We all have days where we are feeling down, stressed or anxious. The problem is knowing when its not ‘normal’ anymore- the other problem is that when you notice its not normal its already a problem…
For those of you reading this with anxiety/ depression… you will know what I mean by this. I will use an analogy- debt:
You overspend on a credit card, but that’s ok, you will have enough money the next month. Something goes wrong with your car and suddenly you have to pay more than you thought- you overspend more, getting into more debt. You feel its still ok and manageable. Then you realise you are much further in debt than you had really thought, with no easy way out….
Anxiety and depression are like this. Its easier to stop the progression and the spiral back into bad thoughts, and rituals before you hit a low. However, often you don’t realise you have a problem- or won’t acknowledge the problem, until you hit that low. Although you can get back out of that low, it is now harder and may take longer.
Last week there was a program on the BBC: Trust me, I’m a Doctor, mental health special. In this program, the public were able to voice concerns about mental health, which experts then looked into in more detail. One of the big questions voiced by the public was:
“How do I know its more than just a bit of anxiety, or feeling a bit down..”
Admitting… no, not admitting. ‘Realising’ that your anxiety or depression has got to the point where you need to seek help is difficult. For most of us, we will have tried to continue convincing ourselves everything is fine for a long time before we eventually pluck up the courage to get help. This may sound extreme- but telling yourself that actually something isn’t right, and seeking out help, is extremely hard. It can feel like you are letting yourself down, that you are weak in admitting that you can’t cope- but don’t feel this way.
How do you know what you are feeling isn’t… “normal” for you?
Ask the big question: Is it affecting me?
- Is what I am feeling and thinking stopping me from doing things?
- Is it stopping me doing things regularly? Not just one or two days every now and again, but consistently.
For example, are you beginning to regularly skip going to socials with friends to stay in instead? Starting to not take a bus to the city centre anymore? Not organising day trips out… it can be any of these sort of things…
If the answer is yes, then maybe you should think about speaking to someone- this could start with simply talking to friends or family, or could be the next step up and going to a GP.
In my experience, I knew in my heart that what I was feeling wasn’t quite right. I had begun to change things that I was doing, but I also made up excuses to back up the decisions I was making- “I can’t go to London this weekend, I am too busy”- Yes I had a lot of work to be doings but I could have rearranged that, what I really meant was “I can’t go to London, because I just can not at the moment”. For me, it took to breaking point to make myself realise that I had a problem, that I needed to get help. So also question this about yourself- if you are ‘making up excuses’ to get out of something, is that really the reason why? Or, is it something else? Be truthful to yourself.
Now however, a year and a half later, I can see when I am changing things- and I realise what this means. I am able to use some of the techniques I have learnt to try and prevent a slide back to a negative place. I also now *try* to not use excuses- to myself, or to others. Its taken a long time to get to this stage, and I still have lapses, I still have a long way to go- but I will get there.
Note: The above is based upon my own experiences- I am not a Doctor, and there are many different factors/thoughts/feelings/and outward signs of mental health problems. The most important thing is for you to talk truthfully and openly with someone that you trust, and to get the help and support that is needed for you. Mental health varies from person to person, just because you don’t have panic attacks doesn’t mean you don’t have anxiety, just because you can still get out of bed in the morning doesn’t mean you aren’t depressed==> this doesn’t make what you are going through any less important in any way.
Links and further reading:
Mind website: https://www.mindhealthconnect.org.au/
Featured Image source: Flickr