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)

Why Do People Use Drugs

Green marijuana buds in clear plastic bag

Everything High

Because it helps them to escape reality. It turns your world into a 3D-enhanced virtual reality room, allowing you to play with the controls as you wish, regardless of the consequences. Users lose interest in normality and forget that they also have responsibilities that cannot be sacrificed for pleasure, especially responsibilities to themselves and others around them. Drugs swallow some up like a black hole, while others can swiftly swim in the nearby space, without any problems returning back to reality and to their responsibilities.

What is your take on drug use and is society headed towards full-blown legalization of all drugs in 50+ years?

Are you Ready? (This is Defeating Stigma Mindfully)

I Am Free Of Drug Use

Man in gray hoodie covering head holding drug needle

Positive Affirmation: Staying Clear Of Drugs

“I am free of drug use because they bring nothing but pain, destruction and addictions. Drugs, whether cannabis, alcohol or anything that alters the brain affects my sanity, personality and spirit and I prefer to stay clear from these substances. Drugs distract me from my life purpose and internally destroy me, throwing me off my course for success. Therefore, I stay clear of drugs and find happiness within myself and the environment.”

Are you Ready? (This is Defeating Stigma Mindfully)

Drugs’ Crazy Voices

Syringe, red and white pills next to face mask on blue background

When Drugs Make You Insane

Drug abuse can happen for many years until psychiatric symptoms manifest themselves. Some people can use drugs their entire lives and never experience any psychiatric symptoms, while others use drugs for a few days and develop a psychotic episode. There is no way of determining whether you are predisposed to developing a mental illness after using drugs. Your best bet is to avoid drug experimentation in the first place and find happiness through sobriety.

Many drug users will report having used meth, cocaine, marijuana and other drugs for years without any psychiatric side effects, until that one day arrives when auditory hallucinations kick in and the patient becomes afraid for his or her life. At first, they think that it’s the drug that’s causing them to hear voices within their head, but when their body metabolizes the drugs and the voices persist, then they really become afraid for their lives.

That’s because there’s no guarantee that the psychiatric symptoms will stop when the drugs are metabolized by the body; everyone’s brain reacts differently. Some people are naturally predisposed to developing a mental illness; this is based on a bio-psycho-social model:

  • Biologically: genetics
  • Psychologically: the way you think and view the world
  • Socially: your social environment and the experiences that have and currently shape you

All of these factors can make or break you when it comes to using drugs and there’s no way of knowing it beforehand. That’s why drugs are so unpredictable and not worth trying in the first place. What if you happen to be that one person who ends up becoming psychotic? Do you really want to take a chance just so that you can experience a 60 minute high?

Some psychiatric patients will report voices telling them to “straighten your body”or believe that there are cameras implanted in their home and that someone is spying on them; this is known as paranoia. Some will experience ideas of reference, such as believing that they can use telepathy to put thoughts into others’ minds or believe that they themselves are receiving special messages through texts. As their time away from drugs increases, their symptoms may start to diminish, but keep in mind that for many, the symptoms do not diminish and they end up requiring antipsychotics.

The bottom line is that you do not know how your mind will react to drugs and that developing a mental illness after drug use is not farfetched; it’s based on reality of thousands of patients worldwide who develop a mental illness secondary to drug use. Let’s avoid that fate for you by remaining sober and finding happiness through natural activities such as exercising, socializing and mindfulness.

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)

Psychotically Sheltered

Psychotic Indian man wearing glasses sticking tongue out

Three Blunts Later

Many psychotic patients have lost everything or never had much to begin with. Their home is the shelter or a psychiatric supportive house where they spend their days doing whatever they want. Many don’t have any requirements; they can sleep all day, create music, go to work . . . it’s up to them. Many continue to abuse drugs on the streets: popular ones in New York City are crack, cocaine and heroin; don’t count out marijuana.

But this is the problem with these shelters: they don’t drug test and even if they did, would they just kick out psychotic residents? They would all just turn homeless and nothing productive would be accomplished. So they continue to abuse drugs and take advantage of the free room and board. The problem with psychotic patients is that drugs impair their judgment and insight.

In the moment while they’re getting high, they’ll report to you that they feel better and that their symptoms have calmed down, depending on which drug they are using. If it’s crack or meth, their symptoms tend to get worse: they become paranoid, start hearing voices commanding them to commit violent acts and may even start experiencing visual hallucinations.

If it’s marijuana, many psychotic patients will report that the weed relaxes them and clears their mind. It may very well do that, but marijuana is prone to cause and worsen psychosis, especially the highly potent strains going around these days. Three blunts later and many of these patients start hallucinating, experiencing disorganized thoughts and behavior and freaking out.

Keep in mind that many psychotic patients are noncompliant with medications because they believe that they don’t have a mental illness. Add three blunts a day on top of poor insight and it turns into a recipe for a mental health disaster. It’s not usually the patient that brings himself into the hospital; it’s the residents or staff at the shelter that escalate the process due to their disruptive and dysregulated behavior.

