Categories
Interview

Apama Ameri.

Interviewed via form.


1. Please introduce yourself.

“i am fifteen years old and a sophmore in highschool , i love to sing and play instruments, & i also really love self care and meditation .”

2. What does mental health mean to you? 

“mental health is very important to me and it affects me daily. i’m a part of the mental health committee at my school, & we try to advocate for the students mental well being and health . i just hope to educate others on mental health so that the stigma behind it gradually ends.”

3. How do you deal with your own mental health?

“sometimes it can be very difficult to deal with, i suffer with anxiety, so it’s hard to distance myself from situations when they’re happening in my own head. however i try my best to distract myself, talk to friends, or listen to music”

4. Any particular psychological condition that means a lot to you?

“anxiety means a lot to me because it’s something many people in my family have dealt with, including myself. i have watched people i know deal with it, and there’s such a big stigma behind it. the immediate response when someone tells someone that they have anxiety is that they’re probably faking it or exaggerating. this is actually something that happens with a lot of disorders and illnesses, but with anxiety it’s difficult to truly see to the naked eye.”

5. do you believe that the stigma has reduced a notable extent in your community?

“i think the stigma behind mental health has been prevelant for a while, and unfortunately i’ve seen minimal changes, especially in older generations. i think that younger people understand more about mental health and how to deal with it, because a lot of us experience some sort of mental issues in our lives. i hope that this stigma changes and that we can educate people about mental health so that we can work on how to support people and also ourselves when we are struggling.”


Check out Apama!


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Interview

Vayunamu.

Interviewed via form.


1. Please introduce yourself.

“I’m Vayunamu and I’m from Abuja, Nigeria, but I currently live in California, USA. I’m a writer and photographer also interested in travel, fashion, and sustainability. I got my BA in International Relations from the University of San Diego in 2019 and I’ve worked as a photojournalist and in the nonprofit sector because I’m interested in people and how we structure ourselves around issues of community and power. I spend a lot of my time exploring alone and finding ways to entertain myself. Other times, I’m with my friends or reading somewhere.”

2. What does mental health mean to you?

“To me, mental health is the process of crafting a life for myself that I don’t have to escape from. It means putting systems in place that take care of me and keep me healthy so that I live my life as best as possible. I recognize that I need a complex framework of upkeep to ensure that I am my best self so mental health for me is allowing myself to be high-maintenance in that sense, deserving of all that it will take to have a good, healthy life.”

3. How do you deal with your own mental health?

“The mind is probably the most sensitive part of us but really powerful too so I take its care very seriously. I know how much it limits me, but also how far I can go when it’s open and willing so I try to take note of the tough things that I need to work on. Baking or lighting a candle can help me feel good but I like to get deeper if I can. Keeping physically fit and eating well are tough routines to establish, but I’ve learned in therapy that those two things do wonders for my mental health because they are directly connected to how good I feel since I’m taking care of my body. I love to write and journaling is great to sort out my thoughts. Along with exercise, it helps me get out of my head. I also establish boundaries (aka terms & conditions) with others and myself that keep me well and healthy because relationships are a huge part of wellbeing.”

4. Any particular psychological condition/disorder that means a lot to you?

“Learning about trauma/traumatic disorders and how they show up in our lives is important to me because it is very common and relatable. The idea that trauma involves intense, often life-threatening events means it is closer to all of us than we might think. Trauma can be inherited, which makes me think of my family structures and what I can do for myself and my community with that in mind. People go through life-threatening events often, whether we see them as that or not, and we don’t always share them but if we were able to maybe we could make things a bit better for ourselves and the world.”

5. do you believe that the stigma has reduced a significant amount in your community?

“I think that the stigma around mental health in Nigeria is reducing in my generation. We are more open to talking about the stress and anxieties of life regardless of how good we think we have it. In other words, we are acknowledging that being mentally healthy can be challenging despite having basic needs met. There is some tension there with the generations before us but we are more understanding of the fact that in addition to addressing physical needs, mental and emotional needs need to be met as well. This might be because we are able to see and interact with other people in other parts of the world and how they deal with issues of mental health.”


Check out Vayunamu!


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Interview

Pranathi Sagi.

Interviewed via form.


1. Please introduce yourself.

“Hi, my name is Pranathi! I’m currently a sophomore and some hobbies of mine include badminton and tennis.”

2. How do you deal with your own mental health?

“I deal with social anxiety and some days are harder than others because some people don’t understand my perspective with social anxiety and often look past it. I make sure to meditate and take care of myself daily because I deeply value self worth. I joined Revive to not only take care of my mental health but also to encourage others that they can always talk or dm me.”

3. Do you believe that the stigma has decreased a notable extent in your community?

“In my community, I believe the stigma around mental health has reduced in our generation as more people understand the importance of mental health and getting the help they need to get better. Although, I still believe that the stigma around it needs to change especially in older generations because they don’t necessarily understand the stigma around mental health especially from our perspectives.”


Check out Pranathi!


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Interview

Interview with Vasundhara Chaudhary

Interviewed via form.


It is very important to actively talk about and discuss mental health in order to normalize the conversation around it. Luckily, there are individuals like Vasundhara. She took advocating one step farther and even founded her own social-media based platform called Inspire Dose, where she actively spreads awareness about mental health. We are so glad that she chose to submit an interview with us!


