Phantom Limb Pain

Person wrapped with clear plastic bag experiencing phantom limb pain

Invisible Sensations

A phantom limb is the sensation that an amputated limb is still attached. Phantom limb occurs after leg amputation in 98% of patients! The experience may last for years and may even be painful. Sometimes the pain is worsened by anxiety or stress. There is no known cause or treatment; it usually stops spontaneously over time.

Phantom sensations may even occur after amputation of breasts, teeth or even eyes! For instance, some patients who undergo a mastectomy (surgical removal of a breast) report experiencing a phantom breast, or the sensation of still having the amputated breast present. For amputated limbs, the sensation may feel as if the missing limb is shorter or in a distorted position. Phantom sensations have also been reported in transexuals who experience phantom genitals after gender reassignment surgery.

Because the cause of phantom limb is not known, there is no treatment that cures the condition. Treatment approaches that have shown to be helpful include: antidepressants, acupuncture, hypnosis and biofeedback. It can be very debilitating for these patients to lead a depressive-free life while experiencing phantom sensations; imagine having a limb amputated and then feeling as if your limb is still there, but also accompanied by pain!

How would you feel? Imagine the depressing thoughts and suicidal ideations that patients experience while battling phantom limb pain! This is why we must come together and support each other through all our difficulties and struggles!

The DSM Ready Movement is about understanding and caring for each other!

Are you Ready? (This is Defeating Stigma Mindfully)

Antidepressants: The Power Of SSRIs

Depressed African American female crying beside bed

Serotonin Rescue

Anxiety and depression are very common mental disorders that can become very debilitating if not properly treated. A common question that many people have is which treatment is best? There is no right or wrong answer; I believe therapy is individualized based on personality and the severity of the illness.

Selective serotonin reuptake inhibitors are a class of antidepressants that are very efficacious at relieving anxious and depressive symptoms. The name says it all: they work by inhibiting the reuptake pump on presynaptic neurons, resulting in more serotonin available in the synaptic cleft.

Let’s break the neuroscience down: you have two neurons (brain cells) lined back to back with some space in between them. That space is called the “synaptic cleft.” Your thoughts are created by these neurons releasing neurotransmitters (brain chemicals) into the synaptic cleft; these neurotransmitters migrate to the next neuron to bind to the receptors, and the process repeats itself. There are millions of these connections in our brain!

The first neuron is called the “presynaptic neuron” because it is “pre or before” the synaptic space and the neuron that follows is called the “postsynaptic neuron”, because it is “post or after” the synaptic space.

The presynaptic neuron, in our case, releases serotonin into the synaptic cleft so it can bind to the postsynaptic neuron. In people with anxiety and depression, it is believed that there is not enough serotonin released, resulting in the uncomfortable symptoms experienced.

On the presynaptic neuron there are pumps that recycle serotonin back into the cell when it is no longer needed. SSRIs block these pumps, allowing the serotonin to float around and increase in quantity; this results in the alleviation of anxious and depressive symptoms.

It takes about 4-6 weeks to start feeling the SSRIs having an effect on your anxiety or depression; they start working immediately in your brain, but the effects take 4-6 weeks to become noticeable. That is why it is very important to take the medication everyday, otherwise, their efficacy goes down. Always talk to you doctor about how to properly take an SSRI!

No one deserves to suffer from the horrific symptoms of anxiety and depression! Your life is worth living and with the proper education and treatment, you can once again take back control of your life!

Are you Ready? (This is Defeating Stigma Mindfully)

Theory Of Mind

Person demonstrating theory of mind by wearing a gold mask

Worldwide Network Of Human Relations

Theory of mind is the ability to attribute different mental states to others and to understand that others have different beliefs, perspectives and desires than that of your own. It involves understanding another person’s beliefs, emotions and intentions and using this information to more effectively deal with social situations.

Theory of mind is crucial for everyday social interactions; it’s a process used when analyzing and inferring others’ behaviors. It allows you to arrive at an understanding that different mental states are responsible for the behavior of others.

There are many cognitive disorders that prevent people from utilizing theory of mind. For instance, patients with autism, schizophrenia, ADHD and alcoholism can have deficits related to theory of mind; their developmental and cognitive impairment prevents them from effectively understanding others’ thought processes and behavioral patterns.

Theory of mind is crucial to developing prosperous relationships; the better you can understand others’ way of thinking and behaving, the easier you can adapt to their presence and prevent unnecessary complications. Theory of mind can be utilized to make your life easier, by understanding the role that other individuals hold in your surroundings.

Theory of mind is not meant to be used in a manipulative manner; it is a mental tool that allows you to better understand where others are coming from. It allows you to understand their stories and become empathic towards their struggles; it is a worldwide network of human behavioral understanding. And it is free to use!

The DSM Ready Movement advocates for the peaceful and empathic use of theory of mind to help each other understand our struggles and pain; to bring us together and share the power of love with one another!

