Losing Hope

Grayscale photography of man looking at incoming light from a hole

Not Seeing Any Results

There are many reasons for why one may lose hope, but there are also many reasons for why one should keep hoping. Living in a culture that feeds on immediate gratification, it’s very easy to fall into the mental trap of expecting instant results. Sure, you can receive instant results, but are they quality and beneficial to your growth as a person?

Social media has a huge influence on our expectations. Whether we are conscious of the process or not, we often compare ourselves to those who have more materialism: your Dan Bilzerians, Kim Kardashians, rappers, Instagram models, Oscar winners and more. We are so attracted by their lifestyles, that we become disappointed when we don’t see our small expectations become a fruitful reality.

Social media is a big problem with why people easily lose hope. Many times, people don’t realize that their goals are unrealistic or unnecessary; they are only shooting for them because they believe that’s what everyone else must be shooting for. They want a BMW when they can’t even afford a Honda!

Your hope for a better life will always be lost if you don’t adjust your expectations. Don’t shoot for unrealistic goals or ones that won’t serve you well; don’t try to be like the rest of them. You must realize that celebrities are celebrities for a reason: they are either extremely talented and gifted, lucky, full of connections or all of the above.

Even if you aren’t shooting for unrealistic goals, don’t give up just because you haven’t seen any meaningful results. For instance, many people believe that they won’t find their significant other because “dating apps suck.” Even though the consensus is that dating apps are not the best way to meet someone, and that even the “hottest” people struggle with them, that doesn’t mean that you should give up hope!

Do what you have to do while maintaining a positive state of mind. You are going to have days when you will feel like giving up, but don’t allow those days to be the end of your dreams. If you want something, are working towards it and believe wholeheartedly that you will accomplish it, then you are already in a much better position to achieve it!

In Matthew 17:20 of the bible, Jesus said, “Truly I tell you, if you have faith like a grain of mustard seed, you can say to this mountain, ‘move from here to there,’ and it will move. Nothing will be impossible for you.”

Plant those seeds of faith and keep watering them every day.

Are you Ready? (This is Defeating Stigma Mindfully)

Racism Is Not Real

Colorful painting of cartoon figures holding different quotes related to racism and equality

Controlled By Society

Racism is a figment of one’s imagination. God did not create humans to practice racism; humans created racism to practice control. Racism is a concept invented by the human mind in order to establish superiority. If one race adopts the higher level of the pyramid, it places itself in a better position to pull the strings of those below it, whether unconsciously or consciously.

If you put two children of different races in a playground and observe them, you will notice their indifference to each other’s skin color. This is proof that racism is not real. But as they grow older, they will both learn of the concept of racism taught to them by their schools, friends, parents or the entertainment industry.

Some people believe that President Trump brought racism to the masses. This is a naive way to look at things. President Trump never brought racism; racism always existed in the shadows. He just promoted it and awoke a sleeping giant. But whether that sleeping giant was awake or not, its army was still at work spreading hatred and division.

This is not to indicate that President Trump’s promotion of racism is correct. The message here is much bigger than what one president believes. One day, this time shall pass too and another president will take office. Do you believe that racism will suddenly vanish? Unfortunately not.

Racism is going to continue to grow because there are people in high places who utilize it as a tool for control. Their idea of control is based on divide and conquer; not via war, but via information and words. There is a war on your mind and part of that warfare is racism itself. By dividing us with racist ideas and experiences, our mental health suffers due to hatred, stress and division. And when we suffer mentally, we become more easily controllable.

The goal should not be to end racism because racism does not exist! Rather, we need to flip the hierarchy of the pyramid: loving people who do not believe in the concept of racism need to be positioned in high places; the racists need to be dropped to the bottom. By spreading love and goodness from the highest ranking positions of the pyramid, we will slowly be able to live our lives without the ordeal of having to witness racism.

Are you Ready? (This is Defeating Stigma Mindfully)

Psychedelic Momentum

Psilocybin magic mushroom growing in nature

Psilocybin On The Horizon

The first US center for psychedelic research has opened up at Johns Hopkins University in Baltimore, Maryland. For over 50 years, psychedelics have been outlawed by the U.S. government and classified as schedule I drugs. Schedule I drugs are regarded as having no medical benefits as per the federal government. Some of these include marijuana, MDMA, heroin and peyote.