1. Please introduce yourself and tell us a little about what you do.

“I am Vasundhara Chaudhary,16 year old, from Chandigarh, India. I am pursuing my class 12th with Physics, Chemistry and Biology. I have always been an all rounder student from being part of cabinet to being the school topper in class 10 to participating in all co-curricular activities.I have keen interest in writing, dancing, oratory, reading and painting.Have made small achievements in all the fields mentioned. I had been awarded with Selfless Service Award by my school.The lockdown gave me an opportunity so in July 2020 I founded a firm @inspire._.dose which deals the MentalHealth, spirituality, Healthcare, lifeskills etc. .I have made a smart city model for saving our environment and have been awarded with green Champion award from schneider electrics, India.I also have my articles published in local daily.I am the Lead Writer for magazine @thebrightsidemz.Blog writer for @urbetterbrain .I am also part of a literary club @lit_o_sphere . I am science department writer for @stemxyz.”

2. What does mental health mean to you?

“From a young age I had been inclined towards mental health..To be honest I had faced anxiety and very mild depression at different stages of my life and this makes me determined to do something in this field. Spreading awareness about Mental health and helping people deal it has always been my passion. I want people to understand that talking about mental health is not a shame and we should create stigma about it.”

3. How do you deal with your own mental health?

“M- Mediation E- Excercise N- no to negativity T- Take a break A- Accept who you are L- Listen soothing music H- healthy lifestyle E- eat well A- ask for help L- laugh loudly T- Take deep breath H- hone your talents Apart from this mnemonic. Spirituality also helps in dealing with my stress. Reading holy scriptures and visiting holy places gives eternal joy and peace”

4. Any particular mental condition/disorder/illness that means a lot to you?

“Anxiety and depression are the two conditions that means a lot to me. May be because I have gone through them. But I really love reading articles,news and reports on these two topics. Through my organisation I also spread awareness and give tips about how to deal them up.”

5. in your household/community/state/province/territory/country (please choose to regard at least one), do you think that the stigma around mental health has reduced to a notable extent or is it still really evident? Why do you think that is? 

“Taking the country as whole though there has been improvement but still lot of progress is needed. Youth still understand this topic but middle-aged and old people totally stigmatize it maybe because they lived a more happy and simple life as compared to today’s busy and complicated life. But we still need a lot of effort to make a change and only and only youth can do it.”


Follow Inspire Dose on Instagram!

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Event

Free Virtual Tutoring & SAT Prep

Needless to say, our very first event is very special to us. We came up with the idea of it before we actually started Revive, since it ties into mental health considering the fact that school and academics are one of the top threats to one’s mental well-being. Initially, we wanted to offer free tutoring ourselves, not from a third party, but since we had enlarged our overall mission (read more about this by clicking here), we decided to collaborate with two other amazing organizations to offer completely free and virtual tutoring. 

Tutor Olive was one of the organizations. They are a registered LLC and focus on providing K-12 students with quality tutoring at no cost. They believe that peer tutoring is less stressful and overall more beneficial than the traditional tutoring environment with an adult and a student. Similarly, SAT Prep Tutoring has the same mission and beliefs, obviously focusing on SAT preparation instead. 

All three of our organizations had discussed a collaboration for weeks before we finalized it. Looking back, it seems like weeks of discussion weren’t all that necessary for such a mere event. Still. This event was Revive’s very first and we are so blessed to have gotten so much support while we were starting out that we got to do something like this. 

This event is ongoing. You can sign up for K-12 tutoring (homework help is included) and/or SAT prep by contacting Tutor Olive or SAT Prep Tutoring directly or by filling out the following form so we can direct them to you. 

Categories
Interview

DR. LAURA ELLICK: PSYCHOLOGIST. AUTHOR. SPEAKER.

INTERVIEWED BY SARAH KWONG

Mental health is a topic with so much stigma attached to it. It’s great to see advocates like psychologist, Laura Ellick, take raising awareness one step further by writing a whole book dedicated to mental health, speaking for it at many events, and pursing a career focused on it. We are so honored to have gotten to interview the inspiring Dr. Laura Ellick and hear a bit of her story. In this interview, we will get into deep, potentially triggering subjects such as eating disorders and cyber-bullying and mention depression, anxiety, PTSD, and OCD.


1. Tell us a little bit about yourself!

“I am a New York and Florida licensed Psychologist, who has transitioned also into writing, public speaking and media driven psychology.  I can now call myself an author, something that I never, ever expected!”

2. Why did you choose to become a psychologist? How are you able to create strong and trustworthy connections with clients? 

“Since I was very young, I knew I always wanted to work with children.  At first, my passion was to be a teacher.  Later on, I felt drawn to TV shows and books in which the main character was a child going through a personal struggle.  I knew that I was going to work in the psychology field in some capacity.  When I started my freshman year in college and developed an eating disorder, I knew that I wanted to make an impact on those who had struggled in similar ways.  First and foremost, making a strong connection with someone involves learning how to listen.  It can be so powerful to tell your story out loud to another person.  When a client comes to see me, very often I am the first person to whom he or she has ever opened up.  I never take that lightly.  I have great respect for anyone who walks through my door and shares their entire life with me.”

3. What does mental health mean to you? Has it made an impact on your life? If so, in what ways?

“Mental health involves taking care of body, mind, and soul/spirit  (however that is defined personally).  Too often in our society, we segment each area of our being.  For example, there is a medical specialist for every organ of the body and no real “gatekeeper” who knows everything about us.  We have lost sight of the fact that we function best when all three parts of self are integrated.  As I previously mentioned, I have been out of balance when I struggled with my eating disorder, but I think that all of us go through tough periods in our lives in which we are not functioning optimally.  Maybe we had a family member pass away or maybe we lost a job….when we can recognize that it is ok to reach out for help when we are struggling and need someone to talk to, we can make it easier for people to access quality mental health care without shame or stigma.”

4. On your IGTV, you have a short segment on self care. Do you believe self care is important? What do you believe is the goal of it? What would you recommend doing?

