Mind Stolen By Marijuana

Teenage boy wearing black hoodie smoking marijuana joint

Marijuana Turned Me Into A Schizophrenic

In the field of psychiatry, you see it all when it comes to mental illness and the various factors that contribute to it. Marijuana affecting mental health should be no surprise, despite the media not really talking much about it. Why is that? Because there’s an agenda to legalize it. I am not against legalization but it’s important that humanity is educated on the influence of marijuana on mental health.

Many teens and young adults have experienced their mind stolen by marijuana. What does this mean? Some of the stories you’ll hear is that they started smoking weed in high school and fell in love with it; their usage escalated beyond smoking joints on social occasions to smoking bowls multiple times a day by themselves at home.

Some of these patients identified as being introverted in high school to begin with. They are not afraid to admit that once they started using marijuana, they became more introverted, spending more time by themselves in isolation, lost in the internal world that marijuana dug out for them.

At some point in time, whether under the influence or not, they slowly began to feel different in regards to the way they thought and interpreted the world. Their families would clearly notice a change in behavior, eventually calling EMS to take them to the emergency room. Not all patients can pinpoint the details of the changes brought upon by marijuana.

But some of the changes noticed by family and friends is amotivation, apathy, odd beliefs, self-isolation and even responding to internal stimuli. What once was a fairly normal kid attending science class was now a socially awkward, disheveled kid who struggled to express himself; it’s very sad!

It’s not known whether the high concentration of THC in modern strains of marijuana causes schizophrenia or just helps accelerate it in predisposed individuals with a family history and genetic loading. Even if a user doesn’t become schizophrenic, transient psychosis is quite common with modern day strains; people either consume an edible or smoke too much and cannot handle the high for those 2-3 hours, eventually losing their mind in the process.

Some return back to reality after they come back down from the high and after receiving a dose of an antipsychotic, while some have permanently become schizophrenic. For those who have become schizophrenic, their lives have now entirely changed just because they chose to consume marijuana. It’s very important to find out if you have a family history of mental illness before you try marijuana.

As a psychiatrist, I want my patients to be as physically and mentally healthy as possible and this involves no consumption of marijuana or other drugs. Even drinking is dangerous and should be done in moderation! At the end of the day, education is important and remember that just because you’re witnessing legalization of marijuana in a lot of states and around the world, does not mean that it can’t harm your mental health!

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Only Eighteen And Depressed

Young depressed person sitting on ground with leaves by stone wall with head down

Multiple Failed Suicide Attempts

One of the saddest things to see in the field of psychiatry is depression that hits the lives of young ones. Anyone young is considered 18 and below because they’re either barely an adult or still an adolescent or child. Think back to when you were 18 and how you felt like you were on top of the world, mature and an adult able to make your own decisions. At the time, you weren’t able to recognize your immaturity.

But now that you are older and look back at how you used to think and behave, you quickly realize without a shadow of a doubt how immature and potentially dangerous your decision-making was back then. Now as a psychiatrist, seeing an 18 year old suffering from severe depression and two failed suicide attempts breaks my heart.

Many of these young folks already have depression running in their family; in other words, they are genetically loaded. But it’s not like they’re born depressed or it just comes out of the blue. Most of the time, it’s environmental triggers that bring out the depression. Once it comes out, because they are so young and predisposed to experiencing it, the depression hits hard.

It’s interesting because these patients can tell you about some potential triggers to their depression, but do not exactly know what caused them to become depressed. In other words, they often state that it just came upon them and it doesn’t necessarily have to be around the time of the triggers; it can be months later.

Generally, the younger the age of onset of a mental illness, the higher the chances of a worse prognosis. In the case of severe depression, suicide attempts are not a surprise. Many of these patients won’t necessarily tell you that their intent was to end it all; they either feel ashamed and embarrassed or do not know the reason themselves due to the severity of their depression, which impairs their judgment, impulse and even insight sometimes.

The hard fact is that depression kills many lives every day all around the world. That’s why we must continue to remain strong and come together to share our stories, thoughts and feelings on a daily basis.

