Famous People With Mental Illness

Men with mental illness hugging each other

Mental Illness Has No Boundaries

Fame, money or talent does not prevent mental illness from affecting one’s mind. No one is immune to mental illness, just as no one is immune to cancer. The brain is the most sophisticated organ in the human body and we have no access to it besides with imaging. And even then, we cannot really tell what is happening at the neuronal level.

Mental illness affects even famous people:

  1. Adele: suffered from postpartum depression, stating “I had really bad postpartum depression after I had my son, and it frightened me.”
  2. Lady Gaga: suffers from PTSD from a rape that she experienced at 19 years old, stating “my own trauma in my life has helped me to understand the trauma of others.”
  3. Leonardo DiCaprio: suffers from OCD, stating “I’m able to say at some point, ‘OK, you’re being ridiculous. Stop stepping on every gum stain you see. You don’t need to do that.’”
  4. Michael Phelps: suffers from ADHD since 9 years old, having used the swimming pool from a young age to burn off all of his excess energy.
  5. Demi Lovato: suffers from bipolar disorder which has caused her to battle drug addiction, eating disorders, self-injurious behavior and depression. She states the following about learning coping skills in therapy, “for the first time in my life, I started to feel.”

. . . and the list continues. Mental illness is real and can affect any human being on this planet. There is no reason to be ashamed of your mental illness. The goal is to make every person in this world comfortable with their diagnosis; not proud, but comfortable! Comfort brings upon happiness.

And we can use more happiness in this day and age!

Are you Ready? (This is Defeating Stigma Mindfully)

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Cocaine-Induced Depressive Disorder

Depressed woman sitting on wing chair withdrawing from cocaine

When Cocaine Steals Your Happiness

The withdrawal from cocaine can be so intense that users literally become depressed, when the drug is no longer inhibiting the reuptake of dopamine in their synaptic clefts. The depression is not severe enough to qualify for a diagnosis of major depressive disorder; hence the diagnosis of substance-induced mood disorder.

Cocaine causes a very intense but short euphoria which makes the user feel on top of the world; think Al Pacino as Scarface. But because the euphoria lasts 20 minutes or less, this promotes the increased usage of the substance. As the user repeats this behavior over and over again, tolerance develops, followed by withdrawal when the cocaine is no longer consumed.

“The crash” is the intense depressive withdrawal state that a user experiences after cocaine is stopped. Many users will binge on cocaine for weeks or months at a time in order to prevent the crash. But more cocaine only worsens the situation: it reinforces the addictive behavior, destroys the brain and body and no longer delivers an intense high.

Either a user battles through the storm and quits cocaine for good, or goes back to using the drug to avoid feeling depressed. This is the addiction in and of itself. At this point, a user does not even feel that high anymore; the drug basically makes them feel themselves again.

Instead of feeling very low or very high, cocaine makes a chronic user feel “normal.” This is not too say that higher doses will not get the user euphoric again; they will, but never at the level of their first highs which initiated the entire chasing process in the first place. At this point, the user is in a never-ending roller coaster ride.

Is it worth trying cocaine? Besides the physiological effects and bodily harm which it does, it also tremendously increases your chances of developing psychiatric illnesses such as depression and psychosis. And you never know how you will react! You may be that one person whose brain loves cocaine and never wants to stop.

Don’t try it. Cherish your god-given happiness.

Are you Ready? (This is Defeating Stigma Mindfully)

Unique Keys To Mental Illness

Focus photography of psychedelics used for treating mental illness

Psychedelics For All Walks Of Life

Can chemical compounds such as DMT, psilocybin, LSD and mescaline be one day utilized to treat mental illness? MDMA is already in phase 3 clinical trials for the treatment of PTSD. Defeating mental illness has already proven to be a difficult challenge for the medical community, with many drugs simply not touching the pathology responsible for these destructive conditions.

Psychedelics may one day prove to be unique keys to mental illness because of the altered states of consciousness in which they provide. It’s not necessarily their mechanism of action in the brain which is proving to be useful, but the meaningful and profound experiences which they provide for users.

Many patients in clinical trials have reported relief in their anxiety and depressive symptoms after having meaningful trips on psilocybin. The idea is that hallucinogens force the user to confront their troubles and unconscious conflicts directly in the trip; their madness comes out in a controlled and supervised medical setting.

Perhaps anxiety and depression is much more complex than the monoamine hypothesis of not having enough serotonin circulating in the synaptic cleft. Perhaps the reason why psychedelics are proving to work against these mental illnesses is because they directly tackle the unconscious conflicts which have gone haywire; psychedelics help the user untangle the intricate and sticky unconscious webs.

One exciting point about hallucinogens is that they’re non-addictive; no one wakes up everyday and states, “I want to trip on ibogaine today.” This is because hallucinogens provide such powerful experiences, that the mind simply does not have energy to “trip” on a consistent basis. This prevents users from becoming addicted.

Throughout history, psychedelics have been regarded as sacred medicines used for guidance, learning and healing. They were even previously used in the field of psychiatry in the 1950s before they left the laboratory and blew up into the free love social movement. In return, the Nixon administration viewed hallucinogens as a threat to the mind and soul of America’s youth and made them schedule I drugs; the research was buried underground.

