Creative Minds

Abstract painting of blue ocean with head

Learning to Utilize Imagination

Creative minds are calling you

Imagination is a tool underutilized

Its roots come alive only when tapped deep enough

Sometimes the soil is stubborn

The plants don’t get through

The rains keep trying

Your thoughts are glued

You wonder why you think so lame

Why you can’t elevate your game past a certain membrane

You lose touch with any excitement

Everything has become repetitive

You miss Mike Tyson

Your imagination is not going through

You just want to improve your outcomes

But your thoughts are glued

You have to learn how to use it like a tool

It’s not just dreaming and moving on

It takes a lot of acting to set it on

To make it a reality

From your mind to your environment

To manifest your wishes into real-world successes

The choice is yours if you want to tap in

Your imagination is waiting within

Do you know how to break in?

Creative Minds: Breaking into your Psyche

You heard that substances can provide traction

Cannabis, alcohol or caffeine

You take them and you’re suddenly relaxing

Musical molecules swim up from your speakers

I hear colors

But you see sounds

The synesthesia is profound

You’re stuck in the matrix or whatever you call it

A gnome opens up a vault within your mind

Immediately a bunch of juice creeps out like slime

Its colors don’t matter

You know right away what it is

Creative juice does exist

Who would ever resist?

You’re flowing now and you can’t stop

Your mind is high

Call it anti-locks

Who would have known about this cruise control feature

Imagine a wheel behind your forehead

You’re the captain of this ship

No longer government-led

But are drugs a cheat code to the matrix?

If so, will you resist or continue playing?

Are you Ready? (This is Defeating Stigma Mindfully)

Psilocybin Mushrooms

Something to Think About

Drugs have a bad ring to them. When one thinks of them, an image of DARE, bad high school kids and people in prison come to mind. This is because we have been conditioned by society to believe that drugs are bad. We have been turned off by the idea of their consumption and view them as dangerously destructive. But when it comes to alcohol and cigarettes, “Please! It’s on me this time.” Have you heard of psilocybin mushrooms? We will briefly mention them below.

With ketamine approved for severe depression and clinical research trials underway around the world, it begs the question, “Are drugs the new mental health tool?” We are not talking about recreational use such as what we’re seeing with cannabis. We are referring to medicinal use of drugs under professionally-controlled medical environments. Can marijuana, psilocybin, LSD, DMT, ketamine and others be used effectively to treat mental health conditions? Many suffer from alcoholism, treatment-resistant depression and anxiety with no alleviation by conventional medicine.

The Evidence on Psilocybin Mushrooms

Psilocybin was once used in the field of psychiatry in the 1950s but was banned after the hippy subculture broke loose. Timothy Leary, a clinical psychologist at Harvard during the 1960s, promoted LSD to the masses. This encouraged the hippy subculture to indulge in hallucinogens, which the U.S. federal government saw as a threat. It was then that all hallucinogens were banned and classified as Schedule I drugs with no medical value. Ever since, the research on hallucinogens has been minimal. But in the last decade or so, psilocybin, DMT and LSD have reentered university labs for the study of various mental disorders.

In particular, psilocybin has been studied at UCLA, NYU and at Johns Hopkins for treatment-resistant depression and anxiety. Patients with treatment-resistant depression have failed multiple trials of 2-3 antidepressants. The results with psilocybin have been amazing. Six to nine months after the clinical trials started, the participants reported that their depression and anxiety had been greatly alleviated. What conventional medicine failed to perform in a lifetime, psilocybin treated in only two sessions. It’s believed that psilocybin helps rewire the brain by shutting off bad pathways and creating new ones.

It’s also believed that the hallucinatory experience that psilocybin provides helps patients access their unconscious mind. Traumatic experiences and sources of depression are often stored in the unconscious mind. The point of psychodynamic psychotherapy is to gain access to the unconscious mind and encounter these powerful sources of depression. The problem with psychotherapy is that it’s a lengthy process and many depressed patients don’t have the strength to endure it. But with psilocybin, the hallucinatory experience is so powerful, that patients are forced to encounter their unconscious in that one session.

The Future of Psychiatry?

I hope I sparked a new curiosity in you. Now it’s your turn to do your research and discover whether drugs have the potential to provide mental health benefits. Are we doing our due diligence by properly researching these compounds for therapeutic use, or is this just another excuse to legalize them and get high? I personally believe that psilocybin needs to be further explored for depression and anxiety, MDMA for PTSD and Ketamine for depression. Why not include more tools in our medicinal kit that can potentially help humanity by treating mental illness? After all, a drug is considered illegal because the government says so. This does not mean that they do not have medical value.