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Schizophrenia Gone Wild

Schizophrenic woman wearing face mask staring out the window

Coronavirus Affecting Stabilized Psychotic Patients

Many psychotic patients who were previously stabilized on their medications are beginning to decompensate from the coronavirus. It’s not necessarily that they are becoming exposed to it. It has more to do with them watching the news at home which is causing them to become worried and paranoid that they will get it. Some actually develop symptoms of COVID-19 and stop taking their medications, wrongfully concluding that their medications are causing the symptoms. This is schizophrenia gone wild.

Psychotic patients have a very fragile line of stability that they often walk on. Things such as stopping medications, environmental stressors, changes in their lifestyle or relationship disputes can be enough to put them over the edge and cause them to decompensate. When they do decompensate, it’s very obvious to family members; this is not a small and irrelevant change in behavior.

They will start to display odd or unusual behavior such as:

  • Believing that their deceased parents are calling them from the window
  • Shouting and arguing with loved ones
  • Making verbal and even physical threats
  • Calling random people at 2 am
  • Becoming catatonic and remaining mute for long periods of time

. . . and the list goes on. These are not behaviors that all patients experience; it was just a list provided for you to get an idea. When a schizophrenic patient decompensates, it doesn’t mean that they necessarily start to hear voices in their head or see things that aren’t there. It can simply mean that their behavior and thought process are disorganized. They may continuously shift positions in bed, flop their hands, ask if the apple juice on the table is alright in that position and even claim that it’s hot outside at the beginning of April in New York City.

It’s really sad to observe and talk to decompensated schizophrenics because you get a glimpse into their world and how much different their behavior is compared to people who don’t have a mental illness. Perhaps in their eyes they are not suffering but in ours they clearly are; they cannot function in society when they are decompensated. That’s why they’re in the hospital in the first place!

But keep in mind that even though a schizophrenic may not be currently at their baseline, does not mean that they cannot hold a conversation with you. Many can hold fairly normal conversations but they may make odd remarks. They’ll usually be able to answer all of your questions and many remain calm and pleasant during an interview. Just because a person has the diagnosis of “schizophrenia” does not mean that they cannot hold a normal conversation with you.

Schizophrenics are actually pretty cool!

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The Coronavirus Fear Intensifies

Brunette woman wrapped in yellow "stop" tape holding sign that says "COVID19"

100,000-240,000 Deaths Predicted In The USA

Just when we thought that the coronavirus was going away, we were suddenly slapped in the face with an update about the projected death toll expected to climb to almost a quarter million. It seems that whatever we are doing is not working. They continue to emphasize social distancing, yet the death toll is steadily rising. The coronavirus fear intensifies while we sit in our living room shell-shocked.

Now states are considering passing executive orders for people to stay at home, but what are they going to do when many will disobey these orders? Fine us? Lock us behind bars? Having people locked inside their homes like caged animals does not sound like a tactic that is realistic; it works on paper but is not applicable in real life.

I mean think about it! How can you force people to stay at home without going to work or being productive members of society? Are we going to have the government deliver us food and toilet paper? Can we even get toilet paper anymore? Amazon seems to have let us down; maybe the first time in history! What are we paying Jeff Bezos for? Get us some damn toilet paper!

Can you imagine that it’s 2020 and the United States of America is out of toilet paper and we are sitting in our homes like caged animals? The social distancing technique is showing no signs of progress and the mainstream media (some call it the “lamestream media”) is making us more paranoid and fearful of our current situation.

The mental health of Americans and everyone around the world is taking a huge hit. Many are starting to lose touch with reality and those who were already suffering from depression, anxiety and psychosis are decompensating. The truth is that we shouldn’t blame the government. It’s so easy to point fingers at others while we casually sit in our homes doing nothing productive.

Even though we are becoming more fearful of the current situation, we must remain positive and in good spirits; we cannot let our guard down. The one positive thing about social media during this COVID-19 pandemic (and for those who know me, I’ve been critical of social media in the past) is that it helps to bring us together and prevent us from feeling completely isolated within our home.