“Self care is extremely important and is something that I continue to struggle with on a daily basis.  Taking time out to nurture your body, your emotions, and your spiritual side is incredibly valuable for building resilience and managing stress better.  I have learned that self care doesn’t need to be extravagant or a full day affair.  Just taking time to smell some lavender or to listen to my favorite song (on replay) is often enough to refresh me.  I will coach my patients and encourage them to have a wide variety of self care tools available since what may be effective for times when we are sad might be different than what we need when we are angry.”

5. On your website, you mention you specialize in helping clients with eating disorders. You later mention in an interview with Time To Shine Today that people not only struggle with the disorder, but with sharing it and finding help. How would you encourage to find help or, at the very least, someone to open up to? (It doesn’t necessarily have to be about eating disorders; it can be about anything along the spectrum from depression to bullying)

“Scott Ferguson (the host of Time to Shine Today) has spoken about how difficult it can be for people to ask for help when they need it.  There is still a stigma in our country about “mental illness.”  When I speak to patients about never ignoring symptoms of cancer or diabetes, they get it….our culture has a tendency to ignore emotional pain or, even worse, to label it as “weakness.”  We use “Google” for so many other things, but it’s easy to google Psychology Today or other mental health resources and find a professional near you.  You can ask a teacher, coach, or neighbor for assistance.  Listen to podcasts or find websites that can help you learn about what you are feeling and where to find help. “

6. As mentioned, you specialize in working with clients struggling with eating disorders. From your experience, why do these situations arise and how does it impact the mental health of those clients? 

“Eating disorders are complex biological, psychological, and cultural disorders that have multiple causes.  Eating disorders have the highest mortality rate of any mental illness, yet there is still so much mystery surrounding their development.  We do know that eating disorders do tend to run in families and there is a genetic link between some eating disorders and other emotional disorders (such as OCD).  One of the ways that I try to explain eating disorders to others is to identify it as a maladaptive coping strategy…when our stress level is higher than our ability to cope with the world, we tend to develop symptoms…based on genetics, culture, etc., we could turn to alcohol abuse or drugs.   Since our culture has such strong values and opinions about body shape and weight, many vulnerable people will try to diet as a way to “get control” over their world.  Unfortunately, receiving positive reinforcement for weight loss is so common in our country that it encourages the behavior until it takes on a life of its own.”

7. You mention that you enjoy working with clients who struggle with work/life balance. With Revive, we have a younger audience, predominantly those who are still students. How could your advice in finding work and life balance translate to helping those who struggle to find a school and life balance? How should we go about improving that balance?

“Work/life balance can be very difficult to achieve because we are so tied to technology.  It is literally possible to sit at the computer at home (particularly during COVID) and work all day.  There are no more boundaries between work (and school) life and home life.  There is no commute (which used to serve as a transition time), no changing from “day” clothes to “night” clothes, and generally no set family meal times.  It is important that we MAKE time every day for rest, nutrition, exercise, fresh air, and social interaction.  Use technology to your advantage:  set a timer on your phone to make sure you get out after studying for an hour.  Take frequent breaks.  Call a friend.  Stay connected to other people to prevent depression, isolation, and loneliness.”

8. Not everyone is diagnosed with a mental health disorder. However, many of us face common negative impacts on our mental health, such as stress or the lack of motivation. What advice would you give to manage stress? How can we improve those aspects?

“Managing stress is frequently about boundaries and limit setting..   Being able to say “no” and not to take on more than you can handle is key.  We live in a 24/7 world with FOMO being one of our greatest fears.  It is truly ok to put away the phone, turn off the social media, and disconnect.  If there are people in your life who are “energy vampires” and drag you down, then you can decide to distance yourself from them.  Surround yourself with people, things, and experiences that lift you up.  On the other hand, here are many people who struggle with realistic daily problems, such as poverty, homelessness, food insecurity, and abuse.  Prolonged exposure to these issues can result in depression, anxiety, and PTSD.  Being able to ask for help is key.  There are people who are willing to help and there are services available.  We need to publicize these resources and make them easy to access.”

9. What prompted you to start writing books?

“I never expected to be a writer….I’ve always known that I was good at writing and that I enjoyed playing around with language and expressing my ideas.   When I decided that I had something to say that might be a bit different from what was already out there and that what I could offer might help someone, the opportunities came to me!”

10. The second of two books that you published, “Wisdom from the Universe”, is what you referred to as “nuggets of wisdom”. What was the purpose of the book? 

“This book came out of an exploration of my intuitive, rather than my scientific, nature.  I believe that science and spirit ARE compatible.  I had denied my intuitive talents for many years because professionals in the science world did not want to hear about my experiences if they could not be substantiated by hard data.  However, I believe that we all need love, inspiration, and peace, particularly at this point in time.  It was a great opportunity to give a gift to people who just want to read something uplifting and that will put them in a more hopeful frame of mind.  It is NEVER too late to change your life.”

11. For us living in a world immersed in social media, image has become increasingly important to users, both consciously and unconsciously. From that, cyberbullying has arisen as well. Have you encountered anyone who has had their mental health negatively impacted due to social media and bullying? If so, what advice would you/did you give them?

“Bullying has been around in one form or another for generations.  It’s unfortunate that people don’t realize how traumatic being the victim of a bully can be. I have worked with kids who have had to change schools or switch to online schooling because they have been victims of rumors, aggression, or social isolation.  While boys are more likely to engage in aggressive behavior, girls destroy other girls by ruining relationships through social exclusion, trash talking, and nonverbal aggressive behavior (e.g., eye rolls).  It’s easier said than done, but I always encourage kids to cultivate friendships outside of school and to develop all aspects of their personality so that they can broaden their friend base.  For example, play your favorite sport AND volunteer.  The more connections you make to others, the less likely you will be affected if some of those relationships do not work out.  I also tell teens that when they are going to college, to make sure they check out the campus to make sure that they can find their “tribe.”  For the most part, we can’t choose who we grow up with or where we live as kids, but we can choose our future environment to fit us much better.”


