It can be challenging to speak about what’s on your mind. Hard to acknowledge how you really feel. Smiles often betray a sense of emptiness inside.
We all have Bad days
The world is filled with Instagram, Twitter and Facebook feeds, or ‘fakebook’, as some call it. Most show life as beautiful and perfect. I’m a positive person. I too show the lighter side of my life, the successes and happiness. But I work with people everyday as a Coach and Psychologist and I know many people struggle with the simple things in life.
We can all have bad days, low energy, mood swings, anxiety, fear and anger outbursts. It’s human, but sometimes these experiences take over and can become all-consuming. That’s when it’s time to get support.
These are unprecedented times; we’ve come through a pandemic. We’re in the midst of a recession and environmental crisis is looming. All this affects our Mental Health and I haven’t even mentioned personal issues you may be facing, with family, relationships, career, studies, finances etc. So let’s talk about mental health.
What do we mean by Mental Health?
Mental health underlies everything you think, feel, do and become. That’s how important it is. Mental Health relates to your psychological, emotional, social and spiritual wellbeing. And it also greatly impacts physical health.
Mental Health is on a continuum from the ‘worried well’ to the ‘deeply disturbed’. Worried well means you’re a bit stressed with life, but it’s not getting you down, you are aware that how you feel changes, and mostly you are well and functioning. You are able to Self regulate.
The other end of the continuum is the deeply disturbed. You are not feeling well at all. You may feel overwhelmed and helpless. It feels like there is no way out, and it’s never going to end. Deep inside, something is wrong. You don’t feel like yourself and trying to regulate thoughts and feelings seems impossible.
According to WHO – World Health Organization, 1 in 8 people suffer with a Mental Health disorder; that’s 970 million, people worldwide. Anxiety and depression are the most common.
Mental Health Disorders
- Mood disorders, these may present as depression, mild to severe.
- Anxiety disorders, these present as excessive distress and fear.
- Personality disorders may include intrusive thoughts and compulsive behaviour
- Psychotic disorders may result in hallucinations, delusions and schizophrenic behaviours
Symptoms and signs of Mental Illness:
Life’s stresses and experiences can trigger mental health crisis. The key is to, listen when you know something is wrong and speak about it. Get professional help before it becomes unbearable. I’ve created this list of 25 ways you may think or feel.
- Isolated and Alone
- Always feeling inadequate
- You show up for people and no-one shows up for you
- You feel a sense of rejection and failure
- You think people are talking negatively about you
- You feel a need to be constantly affirmed
- There is a numbness and emptiness inside
- Hopelessness pervades your thoughts
- Pain, grief, heartache
- Feeling unworthy
- Mental exhaustion
- Low energy levels
- Loss of interest in things and people around you
- Sleep disorder, excessive sleep or little or no sleep
- Eating disorder, excessive or no appetite
- Don’t want to interact with people
- Tearful, don’t see the point of things anymore
- Feeling useless and not coping
- Constant negative self talk.
- Despair and desperation
- Start to think people will be better off without you
- Thoughts of death and ending things
- Increased helplessness, that accumulates over time.
Some causes of Mental Health problems
Stress and childhood trauma can linger for years and become the root cause of Mental illness. Something unexpected can happen, like loss, that throws you off balance. Mental and physical abuses, sexual abuse, neglect, all have adverse affects on mental health. Loneliness and isolation, the sense of not belonging, can really take its toll. All kinds of discrimination, including racism, sexism, homophobia, ableism, poverty and other social disadvantages can have long standing detrimental effects on your overall wellness. Or you could suffer from a chemical imbalance.
BIPOC communities experience additional issues that intersect with the ones above.
Additional issues for BIPOC communities
As well as all the above, if you are blessed with melinated skin, you may fear for your own or your family’s safety. Young black men have higher incidences of issues with gun crime and police violence. This creates fear around being out with peers and just enjoying life as most young men can.
Vicarious trauma, is witnessing violence against other black people either in person or videos portrayed in the media. This causes tremendous stress and trauma. PTSD and the long term effects of being descendants of an enslaved people. The stress created from this is worthy of another article.
Not all thoughts are your own.
Thoughts are not always a true representation of the world. You may feel unsafe when you are not at any risk. You may think someone is speaking about you, when they don’t even know you. That’s the nature of the mind. Mostly we are telling ourselves stories, and trying to make sense of our surroundings. Not everything we think is true or even our own thoughts. We could be suffering with unprocessed trauma, chemical imbalances, PTSD and other imbalances.
So we must cultivate loving kindness for self and others.
A practice of Mindfulness can be powerful, where we slow down and observe our thoughts as they enter and leave the mind. This way we see them more clearly, like a wave on the ocean. This provides an opportunity to release thoughts that do-not serve us, instead of feeling overpowered by them.
What can you do if it’s you?
- Acknowledge how you feel and know it will pass. E-motions are movements of Energy. Their nature is to change.
- Call someone. It’s ok not to be ok. Seek help and speak about your feelings.
- Have someone hear you, hold you, see you and get professional help for you if needed.
Ways to take care of your Mental Health
- Cultivate a healthy lifestyle, stay active, eat well, sleep well and do things in moderation.
- Stay close to loved ones. Maintain contact with family and friends.
- Everyone has problems, don’t be afraid to speak about yours and ask for help.
Check on people
Take time to check on people, genuinely ask how they are, do they need help? Build loving community around you and practice gratitude to lift your mood. Remember acts of Kindness make our world a safer, happier place to live in.