As more traction is gained regarding the research studies on psychedelics, maybe one day we will be able to utilize these powerful medicines to help alleviate mental illness, and provide a higher quality of life for people from all walks of life.

Are you Ready? (This is Defeating Stigma Mindfully)

Is Mental Illness Genetic?

Colorful abstract illustration

Genetically Programmed To Experience Mental Illness

Researchers are in the process of learning more about how genetics play a role in the development of mental illness. We already know that many mental illnesses are genetically tied: major depressive disorder, anxiety disorder, substance use disorder, bipolar disorder, schizophrenia and many more.

But we do not know how or why genes play such a large role in the development of mental illness. It most likely relies on similar reasoning as to why physical disorders are tied to genetics: a manifested disorder modifies the genetic code of the parent and the parent passes those modified genes onto his or her offspring.

Many argue that the future of medicine lies in the field of genetics. DNA is the carrier of genetic information: units of heredity which are transferred from parent to offspring and are held to determine some characteristic or trait of the offspring. When someone tells you “you resemble your dad or you have his temperament”, they are indirectly addressing your genetic makeup.

This does not mean that we are doomed because genetics is tied to mental illness. On the contrary, researchers are very optimistic to learn more about this subject in order to attempt to identify the exact genes responsible for various mental illnesses. With identification of the exact genes, the goal becomes to study them and see if there is any way that future generations can avoid them.

Some genes that are tied to mental illnesses or physical disorders are responsible for the malfunctioning of certain enzymes in the human body. With the replacement of those enzymes, theoretically, we have a chance of better treating a mental illness. Therefore, genes may provide us with more information on the pathophysiology of mental disorders.

Genes may contain our genetic makeup but do not contain our soul!

Are you Ready? (This is Defeating Stigma Mindfully)

Homelessness Epidemic In America

Homeless man in subway station holding card with seeking human kindness text

How To Solve Homelessness

There is no doubt that America has a homelessness problem, especially on the west coast. There are many reports of homeless people attacking innocent pedestrians, breaking and entering, contaminating streets with human feces and spreading disease. But what is causing all of this and can it be controlled and prevented?

Chronic substance abuse is spreading like a wildfire. We have an opioid and methamphetamine epidemic plaguing our country, K2 polluting the minds of our youth and poor and e-cigarettes ruining our respiratory health. Add to these problems the ongoing rise in alcohol consumption, the legalization of marijuana and the continued prevalence of cigarette smoking and you have yourself a nicely painted picture of why homelessness is flooding our streets.

Secondly, there is ongoing financial instability caused by unemployment or underemployment. This factor is definitely influenced by others because if someone is struggling to maintain a job, they can always find some other type of work to support themselves. But some regions of the United States are still struggling with unemployment; on top of that, add substance abuse and mental illness and you have yourself another reason for the rise in homelessness.

Mental illness is another contributing factor. Many people remain under-treated or not treated at all. They either have no access to mental health resources, their families do not believe in mental illness or they remain noncompliant with medications because of stigma. With mental illness affecting judgment and decision-making, it is no wonder why people become homeless.

Do not rule out domestic abuse! Most of the time, it is due to men physically or psychologically abusing their spouses. In these cases, women become conditioned to remain in their relationships out of fear of upsetting their man. They also have a fear of leaving, losing their relationships and starting all over; they become dependent. But in some situations, when they do leave and have no family or social support, their newfound home becomes the streets.

So what is the solution? First of all, we need to address substance abuse and mental illness at a more aggressive rate. We need more governmental support and action. Rather than wasting time and energy fighting wars overseas or improving military technology, let’s use those resources to advance psychiatric research, improve rehabs and treatment centers, offer more social support, come up with advancements in medications and end mental health stigma.

Let us shed more light on the importance of helping each other mentally, physically and even spiritually. We remain a divided society because we are divided within ourselves. We are engulfed in technology, social media and work; we are becoming robotic, isolated and less relatable. We need to connect with each other, provide empathy and support for one another and come together in times of need; not just when there is a mass shooting or natural disaster.

The DSM Ready Movement is providing the foundation. Are you willing to build upon it and spread this opportunity to the rest of humanity?

Are you Ready? (This is Defeating Stigma Mindfully)

The Importance Of Educating

Person holding a piece of paper with "phone a friend" written on it

Educating Others On Mental Illness

The mind controls everything: our reactions, movements, choices, beliefs, respiration, sexual drive, creativity, motivation, work ethic and the list goes on. The importance of educating each other on mental illness is immense; one person’s experience can help prevent another person’s demise.

Many people can participate in educating others about mental illness. The more honesty that is delivered, the more stories that can be interrelated! The more open that we are with each other, the greater the effect becomes on shaping society to develop a stronger understanding of how mental health impacts our lives in many different ways.

If we do not come together and form a web of sticky education, humanity will continue to remain divided on the experience of mental health. Cohesion must form to help spread the understanding of mental illness! Education is one form of ending stigma; people are attracted to knowledge and personal experience.