Check out Dr. laura ellick!


interviewer: sarah kwong

Having good mental health is always important for everyone everywhere. I hope to reach out and help people as a part of Revive, whether it’s just a friend to talk to or an outlet for information on how you, too, can help family and friends around you. As a part of of my personal experience, I believe no one should feel the pressure to keep quiet about anything they’re going through.

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Interview

DAVID BAKER: A SURVIVOR

INTERVIEWED BY SAI DONEPUDI

Depression causes many people to lose their motivation for even daily, simple tasks like tying your shoe laces or washing the dishes. However hard it may be, you need to strive to keep your head above the water and beat depression. Today, we present someone who beat depression and never looked back, David Baker. Baker’s a survivor of depression and anxiety and is a huge inspiration to his audience on his Instagram account @depression_beaten, where he advocates for mental health awareness and shares his personal experience with it to help people dealing with depression and anxiety through their journey. This interview goes into depth about depression and clinical drugs.


1.  Please introduce yourself, tell us a little about what you do and tell us what mental health means to you.

“I am David Baker, I am currently living in England, I am fifty years old.  For over thirty of those years I had depression and anxiety.  Over the years I went through extreme highs and extreme lows.   It was during the moment of my worst low that I found the strength and courage to turn my life around.
I chose not to be a prisoner to my depression any longer and focus on myself and my well being.  
Now several years later I use what I have learned from being depressed and what I have learned on my journey of self discovery to help others find their own way to a depression free life.  Through writing about my life experiences and what works and what doesn’t I can help people from all over the world.  
I have a passion for spreading the joy of being depression free.  When I wake I feel excited about what I am going to do next.  Being depression free opens your mind to so many new opportunities in your life and I want everyone else to be able to feel the same way.”

2.  Do you believe that SAD (Seasonal Affective Disorder) should be considered depression? Or is it strictly just a state of mind?

“SAD is a part of depression.  I don’t think it’s a separate entity. 
I know that during my depression when the nights would draw in I would automatically tell everyone, “Uh-oh, here comes the Seasonal Affective Disorder” as if it was a sign to people that I had an excuse for my behaviour over the next six months.  David is miserable, oh it’s OK, he has SAD.
The thing is that I was depressed all year round.  The nights drawing in was just a trigger for another negative thought.  If it was summer and you travelled to Ecuador where it gets dark at six each night would you suddenly have SAD?  Of course not.  
SAD will only bother you if you want it to.  Like a big scary dog. If you let it get too close to  you it will bite you.  Your attitude towards SAD and depression is what controls your life.  Either it controls you or you control it.”

3. Do you believe that antidepressants do more harm than good? If so, why?

“There is a time and a place for antidepressants.  When you first realise that you have depression I would say that antidepressants are fine for stabilizing your mood.

What you do need to be aware of is that after a while the effect they have on you will cease to work.  You will then see the doctor again and he will just up the dosage.  And over and over again until you are numb to everything.

That is not how it should be.  

I used antidepressants for many years with varying success, but in the end they did nothing for me.  
My feeling on them now is that you should, as quickly as you can, stop taking them.  Your body is an instrument that is designed to tell you certain things.  Happiness, joy, love and of course sadness.  Sadness is a message from the brain that something is wrong and you need to fix it.
Masking that sadness with pills does not remove the issue.  It is like covering a b*mb with a bucket and hoping that it will go away.  
Eventually you will have to face the issues and deal with them.
And if you have a bomb under a bucket I suggest calling the b*mb squad!”

4. What would you say to people battling depression currently?

“The first thing I would say is congratulations.  You have won the first battle by acknowledging that you have depression.  
Secondly I would say what are you going to do about it!
Depression is a monster that you have created, quite possibly over many years.  So it is only you who can go slay that monster.  Others can give you advice and point you in the right direction, but in the end it is only you who can win the fight.
For me during my thirty year struggle I heard the answers many many times.  I rejected the solutions every day.  I told myself that self help was BS.  What I was really saying is that I was comfortable with my depression.  I enjoyed the feeling of depression.  And more importantly I did not have the drive to do what was necessary.

Finding daily motivation to win your fight is easy.  With technology at our fingertips you can have a video on positivity up in seconds.  You need to find what works for you.  In the beginning it may be trial and error.  What you can’t do is give up.  That would be a crime to yourself.”

5. Do you believe in self diagnosing, especially when it comes to something as severe as depression? Furthermore, do you believe that there has been lots of misdiagnosing done by medical professionals when dealing with depression? 

“You should always seek professional guidance when you have got depression.  That is a must.

They are trained to diagnose and give some solutions.

Depression though I find is a very personal problem.  What your depression is like could be totally different to what my depression was like.  I believe that everyone’s depression is different.  So why should we believe that every doctor can cure every depression.  They can’t because it is impossible for them to understand everyone’s depression.  They can only generalise and in most cases they will throw pills at you.
Therapy is a great way to talk out and find the root of your depression.  You may find that what you thought was the cause was really something different entirely.
Once you have been the medical route you need to work on your depression yourself.  The answers they give you are coming from the outside.  The answers to your problems are internal and only you can sort that out.

Seeking someone like myself who guides based on experience is always an option.  Talking to someone who knows your struggles can be a comfort.”

