. Not having enough time to sleep is only an excuse propelled by those who actually do not have the discipline to get a full night’s 8-hour rest. It’s not hard to get good sleep, but are you interested in getting it in the first place?

The worst days are when you wake up and can’t keep your eyes open! All you can think of is emailing your employer, “leave me alone for today, I don’t want to think about you” and climb back into bed and peacefully snooze. That sounds nice and can definitely be done once in a while, but should not be your go-to-strategy.

And even if you sleep all day, it’s just not the same quality of sleep as you get during the night, especially when going to bed earlier in the evening. Sometimes it’s worth considering taking days off from work in order to refresh your mind and unwind your chakras. But your best strategy should be an awesome sleep hygiene!

You may be exhausted and still kicking, but is that really how you want to go about your day? Wouldn’t have it been easier to just go to sleep on time the previous night? But that’s where a lot of us struggle: we want to watch another episode of a Netflix show, talk an extra hour on the phone, fall deeper down the YouTube hole, etc.

The excuses for not getting enough sleep at night can pile up, until you become chronically sleep-deprived and start to experience a change in your mental well-being. Lack of sleep is associated with irritability, sadness, anger, anxiety and a poor outlook on life; it’s associated with feeling incomplete!

Can’t keep your eyes open but are still kicking? Good. A little pain is what it sometimes takes to make a change in poor behavior.

Are you Ready? (This is Defeating Stigma Mindfully)

Punch-Drunk Syndrome

Man walking towards boxing ring surrounded by audience

Living With Chronic Traumatic Encephalopathy

CTE is a neurodegenerative disease that occurs after repeated head traumas and multiple blows to the head. It tends to occur in athletes such as boxers and hockey and football players, but may also be seen in cases of domestic violence and military personnel exposed to concussions. The symptoms tend to occur 8-10 years later. The disorder is based on a clinical judgment, since a definitive diagnosis does not occur until after death, available as autopsy results.

There are four stages. Some of the first symptoms include confusion, dizziness and headaches. This is followed by memory loss and impulsive behavior. Eventually, dementia, vertigo, depression, deafness and suicidality occur. There are many more symptoms which may occur, such as:

  • Pathological jealousy
  • Tremors
  • Paranoia
  • Parkinsonism
  • Speech problems
  • Unsteady gait

Pathologically, there is atrophy of the frontal and temporal lobes of the brain as well as the hippocampus, mammillary bodies and amygdala. There is also evidence of neuronal loss, white matter changes, hyperphosphorylated tau protein deposition, thinning of the corpus callosum, dilated ventricles, and much more. The disorder causes a great deal of damage to the brain, especially after years of repetitive blows to the head.

There is no effective way of preventing this disorder, unless one quits the sport or activity which increases their risk of repetitive concussions and head trauma. One important method of helping to prevent this disorder is the time-off period required after a concussion or head trauma.

Immediately returning to a sport or activity without providing enough time for recovery, increases the chances of experiencing future impacts followed by neurological complications. But even if this protocol is followed, it’s not going to prevent boxers from being exposed to heavy hits or football players from experiencing helmet-first tackles. Some have even called for the banning of boxing!

At this moment in time, there is no treatment for CTE. As with other forms of dementia, supportive treatment is provided. This involves having a caregiver guide and help take care of the patient at home. When one experiences memory loss, depression and confusion, he or she puts themselves at a greater risk of encountering dangerous situations, such as:

  • Leaving the stove on while alone at home
  • Getting into car accidents or not knowing how to return home
  • Wandering in the neighborhood and getting lost
  • Losing items and personal belongings
  • Death due to injuries or suicidality

As you can see, this is a very serious mental condition which can easily impair one’s life, and there are no good preventative strategies to avoid its development. The best way to prevent the development of this disorder is to avoid contact sports, but how can you convince thousands of people worldwide to stop playing their favorite sports?

It just won’t happen anytime soon.

Are you Ready? (This is Defeating Stigma Mindfully)

Coping With Memory Loss

White woman with curly hair lying on bed with hands on face surrounded by photos and white camera

When Your Mind Goes Blank

Memory is one of the most fascinating features of the human mind. It allows us to relive past experiences via thoughts and fantasies. Memories are the gateway to our past; without them, we would never be able to recall life as it was previously experienced. Memory is precious and must be preserved for as long as possible.

Therefore, memory preservation should be on everyone’s agenda. Every living person has experienced memory lapses at some point in their lives. There doesn’t always have to be something wrong with your mind in order for you to experience the loss of memory; sometimes it just naturally happens.

But certain people are definitely more vulnerable to experiencing memory loss. For instance, drug addicts and alcoholics are at risk for worsening memory! Marijuana and other drugs affect the hippocampus adversely, resulting in the loss of short-term memory. Illicit drugs also alter the levels of neurotransmitters in the brain, making it more difficult to recall memories. Anyone who has smoked marijuana for a while can attest to the fact that their memory and concentration improve upon discontinuation of the drug!

