Just Take The Meds

White woman's face with color splatters on hair and face

Ashamed Of Taking Medications

The stigma marches on . . . the shame of having a mental illness and the embarrassing thought of having to go see a psychiatrist who will prescribe you medications. You look at yourself in the mirror and ask yourself, “How? Just how in the world did I become like this?” Does it really matter how, Johnny? Jenny? At this point, you are suffering in pain and you need help; stop denying it.

But no one has to know; not your friends, not your family, not your siblings, not your significant other. No one! In some states, minors are allowed to seek mental health therapy without their guardian’s consent. You have to understand that performing a root cause analysis on yourself by attempting to discover the origin of your mental illness will not do you any good; you’ll likely never find out the reason why you became sick!

But being sick does not mean that it’s the end of the world; many are mentally ill all around the world and continue to lead normal lives. Some are mentally ill and more successful than you will ever be; they’re accomplished actors, celebrities, politicians, businessmen, doctors, lawyers, you name it! Being mentally ill and success should not be combined in the same basket; one has to do with luck, hard work and connections, while the other has to do with a malfunctioning circuitry in your brain.

But can you pick the common denominator of success and mental illness? It’s called, “blessing.” Just because you have a mental illness does not mean that you do not have food on the table, shelter, warmth, family, friends, an education, etc. You are blessed regardless of whether you have a mental illness or not. So stop being ashamed of your new reality and go seek a psychiatrist who will prescribe you medications; you won’t regret it if you are honest with your therapy and yourself.

For some reason, the stigma of mental illness is still alive and kicking. It’s going to take many more years until people no longer feel ashamed of their internal mental battles. It’s going to take an international platform like The DSM Ready Community to bury the stigma of mental health and allow the citizens of Earth to proudly stand on their rooftops shouting, “I have a mental illness and I am not ashamed of who I am!”

Take the meds.

Are you Ready? (This is Defeating Stigma Mindfully)

Hatred In Our Hearts

White man against black background with hand diving face in half

Racism Has No Boundaries

Not only is the mental health sigma up and running throughout the world, but racism as well. Stigma and racism should not even be separated; they’re both different forms of hatred but with a common goal of dividing the masses. Stigma focuses on preventing people who suffer from a mental illness from getting treatment and making them feel ashamed and insecure, while racism focuses on physically and mentally destroying others based on their skin color.

But where does stigma and racism stem from? The answer is more simple than we like to think and one does not have to go to school to find out; our hearts! Just based on numbers alone, the 7.8 billion worldwide population is going to have many bad batches of rotten fruit that will promote and approve stigma and racism. These people are either uneducated, educated but evil or simply full of hatred.

Is someone born with hatred in their heart? Absolutely not. There is no known genetic makeup that will inform parents that your child is born with a characteristic trait known as hatred. Hatred is taught and learned through human behavior and experience. If a child gets beat up by two white kids or vice versa, he or she will learn through their own experience to hate that child, along with what they hear in the mainstream media or on the internet in relation to racism.

Stigma and racism are also taught by parents and family members who promote such ideologies to their children. When children are raised in such households, they observe from a young age the thought process, content and perception of viewing others in a negative light. Racism is not only white against black; it has no boundaries and goes all ways. Do not make the mistake of believing that racism is only white against black.

How can we actually end racism rather than turning on the news and witnessing more protests in the streets? Everything stems from our hearts. What will help is establishing a global platform that will bring people to stand together against mental health stigma and racism in a peaceful way. This platform has to start somewhere but without consistent support, it will become very difficult to establish.

I started The DSM Ready Community with the vision of creating this platform, but I cannot do this on my own. That is why I am thankful to meet many of you who support this blog and comment on my daily posts. Together, we can continue to help grow this really small community so that we can one day stand on a world stage and celebrate the progression towards the end of mental health stigma and racism.

Are you Ready? (This is Defeating Stigma Mindfully)

The Invisibility Of Depression

Depressed man standing in front of large window

Sadness In The Shadows

Depression is like an invisible dark cloud that hovers in the stratosphere, looming all around us and ready to attack when in our weakest states of mind. The invisibility of depression can be observed through the actions of those affected: avolition, abulia, apathy, anhedonia and more. Sadness in the shadows is much more common than you would think.

Just because someone may not act like it or talk about it, does not mean that they are not experiencing depression. Many suicides that occur are never seen coming, “He was the last person I imagined would ever do that”, “She always seemed so happy! I never saw any signs of depression in her.”