6. Do you believe that depression could be genetic?

“While I had depression I would have said yes to this one hundred percent.  
My Father had depression and took his own life when I was eleven years old.  Both my Sisters have depression.  So the possibility  that it is genetic is high.

The trouble with all that is that before my Father took his life I was fine.  I was incredibly happy.  I had a great life as eleven year old boys go.  So why the change?  I changed because of my environment.  I allowed my sadness to take root.  People who I was around tried to comfort me and at some level my mind got the impression that if I was sad people would be kind to me.  Over the years that mutated into what became my own depression monster.
I created it.  Nobody else did.  
How I reacted to the events of my life shaped me.  

Not genetics.  

Only me.  

And it was only me who turned it all around into a wonderful life.

You need to own your depression.  It is all yours. “


7. I hear you’re a writer and a mental health advocate. If we may ask, what prompted you to start focusing on the topic of depression?

“For me I always loved to write.  But because of my depression I would always give up on my projects.  I would let the negativity and doubt drive my decision making.  

It wasn’t until I beat depression that I realised that I could take all the pain and suffering I had over those years and use it for good.  I know that there are millions of people around the world looking for solutions.  I realised that if someone who was as negative as me can escape the depression maze then I knew anyone can.  

I find what I do each day exciting and I am driven to help people beat their monsters.  And the best way to help as many as I can at once is with my words of encouragement and tips and tricks to get through each day.  This is why I started @depression_beaten.
 Everyday is a challenge, but it gets easier with every weapon you put in your armoury.  You can see drastic changes in your mood very quickly and the more time you put in the more changes you can see.

Anyone can beat depression,  all you have to do is want to.  You can’t just wish or dream it away.  It takes action and if I can help people with that then all the years I suffered were not for nothing.”

8. Why do you think depression is so stigmatized in society?

“Simply because it is seen as a weakness.
The pack mentality will always shun the weak members.  This is why in school or the work place there is bullying or teasing.  Someone always wants to be the strong one.  The funny side is that  the one doing the bullying normally the one that has the biggest problems.
People prefer to focus on other problems than their own.  If you point and say that some person has a bigger problem than you, it makes you feel better for a while.  People want the spotlight off of them.  Like a magician, they want you to look elsewhere so you don’t realise what is going on.

Sadly we live in a world where that behaviour gets tolerated.  Instead of finger pointing we need more compassion for others.  We need more empathy for what others are going through.  People need to support not shun.  
To use a well said phrase . “In a world where you can be anything you want, just be kind.” “

9. How would you respond to negative comments online?

“During my depression I was a keyboard warrior.  I would bite back at every negative comment.  I just had to be right all the time.  
Now it’s the opposite.  I move on instantly.  I do not give negativity a second to rest in my mind.  I have worked too hard to have a positive mindset to let someone who I don’t know, will never know say that they don’t like something I am doing.  
Sadly people focus on the negative.  You could have ten positive comments but only see the negative one.  Take the time to respond to only positive comments.  Even if it is just a “thank you,” for commenting.
It is hard to ignore things at first but you have the power over what you want to see.  That delete button is a wonderful tool.

Don’t like it, delete it, don’t eat it!”


10. Do you believe that social media could ultimately trigger depression?

“Yes without a shadow of doubt. Social Media is the biggest problem we have today with fighting depression.  Social Media is designed to ensnare you and keep you scrolling for as long as possible.  The companies that run these websites are designing algorithms with the specific intention to get inside your mind.  When you type something in google do you think it is a coincidence that what you were thinking about pops up before you have finished typing?   There are only two industries that call their customers users.  One is the illegal drug trade and the other is internet sites.  As the recent documentary The Social Dilemma said “If you are not paying for something, then you are the product!”  When your brain sees a little heart or thumbs up, like or follow or whatever it triggers a dopamine reaction. It is as addictive as any drug or alcohol. Also there is nothing to stop anyone seeing thousands of negative posts or images.  Many young minds are affected by what they see and read.  Social Media is a constant mis-representation of what real life is about and for not just for the young.  Even older people can get dragged into the unreality.  People tend to only post the great things that happen to them.  It gives an image of a glamourous life and then others feel insecure about their lives.  When in reality the image of the glamorous lifestyle was probably fake to begin with. It is not a coincidence either that most designers of the sites we use don’t let their own children use Social Media.  If they don’t want their children using it that should be a clear message to you.  Companies like facebook, twitter, pinterest and instagram all use what you click on to build a profile about you that they can sell to advertisers.  You are a commodity that is being sold to whoever is willing to pay. Now here is the problem.  It is a double edge sword.
Without Social Media I would not be able to get my messages of positivity out into the world.

The internet is the most amazing of tools when used well.  You can have pizza delivered to your door within minutes, what’s not to love about that?
You need to spend minutes online instead of hours.   Put a limit on your time. I have failed at this many times.  But I am working on that!
I only use Instagram,  I deleted facebook and twitter many years ago. And I turn off all notifications.

The internet is a tool to use.

Don’t let that tool use you.

Use your time online positively.  Take a good look at what you are trying to achieve while on Social Media.  Make sure you keep a balanced opinion on all subjects and don’t get all your information from one source.

The same can be said for being offline too.

 Life is about balance.  

Not too much, not too little.  

Keep your thoughts centered and your life will be wonderful.”


Categories
Interview

CHINMAYEE APHALE: PSYCHOLOGIST

Interviewed by Sai Donepudi

We had the amazing opportunity of interviewing Chinmayee Aphale, a psychologist working for an organization that provides counseling support for corporate employees. She also is an advocate for mental health and is the founder of her own NPO called Saarthi. This interview goes deep into potentially triggering subjects such as depression and suicide.