This is very exciting news, as just recently the FDA granted psilocybin breakthrough therapy designation for major depression. Psilocybin is the active ingredient in hallucinogenic mushrooms or “magic mushrooms.” They have been used for thousands of years by indigenous tribes in South America and by Native Americans in the U.S., for spiritual, medicinal and mystical experiences.

It is not yet known how psilocybin works on the brain and how it potentially helps depressed patients. It is thought that it rewires the brain circuits by shutting down bad connections and sprouting new good ones. Consider this analogy: a person living in the financial distract of Manhattan does not have too much contact with people in the upper west side. But if consistent contact were to be made, a potentially new fruitful connection could be established, benefiting people from both places.

It’s also believed that the actual psychedelic experience of hallucinations in a controlled therapeutic environment, helps patients to confront their demons, resulting in the alleviation of their pain and suffering. This method is much different than your conventional antidepressants, which provide no mystical experiences and take up to 4-6 weeks for therapeutic effects to be noticed.

Psychedelics were once used in the field of psychiatry back in the 1950s, until they were classified as schedule I drugs in 1970 under the Controlled Substances Act. Psychedelics were never meant to leave the laboratory, but they were unfortunately introduced to the masses, sparking the Hippie movement which glorified the use of psychedelics. In return, this motivated the U.S. government to outlaw the sacred compounds.

These new times are much more promising for the use of psychedelics. The hope is that the evidence will be present in regards to establishing therapeutic value for mental health disorders. Any new tools which can help alleviate the mental health suffering of millions of people around the world, is a step in the right direction!

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)

Maintaining Sound Mental Health

Young brunette woman smiling in bed after taking day off from work

Utilize Your Paid Personal Days

Many people feel guilty at the thought of utilizing the personal days which their employer has provided them with. Just the thought of “skipping work” to stay at home and lounge, relax or catch up on some sleep makes their skin shrivel. But that’s what personal days are for! You do not need to be sick to enjoy some time off.

Fatigue is just as destructive or more destructive than your common cold: it affects your state of mind, motivation, drive, ambition, happiness and mood. When you become fatigued, you become less efficiently productive at work: you make more errors; you lose your drive and you become more irritable with those around you.

You are not doing anything wrong by utilizing your paid personal days. As long as it’s stated in your work contract that you have X number of personal days, then you are in a perfectly acceptable position to utilize them. Often times, it’s the guilt and fear which prevent us from going forward with it.

Don’t overwork yourself to the point of feeling burned out, or even worse, fatigued and depressed. Your health always comes first! Suicidal thoughts are definitely connected to being overworked as an employee. When all you do is wake up bloody early, work the entire day and come back home crashing on the couch, this repetitive lifestyle will eventually take a toll on your sanity.

Always put your mental health first before anything else. If you are currently working at a job which you don’t enjoy because of your mental health, then you must reconsider your work options. Don’t risk your sanity, or even worse, your life for a job. Maintaining a happy state of mind is much more important than maintaining a current job.

Take some personal days off and maintain sound mental health!

Are you Ready? (This is Defeating Stigma Mindfully)

Sugar Addiction

Young brunette woman smiling while holding pack of candies inside grocery store

My Addicted Sweet Tooth

A sugar addiction is not as serious as it may sound. Nobody goes to rehab for eating too much sweet-tasting foods. But the addiction to such foods poses many physical health problems which one should be wary about. Eating too many sweets can impact your weight, health, appetite and even your motivation to exercise.

Your weight is the first change that you may notice upon eating too many sweets. For men, that’s the accumulation of fat around the abdominal region. For women, fat usually accumulates in the buttocks region. An increased weight raises your chances of developing diabetes mellitus and cardiovascular problems, and may affect your confidence and self-esteem as well.

If you have a low confidence to begin with, worsening it with an increased weight gain secondary to a poor diet will only affect you adversely even more. Low confidence is associated with less motivation to be active and to socialize, and an increased risk of developing a mental illness such as depression.

Eating too many sweets also has an impact on your appetite. While you may have noticed that sweets are not a replacement for a meal, they still fill you up to the point of causing you to eat less than you would have had without them. Add some coffee to go along with those cookies, and you have created yourself a killer appetite suppressant.