Isolation is the cousin of mental illness; this cousin should be outcasted from the family because it only brings upon us negative results. Never isolate yourself; if you find yourself doing so, go take a walk in the park and observe the people around you. Isolation is bad and you should avoid it at all costs.

Let’s continue to connect.

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Crack Stole My Leg

Depressed man wearing black hoodie with head down sitting on train track

Depression And Drug Use

If you think depression and drug use don’t go hand in hand, think again. Depression seeks drugs and drugs feed off depression; they’re the best combination to keep you suffering and to lose hope for the future. Uncontrolled depression whispers in your mind to alleviate your suffering with drugs and drugs whisper back, “I’ll take care of the rest.” But when drugs and depression gain too much power, suicidal ideations begin to make an appearance.

Suicidal ideations in the context of drug use and depression is a very bad situation. The problem is worsened by a low socioeconomic status, poor family support and bad friendships. The problem is that patients in these situations do not see the light at the end of the tunnel; their minds are too clouded by mental illness and substance addiction.

Many of these patients do not use soft drugs such as marijuana or psychedelics. When you are facing homelessness, unemployment and a past psychiatric history of depression or schizophrenia, soft drugs have no place on one’s plate. Drugs such as crack-cocaine and heroin better fit the picture.

The problem is when hard drugs are used on top of psychiatric symptoms such as depression, suicidal ideations or auditory hallucinations, judgment, impulse and insight become impaired. When these mental processes become impaired, so does one’s view on suicidal ideations.

Suicidal ideations unfortunately become the only sparkling light at the end of the tunnel. And sometimes this sparkling light is intensified by the track gleaming lights of passing trains. Patients in these severely depressed and addicted mindsets see an opportunity to end their living nightmares by jumping in front of a train.

And jumping is what they sometimes do . . . some survive while some lose their leg. This is never the solution but when living under such cloudy and foggy mental conditions, your decision-making becomes greatly impaired. That’s why it’s so important that we advocate for mental health and substance abuse support worldwide; these people depend on us and are thankful for our desire to help them once again live a life full of happiness and love!

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Psychotic And COVID-19 Positive

Psychotic man leaning on frosted glass panel door

When Mental Illness Trumps COVID-19

When psychosis infects your brain and reality retires on vacation, anything can hit you and you’ll likely remain oblivious. That’s because psychosis takes over your thoughts and the way you interpret reality. Imagine the part of your mind that is in tune with reality laying on the beach holding a corona and stating, “I’m done . . . I can no longer deal with his psychosis. Peace.” What’s left in your brain is psychosis with an evil smile stating, “My turn.”

The problem with psychosis is that even patients who are infected with COVID-19 may not be aware of their symptoms . . . or they may be aware but not fully comprehend the nature and severity of their illness and situation. You may try to explain to them that they are infected with a deadly disease and they may look at you like, “COVID? Is that a satellite dish detecting gray space folks?”

When a patient suffers from psychosis and COVID-19, oftentimes, the psychosis trumps the physical disorder. That’s because psychosis takes over the mind and when the mind is distracted, physical symptoms become slowly buried. Unless severe pain is involved, shortness of breath and fever are no match in the ring versus auditory hallucinations and delusional fantasies.

So what becomes of this situation is the question. The patient will end up being treated for the coronavirus and hopefully recover, while quarantined that is. But as far as their insight goes, they will not care that much about their physical symptoms. They may complain that their cough is getting worse or even their shortness of breath, but as compared to a person with no psychosis, their complaints will be minor.

It’s always important to keep in mind that a psychotic patient cannot always relate to reality as well as other people can. It depends on the severity of their psychosis, but psychosis is psychosis at the end of the day . . . something is still off in their thought process and content. That’s why we have to be extra cautious with patients suffering from a mental illness and who are COVID positive . . . they may never report their symptoms in the first place.