1. Please introduce yourself, tell us a little about what you do and tell us what mental health means to you.

Hi! My name is Chinmayee Aphale. I’m a Psychologist and I work at an organization that provides Counseling support for Corporate employees. I’m also a part of a few initiatives that work for spreading awareness and improving society’s mental wellbeing. Mental health has always been a very important part for me since my adolescence. Unfortunately there was extremely less awareness about the existence of mental health and mental well-being during the time I was growing up. Therefore I genuinely feel that we should proactively advocate and prioritize mental health more than ever now.

2. What encouraged you to pursue mental health as a profession?

During our Bachelor’s degree we had a subject called Positive Psychology. I learnt about and got extremely fascinated by concepts and theories of human resilience, personal growth and psychological well-being. I started applying some of the principles to overcome the challenges I was facing then and it worked wonders for me. I then understood that it was something that was also going to benefit me personally as well I then decided to pursue it as a profession. 

3. Do you think that movies, along with other media, have sensationalized mental illness to a dangerous extent? 

Yes.I think it is getting sensationalised in the media because it is not being looked at as something equivalent to physical health. Would you sensationalise a physical disease? Probably not. Sensationalisation also occurs due to misinterpretation, lack of knowledge and inaccurate representation. For a very long time, societies did not provide safe spaces for people to open up about their psychological struggles due to the stigma. So when people did start opening up, there was less acceptance and more judgement. That might also have contributed to it.

4. There was a recent death, one that was suspected to be suicide, that shook the Bollywood industry. Based on the evidence that has recently been revealed regarding substance abuse and manipulation, do you believe that Sushant Singh Rajput showed signs of depression and could have been suicidal?

 I don’t know and can’t say if Sushant Singh Rajput was suffering from any mental illness. We cannot just see him on-screen and speculate whether he was showing any symptoms or was suicidal. Unfortunately due to politics and different personal motives, people are not even entertaining the possibility of Sushant Singh Rajput having suffered from mental illness. While there are many complicated angles in this death, it is important to know that mental illness does not discriminate between success, gender, age or fame. The antidote to Suicide is hope. It’s important to invest more energy in becoming someone’s hope in their challenging times than to speculate certain outcomes. 

5. Do you believe that suicide is usually planned or rather impulsive? How can one escalate from performing self harm to deciding to end their life?

Suicide is something that a person considers as their final option to deal with the difficulty at hand. People who indulge in self harming behaviors often say that they use it as a temporary relief mechanism. Self harm is a red flag. Sometimes it also indicates a potential suicide. It needs immediate intervention. If multiple self harming behaviors are ignored or belittled, it can aggravate into a possibility of suicide. 

6. Do you believe that “mental health” is the same as happiness or just an absence of mental illness?

 Mental Health consists of a combination of one’s thoughts, emotions and actions. Mental health definitely does not mean only happiness. Being mentally healthy means experiencing all emotions with dignity and maintaining the homeostasis. Mental health does not just mean absence of mental illness. It also means presence of healthy coping styles to deal with difficult emotions. 

7. Do you believe that teenagers/young adults are more vulnerable to mental illness? If so, what may be the reason for that?

Teenage is when the body and mind starts evolving rapidly. A lot of existential curiosities also start developing during the same time. It is a vulnerable period since the personality also is not fully developed. Teenagers in today’s times are more prone to Social Media and Media in general. Using Internet and Social Media as prime source of knowledge can be very unhealthy. During this time, things like unfulfilled expectations, socio-economic disparities, issues related to one’s self-worth, lack of access to emotional support can contribute to emotional turmoil.

8. How does toxic masculinity contribute to the wellbeing of people who consider themselves to be male?

 In patriarchal cultures, toxic masculinity impacts almost all walks of life. Toxic masculinity interferes with one of the biggest things we as humans strive for- freedom. It Imposes strict rules, undermines all other genders and creates a hierarchy where there is no space for growth and acceptance. It interferes with mental health to such an extent where people feel it’s almost criminal to voice out against it. This gaslighting further leads to believing that it’s us who need to change in order to ‘fit in’ instead of the system becoming more open and accepting. 

9. Do you believe that the stigma surrounding mental illness has decreased in South Asian communities? If so, what may have caused the progression?

Speaking for India, the stigma has reduced considerably but only within certain age ranges. One reason for it is social media. Young people tend to have more access to social media. Since it provides a global picture, it provides people with a wider range of interaction with different experiences & opinions (as compared to those who do not have access to social media). This of course has many exceptions. I think there’s still a long way to go in order to achieve wholesome understanding and openness to talk about mental health with everyone around.  


Categories
Study

OCD: Debunked

Obsessive-Compulsive Disorder, commonly referred to as OCD, is a mental illness categorized by the presence of obsession or compulsion. Obsession is defined by repeated unwanted thoughts or sensations, while compulsion is the urge to do an activity repeatedly. Those with OCD may have either obsession, compulsion, or both. OCD can also be identified as one of four types. The first, checking, is compulsive behavior based around repeatedly checking, out of fear that something bad may happen, whether intentionally or not. An example would be checking if the front door is closed, checking if the oven is off, etc. Contamination is a form of OCD that is characterized by an obsession over contracting an illness or spreading germs. This causes intrusive thoughts, which in turn may cause someone to turn to compulsive behavior to relieve anxiety or distress. Mental contamination is a form of this that can be triggered by thoughts, memories, images, or association with someone who has harmed them before. Symmetry, also known as orderliness, is a display of compulsive behavior associated with arranging and ordering objects. And finally, rumination, or intrusive thoughts, are an obsession over thought which can cause someone to spend a lot of time worrying about, analyzing, and trying to understand their thoughts. This can appear as unwanted thoughts that are violent or disturbing.

