One in four people will experience a mental health issue this year. The number always astounds me as I always feel so alone or crazy when I go into a downslide. With so many of us experiencing these things, why is it that we are so quiet about it? I’ll never understand it. It’s as if our shame keeps us quiet ultimately deepens the issues we experience.
There are many symptoms for all mental health issues, but they can be specific to each individual. I know for myself I can always tell when I’m going through an anxiety episode, which will always swing one of two ways….complete panic or utter depression. My panic response normally generates in physical responses first while my depression response is all mental.
- I stop making my bed. Making my bed is a part of my daily routine. It’s the first thing I do each morning (after hitting snooze), and it’s the first thing I stop doing when my depression stress response kicks in. I know it may sound silly, but I once read that people who make their beds in the morning generally accomplish more during the day. It also helps with making my studio look a bit bigger since it’ll look less cluttered with a made bed. I guess it only makes sense that as my mind becomes more cluttered and bogged down, I cease doing something that makes my thought process feel more organized and relaxed.
- Distractions run wild. With the amount of responsibilities I have at work, I normally schedule out my day. It keeps me on task, organized and helps me juggle the many things I need to accomplish in a day. I’m queen of the Outlook calendar and keep it updated so my team members know what I’m doing if a project arises. This is normally the second thing that I begin neglecting when my anxiety takes the form of depression. I stop scheduling the tasks I need to finalize. While they still are done and within the proper time frames, I begin to feel less in control and more like I’m grasping at straws. All this does is increase stress and the feeling of helplessness, but I can’t seem to find focus or energy to reestablish this habit.
- I stop paying attention to what I eat. This is a huge slide in what I feel is a spiral into lethargy, self-hate and anger. This is normally the point where I begin the negative self talk. I then begin using food as a way to feel good rather than as sustenance. It’s my source of comfort in times when I can’t seem to rationalize or pull myself out of a negative thought. Of course, it’s never health food, but the delicious of junk. Why does junk have to taste so damn good? The more junk I eat, the more angry I get. The more angry I get, the more I participate in negative self talk. It’s a vicious cycle.
- I stop socializing. All of a sudden, all I want to do is lay in bed, watch movies and have a glass of some form of alcohol. I’m normally pretty busy on weekends, but this is when I stop making plans with friends and family. I can be found normally on my couch, in pajamas or yoga pants and caught in a true crime marathon on ID. Granted this can happen when I’m feeling fine, but I normally have plans scheduled for later in the day and make them. I begin feeling useless and pretty much stare at facebook all day. This just makes me feel more useless.
- I stop cooking and cleaning. This is when the shit really hits the fan. If you see me buying lunch or dinner routinely know something is up. It means my trip down lethargy lane has gone so far that I won’t walk the 6 feet to the stove. Even when I stop cooking healthy food, I’ll at least still heat up bagel bites, pizza rolls or some other form of junk food. When I start ordering out all the time, there’s an issue. I’ve also been known to be completely OCD with where things go in my apartment and in my office. If suddenly I no longer have specific places for things, or I don’t care where you move my stuff, there’s a problem.
- I stop talking. This is last on my list as it’s the most serious effect. I’m a chatterbox. I like to schmooze and establish and grow relationships with other people. I generally feel people are good and like interacting with them, learning about them. When I retreat into myself, it means I’ve gone deep down the rabbit hole. This has only happened a two or three times in my life, and it is truly a scary place. Losing the energy to even just speak to people or contact my family friends is not who I am. Anyone who knows me can tell you I don’t shut up. This is when people begin to worry, and this is when I worry to. While I’ll do the basics to function day to day, I have no desire or drive to make an effort for anything more. I’m thankful that it’s a rare occurrence as I never want to distance myself so far from the world that I lose the things that matter to me the most.