Don’t Give Up On Your Imagination

Smiling boy resting on his hand using his imagination

Dreams Do Come True

Part of the learning process of life is the trial and error of different mindsets. With constant change in our surroundings and the universe being disordered as per physics, we are almost forced to apply new ways of thinking in order to adapt; it’s called survival. But maladaptations can also occur and impact our future.

Maladaptive thoughts are the ones which don’t serve your best interest; they are there to set you back or prevent you from moving forward. They are not always implemented on purpose; many times, your unconscious mind is responsible for maladaptive thoughts.

Part of these maladaptive thoughts is the burial of your imagination. For instance, something very stressful happens in your life, initiating a change in mindset which also involves the loss of your imagination. By observing past failures and reacting too strongly, unconsciously or consciously, you start to lose interest in your creative forces.

Imagination should never be given up on. Some people claim that this great ability of the mind is what God gave to man as one form of proof of his existence; that God also imagined life before it was created. Why would you throw away what God gave you? Imagination is a gift that can set you free.

Many people become frustrated with their imagination because they do not see the results which they’ve been longing for. This is part of the process! By agreeing to imagine, you are accepting the fact that what you imagine may never come true. But this shouldn’t stop you from playing!

Imagination should be a fun mental process that gives you aspiration. But as with anything, breaks are needed or else your imaginative forces will burnout. And keep your expectations low for Pete’s sake! Stop being so hard on yourself all of the time, expecting this and that. Allow nature to take its course.

Living life is your first gift. Imagination is your second. Dreams coming true is your third and final gift!

Are you Ready? (This is Defeating Stigma Mindfully)

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Becoming A Doctor

Pre-med student studying and writing on paper next to coffee mug

The Exhausting Pre-Med Path And Beyond

Becoming a doctor is very rewarding once you make it to residency and beyond. But before reaching residency, a brutal pre-med path and medical school curriculum must be tackled and persevered. Not everyone makes it. In fact, many drop out at the level of organic chemistry, the so called “weed out class” in college.

It’s not required to pick a pre-med path during college, but you do have to take prerequisites to be accepted into medical school. These include general biology, general chemistry, organic chemistry and physics. On top of that, you have to complete the courses required by your major.

Juggling 4-5 courses in a semester can be very difficult, especially when you are dealing with the sciences! To not only successfully pass these courses, but to excel and receive a B+ or A requires many hours of daily studying; to the point where it just becomes your life.

On top of that, you must also get involved with research, volunteer work, 10-20 hours of shadowing a physician, obtaining letters of recommendation and doing well on the MCAT. You pretty much have to dedicate your college life to excelling in academics in order to make it into medical school.

In the latter half of your senior year of college, you will have a good feeling as to whether you will make it into medical school. Your MCAT scores are the most important factor! You may have everything else on your resume, but if your MCAT scores are low, the brutal truth is that you will most likely not get accepted into an allopathic medical school.

Getting accepted into allopathic medical schools, the traditional schools in the U.S. which give you an MD title after graduation, is becoming more competitive every year. The MCAT basically makes you or breaks you. Unfortunately, the system has to rely on this standardized test because the competition is simply too fierce.

For those having difficulty getting accepted into an allopathic medical school, there is always the option of osteopathic medical schools or Caribbean medical schools. The best Caribbean medical school is St. Georges University School of Medicine. This school delivers an excellent medical education, helps you build stamina and discipline and challenges you to push yourself to the next level!

For everyone out there who is currently on the pre-med path or considering it, just remember one important point: do not get discouraged if you find yourself slipping in the process. This road is full of potholes and moments of misery. There will be times when you will literally hate your life and just want to give up.

Don’t ever give up. The more often you get yourself back up from the rubble, the more you will persevere and inch closer to the finish line!

You can do it if you put your mind, heart and soul into it!

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)

Appreciate What You Have

White toy bear holding "homeless" sign in front of apartment

Losing What You Once Had

Human nature, on many occasions, sets our course backwards rather than forwards. We become inpatient with our current situation and long for more; nothing seems to be enough. We obtain something and immediately soak it up like a sponge and want something new; human nature is very parasitic at times.

The pain of losing what you once had is more unbearable than having something which no longer excites you. With something that no longer excites you, it’s still there the following day; it can still be utilized when you wish. But when you lose something, your world suddenly creates an empty space; a very painful empty space.

These empty spaces can add up over time and set you up for a depressive course; say goodbye to smiling for a while. You wanted to complain about your current situation and now life has taken that away from you! You remain empty-handed under the pouring rain while staring at the gray sky, wondering how to proceed forward.

Proceeding forward is what you should do. But now you are potentially battling a depressive course which makes your life even more miserable. Not only do you have to move on from what you have lost, but you now have to find a way to defeat the depressive virus infecting humanity.

The point is to avoid complaining about something which no longer excites you. Appreciate what you have even though it might not stimulate you anymore. Stay positive and work on bettering yourself and improving your current situation. Do not make your life harder than it has to be.

Take the trip. Enjoy the process. Keep moving along.