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Superficial Cuts

Person raising bloody hand with blood dripping on forearm

Borderline Personality Disorder

Self-injurious behavior is exactly what it sounds like: a person self-inflicts physical pain in order to manage their emotional pain or mental illness at play. Patients with borderline personality disorder are classic examples of people who perform self-injurious behavior, especially cutting of the body. Superficial cuts often begin early in life, such as in childhood or adolescence, and tend to increase in frequency as the disorder worsens.

When you ask a patient with borderline personality disorder why they perform these behaviors, they will tell you either one of two things: “to get rid of my pain” or “because I was trying to kill myself.” This kind of behavior is more common in females, but not unheard of in males. Females tend to suffer from depression more than males do because of estrogen, so self-inflicting behavior naturally is more common in females.

So why do borderline patients hurt themselves? Because their emotional wellbeing and state of mind are unpredictable; they lie on the “border” of psychosis and neurosis. Rather than being stable like people who don’t have the disorder, when something goes wrong, such as a relationship with a friend, family member or significant other, they lose their cool and start acting out.

And one of the ways in which they act out is by cutting themselves. Many times, they do this as a form of attention. Not only do they feel better about themselves when they cut their skin, but they know that the other person might come running back to them. And if they don’t come back, well . . . the pain was relieved by the blade.

Oftentimes, this kind of behavior gets them in the hospital. When they arrive in the emergency room, they either maintain their stance of being suicidal in order to be admitted and receive more attention, or they realize that their behavior was wrong and deny being suicidal, requesting to be discharged in the process.

Whenever you meet someone who presents with superficial cuts on their forearms or neck, keep in mind the diagnosis of borderline personality disorder; especially if they are female.

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Depression Dripping From Your Heart

Depressed man with hand on face sitting in front of chessboard

Tired And Depressed

Daylight saving time kicks in at 2 am. You wake up and think to yourself, “Is this supposed to make me happier?” You roll back to sleep in a different position as you entertain what might possibly go different today. Immediately, a negative thought pops into your mind, “Nothing will go differently cause you’re lame and have nothing to do.” You close your eyes as depression drips from your heart.

You finally get up, wash your face, brew a cup of French Vanilla Starbucks coffee and eat some honey crunch cereal while watching more negative coronavirus news on the television. You actually get a kick out of the increasing numbers of coronavirus fatalities, thinking to yourself how you’re not the only one suffering.

But then you quickly correct your thoughts and remind yourself that it’s never right to wish bad upon others. But then you wonder, “I feel bad for others but who feels bad for me?” As you jump into your routine activities with the hope that today will be better, the feeling of boredom and sadness slowly resurface.

You also feel tired and it’s only 10:43 am on a Saturday. You just don’t know what to do anymore. You’re not suicidal and you would never take your life, but no matter how hard you try, you can’t seem to get out of this rut. You hope and hope that life will throw you a few milk bones and help you get out of this emotional disaster.

You’re sick of depression dripping from your heart; at least with a heart attack, you go to the hospital and hopefully recover within 24 hours. With depression, the feeling can linger for years at a time. This is worse than a heart attack! Depression is like being tortured 24/7 with no end in sight. Sometimes the only means of coping with depression is pulling out a bottle of Smirnoff. But then you remind yourself, “This won’t do anything either except make me more depressed in the long run.”

While some people require antidepressants or psychotherapy to improve from depression, not everyone needs these treatments. Don’t be quick to jump on a medication because there is no such thing as a “quick fix.” The true way to defeat depression is to dive within yourself and find out what it is that is truly bothering you.

Only after you make the identification, do you place yourself in a better position to defeat depression. Only then can you squeeze the remaining depressive juices out of your heart and urinate them away forever.

Are you Ready? (This is Defeating Stigma Mindfully)

Starin’ Through My Rear View

Blonde woman with blue eyes staring through her rear view mirror while driving

Your Mind’s Tricks Gone Psychotic

Your mind is not something that you want to turn against you; do not allow it to turn foe. From time to time, your mind will play tricks on you; it’s just what it does, don’t get mad at it. But when you don’t treat you mind right, it turns up the notch a little, increasing the frequency and intensity of its tricks and games. If you lose control of these tricks, starin’ through your rear view is something that you may very well end up doing.

