Depressed On Drugs

Person sitting on train track with cloud of smoke in the dark

Using Drugs To Cope With Depression

Not everyone will admit that they use drugs to cope with depression, but it’s quite common. Whether it’s your bottle of liquor, line of cocaine or blunt of marijuana, substance use comes in quite handy in times of depression. But there’s a catch; they actually make your depression worse in the long run because they don’t fix the problem to begin with. Substances only mask the problem, allowing you to believe that you can now live your life without experiencing the symptoms of depression.

Another danger with using substances to cope with depression is the increased risk of impulsive acts. Substances give you more power, freedom and ability to perform acts which you otherwise would not have if you were sober. In relation to depression, the most severe act is a suicide attempt. Because substances impair your judgment as well, you can end up doing something very dangerous towards yourself or others.

Many patients will deny having problems with substances and you can tell so by observing how they become defensive about the topic when you inquire more about their alleged use of a substance. If you pay attention to their body language as well as to the tone of their voice, you will realize that they experience your questions as intrusive, judgmental and even accusatory.

But you’re not doing any of that (hopefully)! What you’re in fact doing is called motivational interviewing; a technique utilized with substance abuse patients that attempts to understand where they are coming from and whether they are ready to make a change, the change being to eventually quit the substance. But patients who are depressed may have a more difficult time with motivational interviewing because many will hide their substance abuse in the first place.

Depressed patients typically have a low self-esteem during their depressive episodes, so the last thing that they want to do is to reveal their problems with substances; some might, but many won’t. Depression and substance abuse is a deadly combination because the substances give more power to the user to commit suicide. In addition, substances and psychiatric medications are never a good mix, sometimes even inducing serotonin syndrome if a combination of cocaine and SSRIs are used.

If you encounter a depressed person and you suspect substance abuse, then you’re likely right. But don’t pressure them to reveal their use; this will almost always backfire. Inquire and show your concern, but allow them to slowly reveal it to you when they are ready. Rather, you want to focus more on their depression because often times, it’s their depression that made them start abusing substances in the first place.

Are you Ready? (This is Defeating Stigma Mindfully)

Paralyzed By Depression

Depressed man sitting on wooden floor with head down on lap

Day Consumed By Depression

Anyone who has ever experienced depression knows that it’s sometimes brought upon you by an unexpected wave that you never saw coming. It’s not like you wake up one day and you’re depressed; that’s not what we’re talking about. You don’t see the depression coming but you can definitely sense the bits and pieces of it trickling in. In other others, you’re not going to point at a calendar and say, “I’ll probably feel depressed July 4th.” It just happens.

But when the feeling hits you on that particular day, you’ll definitely know that you’re experiencing it. It feels like the inside of you is melting; you feel the pain spreading through your arms and legs and it’s especially heavy in the center of your chest. It’s as if your heart is pumping depressed blood and you’re slowing becoming paralyzed in mind and body; you can feel your soul kicking like the legs of a fetus in the uterus of a pregnant woman.

When the episode has begun, it’s very hard to just snap out of it and turn your day around. This takes a lot of strength and past experience and who wants to be that guy who has a lot of experience snapping out of depression? It’s not something that you necessarily want in your arsenal. It’s difficult to snap out of depression during that day because like I previously said, you feel paralyzed and out of options, as if riding the wave is the easiest thing to do.

If something exciting happens during the day, it makes snapping out of the depression much easier, but let’s be honest, how many of us have random exciting things that we can rely on to snap us out of these episodes? On second thought, even wealthy people who have tons of things to be excited about often can’t snap out of their depressive fits; the wave is just too powerful.

So what you’ll end up doing is trying to hold on for dear life and avoid drowning. If you can get to the end of the day near your bedtime, you’ll know that you have made it. I want to make clear that the depression that I am referring to is not the psychiatric diagnosis of “major depressive disorder.” I am referring to a general feeling of sadness that you can refer to as feeling “depressed,” but it’s not the same thing as major depression, which involves symptoms such as decreased sleep, interest, appetite, concentration, guilt and suicidal ideations for at least two weeks in a row.

We all experience sadness, but it’s one thing to be sad for one hour of the day and another to have your entire day consumed by depression. The latter involves your day psychologically going to waste. You may have accomplished chores and tasks and even have done fun things, but nothing was truly enjoyable because depression was eating you alive from the inside out. Sometimes talking to someone may help alleviate your depression, but keep in mind that it’s quite difficult to surf your way off the wave when you feel like it.

Oftentimes, when the wave arrives, it’s fair to say that you’ll be riding it all day. Your goal is to alleviate the falls and try to maintain as smooth of a ride as possible. If you can coast throughout the day without falling, consider yourself having experienced a minor depressive fit. When you wake up the next day, make sure that you maintain positive thoughts from the moment that you open your eyes, so that you don’t give depression and its associated wave a second run for its money.