Are you Ready? (This is Defeating Stigma Mindfully)

Creamy Yummy Peanut Butter

Peanut butter jar on brown cutting board

Ketogenic Diet: Peanut Butter

If you consider peanut butter to only be for children, you are missing out on many health benefits! Besides being good for you, it is an excellent source of energy prior to working out or playing sports; in particular tennis!

If you do not eat peanut butter, you should start this tasty treat immediately! (considering that you do not have any allergies)

Here are the following health benefits:

  • Protein (helps build muscle, repairs tissues and is a building block of bones, cartilage, skin and blood)
  • Magnesium (important for bone formation, assists with calcium absorption and even relieves anxiety)
  • Phosphorous (helps aid in the building of healthy cells and bones)
  • Zinc (important for the immune system which fights infections, protein synthesis and DNA formation)
  • Niacin (helps with digestion and nerve function and helps produce energy)
  • Vitamin B6 (necessary for the heart and immune system)
  • Weight loss (improves satiety or the feeling of fullness, which helps you avoid unnecessary snacks and oversized meals)
  • Improves hearth health (monounsaturated and polyunsaturated fatty acids as well as niacin, magnesium and vitamin E are good for your heart)
  • Helps with bodybuilding (provides a good amount of protein and gives you energy before your workouts)
  • Reduces the risk of breast cancer (eating peanut butter from a young age reduces the risk of developing benign breast disease, which results in a lowered risk of developing breast cancer)

To add even more flavor to it, spread it on two pieces of bread mixed with strawberry jam; the flavor will get you going for whatever activity you have in mind immediately after.

The DSM Ready Movement is about promoting a healthy lifestyle with the goal of improving mind, body and soul!

Are you Ready? (This is Defeating Stigma Mindfully)

Why Trance Music Rocks

Lighted red music text signage on brick wall

An Uplifting Altered State Of Energy

Trance music is a type of electronic dance music characterized by hypnotic rhythms and sounds. It is mostly instrumental with some mixed-in vocals heard in some songs. Trance music is based on the concept of being in a trance: a state of hypnotism and elevated consciousness.

Trance is a great genre to listen to if you are the type of person who is motivated to elevate your consciousness and think about life. The music itself does not act like psychedelics, allowing for mind expansion at such a powerful level, but it does help you relax and enter a state of mind that promotes self-reflection.

Trance music also provides an uplifting and high-energy effect; it is great to listen to before going out at night, while exercising or on a long drive across state lines. The steady rhythm of trance is also great for concentration and focus; songs without vocals can be used in the background when working or studying.

Trance is great for promoting creativity and altered states of mind, especially in a calm meditative environment. The repetitive base lines are similar to those used in shamanic ceremonies, allowing your mind to drift off into uncharted territory and explore new ways of thinking and viewing the world; it sometimes helps you connect the dots in your world!

Most importantly, the music is fun to listen too! It’s uplifting, can alter your state of mind, does not contain profanity, is healing and provides a feeling of well-being; the same elements experienced in The DSM Ready Movement!

Are you Ready? (This is Defeating Stigma Mindfully)

Don’t Take It Out On Yourself

Brunette woman expressing self-love with her hands on her chest

Your Greatest Gift Is Life

It is so easy to get angry with yourself and allow negative thoughts to pile like an old dirty bookshelf, resulting in a repetitive pattern of self-destruction. Most of the time, our environment is so stressful and consuming that we take it personally and redirect the negative energy within ourself; this inches us closer to mental illness.

You should not take it out on others either. Rather, try mirror meditation or mindfulness. Relax, close your eyes and just lose yourself in the present moment; sometimes all we need is some disconnection from the world. Meditation is like a reset point you can always return to; it allows you to unwind and destress.

You should always be loving yourself; if you are not, why should others? Your greatest gift is life! The fact that you get to experience this world, no matter how tough it may be, is extremely precious and you should always be grateful! You have to learn how to get past the rough terrain without doing harm to yourself; when you make it, you will realize that it was all worth it.

If you can relate to this message, educate the people you know not to take it out on themselves. The DSM Ready Movement is about coming together and helping each other, while empowering one another to reach a slightly higher state of mind! 😎

Are you Ready? (This is Defeating Stigma Mindfully)

Keeping Your Drive To Exercise Alive

Motivated woman exercising and doing yoga on blue stability ball

Teaching An Old Dog New Tricks

Exercising on a consistent basis requires motivation and persistence; it is so easy to lose the two and drop your entire routine all together. Somewhere inside of you, you must find a reason to keep yourself determined to maintain your fitness habits.

Whether you want to lose weight, remain healthy or become fit, your goal should be to maintain an exercise routine 2-3 times a week, for about 30-45 minutes per session. If discipline is something that you struggle with, you need to find a way to develop it now before it’s too late. As you get older, it becomes harder to instill new habits and break old ones; as the saying goes, “you can’t teach an old dog new tricks.”