Lastly, eating too many sweets can affect your desire to exercise. It can be a challenge for many people to remain motivated to exercise on a consistent basis. Add to that mix an increased weight gain secondary to eating unhealthy food, and there goes your drive to remain fit. For many people, it’s easier to maintain a pattern of immediate gratification: unhealthy eating + not exercising enough + enjoying that sugary taste!

Always keep an eye out for how often you indulge in sugary delights. One way to decrease your consumption of such foods is to simply stop buying them. There’s no magic secret to it! If you decondition yourself from not eating sugary foods, you will no longer crave it as much as you once did.

It’s all about mind over matter!

Are you Ready? (This is Defeating Stigma Mindfully)

Laughter Can Save You

Young brunette woman laughing while on bed reading magazine

We Made Each Other Laugh And Smile

What is laughter and why do we even do it? Some people laugh at funny things while others laugh due to pain and misery. Some also laugh due to mental illnesses such as Pseudobulbar affect, Alzheimer’s dementia, Frontotemporal dementia or even schizophrenia. Clearly, laughter is not always associated with happiness and amusement. But when it is, it’s one of the most potent treatments we have against mental illness and life dissatisfaction.

But then there are the people who are always observed to be miserable and never observed to be laughing. They hold onto their negative emotions so firmly that they become miserable inside; their fury prevents them from enjoying a few good laughs. These are the people who also develop a shorter life expectancy.

Life is not meant to be taken so seriously; if it were, we’d be doing slave labor day and night. But God gave us free will to laugh and enjoy ourselves. He already handed us our punishments since the beginning of time: women must experience the challenge and pain of childbearing and men must grind for a living.

But these punishments are not meant to exclude a good laugh here and there. It is mentioned in the bible, “drink no longer water, but use a little wine for thy stomach’s sake and thine often infirmities.” No matter the pain or mental illness which you are experiencing and suffering from, remind yourself that you have already been given one of the greatest blessings of all time: the ability to experience life.

So why go through life being miserable and depressed? Learn how to develop a sense of humor and start to search for and discover the funny side of life. By being more open to humor, smiles, giggles and laughter, you will slowly start to experience a more warming and pleasant state of mind. Learning to connect with others via humor and laughter will also open more social doors for you.

More social doors means more opportunities to alleviate your mental suffering. Experiencing positive human interactions is another natural healer of the ill mind; medications should not always be relied upon. Laughing, humor and socializing often heal the ill mind much more effectively, than a couple of pills called Prozac and Celexa.

Are you laughing yet?

Are you Ready? (This is Defeating Stigma Mindfully)

Worrying Can Kill You

Worried man sitting outside with hand on face

Worrying: A Catalyst To Mental Illness

The act of allowing your mind to dwell on difficulties, troubles or unnecessary thoughts promotes stress, fatigue and even the development of a mental illness. This act is called worrying and we do it all the time; day and night. If you are worrying a lot during the day, then you can bet that you are unconsciously worrying throughout the night.

Worrying is your mind becoming stuck in a repetitive loop that is focused on a certain set of thoughts; it’s very much tied in to anxiety. But it doesn’t mean that you have anxiety if you are constantly worrying. It can just be a bad habit which you have developed secondary to your life circumstances.

People who live in urban environments are especially prone to worry about many different things. This has to do with living a fast-paced life, environmental stress, over-population, traffic and feeling rushed a lot of times. Whenever you are feeling rushed, you start to experience pressure regarding certain thoughts and behaviors.

For instance, you might feel rushed to leave your home in the morning and make it to work on time. In the process, you forget if you turned off the stove or closed the fridge from 5 minutes ago. So you go back and check them, but because you are in a rush, you end up worrying about your kitchen later on that day.

And this pattern of worrying may continue to get worse. Your worrying can even start encompassing new thoughts and behaviors; the more you feed into it, the more powerful your worries become. Worrying is also very much tied in to OCD. Once these thoughts become too negative to handle, they’re often followed by compulsions in order to alleviate them.

Excessive worrying, stress, anxiety and other symptoms can lead you to feeling suicidal. Your brain becomes overloaded with negative clutter, which distracts you from thinking clearly about your life. When you are distracted, other things in your life start to crumble; as those things go down, they also pull onto you to sink you down with them.

Keep your worries at a minimum. Often times, they’re actually never really needed.

Are you Ready? (This is Defeating Stigma Mindfully)

Hoarding Disorder

Room full of excessive hoarding of hats and other items

Is Hoarding A Mental Illness?

