Opening Up About Your Mental Health Symptoms

In therapy, the psychiatrist can only help you as much as you want to be helped. It’s very important to find that comfort zone and open up about your symptoms so that your doctor can better understand you. Withholding your symptoms will only delay the process to your mental health recovery and you will suffer more during the process. Find a psychiatrist who makes you feel comfortable and divulge to them everything going on in your mind like an open book. Your doctor can’t wait to help you but you have to want to help yourself as well.

Why We Talk About Mental Health

Selective focus photography of hand holding crystal ball

Planet Zer0

Imagine a world where mental health does not exist; let’s call it Planet 0. There is no recognition of mental illness such as depression, anxiety, psychosis, eating disorders, ADHD, tic disorders, drug addiction, etc. If you suffer from such a disorder of the mind, you are simply considered “weird,” “abnormal,” “strange” or “other-worldly.” In this world, if you have a mental illness, you are ostracized from society; find your way back home because you are not getting into this circle!

People who commit suicide are viewed as weak; “he would have never made it anyways” is the mentality. Drug addicts are considered the scum of the earth on Planet 0; suffering or even worse, dying, is celebrated by the masses. Psychotic people are one of the most feared and despised; governments all around the world are seriously considering passing a law to allow citizens to shoot at a psychotic person if they feel threatened.

Essentially, humanity on Planet 0 does not want to have anything to do with mental health; it never was and it never will be. If you are feeling down, your family warns you to get yourself together. If you are feeling anxious, your friends start to lose interest. If you are feeling insecure, your significant other is expected to leave you. If you are hallucinating, society no longer knows of you. Psychiatric medications are for lab rats; if you’re even heard of having some in your kitchen, your landlord has a right by law to evict you if he or she pleases.

Why do we talk about mental health?

So we can avoid experiencing any sort of stigma that slightly touches or resembles Planet 0.

Are you Ready? (This is Defeating Stigma Mindfully)

Are Drugs The New Mental Health Tool?

Red mushroom beside grass and sticks

Something To Think About

Drugs have such a bad ring to them. When one thinks of drugs, an image of DARE, bad high school kids and people in prison come into picture. This is because we have been conditioned by society to equate drugs with disapproval; we have been turned off to dispose the idea of consumption and view them as dangerous and destructive. But when it comes to alcohol and cigarettes, “Please! It’s on me this time.”

With Ketamine approved for depression and psychedelic clinical trials underway around the world, it begs the question, “Are drugs the new mental health tool?” And we are not talking about recreational use. We are specifically referring to medicinal use under medically-controlled environments. Can marijuana, psilocybin, LSD, DMT, Ketamine and others be used effectively to treat mental health conditions such as alcoholism, depression, anxiety, etc?

I hope I have sparked a new curiosity in you. Now it’s your turn to do your own research and convince yourself whether drugs have the potential to provide mental health benefits. Are we doing our due diligence by researching these compounds for therapeutic use, or is this just another excuse to legalize them and get high?

Are you Ready? (This is Defeating Stigma Mindfully)

When Depression Haunts You

Man hugging his knee statue

Uncontrolled Depression

You may have experienced depression five or ten years ago but it doesn’t mean that you’re now in the clear. Depression can always reemerge like a deadly virus that no one expected to turn into a pandemic. That’s because unresolved depression can go unnoticed for years at a time, only to make itself noticeable unexpectedly. You may have been feeling depressed the whole time and not even know it; sometimes life has a way of keeping you distracted from your own feelings!

The last thing that you want to do is ignore your depression and bury it somewhere in the closet hoping to never having to deal with it; this is a recipe for disaster. Depression is not something that you sweep under the rug only to return to it centuries later. The symptoms of depression are too powerful to ignore and they will soon catch up with you; you will either seek treatment and recover or spiral down into a dark pit full of misery, alcohol or drugs.

So what is my recommendation to you? Don’t be afraid; don’t be shy; don’t be ashamed to seek help and talk about your feelings. What’s the worst that can happen? Nothing. You have everything to gain by opening up to a psychiatrist, therapist or psychologist and seeking treatment and better days. It’s time that you put your ego aside and seek the care that your mind, body and soul deserve!

