One thing I always wanted to do with this blog was to be more personal, not just articles and tips, but real feelings and personality. This is not an easy task for me, so I hope you’ll bear with me. This post is about spotting the signs, if you’ve experienced mental health issues before, you may even be familiar with them. Spotting them can help you to get the support you need or tackle issues before they feel overwhelming.
Personal Hygiene – This isn’t necessarily letting it slip a really long way or stopping completely. For me it can feel exhausting to take care of myself, the prospect of a shower can feel overwhelming, for others it can be the opposite, washing, grooming, trying to make yourself feel better by dyeing your hair or trying new cuts.
Mood changes – Maybe you feel more muted, less excited by things, less enthusiastic, or maybe you’re more irritable. Changes in your mood may not be so easily picked up by you, but if you think you might be reacting to situations more than normal, you might be right.
Concentration – I’ve seen this described as reduced productivity, but that misses the point entirely. It’s not about being productive, that’s not the most important thing, but it is about your ability to focus, not just in work but in general. Maybe you can’t seem to settle down to watch your favourite show, maybe you can’t get a task done at work because you can’t focus on one task at a time. I go the other way, I switch between hyperfocusing and no concentration at all, loads of work done, followed by very little, I might do a great job tidying my room but blink and miss an entire meeting at work. Zoning out is another way to describe it, I take minutes so as you can imagine, that’s not a fun issue, but it can also be a safety issue, if you’re struggling to focus or zoning out, take extra care.
Sleep – Maybe you’re sleeping too much, maybe you are struggling to sleep, if you’ve noticed a change to your sleep pattern your body might be trying to tell yourself. I don’t sleep more, or less, but I sleep more deeply, and feel less refreshed, finding myself still tired no matter how early I go to bed. When your sleep is affected this can influence other aspects of your life, including issues we’ve already mentioned such as mood swings and issues focusing.
Impulsive Behaviours – When you mention these most people think of drugs or alcohol, but it can cover other behaviours, doing things that are maybe out of character, taking risks you wouldn’t normally. I shop, it’s not even expensive stuff, it’s usually food, I eat too, sugary stuff generally. There are other ways this can present, are you being more impulsive than normal?
Anxiety/Worry – You may already have issues with anxiety, so if you’re finding those worsening, that’s your sign right there. Try not to ignore it. If you’re not normally an anxious person, you might see an increase in feeling nervous, that anxious niggle in your stomach – the less pleasant cousin of butterflies (assuming you don’t mind butterflies). A tight feeling in your stomach or throat, feeling tense, nervous, over thinking things. If these are common issues for you anyway, you may notice these increase in frequency or severity, it’s important to reach out to those who can help as anxiety can be incredibly debilitating.
Physical Symptoms – If you suffer from physical pain you might notice it gets worse, or you might develop pains that aren’t normal for you. I develop migraines, sometimes they’re hormonal, sometimes they’re stress related and I can also get a twitch in my eyebrow. If you’re stressed your muscles will tense up, you might get neck pain, you may develop headaches, maybe you’ve noticed a tick or a twitch, or sore shoulders etc.
Look out for changes in temper, appetite, sleep, in yourself but also in those around you, if you’re concerned about someone you know, let them know you’re there, or if you’re not in a position to be there for others consider speaking to someone connected to them, to let them know you’re concerned.
In the mean time, take care of yourself, take time out of you are able to, do the things that make you feel good. Remember, it’s okay to feel down sometimes, even normal but make sure if it goes on longer than it should or feels worse than normal, reach out, help is available even when it doesn’t feel like it.