This has been the most incredible experience yet. It has been my pleasure to discuss this very important topic with you all. This is the last part of Mental Health with Summer Rachanta.
We have touched on a myriad of mental health disorders, signs, symptoms, and modalities of treatment. As we come to an end, please remember from all we have discussed that mental illness can cause an impairment in one’s daily life and relationships. Recovering from a mental disorder is a process that requires commitment, love, support, and most times, therapy. Recovery can not be forced as it comes from within. The memory of whatever incident you may have suffered from will always be stored in your brain and anything can cause a trigger to once again cause a mental disorder. As we go into the last part of this series, please remember to be kind to one another and let us continue to spread positive energy.
SUBSTANCE ABUSE DISORDER
Also known as drug abuse is an abnormal mental condition that involves the excessive abuse of certain drugs and substances. These drugs may include, marijuana, heroin, nicotine, cocaine, alcohol, and so much more. Drug addiction is a form of substance abuse where one uses a certain drug or substance in excess to the point where they become dependent on that drug or substance. People often use the influence of substances as a distraction from reality. There are different forms of addiction, it includes addiction to illegal drugs or substance, food, certain drinks, or opioids. Over all, an excessive use of these substances can be very harmful to the organs of the body. It can also cause harm to one’s mental and physical health.
I spoke to someone who had an addiction to weed. The excessive use of the substance was taking over his life and greatly impacting the chemical composition of his brain. I tried intervening because I saw how his addiction was making him debilitated. I asked him,”why can’t you stop“? His response was, “I love the feeling, it always numbs the pain away“. Now that I can comprehensively think about it, that was probably a dumb question to ask someone with an addiction.
I had an addiction to caffeinated coffee 7 years ago. I knew the habit was unhealthy and it was damaging (to) my mental and physical health. Excessive amounts of coffee can stimulate your ‘fight’ or ‘flight’ nerves in the brain causing anxiety and most times, panic attacks. Also, coffee can be a diuretic. Excessive amounts can cause dehydration, kidney problems and low levels of minerals like potassium that is present in the body. Being addicted to caffeine felt pleasing. But after several trips to the hospital from being dehydrated and having other health complications, I sat down to evaluate my life. I was determined to change my habits. It was from this evaluation that I saw how my addiction took over my body and mind. I took a step forward to try and make improvements in my life.
An addiction to coffee led to an addiction to pain killers. I had gotten to the sunken place at this point and all I wanted to do was to take the pain away every couple hours. Above all, I lost the appetite to eat and interest in social activities. Slowly but gradually, other mental illnesses kicked in and I was having depression, anxiety, and an eating disorder. I was always numb or deep in thought and most times, I was scared to go to sleep because I was having nightmares. People who loved and cared about me spoke to me about my addiction. My father intervened, my school also staged an intervention. I knew they wanted the best for me but I couldn’t stop because I felt my life was dependent on it. It took me some time to reflect on my life to be able to see how my addiction was affecting my life and the people around me. That was when I made the decision and strategy on how to manage my habits. I took that path because I wanted to help myself and get my life back. It was a difficult step. Albeit, I didn’t just stop taking coffee at once. I slowly and gradually reduced my intake until I got my health back. That was when I realized that it was in my head the whole time. I can actually live without drinking coffee in a day.
I am still very sensitive about my mental health. Having gone through the things that I have been through in the past, a little scenario or a word can cause a trigger and a relapse. To me, recovery is everyday for the rest of my life. This is why I always make sure to surround myself in positive light and keep toxic energy away from me. I wish people could understand the severity of an addiction and its effects on mental health. I also wish they could understand that people with mental disorders in most cases have an abnormal thinking process. Hence, their brain can interpret certain things differently e.g., telling an anorexic person that he/she does not look sick; their brain may process this information as you telling them that they are fat and they need to loose more weight.
How to Cope with someone having a Substance abuse problem
- Love and support from family and friends:- It is necessary to show love and support to a friend or a close person suffering from an addiction . The best way to support someone with a substance abuse problem is by holding them accountable for their actions. Show them that you care but do not show pity or resentment towards them. People who are addicts usually care less about the consequences of their actions even though it is causing harm to their health. Do not support their lifestyle by either buying them drugs or alcohol. You must understand that recovering from an addiction does not happen over night rather, it is a gradual progress. The patient should not be easily trusted unless they submit to recovery.
- You can not force someone to recover from a mental illness but you can show them or give them a reason to try and take the path of recovery. In most cases, people are willing to recover when they see how their actions are hurting the people that they care about. This is the ultimate act of intervention. Once a person decides to take a step forward to recovery, consider finding the best support group for him/her.