There is no psychotic patient or mental health patient who I have met that benefited from drug use, including marijuana. They may tell me that they like weed and it calms them down, but then why are they in the hospital in the first place? What’s surprising is that many schizophrenic patients inform me that they’ll probably go back to using marijuana despite being hospitalized.

This is how powerful drugs are and we must continue to spread awareness for drug addiction and advocate for more resources devoted to the treatment and healing of drug addicts. But first we must continue to call on all the drug addicts to come out of the shadows and provide them with a safe and supportive environment and this platform is known as The DSM Ready Community.

Are you Ready? (This is Defeating Stigma Mindfully)

Why The Human Brain Loves Drugs

Asian man laying on steps outside with eyes closed listening to music

Drugs Were Created To Entertain The Human Brain

For anyone who has ever used a drug, you know very well why the pleasure is reinforcing on many levels. You don’t have to be a drug addict to appreciate the pleasure that a drug provides and you don’t have to use something as strong as heroin to understand the nature of drugs. Something as simple as drinking coffee can help you understand why substances in general are addicting.

Substances or drugs, whatever you’d like to call them are very reinforcing because the human brain lacks them endogenously; in other words, it doesn’t naturally create them. Sure, we have endorphins which are released when we experience physical pain or great physical exertion, but that doesn’t count because it’s released only when the brain wants it too; the brain is not programmed to release these chemicals as a way of kicking back and getting high.

So when the brain is introduced to an exogenous substance, it tells itself, “Hey! This is interesting . . . I kinda like it! Let’s get some more!” This reaction is most likely universal, whether it’s in relation to food, drugs, sex, coffee, chocolate or anything that is external and excites the brain. Usually, the greater the pleasure that is associated with an external substance or act, the more the brain becomes susceptible to seeking and craving it.

The brain is not as powerful as we like to believe; if it were, there wouldn’t be drug addicts, sex addicts or gamblers in society. The brain is actually quite weak when it comes to pleasure. Let’s consider an example as simple as having sex: when someone hasn’t had sex in over a year and are suddenly presented with a natural occasion of good sex, they will immediately seek it again the following day or a few days later.

This is because after not having sex for over a year, the act of having it yesterday has reawakened your part of the brain that was missing the physical sensational pleasure; in this case, sex. So your brain tells you, “Get some more of it! Do what you have to do to bring her back! Let’s go, what are you waiting for?” You see how child-like the brain is? It’s the soul within you that has to tame your brain and tell it, “Hold your horsepower! It might take some time before sex can be achieved again.”

And your brain either listens or not, causing you to make a mistake in your human interactions or playing it cool and attracting your mate for another joy ride. The human brain is not as mature as we’d like to believe it is. It goes through a lot of trial and errors in life, including drug experimentation for some. But for those who don’t tame their brain, they become victim to an addiction.

Drugs were created to entertain the human brain but they’re not a good form of entertainment for all humans. There are some people who are strong enough to control their use, while many fall victim to an addiction. It’s very multifactorial on who is prone to developing an addiction; it’s based on environmental triggers, personality, experience, perception, socioeconomic status, genes, etc.

At the end of the day, the human brain needs to be tamed but the question remains, “Are you the one in charge of your mind?”

Are you Ready? (This is Defeating Stigma Mindfully)

Drugs Love Suicide

Woman smiling while holding rolled-up dollar bill near line of cocaine

Hooked On Pleasure

Ever since the coronavirus swept the world off its feet, the mention of the opioid crisis vanished. Even before that, the alcohol crisis and nicotine crisis were still at play but no one ever spoke of them except the families affected by the victims. The point is that the drug culture has not gone away and may never go away; humans are too susceptible to developing a drug addiction.

But it’s not only the drugs themselves that pose a great danger to humanity; it’s the mental illness that lives in the shadows, waiting to infect the next person in line. Since mental illness has no boundaries, everyone is at risk, but those who abuse drugs are at a greater risk of experiencing a mental illness. The problem with mental illness and drug use is that there is no guarantee that the mental illness will go away or not reoccur after one stops using drugs.

Think of a drug as a double-edged sword: one side feels amazingly good while the other penetrates your mind too deeply, inflicting potential long-term wounds. In reality, the entire sword inflicts a wound because what is interpreted by the user as “feeling good while high,” is actually a process of planting seeds for a mental illness; the only difference is that this process is quite often painless in the moment, only to become excruciating in the near future.

One thing is for sure: drugs love suicide. There is no drug that is good for you and marijuana is not an exception. Anything that alters the mind also opens it up to the possibility of encountering a mental illness on any given day; “You have finally arrived” the drug states to the mental illness. The mental illness replies back, “I knew it was a matter of time. Thanks for taking care of business. You can go now . . . or stay . . . whichever.”

But the user is the one who doesn’t want to let go of the drugs, only empowering the mental illness in the first place. You get the picture? This is why drug addicts are prone to suicide; even if they want to escape their hellish addiction, they often become too powerless in the process. If it’s not by a great psychiatrist, luck or God’s saving grace to be freed, many end up overdosing or killing themselves.