Here are some misconceptions about OCD. According to the International OCD Foundation, people believe that “we are all a little bit OCD at times” but the fact is that it is a real mental health condition wherein millions in the US alone are affected, people with OCD can’t simply “turn off” their condition, as well as their brain, is wired differently than a person who doesn’t have the condition. Second is “OCD is not that a big of a deal, people just need to relax and not worry so much”, OCD is not simply an overreaction to the stresses of life, people with OCD face severe, often debilitating anxiety over any number of things, called “obsessions.” To try to overcome this anxiety, people with OCD use “compulsions” or rituals, which are specific actions or behaviors. Lastly “People with OCD are just weird, neurotic, or crazy and there is no hope for them to ever lead happy functional lives”, with proper treatment, it is very possible for people with OCD to lead full and productive lives. Many people respond positively to behavioral therapy and/or medication. Many individuals report that support groups are very helpful. Support groups provide a safe, understanding place for people with OCD to feel less alone, as well as to teach and learn from their peers. These are just some that people think about OCD, we need to educate people for them to learn more about the condition as well they can dismiss their assumptions.

The causes that bring about OCD are not what one might associate the illness with. It is not because someone said something frightening and the other person agreed, or that any of their erratic thoughts will come true. It instead stems from environmental, risk, and genetic factors which can all impact a person differently. A few of the environmental aspects include: traumatic experiences, abuse, or infections and illnesses. The risk factors are: witnessing or being abused, family history of mental illness, negative thought patterns, and hiding or ignoring emotions. And the genetic factors include things like a parent having OCD and then passing it unto their child.

Now, we’ve gone over some causes of OCD, but what are the effects it can have on the individual diagnosed with it? In the short term, severe OCD can make functioning in the way generally expected of member society difficult. Intrusive thoughts can cause the individual to become zoned out/lost in their head for periods of time which can prevent them from doing tasks that require full attention, such as driving. People with OCD’s ‘obsessions’ can also be triggered by something at any moment which forces them to complete their ‘compulsion’ or ritual to relieve their extreme anxiety, which uses up their time and energy; these situations are also very stressful for the suffering individual. They could have trouble at school or work because their OCD prevents them from doing certain tasks and uses up a lot of their time and energy meant for work, as performing these compulsions are mentally, and can be physically, exhausting. As with many mental illnesses, having OCD can make you feel isolated and alone around your friends and family, and, as an anxiety disorder, symptoms of OCD can tend to be dismissed by those close to the individual suffering by saying harmful things like, “Stop worrying,” or “That’s irrational/untrue.”. Long term effects are usually due to the poor quality of life long-time sufferers of OCD can experience. Being in a constant state of crippling anxiety is detrimental to one’s mental health, and social isolation and/or lack of proper treatment for OCD can result in depression. As with other mental illnesses, people with OCD have an increased risk of substance abuse such as alcohol or drugs. Oftentimes, people suffering with OCD have other coexisting disorders. These disorders include, but are not limited to: other anxiety disorders (ex. GAD, SAD, panic disorder), bipolar disorders, eating disorders (ex. anorexia, bulimia), Tourette syndrome, BDD, hoarding disorder, trichotillomania (hair-pulling disorder), excoriation (skin-picking) disorder, and major depressive disorder. These can further damage one’s mental health and make it even more difficult to function in society in the ways that are generally expected of people.


Written by Cassidy Whaley, research done by Sivani Manoj and Anchita Ganesh from the Revive team.


Citations

  1. https://www.webmd.com/mental-health/obsessive-compulsive-disorder#1 
  2. https://www.treatmyocd.com/blog/checking-ocd-symptoms-and-treatment/#:~:text=Checking%20OCD%20is%20a%20common,or%20others%2C%20intentionally%20or%20not
  3. https://www.treatmyocd.com/blog/contamination-ocd-fear-of-germs/#:~:text=Contamination%20OCD%20is%20a%20common,washing%20or%20avoiding%20crowded%20spaces 
  4. https://www.gatewayocd.com/rumination-ocd-symptoms-and-treatment/#:~:text=Rumination%20and%20OCD&text=Rumination%20is%20a%20core%20feature,a%20particular%20thought%20or%20theme 
  5. https://www.covingtonbh.com/disorders/ocd/signs-symptoms/ 
Categories
Study

THE INS & OUTS OF BIPOLAR DISORDER

You’ve probably heard of bipolar disorder before, but how much do you actually know about it? Well first off, it’s way more common than you think! In fact, 2.8% of adults in the U.S. have been diagnosed with it- that’s about 5 million, so if you’re suffering with it; you are absolutely not alone. But what is bipolar disorder? Bipolar disorder is a mental disorder that causes extreme and unusual changes in energy, mood, activity levels, and affects your ability to carry out day-to-day tasks.

Residential Treatment Center for Bipolar Disorder in Teenagers
courtesy of Elk River Treatment Program

For many people who suffer with bipolar disorder, these shifts cause them to go through periods of depression that can last for two or more weeks, as well as periods of mania or manic episodes which can last for several days or weeks. Depending on the person diagnosed with bipolar disorder, one can experience several of these extreme shifts in mood multiple times a year or only occasionally. Like any mental illness, bipolar disorder can affect people differently depending on the severity, the stage of treatment they are in, the events going on in their lives or the type of bipolar disorder they have. That’s right: there‘s more than one type of bipolar disorder; there’s actually three, but we’ll get into that later. All three types of bipolar disorders involve distinct shifts in energy, mood, and activity levels which range from periods of manic episodes to periods of depressive episodes that characterize this disorder. But what exactly is mania? 