The same potential that psilocybin is demonstrating now for depression, was similarly demonstrated in the 1950s. Why did we have to waste 50 years before research was reintroduced? Were these exotic compounds intentionally withheld from the masses for reasons unbeknownst to us? Perhaps these compounds’ hallucinatory effects, heightened perceptual interpretations and insightful nature can help us defeat mental illness? Maybe these compounds help us see the truth in between the lines? Why do we even have to seek the truth? Shouldn’t it be available without question?

One important point to mention is the future of these compounds in society. As hallucinogens continue to gain popularity, several cities in the U.S. have already decriminalized psilocybin. The question remains, “Do we push for legalization or keep these compounds as medicine only?” A lot of pros and cons of legalization would have to be properly hashed out before we enter this territory. Let’s revisit history and remind ourselves how hallucinogenic research compounds became mainstream, leading to their scheduled ban. What was meant to stay in the lab was sprinkled onto the masses, turning them into Mario Kart characters surfing on stare trails while eating Skittles candy. With Timothy Leary earning reputations such as, “a hero of American consciousness”, this surely pissed off the federal government of the United States. So much for psilocybin mushrooms.

The Trippy Ban of Psilocybin Mushrooms

And so they were banned and immediately dropped out of university research labs. Perhaps this time, let’s hold off on legalization and let’s give space to where space is due; mental health treatment. After all, if we’re motivated to help humanity, let’s at least begin with those who can benefit medically. Recreational use may certainly have its mind-expanding adventures, sparking creativity and the earning of newfound knowledge, but medicinal should come first. Let’s allow the institutions to work with the federal government at legalizing these medicinal tools and providing them as an additional avenue for mental health treatment. But to see both medicinal use and recreational use legalized at the same time; it just might be too big of a hit for the masses to handle.

Psilocybin mushrooms. Look up the research and discover the truth.

Are you Ready? (This is Defeating Stigma Mindfully)

Signs of Depression

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 this whole time and not even know it. Sometimes life has a way of keeping you distracted from your own feelings! Signs of depression sometimes go unnoticed.

The last thing you want to do is ignore your depression and bury it somewhere in the closet. This is a recipe for disaster. Depression is not something that you sweep under the rug only to return to it years later. The symptoms of depression are too powerful to ignore and often catch up with you when you least expect them. You will either seek treatment and recover or spiral down into a dark pit full of misery, potentially succumbing to alcohol and drugs.

Signs of Depression to Look out For

So what is my recommendation? Don’t be afraid, shy or ashamed to seek help and talk about your feelings. What’s the worst that can happen? You’ll be judged? If someone is judging you because you are depressed, it’s time to cut them out of your life. You only have everything to gain by opening up with a mental health professional and seeking treatment. It’s time that you put your ego aside and seek the care that your mind, body and soul deserve. So what are some signs of depression to look out for?

  • Increased or decreased sleep
  • Decreased interest in activities or goal-directed behavior
  • Guilt
  • Decreased energy
  • Low concentration
  • Increased or decreased appetite
  • Weight gain or weight loss
  • Psychomotor slowing
  • Suicidal ideations

No one knows what causes depression. We have theories about biochemical imbalances in the brain, but as we both know, we’re not machines; we have feelings too. Mental illness is complex because it’s also a subjective field of medicine. We are dealing with the brain and it’s hard to tell how your brain is different than mine. How can we measure that? Everyone experiences different thoughts, perceptions and outlooks on life. Everyone has a different personality. While many depressed people share the same symptoms as listed above, the etiology can be quite different. What makes you depressed may only make me slightly sad. What trips you up and spirals you out of control, may only make me pissed off for an hour before recovering.

Treatments for Depression

Therapy often helps to get to the source of depression, but there also patients who have no idea why they feel depressed. These patients struggle to even identify something wrong in their life. To their shock, they cannot understand why they are depressed when they have a good family, marriage, job and even upbringing. In my professional opinion, these are the patients that demonstrate an example of biological depression. Something is malfunctioning in their brain with no apparent outward source behind their depression. These are the cases in which antidepressants are definitely recommended and they often work within 1-2 months of starting them.