You are not in this alone. Always feel free to engage with The DSM Ready Community for help and support!

Are you Ready? (This is Defeating Stigma Mindfully)

I Am The Master Of My Depression

Depressed white woman wearing bunny ears outfit with hands covering face

Positive Affirmation: Controlling Depression

“I am the master of my depression because I don’t deny its existence when its wave comes upon me. Rather, I experience its associated symptoms and do not attempt to fight back, and realize that I am truly in control of it by reminding myself that I am stronger. Depression may strike at any moment, but it is I who still hold the keys to my mind and it is I who am the master of this ship!”

I Am Free Of Depression

Grayscale photo of depressed woman sitting on bench against wall

Positive Affirmation: Depression-Free

“I am free of depression because depression does not have control over my sleep, emotions, appetite, energy, movements, interest in activities, concentration and drive to do whatever I want in life!”

Sexually Abused By Depression

Close-up photo of white blonde woman with hands tied with rope

Depressed By Sexual Abuse

Many women who are sexually abused remain slaves to their experience even decades later. What once was thought to be an experience of two lifetimes ago actually still feels very real to them in the present moment; their unconscious mind sprinkles the memory onto their conscious mind at random and unpredictable times. For most of their lives, they have buried their experience, hoping to never have to revisit it.

But sometimes they have no choice because their mind will force them to revisit it. Whenever they suppress the experience, they tend to experience mental turmoil such as anger, hatred, irritability and even depression. Some suffer from PTSD symptoms such as flashbacks, nightmares, hypervigilance in certain situations and avoidance of certain public places.

Because of repressing their experience, there are some women who don’t recall their sexual abuse; they have buried their trauma within the depths of their mind. But when the trauma resurfaces, sometimes even decades later, the depressive episode that follows can be very bad, sometimes even presenting with psychotic features that are irrelevant to their past trauma.

The intellectually disabled are a vulnerable population when it comes to sexual abuse. Because of their developmental illness, caretakers, stepfathers or close family members are often the perpetrators at play. It becomes even more difficult for an intellectually-disabled victim to process and understand their sexual trauma due to the nature of their illness; the experience may be like a glitch in their mind that constantly resurfaces at random times.

The Me Too movement has shed light on all the young women or women of age who have been abused by men. Many times, these women were lured by the money and opportunities that would become available after performance of sexual acts, but this does not mean that the experiences were consensual. It’s one thing to be lured by money and materialism and consent to sex and another when a man forces himself upon you. Often times, these women remain victims for life, having never truly recovered their feminism and self-identity following the sexual trauma.

It’s important to help these women come out of the shadows and give them a platform from where they can express their feelings, frustrations and pain. This platform is called The DSM Ready Community and is open to all people who want to share their experiences with sexual trauma, mental illness or life struggles in general. We welcome all races, cultures and political affiliations; we do not judge.

Are you Ready? (This is Defeating Stigma Mindfully)

Drugs, Depression And Abortion

Pink round pills in plastic wrapping

Raped By Drugs

Imagine being a female drug addict and living in a shelter for the last couple of years. You wake up every day to go to work which involves consuming cocaine and alcohol. You wander the streets with no end in sight, enjoying the rollercoaster high provided by the drugs. Sometimes you wonder if you need anything more in this world besides drugs and a bed to sleep at night. Until the drugs invite an unexpected guest; someone who decides to violate your body and rape you while you’re passed out from the narcotics.

This is the life of many women who abuse drugs and suffer from a mental illness; they expose themselves to dangerous situations. Many times, the mental illness is due to the drugs themselves, also known as Substance-Induced Mood/Psychotic Disorder. When the drugs are metabolized by the body, usually during a hospitalization, the mental illness subsides. But this is when reality also kicks in, sometimes making the patient feel worse about their current situation.

But can you imagine ending up in the hospital and finding yourself to be greater than 15 weeks pregnant and asking for an abortion, all while you have been abusing drugs? What did that child do wrong to deserve this fate? Does this child not deserve a chance to live? Even though the patient feels violated and believes that this unknown man “seeded” her with his sperm, why should an unborn child suffer the consequence of termination and never see the light of day?

No one is arguing that a patient who is raped does not feel violated and perhaps even suffering from PTSD or depression, but did the patient not put themselves at risk by engaging in risky behavior such as using drugs with male strangers? What do you expect will happen when you are a young female and abusing drugs with grown men in sketchy urban areas? Do you think the men will just stand there and protect you while you nod out?