You can never assume that every person who you meet is showing their true feelings. Many people mask their depression out of fear of embarrassment and ridicule. It’s not easy nor comfortable to experience depression: it lowers your self-esteem, makes you feel worthless and crashes your self-confidence.

With the symptoms mentioned above, it’s no surprise why many people find it difficult to share their depressive feelings with others. The fear of people not understanding or the thought of others viewing them differently is sometimes too much to handle. They prefer not to take the chance and just deal with the symptoms in the shadows.

Hiding your depressive feelings is what makes up the invisibility of depression; no one can see it if you don’t reveal it to others. It’s as if you’re wearing an invisibility cloak, but deep inside there is something tortuous and potentially deadly brewing. That’s why it’s so important to keep fighting for the end of mental health stigma.

As long as the stigma prevails, the invisibility of depression will continue striving in the shadows, attacking potential victims at its first opportunity. The importance of eliminating stigma cannot be stressed enough, and this can only be done with openness, support, comfort and honesty.

The DSM Ready community calls on everyone from all walks of life to come together and help eliminate mental health stigma. Together we can and we will!

Are you Ready? (This is Defeating Stigma Mindfully)

Antidepressants: Should I Take Them?

White antidepressant pills in round plastic compartments

My Depression Is Not Getting Better

Deciding to take antidepressants is a big decision. It means that you have reached the point in your life where you’re considering the help of a psychotropic medication to alleviate your symptoms. For some, this may be an embarrassing decision to make: the stigma of taking an antidepressant remains locked in their minds.

The stigma of taking antidepressants is not what it once used to be. About 10% of Americans take an antidepressant. But your decision to take one should not be influenced by how many people you know that take them. Even if you do decide to be prescribed to an antidepressant, it does not mean that you have to tell people about it.

It’s no one’s business whether you take psychiatric medications or not. And you should not be ashamed of it if you are! Many people are slowly coming out and revealing their mental struggles with their friends and family. Celebrities are also opening up about their life struggles, mental illnesses and addictions which they have battled throughout their careers.

First things first: have you given yourself a fair shot at getting over your depression naturally? This involves:

  • Talking it out with someone who you trust
  • Exercising and eating healthy on a consistent basis
  • Adopting a good sleep hygiene
  • Getting involved in extracurricular activities
  • Seeing a psychologist or psychiatrist for psychotherapy

If you have tried all of the above and still find yourself trapped in a depressive state of mind, then it’s probably time for you to be prescribed to an antidepressant. There are several classes available:

  • Selective serotonin reuptake inhibitors (SSRIs – currently the most widely used and recommended for major depression)
  • Selective norepinephrine reuptake inhibitors (SNRIs – almost as widely used as the SSRIs)
  • Norepinephrine dopamine reuptake inhibitor (Bupropion: effective for increasing energy in major depression and smoking cessation)
  • Tricyclic antidepressants (TCAs – very effective antidepressants but not as widely used anymore due to potential cardiac side effects)
  • Tetracyclic antidepressants (Mirtazapine: effective for depression with weight loss and insomnia)
  • Monoamine oxidase inhibitors (MAOIs – very effective antidepressants but not as widely used anymore due to interactions with tyramine-rich foods)

As with any medication, antidepressants do have side effects which have to be taken into consideration prior to being prescribed to one. However, not everyone is prone to experiencing the side effects. But on a positive note, they do work very well for depression and anxiety! However, it also takes about 4-6 weeks to see a difference in your mood.

And if you’re considering going on an antidepressant, don’t think that you can now stop the healthy lifestyle and psychotherapy which you were previously doing. Most people experience remission when they combine psychotherapy + antidepressants. And living a healthy lifestyle should always be a given!

If you have given yourself an honest effort at trying to defeat your depression, but still haven’t been able to do so, then it’s probably time to start considering an antidepressant.

Are you Ready? (This is Defeating Stigma Mindfully)

Being Ashamed Of Your Drug Addiction

Addicted young man in front of messy bed praying

It’s Time To Come Out

There are many people who remain in hiding because of their drug addiction. Many are ashamed to tell their families because of their religion and stigma surrounding drug use. Drug use has no boundaries: it affects all races, nationalities, ethnicities, religions, ages, mental illnesses and whatever else has not been mentioned.

People find it easier to hide their drug addiction in order to avoid the uncomfortable and embarrassing conversations that often follow. In an addict’s mind, the energy and stamina required to cope with these conversations is simply not worth the effort. Time becomes more valuable when it’s used to obtain the drug and enjoy its high.

