Mental health is being talked about now more than ever and there are numerous blogs out there that talk about causes, symptoms and cures. However, before I write one of these of my own, let me start by telling you what this blog is not – I write this blog today not to tell you my journey but to let you in to my evolution. This is not a cry for help or a way for me to vent. It is also not a note of sympathy. It’ not a health guide that will cure all your sufferings. This doesn’t provide a solution but only spells out the emotions that you might relate to because sometimes that’s enough. It is factual, it is practical, and it is life. What I mean by “it is life” is that it is a part of the journey of life. It is the sadistic valley you take to get to the mountaintop. It is a downward pull to help you catapult to your full potential. It’s transformational. It’s evolutionary and most of all, once you come out of it, it helps you look at things from a different perspective, a positive one.
I have decided to keep this very informational rather than personal and so I am not going to go into the details of my life events however, I am going to describe some of the emotions I felt along the way. This will not only help you figure out whether you are going through a similar experience but also help you understand that you’re not the only one and if someone else has come out of it, you can too. This is not an exhaustive list of symptoms. This is just a repertoire of some of the things that I experienced, which means you might experience some things that are not on this list – e.g. Loss of sleep/ excessive sleep or increase/decrease in appetite etc. Similarly, there might be things in this list that you might not experience at all. Everyone has their own journey, what’s important is to own it and to be able to talk about it. I have to admit, talking about it was not easy for me, and it won’t be for you either but you have to start somewhere.
- Excessive crying
Do you remember crying when you were young? What did your parents tell you to do when you broke into a cry? Did they tell you to stop crying or did they ask you to let it all out? Well, most parents go for the former. Why does crying have a negative connotation? It is a normal bodily reaction to a hurtful situation. When you sneeze, do they tell you to stop sneezing? My point is, cry. Let it all out. Cry your heart out. Cry your eyes, ears, nose out. Because let me tell you something, it will and does make you feel better. A depressed mind tends to cry more because it is injured and needs that cry to heal a little. So, my advice, don’t shy away from crying, embrace it. But when it becomes excessive, that’s a sign that you need to seek help because crying can only heal you so much. You need more.
Feeling worthless can not only act as a trigger but also worsen your condition if you’re already in the shithole. Worthlessness can stem from multiple factors – work, social status etc. We tend to derive our self-worth from other people’s opinions of us. In times like these, it is important to remind yourself of your journey and what it took to get to where you are. It is in in fact a vicious cycle. For eg, the more worthless you feel at the work place the less productive or driven you are which leads you to feel even more worthless. The only way to break this vicious cycle is to believe in yourself. You just need to get out of that bed one day and start working toward what you expect of yourself. Believe me, it’s very easy to feel pity for yourself. The first step might seem like a drop in the ocean, but you’d be surprised at how important that first step is. After you’ve done that, everything will fall into place. Remember, one day at a time. It won’t happen overnight.
Again, loneliness can be cause as well as a symptom of depression. Symptom how? Depression has the ability feign you into believing that talking about it will somehow make it worse because no one will understand or that people will judge you and form opinions about you. Or that they will take you for a weak person. To be completely honest, this might sound like a cliché, but the day you start talking about it is the day you’ve actually become strong enough to get over it. Till you do that, you’re weak. So stop telling yourself that people won’t understand, because you’re not the only one.
If you ask me, fear is the more difficult emotion you’ll ever have to feel. People often talk about that pit in their stomach that sucks the living life out of you.
That pit is nothing, but fear metamorphosed into anxiety. It’s that lump in your throat that always seems to remind you that you’re not well. It messes with your brain. You need to realize that the start you get when your phone rings is not normal. Those heart palpitations are not normal. You’ll find yourself not being able to finish even the smallest of tasks at hand because of fear. The things that you used to be able to do without any trouble will now seem like unachievable chores. This also ties to the biggest enemy to mankind – procrastination.
- Procrastination Are you lazy or do you procrastinate because you are scared that you won’t be able to finish the task at hand? If it’s the latter, do you also feel like anything you set out to do seems like a mammoth venture and almost impossible to finish? Do you feel like you’re living in a world of giants and that all these tasks are huge mountains that you must climb but just cannot? I was never a procrastinator, but I became one because I was living in a world of my own making where I was always scared. Scared of not being able to finish the work and disappointing myself. Procrastination can and has the potential to be your doom. As I said, the most important thing is to take that first step and then everything falls into place right after you do it. Just give it a try.
- Under confidence
Even if you were never the one to be a victim of under confidence, depression and anxiety have the ability to take you through that unchartered territory. When this happens, remind yourself of the potential you have and that this is a phase that will pass. Cut yourself some slack and let your mind heal, you will come out an even more confident person.
- Low tolerance
In times like these, you’ll find yourself flipping out over every small thing. You’ll get angry/irritated/annoyed more often. Take a deep breath and let that fleeting rush of anger pass before you do any damage that is irreplaceable. Try not to give into it. You might feel a rush of judgement going through everyone else’s mind but, block it out and internalize. People close to you will understand. Try to stay away from people who intentionally look for reasons to hurt you because the things you used brush under the rug before might take a heavier toll on
you this time.
- Negative thinking/ Excessive worrying/ Stress
I was listening to “Mind is a Prison” by Alec Benjamin the other day and I realized that it just very accurately illustrates what it feels like to be in a negative frame of mind all the time and so I’m going to put in the lyrics here for you to read and take in:
Sometimes I think too much, yeah, I get so caught up
I’m always stuck in my head
I wish I could escape, I tried to yesterday
Took all the sheets off my bed
Then I tied up my linen with five strips of ribbon I found
Scaled the side of the building
I ran to the hills ’til they found me
And they put me back in my cell
All by myself, alone with my thoughts again I guess my mind is a prison and I’m never gonna get out
This is exactly what it feels like to be stressed, worried and anxious all the time. The first thing you think before doing anything are the many things that could go wrong. You start thinking negatively about your future. You stress more on your weaknesses rather than your strengths and those thoughts pull you down. They hamper your growth. The worst thing is, after a point it becomes habitual. You won’t even realize when it becomes a part of you. It becomes the new normal until you start going further down and then that becomes the new normal. So, you’re basically digging a whole and the deeper you go, the more difficult it will be to get out. In times like these, it is important to have people around you who can recognize and point out that how you’re thinking is delusional.
- Loss of interest in day to day activities/hobbies
Not being able to get out of your bed to resume day to day activities is something everyone goes through at some point in their life – heartbreaks, failures. However, we all know it passes and so, this too shall pass. Personal experience – journaling or writing down my feeling always helped me. So, grab onto something you really enjoy doing, almost force yourself to do it. I promise it is bound to make you feel better.
- Physical signs – Skin breakouts, IBS, Fatigue
Of course, just as any other ailment, mental health issues will show physical symptoms as well. Skin breakouts, IBS and Fatigue to name a few. Physical signs our easier to catch for obvious reasons and so when that happens make conscious efforts to feel better – exercise, meditate, eat healthy (stop stress eating junk), indulge in light hearted music, light up scented candles, go out for a walk, watch your favorite movies – sky is the limit, right?
It’s a journey isn’t it? No one can tell you what will work for you, this is your Everest and you have to find a way to get to the top!