Talking 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. In this society, there is no recognition of depression, anxiety, psychosis, eating disorders, ADHD, tic disorders, drug addiction, etc. If you suffer from a disorder of the mind, you are considered “weird,” “abnormal,” “strange” or “other-worldly.” In this world, if you have a mental illness, you are ostracized from society; you have to find your way back home because you are not getting into this circle. In this world, talking about mental health is not an option.

Talking about mental health - old man with dementia laying in bed

Talking About Mental Health is Not an Option

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 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. If you are feeling down, your family warns you to get yourself together. Your friends start to lose interest in you if you’re suffering from anxiety. 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 medications in your home, your landlord has the right by law to evict you.

In this society, people prefer to be free of mental illness, but do not want to address it. The stigma of mental health is sky-high. Laws are being considered to prevent pharmaceutical companies from creating psychiatric medications. Pharmacies are considering banning psychiatric medications. The suicide rate is on the rise and over 60% of the population is depressed. But society doesn’t care. They view mental illness as a plague and want to wash it off the face of the hearth.

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)

Signs of Depression

Statue of man hugging knees

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 - depressed man sitting on floor with head in lap

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)

Talking To Mental Health Patients

Male psychiatrist sitting on couch talking to patient with hands on head

Holding A Normal Conversation

Many mental health patients are sick of their doctors, friends and family members always asking them questions about their illness. Imagine always being asked the same questions, “Any auditory or visual hallucinations? Do you believe others can put thoughts into your mind? How’s your mood? Do you have any anxiety? How’s your sleep and appetite?” It not only feels robotic to ask them the same questions every day, but it also feels robotic for them to provide the same responses.

Don’t get me wrong; psychiatrists do need to ask these questions in order to assess patients’ mental status, but we also need to learn how to incorporate more normal conversations during our encounters. When we ask mental health patients the same questions every time we see them, it can make them feel like they are less than us. This is because we give them the impression that they are “different” and that we can’t hold normal conversations with them.

At the end of the day, mental illness or not, patients are still human beings who can hold normal conversations and discuss everyday events; we must treat them like so. You’ll bring much more happiness into their lives if you can discuss everyday events without jumping to questions that dig away at their symptoms. A patient will tell you their symptoms even if you don’t rush to those particular questions, because they are the ones suffering from the symptoms in the first place and need them addressed.

So let them discuss everyday events and address their symptoms at their own pace. This applies to whether you have a relationship or friendship with a patient; don’t look at them differently and definitely don’t treat them differently. Do you treat people with diabetes differently? The same applies with mental health patients. Even if they are extremely psychotic but not dangerous to anyone, you can still say something as simple as, “Hi Leonard! Hope you have a good day.”

At the end of the day, let’s normalize mental health and hold normal everyday conversations with each other. Forget the stigma and judgmental ways of the past; those need to be buried for good. Rather, let’s move forward together and create a worldwide platform that will be of help to anyone in need. This platform should be based on honesty, love, sincerity and the desire to improve and help one another.

Are you Ready? (This is Defeating Stigma Mindfully)

Are Mental Health Services Inherently Feminized?

Man with brown beard crying in front of pink flowers

Men Are Not Expected To Be Strong And Silent

While more people are opening up to the idea of receiving mental health services, the stigma regarding men who receive mental health services being viewed as “weak” has still not completely gone away; however, we are improving and making great strides! But mental health services are not inherently feminized: both men and women seek it every day all around the world.

The old macho mentality of men being expected to be “strong and silent” is outdated and unhelpful. A man’s character is not judged by how well he can conceal his mental health problems; “strong and silent” is actually equivalent to weak and scared. What men need to do is take the leadership role in society and show other men and women that it’s okay to come out about your mental health issues!

It’s very unhealthy for anyone to bury their mental health problems; add a low self-esteem on top of that and it can turn into a deadly situation. Suicide is currently the 10th leading cause of death worldwide! And it can especially be difficult for men to admit to experiencing negative thoughts, out of fear of being seen as weak by other men and women.

