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Psychotic disorders are my specialty. Here’s what I wish people understood before commenting online.

Being delusional is much more than a questionable Instagram post.

Britney Spears; psychosis; mental health; mental illness; mental health stigma
Britney Spears/Instagram screenshot, Photo by Jen/wikicommons

The speculation around Britney Spears' and other celebrities' mental health needs to stop.

Oh goodness, here we are again watching the media and "experts" speculate on the mental health of a celebrity. After nearly two decades working with a population deemed to have "severe and persistent mental illness," I'd like to weigh in a bit. The term "severe and persistent mental illness" is a catch-all for serious mental health conditions from bipolar disorder to schizophrenia and everything in between.

I've worked with a variety of clients over the years, many of whom refused medication, though their psychosis caused them to have extreme paranoia and terrifying visual hallucinations. I've also worked with several folks that have been under a guardianship, which is equivalent to a conservatorship in California.



As I watch the media, fans and professionals speculate about whether a celebrity needs to be hospitalized or placed in a conservatorship, I often wish they had a better understanding of what severe mental illnesses looked like. Not only that, but what constitutes a concern and what's just normal for that person. But let's be real for a minute. The media continuously guessing if you've rounded the bend is likely enough to be the cause of a mental breakdown, even in a mentally stable person.

So here's what I wish people understood about these severe and persistent mental illnesses. When people enter a psychiatric facility against their will, it's a trauma. The effects of that trauma can stunt brain development and create coping mechanisms that may seem a bit odd to others. This doesn't mean that they're off of their medication or need to go back. It just means they came out of it a little differently than they went in and we have to adjust.

Everything about their behavior isn't related to their mental wellness. I've seen this a lot with families after a loved one gets released from the hospital and is doing well. If the client gets upset because someone ate all of their favorite cookies, instead of looking at the cause of the person's anger, immediately the thought goes to, "They must not be taking their medicine."

The same happens when it's just plain silly behaviors, like Britney Spears getting the human equivalent to the zoomies and talking in a fake foreign accent. Suddenly it's front page news and people are concerned, but if you take away the information of her being previously hospitalized, the concern would likely be nonexistent.

There's also a misunderstanding about what can actually be done if someone is in need of acute psychiatric care. There are generally two reasons someone can be hospitalized against their will: if they're a danger to themselves or if they're a danger to others. Outside of it being the person's first psychotic break, it's extremely difficult for someone to be forced into help and there's good reason for that. No matter your mental health status, you're entitled to autonomy.

Back in the olden days (think the 19th century), husbands could commit their wives because they got too sassy or independent. Parents could drop off their children or family members with mental disabilities, just because they found them difficult to care for. Do you know what happened to those sassy independent wives? They got lobotomies to make them more docile. Others deemed mentally unfit were sterilized against their will.

This is why it's difficult to commit someone, and while it makes my job more difficult sometimes, I'm happy it's hard to do. Even when I know a client is reaching the point of danger but still doesn't meet the criteria, I'd rather make a safety plan with the family than make the committal process easier where ill-intentioned people could take advantage.

Britney Spears; psychosis; mental health; mental illness; mental health stigma

woman in white and red shirt printed with words "you matter"

Photo by Eneida Hoti on Unsplash

The public speculating on what warrants intervention or not mostly comes from a place of concern, but it's often incorrect. There are licensed therapists that struggle with identifying it as well because we have different areas of expertise. While I couldn't tell you all the ins and outs of treating an eating disorder, a therapist that specializes in eating disorders could. My area is psychosis and other severe mental illnesses, so I stick to what I know when speaking authoritatively.

Specializing in psychotic disorders has taught me more about the human condition than anything else. Getting to know the incredible people that hear voices that I cannot or believe things no one else does has been one of the most fulfilling experiences of my life.

People living with severe mental illnesses still deserve respect and basic human autonomy. They're allowed to be weird. They're allowed to be silly. They're allowed to be angry. They're allowed to be boring. They're allowed to just be and we should let them.

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O Organics make eating organic affordable

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Friendsgiving might have started as a novel alternative to Thanksgiving, but today it’s an American holiday in its own right.

For many, especially millennials and Gen Zers, Friendsgiving offers an opportunity to get creative with their celebrations without being obligated to outdated, even problematic traditions or having to break the bank.

However, some of us might not want to go to the extreme of only having pizza and beer. What if there were a way to balance the decadence of a traditional Thanksgiving meal while still keeping it easy and laid-back? And could we make it healthy too?

As it turns out, we can.

Here’s a super simple breakdown of what your next Friendsgiving prep could look like. An appetizer, salad, side, entree, and dessert. All done in an hour—even quicker if you assign certain dishes to different partygoers. #spreadsheetsrule

But wait, it gets better—all of these meals can be made organic at an affordable price, using O Organics® at Albertsons. O Organics helps shoppers find quality ingredients at reasonable prices every day of the year. Friendsgiving is no different.

Without further ado, let’s get cooking!

Appetizer: Charcuterie Board


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Nothing quite hits like the fancy, grown-up version of Lunchables. Crackers, meats, cheeses, and various fancy toppings that can be combined in endless ways. The easiest form of culinary creativity there is.

You already know how to make one of these bad boys, but here’s a basic template if you’re needing a dose of inspo:

Meats: Some tasty choices here are salami, prosciutto, sausage, etc. I made a smaller-scale board and decided to go with salami. If you or your friends aren’t a fan of pork, sliced turkey or smoked salmon are some yummy alternatives.

Cheese: The possibilities are endless here. You can even opt for a dairy-free cheese option!

Bread or Crackers: Artfully arranged. Speedily snacked upon. Some O Organics options here and here.