- Lastly, in order to be able to support and help someone with an addiction, you must understand the condition. Do some research and educate yourself. By doing this, you will have an idea on how to strategize and cope with that family or friend that has a substance abuse problem.
RECENT ISSUES (SOCIAL MEDIA/ THE INTERNET AND HOW IT AFFECTS ONE’S MENTAL HEALTH)
Social media is ‘the ultimate modern-day society god’. Social media is a huge part of almost everyone’s daily life. It has slowly but gradually taken over the lives millennials. While it has ruined so many lives, it has also changed lives for the better. Before I proceed further on this issue, I’d like to ask a few questions.
Is social media the problem or the people using it?
How often should you use social media?
At what age is a person old enough to use social media?
If you had the power to take away social media from the world, would you take advantage of such power?
I ask these questions because social media has its advantages and its disadvantages. It is an avenue used to share information and entertainment. It is also a place where you can meet different people from around the world. These people you encounter may share non-similar interests or similar interests with you and your beliefs. If used the right way, social media can be a place of liberation, learning, and love. The disadvantages of social media is that they are predators, bullies, and terrorists on social media. Lately, it has become a place where people can be free to voice out their opinions and beliefs on issues. There are millions of different opinions, pictures, and events on the internet that could be triggering to one’s mental health. Main stream television is becoming less popular and appealing for a lot of people especially teenagers. In fact, one can easily get the latest news from google, twitter, Instagram or Facebook through the simple help of an ‘internet connection’. Most things I know, I learnt through the use of social media. Using social media for all the wrong reasons can trigger a negative effect on one’s mental health. Constant use of social media can cause an act of comparison which can trigger different types of mental illness such as eating disorders, depression, and personality disorders.
My experience using Social Media
I have been asked several times why I do not own a twitter account. I have come across several posts from twitter on Instagram. Most of them are very toxic and if any of those were directed at me, they’d hit hard or make me feel insecure. So, I came to a conclusion that twitter wasn’t a place for me based on my history with mental illness. I remember using Instagram very frequently. From viewing one recommended post to another, I became addicted. As a teenager, I did not know much about the world. I saw beautiful pictures of nice places, pictures of people looking happy, pictures of relationship goals, and more pictures of girls like me. I thought these girls were prettier, more popular or either had the physique of a model. Although the world is more accepting now as there are a lot of people advocating for mental health awareness, body positivity, gender acceptance, etc., it is unfortunate that this was the society I had grown up in. A society where people focused more on appearance. Seeing those posts made me compare my life to the perfect lives I saw on social media. I began to set goals and all I worried about was how to achieve it. I thought to myself that I would never be forgotten if I looked a certain type of way. As my addiction to using the App grew, my expectations became increasingly higher. I was hooked and during this process, I lost myself in a world that wasn’t real.
Social media is not the problem. The problem is us and how we use the platform. An addiction to using or being on social media frequently took over my life and I was depressed because I couldn’t achieve my goals. While I let you ponder on this article, I want to conclude by saying; if we have a platform or we are given a platform, let us try to use it for a better cause. Changing the world is not an easy task but one person can influence change and make a difference. Let us try to be kind and positive to one another.
Thank you for reading. Please share and let’s educate ourselves more on the topic; “Mental Health” in order to improve our lives.
Instagram:- @onionsarenotgarlics (https://instagram.com/onionsarenotgarlics/igshid=5oio7vxmefmv)
Written by Rachanta Rach (BSC Biochemistry)
Edited by @ayamba.theblog. Follow us on Instagram for more updates
PLEASE, REMEMBER TO ASK FOR HELP. KNOW THAT YOU ARE NOT ALONE.
National Suicide Prevention Lifeline
1-800-273-8255 (1-800-273-TALK) – National Suicide Prevention Lifeline
1-800-784-2433 (1-800-SUICIDE) – National Hope line Network
1-866-488-7386 (1-866-4.U.TREVOR aimed at gay and questioning youth)
National Eating Disorder Association (NEDA) Helpline— 1-800-931-2237 or text NEDA to 741741
National Association of Anorexia Nervosa and Associated Disorders(ANAD) — 630-577-1330
Mental Health Crisis Lines / Suicide Hotlines
Suicide Prevention Lifeline— 1-800-273-TALK
Trevor helpline / Suicide Prevention for LGBTQ+ Teens— 1-866-488-7386
Crisis Text Line— Text HOME to 741741
Gay & Lesbian National Hotline— 1-888-THE-GLNH (1-888-843-4564)
IMAlive— online crisis chat
National Runaway Safeline— 1-800-RUNAWAY (chat available on website)
Teeline— 310-855-4673 or text TEEN to 839863 (teens helping teens)
National Alliance on Mental Illness (NAMI)