Alcohol adversely affects memory as well. Patients who develop Korsakoff’s syndrome experience a symptom called confabulation. This involves making up stories, events and scenarios in order to fill in for the memory gaps secondary to alcohol damage of the mammillary bodies. The mammillary bodies are responsible for recollective memory.

Your lifestyle also plays a big role in the maintenance of your memory in the long-term. Living a life that involves unhealthy eating, consumption of drugs and alcohol, little to no exercise and poor stimulation of your mind, can cause you to experience premature memory loss.

Lastly, genetics play a role in a lot of peoples’ lives in regards to the development of a mental illness. Mental conditions such as major depression, schizophrenia, substance use disorder and dementia are just some of the illnesses which impact memory adversely. When one is depressed, he or she experiences less drive and interest in recollecting events of the past.

People with schizophrenia actually have hippocampal volume loss, resulting in worsening memory and cognitive function. Cognitive remediation is a form of therapy provided for schizophrenics who experience cognitive dysfunction. And people with dementia experience severe and progress memory loss secondary to continual neuronal loss.

As you can see, there are many reasons why someone may experience memory loss. Unfortunately, there is no cure to combat the culprit genes that are responsible for the mental illnesses which bring upon memory loss. But one can always help slow down, cope with or prevent memory loss by maintaining a healthy and productive lifestyle:

  • Consistently eating healthy (i.e.: low fats, low carbs, high protein)
  • Consistently getting a good night’s sleep (i.e.: 8-10 hours per night)
  • Consistently stimulating your mind by reading, writing, playing chess or brain games
  • Consistently exercising (i.e.: exercise helps oxygenate the brain)
  • Avoiding excessive alcohol or marijuana use
  • Avoiding hard drugs
  • Avoiding cigarettes and vaping
  • Consistently getting involved in social activities (i.e.: socializing helps to maintain a sound state of mind)
  • Avoiding risky sexual behavior which increases your chances of acquiring an STD that can infect your brain (i.e.: syphilis, herpes, HIV)

. . . and the list goes on.

Good memory is an awesome brain tool to maintain! Don’t lose it.

Are you Ready? (This is Defeating Stigma Mindfully)

Fast Food Once In A While

Selective focus photography of big burger with knife into it on brown wooden tray

There Is No Such Thing As Perfection

Maintaining a healthy eating habit can be quite challenging, especially if you love eating just about anything under the sun. The key is to implement discipline, maintain your motivation and determination and to avoid any shortcuts. But there is no such thing as perfection, when it comes to eating food.

You can have one of the healthiest diets in the world and still be overweight, due to your sloth-like nature. Without exercising, healthy food can still lead you to become overweight. Therefore, you need to apply both strategies in order to remain fit and maintain a healthy weight: exercise at least 2-3 times a week and eat healthy food on a consistent basis.

However, fast food once in a while is okay too! Most health freaks would argue that fast food should be avoided at all costs; even an ounce of that White Castle Original Slider is the end of it all! While it’s true that fast food is not healthy, once in a while, it is healthy in another type of way: your mental wellbeing.

Wait . . . you’re probably a little confused on what you just read: “fast food once in a while, is good for my mental wellbeing?” That is correct. You see, as much as you want to lead a perfect life by eating healthy as much as possible and exercising habitually, you need to also appreciate diversity in your life, even if it presents in different shapes and forms.

By eating some fast food here and there, you become human again by putting aside all of that stress and pressure to maintain perfection. Guess who are the type of people who most of the time, end up developing anorexia nervosa? They’re actually perfectionistic girls with type A personality features!

Perfection is good to strive for, but it can sometimes drive you into the ground! That’s why it’s very important, that from time to time, you step out of your daily routine and reward yourself with something different; even if it’s not that healthy for you! In the case of eating, that may include pleasuring yourself with some tasty fast food!

Life is definitely about being smart, healthy and fit. But if you sacrifice your happiness and pleasure, then what kind of life are you even living?

Are you Ready? (This is Defeating Stigma Mindfully)

Exercise Alone Won’t Help You Lose Weight

Bowl on wooden table filled with colorful mixed fruits

The Weight Loss We All Crave

We all naively believe from the media that if we suddenly start hitting the gym or the hills, our weight will start to decrease over time. Until we realize after many weeks or months of decent workout routines, that our weight has not budged; or has not declined as much as we were hoping it would.

To achieve weight loss, an entire new mindset has to be adopted in order for the results to be observed. You have to be determined and believe that you will lose weight in the long run; not the short run. Many people don’t last as long as it takes to see weight loss results, because they lose hope prematurely.