Are you Ready? (This is Defeating Stigma Mindfully)

Think Outside The Box

Colorful wooden birdhouses

There is More Than You Know

The events surrounding your life have a deeper meaning than what you may think you know. Many times, you will never find out the deeper meanings; everything is orchestrated in the background behind the scenes. For good or bad, you will realize that you do not often have control over these events.

For instance, do not believe everything that you hear in the news. CNN has their agenda to sell their stories, while FOX News has theirs. And Hollywood surely does a great job hiding subliminal messages within their films and music videos. Thinking outside the box means searching for a different story that makes more sense.

Oftentimes, the story which you are presented is only partially true; the real version is disguised. This is because the real version is often controversial and would disturb the masses if revealed in its entirety. You only know the real version if you are in it yourself or know somebody who is; if neither is the case, then you are part of the script.

Thinking outside the box means remaining vigilant of your surroundings and reality. As previously mentioned, your unconscious mind pulls the strings of your conscious mind, but who is pulling the strings of your unconscious mind? Do you even care to find out?

Thinking outside the box has nothing to do with being negative, but has everything to do with being wise and protecting yourself. But you have to be very careful to not fall into the depths of paranoia. Once paranoia kicks in, it’s like being sucked into a powerful vortex.

And most often, you will have great difficulty freeing yourself from a vortex. Therefore, be very careful how much searching for meaning you do. If you find yourself tackling much more information than you can handle, then take a step back and unwind. Do not cross the invisible line of no return.

Have you stepped outside the box yet?

Are you Ready? (This is Defeating Stigma Mindfully)

2019 World Mental Health Day

Colorful together signage painting

Talking One Language

Mental health stigma, suicide or substance abuse . . . these problems continue to prevail in all corners of the world despite advancements in medical and psychiatric research. In the United States, suicide has become the second-leading cause of death among college students.

More people are hearing about mental health but many are still not receiving treatment. A lot of people around the world are too afraid to speak out about their illness, out of fear of ridicule. Many people around the world also do not have access to mental health services; a psychiatrist may be as close as a 3 hour drive.

Depression and anxiety continue to plague all levels of society, whether rich or poor. There is no correlation between money and mental health; one may be a billionaire and still develop depression or a substance use disorder. Even among the 1%, talking about mental illness is often a challenge.

The root of the problem is ego: we are afraid to be more open about mental illness out of fear of injuring our ego. Rather than seeking the proper help and care for an illness, we attempt to keep the symptoms to ourselves, or worse, hidden from ourselves. Many people attempt to ignore their symptoms, believing that this cannot be happening to them.

Rather than creating a worldwide platform for sharing our struggles with mental health, we are beating around the bush by avoiding talking about something difficult or unpleasant. Rather than treating humanity, we are treating segments of humanity; the whole remains divided into pieces.

Pieces do not solve the larger problem. We must come together and open up regarding our struggles with mental health; there is no shame in being sick! Shout it from the rooftops if it has to be done. We have the chance to change the way society views mental health, so future generations can come into this world experiencing a comfortable place to seek help and treatment.

It’s time for us to talk one language: mental health.

Are you Ready? (This is Defeating Stigma Mindfully)

Invisible Voices

Psychotic patient experiencing disturbing auditory hallucinations

Auditory Hallucinations In The Brain

The scientific belief is that when auditory hallucinations are experienced, there is too much dopamine in the mesolimbic tract of the brain. It is not clear why too much dopamine causes auditory hallucinations. But when a patient experiences invisible voices, it feels very real to them even if they have no basis in reality.

These invisible voices may be females, males or both. The voices may talk to each other or directly to the person. Some patients describe hearing voices of other patients on the unit talking directly to them in their head. You may notice when a patient is experiencing voices by the dysphoric appearance on their face; especially when they previously denied hearing voices and never had a dysphoric appearance.

Many psychotic patients, especially chronic ones, do not want to get rid of their auditory hallucinations. Initially, they may have a desire to experience improvement, but over time, many develop tolerance to the invisible voices and don’t mind their persistence.

This is because some psychiatric patients become so used to experiencing auditory hallucinations, that they would not know how it would feel without them. Like any person in life, once you become comfortable with a certain situation, making a change is not on your immediate agenda.

It is important for patients to tell their psychiatrists the truth regarding the content of their auditory hallucinations. Oftentimes, these invisible voices may make the patient feel uncomfortable and even command them to hurt themselves or others. When a patient is most vulnerable, such as being depressed or angry, is when these voices have the greatest chance of influencing the patient.

Antipsychotics do a very good job at alleviating the voices; for some, the voices go away altogether. But it is important to know that as with any medication, there comes the risk of side effects. In the case of antipsychotics, these may include:

  • EPS
  • Metabolic syndrome
  • Diabetes
  • Weight gain
  • Sedation

. . . and the list goes on. But the benefits often outweigh the risks. Who can actually live a normal life experiencing auditory hallucinations? The importance of taking the antipsychotics to help treat the voices trumps the concern of developing weight gain and sedation.

One can live a fairly normal life with weight gain and some sedation neutralized by caffeine. But can one live a normal life with a demonic-animalistic voice yelling at them in their head?