This goes to show you how dangerous drugs and mental illness are when they go hand in hand. Drugs not only impair your judgement, but they also place you in bad situations, exposing you to dangerous individuals who put your life at risk. You then find yourself waking up with your clothes off and some marks around your vaginal area; perhaps even some itching.

The next thing you know is that you are pregnant, a drug addict living in a shelter and depressed. You end up in a psychiatric unit to get stabilized, but your main focus is to have an abortion. This is the reality of many psychiatric patients all around the world. Don’t use drugs!

Are you Ready? (This is Defeating Stigma Mindfully)

Depressed Out Of Your Mind

Depressed woman wearing hoodie with head down sitting against blue wall

Reeking Of Depression

Imagine feeling so depressed that you cannot even express any other emotion; your face looks blank and dysphoric. Your voice becomes monotone and slow as if stolen by an evil spirit. You appear disheveled as if you haven’t showered in over a week and perhaps you also carry a little body odor. Your thoughts are jumbled and you can’t think clearly because you are consumed by depression; the dominant thought in your mind tends to revolve around a way of how to commit suicide.

Imagine no way out of your misery; depression has chained you into a corner of your home and you can barely extend yourself to the bathroom to take care of yourself. Occasionally, depression will release you of its leash and allow you into the kitchen like a starving dog that is salivating for a T-bone. But you’re not salivating; in fact, you’re spilling tears on the way to the kitchen.

When you arrive to open the fridge you notice that there’s barely any food; you haven’t done groceries in over two weeks. There’s some milk, a few pieces of bread and some salami. You grab hold of the honey-flavored peanuts and munch down as the tears fall down your cheeks; you cannot believe that life has dragged you this low.

After ten minutes of swallowing down your dinner, you head back to your corner because depression has called your name once again. As you slowly make your way back, you see depression standing in the corner: it is about seven feet tall, has an evil smirk on its face and is holding a Rottweiler-sized leash that is ready for your neck. You innocently sit down as it shoves you into the corner and lets loose a loud evil laugh, “Mwahahaha. You’re mine forever!”

As you spend your days in the corner rotting away, you hear your cell phone in the other room ringing continuously; family and friends must be leaving voicemails left and right. You find an occasion in the afternoon to check your messages while depression is fast asleep: you notice frantic and worrying texts and voicemails from loved ones, but you don’t bother returning any calls. For a split second, the thought of drinking alcohol excites you and so you go grab the leftover bottle of liquor from over two months ago.

As you walk back into the living room with the bottle in your hand, you immediately notice depression standing on the other side with its hands on its waste. It then informs you, “I approve. I can use some too. Let’s get to work.” As you feel relieved that depression has approved your drinking, you start downing the bottle because it helps to take away the pain; at least in the moment.

Until one of three things happen: you die of alcohol poisoning in the corner by yourself, you end up in the hospital or you continue living through your misery with no end in sight. This is the life of many depressed patients.

Are you Ready? (This is Defeating Stigma Mindfully)

Don’t Shy Away From Your Loneliness

Lonely woman with head down sitting on wooden dock near lake

Cornered By Darkness

The feeling of loneliness can easily creep up into your life when you least expect it. One moment you have all your friends surrounding you, a significant other and everything going for you and the next you find yourself in a new chapter called, “WTF! What is happening to my life?” This is how life works; it’s unpredictable and you have to be prepared for all scenarios because if you aren’t, then you will be hit very hard.

Don’t be one of those people who shies away from their loneliness and keeps their feelings buried within themselves. Whenever you allow loneliness to overwhelm you by not sharing your feelings with others, it invites its best friend named depression. When depression and loneliness throw a party in your bedroom, trust me when I say that you’ll be suffering in pain.

Many people are too proud of themselves to ever admit that they are lonely; to do so means that they are weak and that others will look down upon them. This is because their ego is too inflated and this is a big weakness; your ego can lead to your downfall if not kept in check. Think of your ego as a stubborn entity who sometimes likes the freedom that you give it a little too much; whenever you are easygoing on its leash, it can suddenly take over and do what it wants.

Your ego can be so stubborn at times that it can lead you into depression. It’s not like it wants to do you harm but when you don’t control it, you become more susceptible to developing a mental illness. In this case, it’s depression in the context of loneliness. The worst combination to be suffering from is an inflated ego + loneliness + depression; this is a recipe for disaster.

If you are suffering from loneliness then please come out and admit it to the world. You can do so with your friends, family and even on this platform, but whatever you do, do not withhold it from others. Loneliness is a dangerous breeding ground for mental illness and you don’t want to take a chance going down that path; you just don’t know which way mental illness will take you.