Women! We need your help to show all the men in the world that it’s alright to speak out about mental health problems. We need as many women as possible to let all the men in the world know that they are not viewed as “weaker”, just because they are suffering from depression, anxiety, OCD, social phobia, etc.

We are all in this together: men, women, children, elderly, black, white, red, yellow, brown, Jewish, Christian, Muslim, Hindu, rich, poor, straight, gay, bi, etc. Mental health services have no boundaries: anyone is welcome and should seek mental health treatment for any issues which they are dealing with. Those who are strongest are the ones who have enough courage to seek help.

Do not be fooled by the idea that if you are not seeking mental health services for your problems, that you are somehow “stronger” or “better” than others. You are only doing yourself a disservice. Life is about being happy, coming up with solutions for your problems and helping others who can also benefit.

If you are still not convinced, that’s okay; maybe you still need some time. But we here at The DSM Ready community will always keep our doors open for anyone who is seeking love, education, freedom and friendship. We do not discriminate. We are all in this together: one blood under God.

Are you Ready? (This is Defeating Stigma Mindfully)

Mental Health Superstars

Fish-eye photography of city and sky

Making Planet Earth Great Again

As mental health stigma continues to die down, more and more people are starting to come out of the shadows and reveal their struggles with mental illness. It has been around since the beginning of time, but hidden away from others out of fear of ridicule and shame. Many people around the world used to and continue to view mental illness as “the devil’s work.” But today we know that this couldn’t be further from the truth.

It’s just the brain experiencing errors, just like any other organ of the body, resulting in a disease. Why has it taken so long for people to accept mental illness? Because it’s much more threatening to the ego than a physical disorder is. People are more comfortable accepting the idea that one has cancer, HIV or coronary artery disease.

But when it comes to psychosis, people are repelled by the idea that one’s mind can malfunction to the point of inducing hallucinations. It’s easier for people to blame a supernatural force such as a demon causing a possession, than it is for them to understand that the brain can malfunction just like any other organ.

But those times are now buried in the past. People nowadays are more comfortable than ever sharing their stories and struggles with mental illness. And this makes the doctors of this field psychiatric superstars! We are the ones on the front lines, taking a patient’s history and carefully listening to the person inside the human being.

We are the physicians who sit down for even 45 minutes at a time to listen to a psychiatric patient cry, and spill their emotions and mental problems onto us. Can you imagine how difficult it is for us to go to work every day and listen to patients’ emotional and mental struggles? Would you be surprised if we were to inform you that this process affects our mental well-being as well?

But we are resilient and so are you guys! Psychiatry is the new field on the block; not literally, as the beginning of psychiatry as a medical speciality dates back to the middle of the 19th century. It’s the newest field that is probably in the most demand. In the United States, there continues to be a shortage of psychiatrists and an uprise in mental health patients seeking professional help and guidance.

The DSM Ready Movement was started with the goal of defeating the remaining stigma surrounding mental health and the field of psychiatry. It’s an attempt at bringing the entire world together, regardless of one’s race, ethnicity, appearance, sexual preference or political affiliation.

The DSM Ready movement welcomes all skin colors, sexual orientations, democrats and republicans. DSM recognizes the great power of division and that’s why it does everything it can to not partake in it. This movement is about growing and learning together. It’s about creating a one-world stage that will hold the greatest amount of people in human history, coming together to embrace our struggles with mental illness and normalizing the process.

Personal note: I would like to thank everyone who has engaged with this blog since its inception 7 months ago. All of your comments, likes, links, shares and referrals have been much appreciated, and it’s because of you guys that I am able to keep this dream alive and kicking. Without your help, DSM would not have gained the traction that it has in 2019.

Thank you for all of your support and may we skyrocket The DSM Ready Movement to the moon, moving forward into 2020! You guys are in charge of this rocket ship’s guidance and trajectory; I am only the one providing the platform.

Are you Ready? (This is Defeating Stigma Mindfully)

World Mental Health Day

Colorful together signage painting

Talking One Language

Mental health stigma, suicide or substance abuse . . . these problems continue to prevail in all corners of the world despite advancements in medical and psychiatric research. In the United States, suicide has become the second-leading cause of death among college students.