Are you Ready? (This is Defeating Stigma Mindfully)

Depressed As A Doormat

Grayscale photo of depressed woman sitting next to window holding doll

When People Stomp All Over You

There are many people who were raised to not disobey their parents and argue back, but at a very extreme level. As children, they feared their parent’s disapproval and did everything they could to appear perfect. As they slowly exited out of adolescence and entered the real world, they soon realized that the way they were brought up was not suitable with people outside their culture. They found themselves to be depressed by their interactions with others because they always cared about what others thought of them; they also never had the strength to stand up for themselves.

Your upbringing defines your adulthood to a great extent. It’s when you’re a child and adolescent that your personality is molded and shaped into the person who will carry you to the end of your days. If your personality is not shaped well from a young age, you will experience difficulties in relationships later on in your life. When people stomp all over you, it means that you do not have the courage nor strength to argue back and stand up for yourself.

You give others the power and even turn them into authority figures, similarly to what you did with your parents growing up. When others make fun of you or point out your flaws, you become ashamed of yourself, almost internalizing and believing everything they say, rather than standing up for yourself. You may even experience what some like to call a “shutdown;” an episode of low energy, drive or motivation to do anything besides being paralyzed on your couch or in your bed. You become a doormat and everyone keeps walking all over you.

Even though you may have a job, raise children and still be functional, your interactions with others limit your happiness. If people are nice and get along well with you, then you find yourself having no problems. It’s only when those who argue back and critique you that you become frozen in time and no longer know how to react. You want to fight back, experiencing an internal desire to stand up for yourself and tell them, “stop saying these things! They are not nice and I don’t believe in what you are saying!” But sadly, you never learned how to do that growing up.

But it’s never too late! Psychotherapy is the process of analyzing your life and learning how to change your thoughts and behaviors. Anyone can benefit from psychodynamic/psychoanalytic therapy; you don’t need a mental illness to be qualified for therapy. If you find yourself in this category of persons who are functional but struggling with depression and problematic behavioral patterns, then I highly recommend you start psychotherapy! You will not regret it.

Are you Ready? (This is Defeating Stigma Mindfully)

Depressed Americans

Depressed Hispanic woman crying while laying on gray furniture

Coronavirus: An Era Of Depression

I have talked to so many mental health patients who are sitting at home in a depressed state of mind ever since the coronavirus pandemic started. The key word is at “home” because they are functional and not so depressed that they require a hospitalization, but this does not mean that they don’t experience some of the symptoms that come with depression. Even before the coronavirus, there were many Americans already depressed; now, that number has substantially increased.

Some of the symptoms of depression may include a decreased sleep, decreased interest in activities, decreased concentration, decreased appetite, guilt, loss of energy, slowing of body movements or even suicidal ideations. Many Americans experience at least a few of these symptoms while sitting at home with no agenda for the rest of the day. The recurring theme is that they lost their job and are not leaving the house; in other words, they lack activities to keep them preoccupied during the day.

Some people also become very anxious at home and anxiety and depression often go together. They will complain that there’s so much negative news or that people in the neighborhood are not wearing masks, “as if they don’t care that there’s a pandemic going on.” What’s important to understand if you are a reader who identifies with these thoughts is that we cannot force others to wear masks, nor should we expect them to; it’s a free world and people have the right to do what they want.

So why am I pointing out the obvious? Because clearly it’s making you anxious and more depressed that others aren’t following health officials’ recommendations. But why are you getting hurt in the process? You should not be anxious or depressed because of external factors; you need to learn how to put uncontrollable external factors aside and focus on bettering your life. Do your due diligence by wearing a mask and washing your hands but don’t expect others to do the same.

It’s not easy being home because of the coronavirus and not having a job. Some people work from home but still feel depressed because their previous routine of leaving the house and coming back in the evening has been taken away from them; they are not used to using their home space as a work environment after working away from home for over twenty years. As I have mentioned in many previous articles, depression is like a wave and many times you don’t see it coming; you just have to ride it out without falling down.

This coronavirus is a similar wave but much bigger and deadlier. It may be harder to hold on but it’s definitely doable. So don’t allow this wave of depression to knock you off your surfboard. Many people are experiencing the negative emotions that you are; you are never alone in this. So maintain a positive mindset, keep yourself preoccupied during the day by finding work, taking long walks outside, reading, exercising and socializing with others. Don’t allow anxiety and depression to get to you and certainly don’t allow them to bring your down!

Are you Ready? (This is Defeating Stigma Mindfully)

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!”

Are you Ready? (This is Defeating Stigma Mindfully)

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!”