Hope should only be lost if you are genetically predisposed to being obese and have tried your hardest to lose weight. But even then, hope should actually never be lost! Because lost hope opens the doors to mental illness: say goodbye to happiness and hello to depression!

In addition to a right mindset and legitimate exercise routines, you have to ditch the unhealthy food and start eating right! If you’re addicted to fast food, well guess what? You’re going to have to shed that addiction and make Whole Foods your new addiction! Bad food simply will not get you where you want to be.

Another mistake that people make is indulging in fast food mixed with healthy food, as if the healthy food would bring any benefit when junk is still being consumed! It’s like how we’re taught in the bible, “you can’t worship both good and evil.” How in the world do you expect to lose weight when you’re still sneaking in those quarter pounders?

Do yourself a favor and stop trying to find shortcuts in life. The DSM Ready Movement does not advocate for shortcuts. We are in this together to promote and lead a healthy lifestyle and state of mind!

Are you Ready? (This is Defeating Stigma Mindfully)

Sleep Hygiene

Pretty young brunette woman sleeping on green tropical leaves during daytime

Sleeping More Efficiently

It’s not about sleeping more or less. Sleeping too much takes away time from potentially important activities which you can be doing. Sleeping too little contributes to fatigue and decreased work performance. You have to discover the happy medium where you are getting just the right amount of sleep.

Sleep hygiene is a concept based on the fact that one needs to avoid certain behaviors in order to fall into a good sleep. Inconsistent bedtimes contribute to poor sleep because your brain is not being allowed to adjust to one particular hour of falling asleep. The same applies with inconsistent wakeup times.

Besides no electronics in the bedroom, soda or alcohol prior to bedtime and no intensive exercising a few hours before going to sleep, you also need to listen to your mind and body! Many of us don’t listen to our tired mind because we are too preoccupied with staying up and getting more done.

Especially adolescents; they have a difficult time listening to their mind because they are distracted by video games, texting, calling or watching Netflix. What they are essentially doing is ignoring their mind’s request for proper sleep. This results in less efficient sleep and feeling more tired during the day.

The reason we are so hesitant on getting a proper night’s rest is because many of us find sleep to be boring. We’d rather be up accomplishing something. The fighting spirit is great to have but not when it impacts your physical and mental well-being. Do not forget the basics; they always come first!

Learn to be efficient during the day and while you sleep. You become efficient during your sleep by adopting a proper sleep hygiene and listening to your mind when it’s telling you that it’s tired. Sometimes you just have to drop what it is that you are doing and go to sleep.

It will pay off the next day with a bright smile on your mind’s face!

Are you Ready? (This is Defeating Stigma Mindfully)

Should You Use Supplements?

Black glasses besides flower and supplements

Supplements Versus Food

Supplements have been around for a while. With so many companies coming out with different products claiming to be good for your liver, joints or brain, it becomes tempting but confusing as to which ones are the best. Do we even need supplements? Can’t we just stick with healthy food and exercise?

The answer is absolutely! Supplements are not needed unless you have a severe deficiency of a certain vitamin or mineral (i.e. vitamin D deficiency). Going back to organic chemistry, the human body is not able to tell the difference between a synthetic compound and the same compound naturally found in food.

From this point of view, it makes no difference if you ingest a compound synthesized in the lab versus ingesting it from food. Your body will digest and absorb the compound either way. But supplements should never be a replacement to food! As the name implies, they should “supplement” what you are already taking in naturally.

There’s a catch however! The U.S. Food and Drug Administration (FDA) does not regulate supplements. This means that you do not know how pure your product is and whether it even has what it claims to have inside the capsules, pills or powder. In addition, many companies can use different ingredients for the same advertised product.

You do not really know what you are putting inside of your body unless you have a mini-lab at home to analyze your supplements; 99% of people don’t! Therefore, it is very important to do your research on which companies are most reputable and stick with only a few.

To further add, many supplements claim to do this and fix that. Do not fall trap to these baseless claims! Unless proper randomized controlled trials are done, take these claims with a grain of salt. As of to date, there is no supplement that will increase your intelligence, make your penis grow bigger or increase your height.

All of these claims feed on the insecurity of the buyers. Don’t be that buyer! Be thankful with your physique and how God made you. There is no replacement for nature. Just be yourself, adopt a healthy diet, socialize and exercise as frequently as you can.

This is the true formula for healthy living.

Are you Ready? (This is Defeating Stigma Mindfully)

Your Health Comes First

Brunette woman performing handstand on beach with golden retriever in water

Make Your Health A Priority

Don’t wait until your later years in life to start caring about your health; start caring today! Lifelong habits are easier to develop and maintain from a younger age. Many people don’t care about their physical or mental health because they assume that they are or will remain healthy. That is the wrong mindset to have.