More people are hearing about mental health but many are still not receiving treatment. A lot of people around the world are too afraid to speak out about their illness, out of fear of ridicule. Many people around the world also do not have access to mental health services; a psychiatrist may be as close as a 3 hour drive.

Depression and anxiety continue to plague all levels of society, whether rich or poor. There is no correlation between money and mental health; one may be a billionaire and still develop depression or a substance use disorder. Even among the 1%, talking about mental illness is often a challenge.

The root of the problem is ego: we are afraid to be more open about mental illness out of fear of injuring our ego. Rather than seeking the proper help and care for an illness, we attempt to keep the symptoms to ourselves, or worse, hidden from ourselves. Many people attempt to ignore their symptoms, believing that this cannot be happening to them.

Rather than creating a worldwide platform for sharing our struggles with mental health, we are beating around the bush by avoiding talking about something difficult or unpleasant. Rather than treating humanity, we are treating segments of humanity; the whole remains divided into pieces.

Pieces do not solve the larger problem. We must come together and open up regarding our struggles with mental health; there is no shame in being sick! Shout it from the rooftops if it has to be done. We have the chance to change the way society views mental health, so future generations can come into this world experiencing a comfortable place to seek help and treatment.

It’s time for us to talk one language: mental health.

Are you Ready? (This is Defeating Stigma Mindfully)

El Paso Shooting

Mentally ill person wearing armor suit and carrying shotgun

Turning A Blind Eye To Mental Illness

A manifesto. Accumulation of hate. Thoughts of killing. Destruction. Elimination. All fueled by deep hatred stemming from malfunctioning brain circuits; neurons releasing too little or too much neurotransmitters in different regions of the brain. Meanwhile, the clues pile up on social media and nobody does anything about it.

This is the problem with gun violence in the United States: mental illness is still not receiving the full attention and focus that it needs to prevent such catastrophes from taking place. People witness disturbing social media posts or odd behavior by a certain individual and do nothing about it.

Whenever you see something, say something! Mental illness can no longer be ignored. For how much longer will America turn a blind eye to mental health? Guns do not kill people; people kill people! A deep hatred towards another race, gender, ethnicity or creed stems from mental illness. All emotions originate from the brain.

Anger, jealously, hatred or fear; they all originate from the brain. There is no hatred without something malfunctioning in the human mind. When you have a person take twenty innocent lives and injury twenty-six people in a shopping mall on a Saturday afternoon, you know that mental illness played a role. You would have to be naive and ignorant to believe otherwise.

Some would argue that America is overmedicated and that we need to rely less on prescription drugs. How can this argument stand when every other month there is a shooting spree in a different state? We can ban all the guns in the world but people with mental illness would still obtain them very easily via the black market.

Banning guns is like starting a modern day “war on drugs” by attempting to make everything illegal. We are finally admitting that the “war on drugs” has failure, as evidenced by the modern opioid and methamphetamine epidemics, soon to be followed by a stimulant epidemic.

Banning guns is not the solution; it never will be. The solution is ending the mental health stigma and coming forward to share our problems rather than spraying them on innocent lives. We need to be honest with ourselves and step out of the darkness where mental illness sometimes takes us.

It is time for America to come out of the closet regarding our mental health crisis. We can no longer treat this subject lightly or else innocent lives will continue to be robbed. Violence, murders, suicides and drug abuse all stem from an under-treated society. We are being prescribed medications but we are not fully forthcoming with all of our problems.

The psychiatric medications are acting as temporary bandages rather than long-term solutions. Some people do not even know the significance of the medication which they are taking. This is because we are superficially addressing the mental health crisis. We can no longer be ashamed of sharing our problems with each other.

And this applies to the rest of the world as well. By coming together and sharing our mental health concerns, we will make this world a better place and decrease violence and hatred exponentially!

Are you Ready? (This is Defeating Stigma Mindfully)