Fillers: this is where the charcuterie really shines. Fill in the spaces with splashes of color and flavor. Be sure to go for both savory and sweet. That means olives, sliced cucumbers, bell peppers, nuts, and a vibrant array of fresh or dried fruit. A yummy fruit spread doesn’t hurt either.

Time: 5 min

Salad: Squash And Feta Salad

Ingredients:

(3-4 servings)

1 small red onion (O Organics sells them in a bag)

1 bag O Organics frozen Butternut Squash

6 cups fresh O Organics spinach, arugula, kale, or whatever salad green you like

1/4 cup O Organics pecans

1/4 cup O Organics Extra Virgin Olive Oil

O Organics Lemon and Olive Oil Salad Dressing

CrumbledO Organics Goat Cheese

Salt and pepper

Chop some onions. Sautee them in olive oil. Add a bag of frozen squash. Dress some salad greens with dressing. Add the onions and squash. Top with pecans, cheese, salt and pepper. Badda bing badda boom.

Time: 10 minutes

Side: Autumn Seasoned Air Fryer “Roasted” Potatoes

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As any millennial will tell you, we love our air fryers. Nothing quite ticks all the quick, easy and healthy boxes quite like one. And if you haven’t yet had a perfectly crispy on the outside, buttery soft on the inside air fryer potato, then what are you waiting for?

Ingredients:

One 3 pound bag of O Organics red or russet potatoes—honestly any potato will do

2 Tablespoons O Organics olive oil

1 tsp Italian Seasoning

That’s it. No really.

Cut potatoes into one-inch pieces. Coat with olive oil. Sprinkle seasoning. Cook in an air fryer at 400 degrees for 10 minutes. Toss the potatoes in the basket and continue to cook for 8-10 minutes or until tender and crisp.

Time: 20 minutes. TOPS.

Entree: Coconut Chicken Curry

cravingsomethinghealthy.com

Because who needs turkey? This one pot piéce de rèsistance is the very essence of Friendsgiving—unique, versatile and not without a little spice.

Being the entree, this dish calls for a few more ingredients, but is honestly not much more demanding. You’re basically looking at 15 minutes for prep, and about 30 minutes to simmer.

Ingredients:

1 tablespoon O Organics olive oil

1 medium onion diced

2 teaspoons ginger minced

2 teaspoons green curry paste

2 teaspoons curry powder

2 cups O Organics Thai Style Curry Chicken Broth

1 large sweet potato peeled and cut into 1-inch dice

1 15-ounce can O Organics full-fat coconut milk

2 ½ cups O Organics cooked chicken breast

1 8.8 ounce package O Organics 7 Grains & Lentils Blend

1 16 ounce bag of O Organics frozen peas

½ teaspoon salt or to taste

Lime juice

Cilantro

Chopped O Organics cashews to garnish

Using a Dutch oven (or large pot with a lid), saute the onion and ginger in olive oil over medium heat, for about 4 minutes. Add the curry paste and curry powder and saute for one more minute.

Add the Thai Style Curry Chicken Broth and the diced sweet potato. Bring the mixture to a boil, and then cover with a lid, reduce the heat to medium-low and catch up with friends for 20 minutes while the dish simmers.

When the sweet potato is tender, shake the can of coconut milk well and pour it into the pot. Add the chicken, 7 Grains & Lentils Blend, and peas. Bring to a boil, and then reduce the heat and let the curry simmer for another 10 minutes.

Congrats! You are finished. You can add salt, lime juice, cilantro, extra curry powder/paste, or garnish with roasted cashews. Each bowl is customizable.

Time: 40 min

Dessert: Holiday Kettle Corn Bark

onbetterliving.com

Of course, you can always opt for pie, but sometimes people might want to opt for something a bit more bite-sized when it comes to desserts—especially after a hefty meal. This sweet and salty finger food does the trick quite nicely.

Ingredients:

1 bag (6 oz) O Organics Kettle Corn Organic Popcorn (about 9 cups)

1 bag (10 oz) O Organics Semi-Sweet Chocolate Chips

8 oz white chocolate, broken into small pieces

1 cup pistachios, roasted and salted

2/3 cup O Organics Dried Cranberries

2 tbsp O Organics Organic Coconut Oil

1 tsp salt

Line a 12x17-inch baking sheet with wax or parchment paper. Spread kettle corn on the lined baking sheet in one thin single layer. Put the semi-sweet chocolate chips with 1 tablespoon coconut oil in a microwave-safe bowl and microwave in 30-second intervals until the chocolate is melted and smooth. Drizzle the melted chocolate evenly over kettle corn, reserving about a 1/3 cup for finishing touches. Sprinkle the pistachios and cranberries over the kettle corn evenly.

Follow the same melting instructions for the white chocolate, then drizzle evenly over the kettle corn. You can follow with any remaining semi-sweet chocolate for a layered effect. Let the kettle corn stand for 5 minutes.

Place the kettle corn bark in the freezer for 10 minutes to harden. Once the bark has hardened, break into pieces.

Time: 20 minutes.

OR…if you want to make life even easier…just grab some pints of ice cream and call it a day. No judgment here.

Time: literally a few seconds to open the freezer and grab some bowls.

And there you have—a no muss, no fuss, healthy and affordable Friendsgiving spread. Spend less time in the kitchen and more time with your chosen family.

Get to your nearest Albertsons today and find everything you need to make these yummy dishes! No Albertsons in your area? You can also find O Organics products exclusively at Safeway, Vons, Jewel-Osco, ACME, Shaw’s, Star Market, Tom Thumb, Randalls, and Pavilions.

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