Anyone who has suffered with their mental health will tell you there are days when you feel up and there are days when you feel lower than you ever thought was possible. The hardest part? Never knowing when these days are going to pop up. There are however warning signs.
We all like to think that we know ourselves pretty well, after all, we spend more time with ourselves than anyone else. For the most part, this is true. We know when are feeling run down or under the weather. We know when our bodies need rest to recuperate. What we may not be so good at, is recognising when our brains need some TLC. This isn’t necessarily our fault. The thing about mental health issues is that they’re sneaky. They creep up on us, all the while convincing us that we’re fine. With that in mind, here are 5 signs that your mental health is starting to slip, from someone who’s been there.
1. You find yourself withdrawing socially
While occasionally skipping out on social engagements with our friends, peers, or co-workers is perfectly normal, when it becomes a regular occurrence there could be a deeper issue. Obviously, we all need time to ourselves, to recharge, there is no shame in taking a rain check. However if you are constantly avoiding social plans that would normally interest you, coming up with excuses as to why you can’t be there, your mental health might be declining. Try to have a conversation with a trusted friend about how you are feeling.
2. Your appetite changes
Like anything regarding our bodies, appetite fluctuates often and for various reasons. However, if you find yourself eating significantly more or less than usual for a prolonged period of time, it can be an indicator that your mental health is suffering. This can be a difficult one to know how to deal with and because of the potential effect on your physical health. If this something you are worried about you can speak to your GP or local health worker about it.
3. Your sleep cycle changes
Again, this one falls under the umbrella of biological functions that can fluctuate over time. As with appetite, however, if there is a prolonged, drastic, or unexplained change in your sleeping habits, it can be a tell-tale sign of a deteriorating mental state. If you find yourself lying awake for hours at night, unable to get to, or stay asleep, that is an issue. If you find yourself struggling to get out of bed in the mornings and feel perpetually tired, regardless of how many hours of sleep you get, that is an issue. Fixing this could be as simple as a change in situation or relationship, or it could require professional or medicinal help.
4. You are struggling to enjoy your hobbies
As with social withdrawal, losing interest in your hobbies is a huge red flag in terms of our mental health. Our hobbies are something we choose to do, as opposed to having an obligation. We choose them because they are fun, entertaining, or relaxing to us. As a result, it can be a concern if you suddenly stop getting any sort of enjoyment from them. Obviously, we can naturally lose interest in things over time, or we get bored of them. However but if this happens suddenly, it can be a clear indicator that something is not quite right with our mental health. If you can, reach out to a friend or a fellow hobbyist to talk about how you are feeling, they may be able to help you.
5. You become overwhelmed by ‘the voice’
This one is a bit more internal. If you are reading this and you have ever struggled with your mental health, you will know ‘the voice’ I’m talking about. The voice that embodies your struggle, whether that is depression, anxiety, or OCD. That voice gets louder, and its arguments get a lot more convincing the lower your mental health gets. I’m sure you know all too well that ignoring the voice isn’t an option. There’s no getting away from it, and it isn’t going to go away by itself. The best option is to go to your GP or therapist and get professional help.