Negative Thoughts: What Happens When You Escape Chaos, with Alize’ Castellanos

Dr Daniel Amen and Tana Amen BSN RN On The Brain Warrior's Way Podcast

If you come from a chaotic environment, whether that be caused by your family life, past a trauma, or a medical condition, it can be very difficult to rid your mind of negative thoughts. So what does the path look like for someone trying to make it out the other side? In the second episode of a series with Alize’ Castellano, Dr. Amen and Tana interview Alize’ about the tools she used to put her tough past behind her and find a more calm, promising future.

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Dr. Daniel Amen: Welcome to the Brain Warrior's Way Podcast. I'm Dr. Daniel Amen.
Tana Amen: And I'm Tana Amen. In our podcast, we provide you with the tools you need to become a warrior for the health of your brain and body.
Dr. Daniel Amen: The Brain Warrior's Way Podcast is brought to you by Amen Clinics, where we have been transforming lives for 30 years using tools, like brain SPECT imaging to personalize treatment to your brain. For more information visit
Tana Amen: The Brain Warrior's Way Podcast is also brought to you by BrainMD, where we produce the highest quality nutraceuticals to support the health of your brain and body. To learn more, go to
Welcome back. It's such a special day. We are talking about change your brain, change your grades. We're here with our niece Alizé. We did last week with Chloe, and Chloe and Alizé both helped Daniel with Change Your Brain, Change Your Grades. It's such a special treat to have you here. And today we're going to talk about killing the ants.
So, Alizé, if you didn't hear her story in the last episode, you've got to listen to it. It's amazing. She had a really hard time. Her upbringing was really hard, but she's chosen, she just made the decision she was going to do great in school, and you have.
But one things we touched on and we want to talk about in this episode is, it wasn't always easy because you had a lot of negative thoughts. When you first came down here, when we got you out of foster care and brought you down here, you were infested with these negative thoughts. You were sure we were going away. You were sure we were leaving you. You were not going to get attached. You just weren't going to do it. And it was a process getting you past that and getting connected.
Dr. Daniel Amen: So, let's ask her. Do you remember some of the thoughts you had? I mean, I remember one of the ones in foster care, which was, does anybody want us?
Alize’ Castellanos Mm-hmm (affirmative).
Dr. Daniel Amen: That was really-
Alize’ Castellanos Definitely.
Dr. Daniel Amen: ... hard thought.
Alize’ Castellanos Yes, and like Tana said, definitely struggled with that for quite a bit of time, but some of the reoccurring ones-
Tana Amen: And, "They're-
Alize’ Castellanos ... where-
Tana Amen: ... going to leave me."
Alize’ Castellanos They're going to leave me.
Dr. Daniel Amen: Let her say it.
Alize’ Castellanos They're going to leave me. Definitely that.
Tana Amen: She told me that.
Alize’ Castellanos Don't get attached. Because, I mean, very few things in my life have been consistent or stable.
Dr. Daniel Amen: Except chaos.
Alize’ Castellanos In school ...
Except chaos.
Dr. Daniel Amen: Except chaos
Alize’ Castellanos That's what you can expect, so you might as well liked it, and don't expect anything else.
Tana Amen: So school, and chaos.
Alize’ Castellanos Yeah. School and chaos, school and chaos, school and chaos. And so ...
Tana Amen: Oh, I know one you told me, "Don't count on anyone. I can only count on myself."
Alize’ Castellanos Yes. Yes. That's one that's been so big for me. It's like that independent thing. But not even just independent, like, don't count on anyone. You cannot trust anybody. "I can't trust anybody."
Tana Amen: Lot of, lot of them.
Alize’ Castellanos "Nobody cares. Everybody's in it for something else", or something like that. Everything like that. "They don't really want to help. They're going to leave me soon. This isn't forever. I need to get ready to pack up my bags again." There's so many, so many ants that the exterminators came to town. So, we were good after that.
Dr. Daniel Amen: So how did you manage? Because I've noticed your anxiety still pops up, but it's so much less than before. So what are some of the things you've learned? I mean, obviously, having support and consistent people who love you-
Tana Amen: Consistency-
Dr. Daniel Amen: And carry about her-
Tana Amen: ... for sure.
Alize’ Castellanos Definitely, stability.
Tana Amen: It took time.