Hoarding disorder is the repetitive accumulation of unnecessary items, when these items are no longer needed. The first signs begin around ages 11 to 15 and become noticeably worse as the person ages. It’s considered a mental illness because the act of accumulating unnecessary items, to the point of causing a health hazard, is not considered normal.

Hoarding is more common in older adults than in younger adults. It is not known what causes hoarding disorder, but it is believed that personality, family history and stressful live events might play a role. People with this disorder tend to be indecisive; for instance, they may excessively weigh the pros and cons of throwing away a receipt.

Most people either keep a receipt or discard it. But someone who is prone to developing this mental condition, will lean towards holding onto many receipts for various reasons:

  • They believe that they will need the receipts in the near future
  • The receipts may have some important emotional significance
  • They don’t want to waste the receipts
  • They feel safer by holding onto the evidence

. . . and the list goes on. It’s important to note that hoarding and collecting are not the same thing. Someone who has a collection is not adversely affected by it: their living environment is not cluttered and does not bring upon distress or an impairment. But someone with hoarding disorder may not be able to cook in the kitchen or shower in the bathroom, due to the severity of the cluttering.

There are many problems that come along with this mental illness. Some people hoard trash, causing their place to become extremely unsanitary. This poses a risk to their health and wellbeing. In addition, many hoarders develop significant conflicts in their relationships, especially with those who try to help them by removing the clutter from their home.

Other complications due to hoarding may include:

  • Creating a fire hazard
  • Social isolation (they are embarrassed of their situation and don’t want anyone to know about it)
  • Eviction
  • Increased risk of falls (especially in the elderly)
  • Poor work performance (they are mentally distracted and preoccupied with the accumulation of specific items)

. . . and the list goes on again. It’s been observed that people with hoarding disorder also may experience depression, anxiety, OCD or ADHD. It makes sense when you connect these other mental disorders: someone with depression may not care enough about their living environment; someone with anxiety may be too afraid of the consequences of discarding something; someone with OCD may have negative thoughts about discarding items; and someone with ADHD may be too distracted to care enough about maintaining a sanitary environment.

There is no actual causation behind hoarding disorder that has been discovered. But as you can see, it’s related to other mental disorders based on common symptoms and traits. No mental disorder is unique on its own; everything is interrelated to a certain extent. How great that relation is depends on the disorders being considered. For instance, 30-50% of patients with Tourette’s disorder have OCD!

Hoarding disorder is a mental illness.

Are you Ready? (This is Defeating Stigma Mindfully)

It Smells Like December

Young brunette woman wearing winter coat and blowing snow on her gloves outdoors

Happiness Is In The Air

Christmas is around the corner. Snowstorms are approaching. Our digestive track is still recovering from Thanksgiving treats. 30 more days until the new year. It definitely smells like December. This is the time of year where you either feel more depressed than ever, or jolly and optimistic.

December is a beautiful month overall, because it signals the ending of the current year and the beginning of a new one. If 2019 wasn’t so great for you, then this is the time to leave all of your baggage in the past and mentally prepare yourself for 2020. Do not take with you what should be left behind; a new year is a new you!

Many people are depressed during the month of December because they are in the midst of fighting seasonal affective disorder (SAD). For these people, it becomes much more difficult to enjoy the Christmas spirit. But remind yourselves that you have a fairly good control over your mental illness; do not allow SAD to take away your chance of enjoying the holidays!

Some people are sad during the month of December because they are alone. Even if you are alone, your sadness is created by your mindset; it’s all about the way you interpret and view your surroundings and current situation. If you tell your mind that sadness = being alone, then you are conditioning your mind to be sad.

Besides people with schizoid personality disorder, most would agree that they would prefer to be around others during the holidays. But this does not mean that you should leave your mind marinating in sadness, just because you don’t have anyone to be around with. You have yourself! And you have God who is always by your side!

Rather than viewing December as a hit or miss month in terms of happiness, adjust your lenses and start viewing it as a peaceful, relaxing and beautiful month. December is like the change in seasons: out with the old and in with the new! In this case, a new year is approaching, full of new opportunities and new relationships!

If you are ever feeling lonely, by all means, feel free to contact The DSM Ready Community. We are always here to help!

Are you Ready? (This is Defeating Stigma Mindfully)