You don’t have to be ashamed of your loneliness; most of the world is going through it right now. You’ll feel much better coming out and sharing it with the world. You’ll also come to learn just how many people are actually suffering from loneliness and this will help make you feel better about yourself, knowing that you’re not the only one. It’s not necessarily your fault that loneliness has struck you; it’s called life circumstances. You just have to find a way to recover from it by continuing to move forward in a positive state of mind.

Are you Ready? (This is Defeating Stigma Mindfully)

Socially Depressed

Worried white man with black face mask on

Social Distancing And Depression

For children and adolescents, staying at home may not be so bad; they get to play more video games, read more books or indulge in whatever activity they always craved when they used to be in school. But I’m sure some adolescents are also feeling depressed as they cannot gather in their social cliques as frequently as they used to. There’s no doubt that social distancing is increasing the rate of depression worldwide.

Keep in mind that not everyone is fortunate enough to work from home; many have lost their jobs and are left in ruins. Think about the parents who have children and no longer have an income; how embarrassed must they feel to ask their parents for financial support! Depression is increasing because humans were not created to stay isolated at home; we are not animals locked up in a zoo.

But sometimes it feels like society has turned into a zoo. For the most part, everyone is inside their homes while the few that are brave are walking outside for a breath of fresh air. The thing is that walking outside should not be considered brave because there’s a very small chance that you’ll catch the coronavirus by breathing it; it’s not airborne. The virus spreads via contact and droplets.

Social distancing is controversial but many would argue that it’s not necessary; if people who are healthy wear masks in public, then they should be allowed to return back to work. It’s those who are sick or have weakened immune systems who should stay home. But because the entire world is on lockdown, everyone has a greater chance of developing major depressive disorder.

Don’t get me wrong, I’m sure there are some people who love being at home all day; their dream of smoking ganja and playing video games all day has come true. But for most people who are financially responsible and work for a living, staying at home is a powerful hit to their psyche. Think about all the college students who are going to graduate this Spring and not be able to enter the workforce because many employers are no longer hiring!

Imagine how depressing it is to end college and almost be guaranteed to not obtain a job? You end up getting a diploma and going back to your parent’s house or in an apartment that your parents will likely pay the rent for. That’s not the best way to kickstart your career; in fact, depression is a very likely outcome. If you think that the coronavirus is only affecting humanity physically, then think again.

Mental illness is likely on the rise.

Are you Ready? (This is Defeating Stigma Mindfully)

97 Year-Old With Suicidal Ideations

Depressed elderly man wearing suit with red tie

Depression In The Elderly

If you think that depression runs only in children, adolescents or middle-aged adults facing a midlife crisis, then think again. The elderly are very prone to depression for many reasons. You would think that by reaching your 80s or 90s, you would be happy to have lived such a long life and have experienced many decades full of excitement and technological changes and advancements. But depression is depression and like I always like to say, it has no boundaries!

Mental illness does not care whether you’re good-looking, ugly, poor, rich, tall, short, 97 or 10 years of age . . . it attempts to hook you and keep a strong grasp on you until one of three things happen: you successfully recover, you continue to be tortured by living symptomatically or you kill yourself. Obviously mental illness prefers option number two and three; successfully recovering means that mental illness has failed and has to go looking for another potential victim.

Depression in the elderly happens for many reasons. Even those who have lived prosperous lives can fall into depression when they become old. Remember that the brain ages and when it does so, it starts to malfunction along with the senses. The body also becomes weaker. But one thing that remains the same is the soul, so when the soul recognizes that the mind and body are falling apart, it becomes vulnerable to sadness.

So even the elderly experience suicidal ideations of wishing to be dead, “I’ve lived long enough . . . I’m better off dead.” But they don’t actually want to die because after they receive some Lexapro and Seroquel into their system, they start to feel much better and deny feeling depressed or suicidal. But if they lack a strong psychosocial support system, they may fall in-between the cracks and unfortunately pass away.

That’s why it’s very important to keep in touch with any elders who you may know and constantly check in with them regarding how they’re feeling. The elderly may no longer have facial expressions or a body language that is obvious in regards to depression; they may just sit there with a blank facial expression entertaining various ways of ending their lives, such as mixing their pills with a bottle of Jack and overdosing in the middle of the night.

Just because grandpa or grandma has reached an impressive age of 97 does not mean that you should assume that “they’re doing great mentally . . . oh no, they would never do that doc!” The reality is that yes they would, given the opportunity, right setting and tools. Just as high blood pressure (hypertension) is known as the silent killer in physical health, so is depression in mental health.

The elderly depend on us just as how our children do so as well. We cannot leave anyone behind!

Are you Ready? (This is Defeating Stigma Mindfully)