Alize’ Castellanos The stability I've had.
Dr. Daniel Amen: But you have a role in that, right? See, I always try to teach my patients not to blame other people for how their life is turning out and go, what kind of influence? Because you could have ran away. You could have not done well-
Tana Amen: Done drugs-
Dr. Daniel Amen: ... in school. You could have hung out with the wrong people. Because they're everywhere, right?
Alize’ Castellanos Mm-hmm (affirmative).
Dr. Daniel Amen: But you didn't. So, walk us through that process. What were some of the things that were really helpful for you?
Alize’ Castellanos So one thing about me, I've just always assumed responsibility for where I go in life, and my own success. Because if nobody else in the past has stepped up for me, then I'm going to do that. It's going to be for me. I'm not going to allow myself to go do those kinds of things because, like you said, that has nothing to do with where I want to go.
But there's anxiety, anxiety like crazy. I've had it a lot, whether it be about, "Oh, they're going to leave", or, "Oh, this", and "Oh, that." But for me, I've had some really amazing coping tools and coping skills that have been in my tool box that you guys have introduced me to. Like, killing the ants and actually talking about it, which for one, I never would have done before. I never would have done before because I felt like if I vocalized it it was real, it was finally real. But it is real, even if you don't vocalize it. And when you talk to somebody, it works wonders, honestly.
Tana Amen: And ensures pain divided.
Alize’ Castellanos Exactly. Yes, yes.
Meditation, definitely. When I'm able to visualize about being in a better place when I'm in that bad place. And visualization, that's amazing, and just those deep breaths, deep breaths, getting Zen.
Dr. Daniel Amen: One of the first things we taught you when you were having a panic attack, was how to breathe with your tummy and how to slow your breathing down.
Tana Amen: We also helped you with some supplements and put you in the oxygen chamber. And a lot of people listening aren't going to be able to just go out and get into an oxygen chamber, but I know we did do that. And some supplements probably helped. Your nutrition was definitely not optimized-
Alize’ Castellanos Oh, no-
Tana Amen: ... before. So, that's that.
Dr. Daniel Amen: Yeah. We had to get you to break up with hot Cheetos.
Tana Amen: Yeah.
Alize’ Castellanos It was tragic, but I'm so happy.
Dr. Daniel Amen: Do you know that KFC now has a hot Cheeto Sandwich?
Tana Amen: Wait-
Alize’ Castellanos I am not-
Tana Amen: ... will you tell the story-?
Alize’ Castellanos ... surprised.
Tana Amen: Tell the story about her-
Alize’ Castellanos I can't say I'm surprised-
Tana Amen: ... selling food at school.
We have to. That's hilarious. This speaks to your survival instincts.
Alize’ Castellanos Yes, it does.
Tana Amen: When she first got here ...
Alize’ Castellanos Little hustler.
Tana Amen: And now she doesn't have to do this anymore because we're involved, right?
Alize’ Castellanos Yes.
Tana Amen: Tell the story about how you were selling food.
Alize’ Castellanos So, my school has a vending machine, and I decided it would be a good idea to buy hot Cheetos for $1.00, buy mini bags and go into class and sell them for $2.00.
Tana Amen: You're an entrepreneur.
Alize’ Castellanos I was an entrepreneur. I was a little hustler. I'm like, "I'm going to make some money on the side. This is a good business." I thought I was so smart, and I told Daniel this in the car. And he's like, he was just like ...
Tana Amen: "You're poisoning your friends."
Alize’ Castellanos "You're poisoning your friends."
Dr. Daniel Amen: She's a drug dealer in school.
Alize’ Castellanos Daniel probably wasn't the person to tell this because he was, "No. Hot Cheetos are not ..."
Tana Amen: He was horrified. We were horrified that she thought she needed to do this-
Alize’ Castellanos Yes-
Tana Amen: ... anyways.
Alize’ Castellanos Exactly. But these are the-
Tana Amen: But it was very-
Alize’ Castellanos ... kinds of things-
Tana Amen: ... entrepreneurial.
Alize’ Castellanos Yeah. See.
He'd be around.
Dr. Daniel Amen: All right. So let's talk-
Tana Amen: So that's how you survived in the past.