These tricks can manifest in many ways, depending on your personality, way of thinking and viewing the world. When dots are connected when they shouldn’t be, you end up experiencing what is called a “delusion.” Delusions of people coming after you are not uncommon; you’re not the only one starin’ through the rear view.

When you start to believe that a van, truck or random vehicle is following you, then you know that your mind has officially trapped you. But has it? How can you tell the difference between someone actually following you or your mind just playing tricks on you? People who are delusional are convinced that someone is following them, despite the evidence proving otherwise.

No one can prove them otherwise; most of the time, not even a psychiatrist or family member. Even when no one comes out of the vehicle, a delusional person will still believe that the vehicle following them is someone in the government or someone from their past who wants to do them harm.

Actually being chased by your past is one thing, but being falsely chased by your past due to your delusions is a completely different ball game. The former is based on reality, while the latter is your mind’s tricks gone psychotic. What started as innocent play by your mind has turned into a mental mouse trap.

When stuck in this mental mouse trap, it becomes extremely difficult to escape it. How will a delusional person be convinced that the vehicles following him are just random cars not actually following him? In his mind, it’s not the actual vehicle that is part of the delusion, because the same vehicle never actually follows him in reality.

In his mind, it’s the “entity” associated with a certain vehicle that is following him. His mind has convinced him that at this certain time, on this certain day, the “entity” is following him. Today it can be a black Chevy Suburban; tomorrow it can be a red Chevy Cobalt. The vehicle is irrelevant; the “entity” is the manifestation of his mind’s tricks gone psychotic.

How long can a delusional person go on living like this? Could you? If he doesn’t seek help or somehow find a way to eliminate his mind’s tricks, then you better believe it that time becomes extremely limited. And when time becomes limited, well . . . what follows afterwards?

Are you Ready? (This is Defeating Stigma Mindfully)

Mentally Ill And Proud Of It

Abstract painting of man with tinfoil covering face

My Brain, My Choice

As each year passes, more and more people open up to the idea that having a mental illness is not the end of the world. For too long, mental health has prevailed in the underground world, only coming out at night out of fear of ridicule and embarrassment during the day. But finally, people are starting to realize that they are mentally ill and proud of it; their brain, their choice!

Times have changed; no more hiding in your bedroom suffering from a mental illness, afraid to come out to seek help. The medical environment is viewing mental health with more passion and concern; jokes such as “go see a psychiatrist” and “I’m sure the shrink will take care of you” are out the window.

Psychiatry is much more respected nowadays. Medical students have broadened their horizons and are now aggressively applying to psychiatry residencies all over the United States. Psychiatry is no longer considered an easy field to match into as a medical student. This goes to prove how the modern generation is much more interested and compassionate about mental health.

The exciting thing about mental health these days is not only that patients have more access to medications and therapy, but they are more confident to seek these resources. When confidence increases, you put yourself in a much better position to treat your mental illness, than when confidence is low while hiding in your home.

Who is mentally ill and proud of it? If you are reading this right now and you believe that you are, then you have taken the first step in the road to success: being honest with yourself. Next comes the second step: being honest with others. And finally, the third step: being honest with the world. Overall, be honest.

One thing to keep in mind is that you cannot force someone with a mental illness to get treatment; their brain, their choice! But, if a person is a danger to himself or another, then treatment should be enforced. It’s never okay to not report a suicidal or homicidal patient to the authorities. When lives are at risk, treatment is absolutely necessary!

Therefore, the more that we open up the mental health dialogue, the more access we will have to each other’s minds. And the more access that we have, the easier it will become to bridge our ideas, thoughts, feelings and patterns of behavior. And when this happens, the world will become a more connected place, universally.

Are you Ready? (This is Defeating Stigma Mindfully)