We need to continue to raise awareness for drug addiction and not look down upon our fellow humans. We can all agree that we live in a sinful world torn by wars, viruses, hatred, division, mental illness and addiction. The last thing that we should be doing is pointing the fingers at others and stating, “You worthless piece of shit. You’re good for nothing!” This is never going to help us advance the human race.

We welcome all drug addicts and people with mental illness. This is The DSM Ready community.

Are you Ready? (This is Defeating Stigma Mindfully)

Substance-Induced Psychotic Disorder

Three same female faces with red glitter under eyes

Holding On To Drugs

Substance abuse, mental illness and medical complications go hand in hand; rarely do you have one without the other in the psychiatric world. In other words, a psychiatric illness without a medical comorbidity is possible, but oftentimes, there’s something at play behind the scenes, even if it’s something as common as high blood pressure. Don’t automatically assume that someone who abuses drugs does not have a medical illness; sometimes the drugs are there to mask the physical symptoms or even the psychiatric symptoms!

And don’t assume that someone who has a psychiatric condition does not abuse drugs; the psychiatric condition can be secondary to drugs. This is the case with substance-induced depressive or psychotic disorder. Substances are capable of inducing temporary psychiatric illnesses such as anxiety, panic disorder, depressive disorder or a psychotic episode.

The key word is “temporary” because once the patient has metabolized the substance, the psychiatric condition tends to dissipate. This is because it was the chemical component of the drug that was inducing the symptoms in the patient’s brain. Once the drug is out of the body, the symptoms tend to subside and the patient returns back to a normal state of mind. But there are many cases where the psychiatric symptoms persist and that is the big danger that comes with abusing substances.

The problem with chronic drug users is that their addiction can repeatedly bring back a psychotic state of mind throughout their episodes of binging. But even when they experience auditory hallucinations of voices commanding them to kill themselves, they continue to go back to using their drug of choice. In other words, they’ll enter a hospital for a few days to become mentally stable after metabolizing the substances in their system, and then be discharged with the same intent of continuing to use their drug of choice.

The hospital is a temporary lodging station for their psychosis to clear up. For instance, someone who is experiencing psychosis from cocaine most likely will not want to stay home and continue to experience frightening psychiatric symptoms; they have all the desire in the world to obtain professional care under the supervision of psychiatrists while in the hospital.

But that’s the disappointing theme with drug addicts: even after obtaining a successful medical and psychiatric treatment, they tend to go back to their old behavior of getting high. Drug addiction is often more deadly than depression with suicidal ideations because drugs impair the user’s judgment, impulse and even insight, increasing their chances of actually harming themselves. On the other hand, someone who is only depressed and does not abuse drugs can more easily recover because of the psychiatric medications taking effect.

Someone who uses drugs will often be noncompliant with medications; their compliance is tied to their drug of choice because it’s all about getting high and feeling good. At the end of the day, pleasure dominates the drug addict’s lifestyle at the expense of their sanity.

Are you Ready? (This is Defeating Stigma Mindfully)

Getting High During Social Distancing

Person holding unrolled cannabis joint with grinders on table

Is Your Brain The Real Enemy?

With so much time on your hands, your brain begins to beg you, “Please give me some candy so I can feel bomb!” The problem with listening to your brain’s demands is the same problem when you listen to a child’s continuous requests: you give up power as they gain more control. Getting high during social distancing is certainly very tempting but you have to resist your brain’s desires.

The coronavirus pandemic is a perfect time to develop a drug addiction; hence, why you have to redirect your mind away from substances. With so much free time on your hands and mixed feelings regarding the current social situation, substances become an avenue of escape; a destination that is often hard to return back from.

Getting high helps you to enhance your isolation at home. It makes activities such as cruising the web, watching YouTube videos, having sex, eating and putting on a Netflix show much more enjoyable. That’s because substances hijack your reward center in the brain and release great amounts of dopamine; much more than naturally released when having sex with an attractive partner!

That’s why half the world is addicted to a substance; it’s like candy for adults. Just as children love sugar highs, adults love a state of intoxication. Since we are little, we have been programed by society to enjoy getting high. The difference between those who do and don’t comes down to many factors, including the current COVID-19 pandemic!

Getting high may truly make your social distancing experience more enjoyable; no one is denying that. But are the consequences worth it? When all of the smoke clears up and the coronavirus dies down, will you want to be in a position of stepping out in public with an addiction on your hands? If you do end up in that position, the real enemy was your brain who convinced you all along to get high and you fell for it!

So don’t allow your brain to become your enemy. It does not always look out for what’s best for you; the brain is quite selfish! The human brain is so smart that it comes up with ways of tricking you into giving it what it desires. And once you give it a glimpse into the world of getting high, it will take full advantage of the dopamine rushes by keeping you hooked on drugs as much as it possibly can.

Control your mind and you will be in a good position to carry forward.

Are you Ready? (This is Defeating Stigma Mindfully)