Mania-Related Memory Bias Predicts Manic Episodes in Bipolar Disorder -  Psychiatry Advisor
courtesy of Getty Images

Mania is a period of extreme high energy or mood associated with bipolar disorder that is very different from the way the person suffering regularly thinks or behaves and can last from several days, to weeks, to even months. This can cause serious problems in the person suffering’s life, in relationships, work and school. Mania affects everyone differently and also appears in different ways, but some of the symptoms that mania generally includes are: high levels of energy, feeling “euphoric” (feeling extremely excited, happy or even “high”), feeling invincible, mind racing, easily distracted or annoyed, speaking very quickly (medically referred to as “pressured speech”), not sleeping, intense anxiety, impulsive behavior, and even feeling detached from reality (psychosis). These psychotic symptoms that people suffering with bipolar disorder can experience during a manic episode include: experiencing hallucinations, speaking in a way that seems disorganized or bizarre to others, feeling like they are being watched, and feeling  fearful or suspicious of certain people in the form of paranoia. However, some individuals suffering with bipolar disorder do not experience these psychotic symptoms and actually experience a less intense form of mania called hypomania. Hypomania does not impact the individuals daily life as severely as regular mania and is most commonly found in bipolar II and cyclothymia

There are different types of bipolar disorder that can be identified through their differing symptoms. Those who have Bipolar I Disorder have either severe manic episodes with depressive features, or severe depressive episodes with manic features. Bipolar II Disorder, however, doesn’t involve mania, but severe depressive episodes with periods of mild mood elevation. Cyclothymic Disorder is a less noticed, frequently untreated form of bipolar disorder. It’s characterized by brief periods of hypomania and depressive episodes, though they may be less extensive. This lasts one to two years, commonly among children and adolescents, and is often overlooked due to the appearance of the person simply being difficult. Bipolar Disorder resulting from medical or substance abuse has no real pattern for identification within the other three types of bipolar disorder, so it falls into this fourth type. It’s only identified by abnormal mood changes.

Photo by Andrea Piacquadio on Pexels.com

Mania is a mood disturbance severe enough to require hospitalization. It’s present in those with Bipolar I, and may also alternate with depressive episodes. Manic episodes may be triggered by stress, lack of sleep, and antidepressants. They can last up to seven days, or longer. Some of the more severe symptoms are psychotic features: hallucinations, auditory or visual; grandiose delusions; paranoid thoughts. Hypomania, on the other hand, is also a mood disturbance that while noticeable, is not severe enough to require hospitalization. It could be described as a milder mood elevation, present in those with Bipolar II. This may also alternate with depressive episodes. A period of hypomania can also last a few days, but is overall less severe than mania. Both are mood disturbances that can cause someone to become abnormally energized. However, they present themselves on different scales of severity. Both may be triggered by new or overwhelming situations like using recreational drugs, partaking in creative projects, staying out late, listening to loud music, etc. There are many common symptoms between the two as well, including but not limited to: higher-than-normal energy level, restlessness, decreased need for sleep, grandiosity or increased self esteem, a racing mind, increased sexual drive, and engaging in risky behavior.

Photo by August de Richelieu on Pexels.com

There is no known cause of bipolar disorder. Research does show, however, that a combination of factors may contribute to the development of bipolar disorder. Heredity being one of them, as studies have shown that bipolar disorder runs in families. Having a family history of bipolar disorder does not guarantee the development of it within any person, however it does mean that the chances are larger. It can show itself in any of the four forms within the same family, meaning that genes may not determine if or how you develop bipolar disorder. Research done on brain structure also shows that those with bipolar disorder may have a different brain structure than those without bipolar disorder or another psychiatric disorder. The significance of these changes is still unknown, but may help doctors better understand bipolar disorder and possibly identify a cause for it and possible treatment options. There are some environmental causes that can trigger bipolar disorder, such as stressful events or major life changes. Examples of triggers include:

1. The onset of a medical problem or loss of a loved one.

2. Substance abuse; an estimated 60% of individuals with bipolar disorder are dependent on drugs or alcohol

3. The changing of the seasons can put those with seasonal depression at risk of developing bipolar disorder. Those with anxiety may also be at risk. Some other factors that could be considered are: Pharmacological: Antidepressant medication may trigger manic episodes. Neurophysiological: Changes in the gray and white matter in the brain may lead to bipolar disorder. Psychodynamic: Mania can occur as a defense mechanism against depression.

Photo by Tima Miroshnichenko on Pexels.com

Now that we’ve covered what causes someone to have this affliction, let’s get into what those with it experience. The symptoms of bipolar disorder vary from person to person, but the most common marks of it include: manic episodes, unpredictable changes in mood or behavior, times of depressions, and mixed episodes. When a mixed episode happens, it is both manic and depressive, which then leads to significant changes in activity and energy levels, and stretches over longer periods of time. The usual duration of an episode is an hour, but it is not uncommon for it to last a week or two. While this can be extremely hard on an individual and their loved ones, there are treatments available. Once a patient is diagnosed a doctor will either prescribe them with medication, psychotherapy, or both. The medicine can include antidepressants, mood stabilizers, or different antipsychotics. 

Being a person who lives with bipolar disorder is difficult. It upends your emotions, your outlook on life, and it is not easy to get others to understand what you’re going through. However, it does not mean you cannot live a typical life or that you are not alike to others. You are incredibly strong and you can do whatever you set your mind to. 


This posting was written by Roselinn Pardo, Emily Kidd and Ksenija Krivokapic from Revive’s blog team.

The research was done by Sivani Manoj, Anchita Ganesh and Myat Thador from Revive’s research team


CITATIONS