Alize’ Castellanos Yes. [crosstalk 00:06:52]-
Dr. Daniel Amen: Let's talk about killing the ants. Whenever you feel sad, or you feel mad, or you feel nervous, or you feel out of control, which was basically most of your life ...
Tana Amen: Everyday.
Alize’ Castellanos Everyday.
Dr. Daniel Amen: We want you to write down what you're thinking. So rather than ignore it, write it down. Because when you write it down it helps to get it out of your head. And then, you can ask yourself, is it true? Can I absolutely know if it's true? How does this bad thought make me feel? And when you answer that question you go, that's why you feel bad, because you have bad thoughts.
And turn the original thought around. So, "I can't depend on anyone", write that down. "I can't depend on ..." Is that true? That's my experience. Is it absolutely true? "Well, I don't know." And then when you turn it around, "I can depend on someone", it's like, "Well, do you have evidence that you can?" You actually have a lot of evidence.
Alize’ Castellanos I have a lot of evidence that-
Dr. Daniel Amen: That you can-
Alize’ Castellanos ... yes.
Dr. Daniel Amen: Right?
Alize’ Castellanos Mm-hmm (affirmative).
Dr. Daniel Amen: Especially when the people in your life are not doing drugs, they're more dependable.
Alize’ Castellanos Yes, exactly.
Dr. Daniel Amen: Right?
Alize’ Castellanos Mm-hmm (affirmative).
Dr. Daniel Amen: And you have people who abhor drugs, and they're really dependable. Which just, if you want to be a dependable person, you need to stay away from that stuff because it steals so many lives.
Alize’ Castellanos 100%.
Dr. Daniel Amen: Right?
Alize’ Castellanos Mm-hmm (affirmative).
Dr. Daniel Amen: But the thing that often drives people to drug use is believing the thoughts they have. It's, "I'm so anxious. People are going to abandon me. I need to medicate the feeling." The problem is, it makes them much more likely to abandon you.
Alize’ Castellanos Yes, yes. Yes. It makes more problems, more-
Tana Amen: It does-
Alize’ Castellanos ... problems.
Tana Amen: A lot more.
Alize’ Castellanos And one thing about that and how it completely steals their life, my dad, I just came back in contact with him recently. I was not in contact with him for a while. Briefly, I just want to briefly talk about it. Drugs definitely took his whole personality away. And how I put it to my mom recently when I was walking with her is just, I kind of had a full-circle moment. And it's like, "That was not my dad. The man that was on those drugs, that was just not him." I wouldn't talk to him and I had all this resentment. He's been sober for, I don't know how many months, but he's been sober for ...
Tana Amen: Almost six months.
Alize’ Castellanos Almost six months. He's been sober and he's in a good environment right now with family. They don't have the best food there, but ...
Tana Amen: He reminds me of the person I used to know he's like.
Alize’ Castellanos Yes.
Tana Amen: He's starting to be-
Alize’ Castellanos His person, I never thought this was going to happen again, but it was just like one of the most beautiful moments when I finally realized that it's still my dad, and I still have a dad. And after he got sober, his personality, the best parts of the old him that I like to hold on to were shining through. And I was just like, "Wow." And I got that full circle of the crazy, crazy, crazy impact that drugs can have on you and how they can completely take a person away. But they can come back. And that's one of the main things is that they can come back.
Dr. Daniel Amen: Sometimes.
Tana Amen: It's really important.
Alize’ Castellanos Sometimes.
Dr. Daniel Amen: Sometimes, they can come back. That's why I'm very invested in helping you be very afraid. Because if you have the genetic vulnerability and the stress, which you and [Amalee 00:10:22] have had, it doesn't mean you will, it means we have to keep your brain healthy so your thoughtful brain is in control of your emotional brain.
Tana Amen: Yeah, because you'll know one way or the other. And in my case, I ended up hating them, and I had a lot of resentment toward people who did drugs. And a nag works for that, that wasn't always healthy either, right?
Alize’ Castellanos Right.
Tana Amen: So we want you to be balanced.
Dr. Daniel Amen: And we're so happy that you're being reconnected to him as long as he's not going to hurt you. As long as he stays sober. And we've seen this, that when one person starts on drugs, they're not them.
When we come back, we're going to talk about responsibility. If you really want to change your brain and change your grades, you have to take ownership of that. When you start blaming the teacher, blaming your boss, you become a victim and you can't change anything.
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