Please open up about your symptoms with a mental health professional. It even helps to open up with someone who you really trust, like a significant other or a really good friend. No matter what you do, please don’t isolate yourself and harbor symptoms all to yourself. You need to speak out.

Are you Ready? (This is Defeating Stigma Mindfully)

Why Do People Use Drugs?

Drug Use

Why do people use drugs? Because it turns their world into a 3D-enhanced virtual reality setting. This allows them to play with the controls as they wish, regardless of the consequences. Users lose interest in normality and may forget that they have responsibilities that cannot always be sacrificed for pleasure. Drugs swallow up some people like a black hole, while others casually float about in the surrounding space, without any problems returning back to reality.

No one intends on getting addicted to a substance. Some people start experimenting due to peer pressure, wanting to fit in, trauma or simple curiosity. We are not here to judge why someone experiments with a drug. Everyone comes from a different background and walk of life and had their specific reason for trying drugs. As mental health professionals, we can analyze with the patient why they started using them, but we’re not in the business of judging them. What’s the point of judgment? It’s not going to help them in the present moment.

So Why Do People Use Drugs? I Still Don’t Get It

Because they want to have fun! Regardless of why they started using drugs, it ultimately comes down to altering their perception of reality. When one alters their perception, they gain newfound knowledge or experiences that are euphoric, enticing and entertaining. Even if it’s for a few hours, it sometimes feels like eternity due to the slowing down of time. When in that euphoric spot, the world is perfect and no one can mess with it; they become one with their mind and surroundings. Music is enhanced, Netflix shows are more entertaining, and empathy for others increases with certain drugs such as MDMA and alcohol. This is why people use drugs.

But why do some people get addicted and others don’t? Because everyone’s brain chemistry and personality are different. Some people have better judgment, more motivation or more realistic expectations; this allows them to completely stop or take breaks that prevents an addiction from manifesting. Other people are not as good at holding themselves back from drug use. For these people, drugs overtake their life while attempting to remain functional. The problem is that drugs and functionality are not a good mix; imagine drinking alcohol and water at the same time. You’re either going to give up the booze or the water. The same goes with people who are prone to becoming addicted to drugs. They end up slowly sacrificing their functionality for more drug use, due to tolerance, dependence and withdrawal.

What is your take on drug use and is society headed towards full-blown legalization of all drugs within the next 25 years?

Are you Ready? (This is Defeating Stigma Mindfully)

Drug Use

Positive Affirmation – Staying Clear of Drugs

“I am free of drug use because they bring nothing but pain, destruction and addiction. Drugs, whether cannabis, alcohol or anything that alters the brain affects my personality, sanity and spirit. I prefer to stay clear from these substances. Drugs distract me from my life purpose and internally destroy me, throwing me off my course. Therefore, I stay clear of drugs and find happiness within myself. Drug use is not something I look forward to because it provides a synthetic form of happiness. True happiness is when I am clear-headed and become excited without substances.

Many people try drugs for the first time; some eventually stop while others become addicted. Why should I take the chance to become hooked just for a few hours of pleasure? There are many types of drugs out there: hallucinogens, stimulants, sedative/hypnotics, etc. While many of these drugs can enhance my creativity, they also suppress my serotonin and increase my chances of freaking out. Some people become psychotic on high doses of hallucinogens and cannabis. While the psychosis may be temporary, why put my mind through that sort of horror?

Drug Use is a Distraction from Success

Many adolescents have the potential to do well in school but get distracted by drug use. They want to fit into popular cliques and see drug use as their only ticket. The problem is not the fitting in; they often do so successfully through drug use. The problem is the consequences of their use. They start with cannabis or alcohol with often leads to cocaine, hallucinogens and Molly. Any of these drugs can cause an adverse experience such as poisoning, psychosis, car accidents, depression, etc. Drugs are fun in the moment, but they destroy your chances of succeeding in the future.

You’re better off finding friends who do not partake in drugs. Focus on your studies, sports and finding happiness through natural means. Drugs may seem to bring you pleasure and happiness in the moment, but they’re just a distraction from reality. Reality is not meant to be altered by drugs; it’s meant to be lived and experienced as is. Adam and Eve ate the fruit from the forbidden tree with the hope of gaining knowledge. In return, they manifested destruction for the rest of humanity’s future generations. Just stick with what your senses can perceive and learn to utilize the power of your mind to manifest success, happiness and riches.”

Are you Ready? (This is Defeating Stigma Mindfully)

Drugs’ Crazy Voices

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

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

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

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

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)

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