If you have suffered or are suffering from a mental illness, share the experience with someone you know who may be suffering as well; strength in numbers is the expectation. Utilize the power of knowledge and past experience to help someone in need!

The problem does not lie with the medical field in terms of education. But as professionals, our reach can only extend so far. We need the help of humanity to contribute by promoting the end of mental health stigma and the sharing of personal and honest experiences, while being nonjudgmental.

Science can only take us so far. But love and care are limitless.

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)

Spurts of Hope

Woman hoping and praying beside tree

My Living Hope

There are days when everything seems gloomy and all hope is lost; we can all relate. You lose interest in all of your activities and become bombarded with a deep feeling of sadness as if an elephant were sitting on your chest. The last thing you want to do is smile and be optimistic.

You wonder if life is even worth living anymore. You search for cracks of happiness only to return back to square one: sadness. You somehow find the strength to engage in some of your usual activities but with much less passion and enjoyment. You wonder if there is a magic pill that can take away the gloominess; there never was and never will be one.

As the day passes, you appreciate the short spurts of hope that creep into your consciousness; they somehow alleviate the pain, at least momentarily. But the key is to build off these spurts of hope and dig yourself out of the blackhole. These spurts of hope are the antidote to the start of depression; use them to avoid the development of a serious mental illness.

Feeling sad is part of life; there is no way to avoid it. The important thing is how you handle the sadness; some get over it and move on while others spiral down into major depressive disorder. Sadness is the yang and happiness is the yin; complementary forces in which the whole is greater than the individual emotions.

To appreciate happiness is to experience sadness; without the negative emotion, we would not know what happiness would feel like. But when there is way too much yin or yang, there is concern for mania or depression. Therefore, a healthy balance is always key to enjoying life.

Find your living hope and allow it to help you today!

Are you Ready? (This is Defeating Stigma Mindfully)

Delusional Thoughts

Blonde woman wearing green top suffering from delusional disorder

Delusional Disorder Symptoms

Imagine being lost in the depths of an idea that you believe to be true, contrary to any evidence provided to you. No matter how many people tell you the opposite, you are not shaken; your belief persists. This is a delusion.

There are many types of delusions that people experience. It is not known what causes delusions, but they are often very difficult to break, like a glitch in a computer operating system. However, people with delusions often remain functional: they continue working, maintaining relationships and taking care of themselves.

Relationships can become affected when a delusion centers around a specific person. For instance, in erotomania, the delusional person believes that another individual (i.e., often of higher status, like a celebrity) is in love with them, despite having never met that higher status person. In the jealousy type of delusional disorder, a man or woman wholeheartedly believes that his or her spouse is sleeping with someone else, despite no evidence.

A person with a persecutory delusion may believe that someone is out to cause them harm. Paranoia does not always have to be present; the person may be functional and continue working without being delusional at work. But when he or she arrives home, they may start ruminating on their delusion. Persecutory delusions are the most common type experienced.

The difference between delusional disorder and other psychotic disorders is that the former does not greatly impact the person’s life; they often remain productive. On the other hand, schizophrenics have a higher likelihood of becoming nonfunctional due to the nature of their illness: auditory hallucinations, delusions and disorganized speech and behavior.

Delusions are the most difficult symptoms to treat in psychotic patients; auditory hallucinations can easily go away with antipsychotic medications, but delusions make up the structure of a patient’s reality. If the structure collapses, two possible scenarios emerge: the patient obtains a positive realization or becomes depressed when confronted with reality.

Always be careful when confronting someone’s delusion; violence is not uncommon when a delusional person feels threatened or offended. Always use your heart and be empathetic to anyone you talk to, delusional or not!

Are you Ready? (This is Defeating Stigma Mindfully)

Is Pedophilia A Mental Illness?

Young girl scared of a pedophile and covering her face with both hands

Pedophilic Disorder

Pedophilia is the attraction and sexual feelings directed towards children. The DSM-V classifies pedophilia as a mental disorder accompanied by intense and recurrent sexual urges and fantasies about children, that have either been acted upon or which cause the person with the attraction distress or interpersonal difficulty.

Pedophilia is considered child sexual abuse. It is mostly documented in men but women also exhibit the disorder. It emerges during puberty and remains stable over time. Pedophiles do not choose to be attracted to children; it is self-discovered. Therapies exist but no cure has been identified.

The difference between pedophilia and heterosexuals and homosexuals is that the former causes harm to others, while partaking in heterosexual or homosexual acts is understood to be mutual between two consenting adults or two consenting adolescents. A child cannot consent to sexual acts with an adult without the child being psychologically manipulated.

Pedophiles often develop a relationship with a child and prey upon their feelings and emotions, slowly making their advance at vulnerable times. Some children learn to accept the sexual advances because they wrongly interpret them as opportunities for affection and attention; their manipulated mind works in favor of the pedophile who is clearly taking advantage.

Even though pedophilia is considered a mental illness, criminal prosecutions continue to persist due to the nature of the illness; no child or adolescent deserves being manipulated mentally, emotionally and physically. On the other hand, efforts continue for developing treatments with the goal of preventing future acts of abuse.

Are you Ready? (This is Defeating Stigma Mindfully)