For too long, people from all walks of life have suffered in silence when they didn’t need to when it comes to mental health issues. Here are 9 signs that your emotional and mental well-being are suffering and you may need help that you shouldn’t ignore.
Mental health is so much more than just depression. We have to understand what mental health is in order to know when something’s not right with it. I’m not about to quote from the DSM (that’s the big book that psychiatrists use to diagnose mental illness) because I’m not qualified and it’s full of jargon that’s hard to understand. Just know that if you think you have poor mental health, that doesn’t automatically mean you’re depressed. It could be any number of things from mild to severe disorders, so don’t panic and just take care of any issues before they blow up.
You have trouble sleeping. People have trouble sleeping occasionally for any number of reasons, but it becomes a problem when it’s chronic. If you haven’t been able to sleep the night through for months and you can’t think of a reason why—or equally, it takes you hours and hours to fall asleep—you might have insomnia. Sleep is so ridiculously important, not only so that you feel rested the next day but also for growth and repair of your body. A lack of sleep can affect how quickly your hair grows, how long it takes for that cut on your leg to heal, and even your temper, which could be causing friction in your relationships.
You don’t enjoy the things you used to. Our hobbies and the things we enjoy can wax and wane as we grow up or find other interests. That’s normal so don’t read into it too much. The problem is when you can’t find anything to do that you really enjoy and the things that you used to love so much don’t bring you joy anymore for some reason. Life is for living, and whether you throw yourself into a job that motivates you or you simply live for the weekend, there should be something in your life that makes you feel happy and fulfilled.
You’ve cut yourself off from the world. We’re all entitled to a duvet day every once in a while, but if you’re having more duvet days than real world days, then it might be a problem. Maybe you’re canceling plans with friends all the time because you just want to stay in or maybe participating in your group chats or answering the phone just seems like too much. These could all be signs that your mental health needs a checkup.
You feel very alone even though you have plenty of friends and family members. Quite often with mental health issues, people distance themselves from their friends and then feel even more alone. It’s actually counterproductive. You might feel like you want to be alone in theory but in practice it makes you feel worse. Have you ever been in a crowded place or surrounded by friends and still felt totally on your own? It might be because you’re seeing the world around you differently and need to talk to someone about how you feel. I’ve found that keeping secrets like struggling with mental health is the easiest way to find yourself feeling alone.
You find it hard to focus on pretty much anything. Your brain might be working overtime if you can’t even focus on your favorite TV show. Don’t let yourself burn out because you’re spreading yourself too thin. On the other hand, this can also happen when you have no enthusiasm for life anymore. Have you ever found yourself catching up on your go-to box set but you just keep zoning out? Feeling numb and feeling too much are opposite ends of the same spectrum and it’s a fine line between the two.
You’re not in control of your emotions. Mood swings, particularly in women thanks to our fluctuating hormones, tend to go under the radar. But sobbing one minute and then laughing euphorically the next shouldn’t be ignored. On a similar note, if you can’t attribute your mood to something that has happened—for example, you’re crying but you have no idea why—this can be a serious sign that your mental health isn’t up to scratch.
You’re hallucinating—yes, seriously. You’d be surprised at the number of people I know personally (myself included) that have hallucinated and ignored it. I put it down to bacteria in my eye or my mind playing tricks on me when I was alone. It wasn’t until I hallucinated with my partner in the same room that I realized something was very wrong. Hallucinating can mean anything from being overtired to having schizophrenia. One is obviously more serious than the other but neither should be ignored.
You’re reading social situations differently to others. Do you often find yourself not understanding how or why a situation escalated? Are others pointing the finger at you but you can’t figure out where you went wrong? You might be reading social situations incorrectly. This isn’t about being rude—rudeness isn’t an illness, but not knowing what’s appropriate to say and not correctly identifying the tone of an event might be.
Don’t ignore your symptoms—speak to someone, anyone! If you’re worried about your mental health, don’t put it off. Speak to someone as soon as you can. Most mental illnesses can be exacerbated over time if you don’t address the problem. It doesn’t have to be your doctor or a therapist if that sounds too scary, but do open up to a close friend or a family member you trust. Just letting the words out is the first step to feeling better.
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