But living in shame is not the answer in the long-run. It might work for a few months or a few years, but your mental health slowly breaks down from your shame and misery. All you’re doing is suppressing your drug use into your unconscious mind; you’re essentially building a ticking time bomb.

Then there are the people who don’t care about being ashamed of their drug addiction, because they prefer to just enjoy the high and ignore the consequences. This scenario too does not last very long. Eventually the risks outweigh the benefits (getting high) and something always goes wrong.

Drug use has and continues to be associated with concealment and privacy. But it’s time to come out of the shadows and reveal your drug addiction to the world: “Hi. My name is Lisa and I’m a drug user.” “Hey. My name is Mark and I’m hooked on drugs.” We’re not attempting to embrace the use of drugs; we’re just attempting to initiate the first step much sooner, which is admitting to the world that you have a drug problem!

The stigma of drug use remains alive and kicking, but this is exactly what public enemy number one has been all this time. The war on drugs was a legitimate attempt by the U.S. government to help protect its people from the serious evil addiction to drugs. But the problem with the war on drugs is that it had the wrong enemy identified from the start.

The enemy of the people are not drugs. The enemy of the people is the stigma associated with drugs. Stigma is behind the secretive and allusive nature of drug use. Stigma is what keeps people in hiding and their drug use flourishing underground and well-hidden. If you eliminate the stigma, you eliminate an entire mindset that is associated with the use of drugs.

This is not in any way promoting the use of drugs. This is helping bring drug users out in the open in order to be exposed to help much sooner than perhaps “never later.” Exposure to treatment and support earlier in the addiction process has a much higher success rate than exposure later in the process.

Public enemy number one has been revealed. Are we ready to finally initiate the right war?

Are you Ready? (This is Defeating Stigma Mindfully)

Opening The Blinds To Suicide

Suicidal man sitting on a chair surrounded by people

Ending The Stigma Of Suicide

Suicide rates are continuing to increase for adolescents and young adults. Between 1994-2014, the rate has increased 24%. Because of the stigma, suicide rates may be underreported, resulting in a higher number than is currently estimated.

The highest suicide rates are in white males above the age of 65. It is believed that this age group suffers from issues such as life satisfaction v.s. despair on not having lived a productive and fulfilling life. The elderly also suffer from depression, loneliness, medical conditions, neglect and abuse!

On the other hand, adolescents are committing suicide because of multiple factors: drug and alcohol abuse, strict parenting that results in too much pressure at school, bullying and peer pressure.

Adolescents are a particular vulnerable group because their frontal lobe has not finished developing; the frontal lobe is responsible for judgement and decision-making, hence why adolescents tend to get into trouble.

They also start identifying less with their parents and more with their peers; this is the time for them to mold their personality and fit into a group of young people that share similar interests.

It is important for parents not to lose touch with their teenagers once they enter this time of their life; allowing them to swim too far off shore may cause them to never return.

We need to become open about how we feel inside. We need to become open about suicidal thoughts and feelings. The stigma of mental health is decreasing but not fast enough to keep up with the increasing death rates and mental complications.

We need to come together and be honest with each other. There is nothing to be embarrassed about; sharing may save someone’s life.

Are you Ready? (This is Defeating Stigma Mindfully)

Time To End Mental Health Stigma

A female leaning her head against a man's shoulder

Stigma Prevents Progress

Why is there disgrace associated with mental disorders? Because someone is suffering from depression, anxiety, personality disorders, psychosis or addiction, society attaches stigma to the symptoms the person is experiencing? This no longer can go on, if we want to help society be open about mental disorders and their corresponding treatments.

Stigma halts progress; it is a barrier that stands before us and keeps many people hidden in the shadows; hidden from seeking treatment. The more we come together and share our experiences, the sooner mental health will be normalized and accepted.

There should be no shame to one experiencing depression, anxiety or even suicidal thoughts; the brain is undergoing neurochemical changes and needs help reestablishing order. Just like any sick organ in physical disorders, the same applies to mental illness. The key is coming together and sharing our experiences. Let’s learn why we feel depressed, anxious or experiencing hallucinations.

All of these experiences are frightening, but imagine how much more frightening they are for someone who cannot share them due to fear of stigma? This person can commit suicide due to stigma; his or her emotions will literally bury them if they cannot live in an open society, free to share their mental health concerns.

Let’s come together and put an end to stigma. I encourage everyone reading this post to share it as much as possible with your friends and family! Spread the word: we will end mental health stigma.

Are you Ready? (This is Defeating Stigma Mindfully)