Make the right choice. Seek treatment.

Are you Ready? (This is Defeating Stigma Mindfully)

Down In The Dumps

Depressed brunette woman in bathtub with hands over face

Depression Stole My Soul

Depression lurks around like free-floating bacteria; you can catch it as easily as catching a cold. Many people are depressed and do not even know it. In children, depression may present as irritability. A very common initial presentation of depression reported by patients is fatigue; “I feel tired all of the time.”

Many people don’t want to admit feeling depressed; they see it as a weakness. They think that it can’t be happening to them, so they experience denial. But denial does not take away depression; if anything, it makes it worse. Depression strives in denial; it wants you to stay in that state of mind.

Some people are so depressed that they can no longer function. They report that they have to force themselves to eat; it becomes a chore. Some will not get out of bed all day; they will remain paralyzed for hours at a time, only to get up to use the bathroom. Imagine no sunlight entering your home and laying like a corpse for 12 hours at a time!

The worst thing that you can do for a depressed person is to not take their condition seriously; this can actually be the trigger for them to pull the plug and end their life. When you are suspicious of someone being depressed, believe it! And help them seek help before it’s too late.

You have no idea how much help you can be to a person who has had their soul stolen by depression. In their eyes, you become like their guardian angel, giving them hope and guidance. But if their guardian angel disappears, what is left for them to keep pushing forward? Usually . . . not much.

Don’t allow depression to keep spreading like an evil virus, consuming everyone who enters its path. The more we open up to each other, the easier it will be to overcome depression. But if we remain isolated, selfish and ignorant, many people will continue living in pain; many will also continue to end their life.

Together we can.

Are you Ready? (This is Defeating Stigma Mindfully)

The Art Of Psychopharmacology

Psychiatrist's hand surrounded by green LED lights

Prescribing Psychiatric Medications Wisely

Our psychiatric patients rely on us for first-hand knowledge on medications that can treat their mental illness. But without consistently studying the different mechanisms of action, side effect profiles and indications of these powerful psychotropics, we are doing our patients a disservice.

Pharmacology makes up a large component of the psychiatrist’s toolkit; perhaps around 40%. The other 60% is the human being behind the psychiatric mask: the personality of the psychiatrist, their intentions, passion and the love and care for their patients.

You can have the best intentions in the world, but without a strong grip on psychotropic medications, you will not be able to effectively treat your patients. Because the treatments in psychiatry are very subjective, and what works for one patient might not for another, it becomes very important to remain flexible in your care and management.

Are you able to discern whether to add a mood stabilizer or augment an existing antipsychotic with a second antipsychotic? You must be able to come up with smart and effective reasons as to why you are choosing one medication over the other. Medications are costly, cause side effects and contribute to polypharmacy.

You might not always be on the same page with a psychiatric patient in regards to agreeing on a particular medication, but you should always provide informed consent and be able to explain your reasoning for the addition of a new medication. The patients rely on your expertise.

It’s called an art because nothing is set in stone. Even though the science says one thing, the individual human being might react differently clinically. Therefore, applying the science while mastering the art of psychopharmacology will increase your chances of developing a stronger therapeutic alliance with your patients.

Your patients rely on you to deliver them from their mental illness. And you rely on three factors: science, art and love!

Are you Ready? (This is Defeating Stigma Mindfully)

Persistence With Psychiatric Patients

Lavender-colored flowers

Do Not Give Up On Treatment

Psychiatric patients oftentimes need reassurance that a certain treatment will be beneficial. The sound of a tricyclic antidepressant causing cardiac problems or electroconvulsive therapy inducing seizures can be understandably scary and concerning. Do not ever push a certain therapy onto a patient unless it’s an emergency.

Emergencies include suicidal ideation, past suicide attempts or current severe depression. Even substance abuse may be considered an emergency if the patient has a history of depression and overdoses, and is currently using. No matter what the situation is, always be kind with psychiatric patients; you are the potential healer of their suffering.

Persistence is important with psychiatric patients because many times, their judgment is too impaired to make rational decisions. For instance, many severely depressed patients in state hospitals are non-responsive to multiple antidepressants; their only hope is ECT.

But many patients refuse ECT out of the fear of feeling the electroconvulsive shocks being delivered via electrodes placed on the temporal regions of the head. The chances of feeling the shocks are slim to none, considering that anesthesia with Brevital, an anesthetic barbiturate, is given at a dose which induces sleep within 10 seconds, for a duration of 5-7 minutes.

The actual convulsions, on average, do not last longer than 180 seconds. The point is that psychiatric patients need persistent explanations and reassurance that a certain therapy has the potential of being beneficial. Giving up on a certain therapy because a patient consistently says “no” is giving up on your patient!

Do not settle for mediocracy. Psychiatric patients need persistent, healing human beings who do not give up on them. An excellent psychiatrist attempts to put him or herself in that patient’s shoes, in order to try to understand their perspective and where they are coming from.

Be that excellent psychiatrist. Be that caring healer. Be that loving human being!

Be.

Are you Ready? (This is Defeating Stigma Mindfully)