But if you will ever experience a first panic attack, heart attack or brain attack without previously caring about your health, you will be in more shock shortly thereafter. The key is to live a life without surprises regarding your physical and mental health; sometimes it’s possible while sometimes random events occur.

But there is a higher chance of random events occurring when you don’t take your health into consideration. Just because you are young does not mean that you are healthy; your mind and body may still be in the process of becoming damaged. And just because you are young does not mean that you can use drugs without worrying about their damaging effects.

Damage has been done to your body since you were a child; it’s called living life. But accelerated damage is done when you don’t eat healthy, do not exercise, consume drugs and alcohol and smoke cigarettes. Why take a chance in life and wake up one day with a mental or physical condition, when you could have avoided them by paying a little more attention to your lifestyle?

On a positive note, medical and psychiatric research are advancing: new treatments are being developed and more information is being discovered regarding the pathophysiology of diseases. But you cannot bank on the research, expecting to be in good hands. You never know what mental illness or physical disorder you may experience in the future.

At the end of the day, it’s your body and mind. It’s you who has to defeat the illness!

Are you Ready? (This is Defeating Stigma Mindfully)

Attacked By Clots

Green broccoli and cigarettes arranged in the shape of lungs

Pulmonary Embolism

The importance of exercise and eating healthy is reiterated numerous times by the medical community for a reason: to avoid medical complications that can kill, such as pulmonary embolisms. When a person does not manage their cholesterol very well, a clot can form in their legs that can dislodge and travel to their lungs.

Just because a clot forms does not mean that a piece of it cannot dislodge. In cases of pulmonary embolisms, the dislodged clot travels into a pulmonary artery which supplies blood to your lungs. When the clot finds a new home and prevents blood flow to a certain portion of your lung, oxygen is no longer delivered. You then experience the symptoms listed below:

  • Shortness of breath (worsening with exertion)
  • Chest pain (worsening with exertion)
  • Coughing with blood-streaked sputum
  • Discolored skin
  • Excessive sweating
  • Lightheadedness
  • An irregular heartbeat

A family history of deep vein thrombosis and pulmonary embolism increase your chances of developing the condition. Poorly managed heart disease also contributes to clot formations. Certain cancers and surgery can increase your risk of developing a blood clot.

Long trips overseas contribute to pooling of blood in your lower extremities, increasing your risk of developing a blood clot. It is very common to hear of a person passing away after returning from a long trip overseas; little movement of your legs during a long flight is the culprit. Another example is a lengthy bedrest without movement after one finishes surgery; the blood pools in the legs and contributes to clot formation.

Some other factors which can contribute to blood clots include:

  • Smoking tobacco
  • Being overweight
  • Pregnancy
  • And hormone replacement therapy for menopausal women

Prevention is key! A pulmonary embolism is a very serious medical condition and many patients do not recover from one. It is very important to lead a healthy lifestyle: exercise, eat non-fatty foods, move around during a long flight, take blood thinners if needed and as prescribed by your doctor, wear compression stockings after surgery and drink plenty of fluids.

Guess what can happen when you experience a pulmonary embolism, even after recovery? Such a serious medical condition increases your risk of developing depression and anxiety. It is very common for a mental illness to follow a physical disorder secondary to the stress which it brings upon your life.

The DSM Ready Movement is about leading a healthy lifestyle that incorporates mental health, physical health and spiritual well-being!

Are you Ready? (This is Defeating Stigma Mindfully)

HIV-Associated Dementia

Silhouette photo of woman infected with HIV standing beside window curtains

Attacked By The Human Immunodeficiency Virus

It is important for people to be educated on HIV and other sexually transmitted diseases. Many of these infections cause symptoms that are not well known to everybody. Staying educated is the first step in preventing infections and knowing what to expect when they do occur.

HIV can spread to the brain and cause encephalopathy, resulting in dementia. When HIV has reached this stage, patients may start to experience loss of memory, cognitive impairment, lack of interest in activities, reduced coordination and swelling of the membranes surrounding the brain and spinal column.

It is believed that HIV promotes inflammation in the brain and damages neurons. As the symptoms mentioned above become apparent, patients may also begin to experience depression, psychosis, mania and seizures. Imagine how devastating this must be to a patient who already is miserable from having acquired the infection in the first place!

Once HIV has progressed to HIV-associated dementia, there is no reversal. HAART therapy can help prevent or slow down the process, but HIV-associated dementia is a progressive condition; it gets worse over time. The key to avoiding HIV-associated dementia is to start HAART therapy as soon as possible.

And the key to avoiding HIV is to be smart with your sexual encounters. If you ever suspect a partner to have an STD, they probably do! Trust your intuition and do not take the risk engaging in sexual activity with them. It only takes one exposure with contaminated fluids to become infected with HIV.

Your quality of life is more important than 20 minutes of pleasure. Be smart and respect yourself!

Are you Ready? (This is Defeating Stigma Mindfully)