The discipline to exercise is based on motivation; you must find something that keeps you pushing. Whatever you find will help you exercise on the days that feel the hardest to get going; when you succeed to exercise on those days, your discipline will be reinforced and you will find it easier to maintain your drive to exercise.

Lastly, do not lose sight of the most important factor in regards to exercising: having fun! In anything that you do, having fun is key to maintaining a momentum and succeeding with your goals.

The DSM Ready Movement is about having fun!

Are you Ready? (This is Defeating Stigma Mindfully)

You Decide Your Reality

Below view of window ceiling architecture based on the perception of reality

The Garden Of Positive Affirmations

I often hear people saying “this or that will be hard, my life is so miserable, I can’t take it anymore”; what they don’t seem to understand is that they’re feeding their mind these negative comments. Your mind is like a garden; it’s easy to grow weeds (negative thoughts) but it takes work and effort to grow flowers (positive thoughts). Be thankful for what you have definitely promotes flowers!

“You decide your reality” means you have a large saying in how your life goes; your perception of reality plays a large component. Studies have shown that people who practice positive affirmations (daily repetition of positive phrases) are happier, more optimistic and have a clearer perspective on life.

We often get stuck in negative thoughts based on events that occur in our life; negativity has such a strong impact on our mind and personality if we don’t learn to tame it. First, is coming to terms with the fact that negativity will never go away; it’s just part of life.

After you have accepted this, now your task becomes to tame negativity: learning to not be as strongly affected by it and quickly putting it aside shortly after its inception, will help you recover more effectively.

Practicing positive affirmations does not mean that you are ignoring your reality and being unrealistic. It is a tool that can help you stay positive and reframe the way you think, believe and perceive the world and your surroundings.

Find your positive inner child and have fun creating positive affirmations; you have been given free will to control your thoughts. Why let the world decide for you how to think, feel and react when you are the controller of your mind?

The DSM Ready Movement is based on positivity; a free community based on openness and honesty and the advancement of human consciousness through the power of love!

Are you Ready? (This is Defeating Stigma Mindfully)

Sometimes It Just Takes Some Listening

Silhouette of two women listening to each other in water

Be The Shoulder To Cry On

Listening is a valuable tool that can take you a long way in your relationship with others. Sometimes people just want to be heard; speak less and listen to their complaints, desires, pain, feelings and worries.

Not properly listening to others results in misunderstood messages. The foundation of all prosperous and long-lasting relationships is to effectively listen to others; try to understand where they’re coming from so you can give them advice and suggestions that they can relate to.

Sometimes you don’t even need to give advice or suggestions; just the act of listening is therapeutic for many people. In this day in age, mental health is a rising concern and a lot of people are becoming depressed, battling an addiction or committing suicide. But you can help prevent all of this by being a shoulder to lean on; allow them to cry, complain, ventilate and fume!

I am not suggesting that you sacrifice all of your time to listen to others; your health and state of mind come first. But considering that we live in a selfish and over-competitive society, the altruistic thing you can do is to provide your undivided attention to others by listening to their struggles; you will become more confident and happy as a result, and they will become more appreciative and thankful for your services and you as a person.

After all, you never know when you might just save a life!

Are you Ready? (This is Defeating Stigma Mindfully)

Schizophrenics Have Souls Too

Shade photo of woman with schizophrenia

Time To End The Word Crazy?

The stigma of mental health is slowly decreasing in the United States, but many people still label schizophrenics as “crazy.” The problem with this negative connotation is that it trains people to ostracize schizophrenics, almost as if society is “too good for them.”

A schizophrenic person experiences either auditory and/or visual hallucinations, disorganized thinking and/or delusions. Their composure varies from almost indistinguishable from a person without the disorder to extreme agitation and disorganization; the latter is why people are tempted to throw the word “crazy” at them.

If we continue to use the world crazy to label schizophrenics, the stigma of mental health will persist. A better word to replace crazy with is “psychotic”; it is more formal and educational. Can you imagine being a schizophrenic patient and overhearing other people in society label you as crazy? Schizophrenics have souls too! They can understand and feel emotions, sometimes even better than people without the disorder.

Schizophrenics have families, desires, wishes and plans to improve and live a decent life again; especially those institutionalized in state facilities! Imagine living in a state facility, where every day, you walk the same corridor, eat the same meals and stare out the same windows to get a glimpse into society, all while experiencing internal stimuli?

The DSM Ready Movement is advocating for the elimination of the word crazy to be used towards mental health patients! We all have feelings, desires, dreams and goals! No one is crazy; we are just different. And different is what makes this world a beautiful place to grow and learn from.

Are you Ready? (This is Defeating Stigma Mindfully)