“Self care” have been the glittery buzz words in mental health for the past year or more. I have been one of the many passengers on the self care band wagon giving lightheared advice and tips. While a nice bubble bath, walk in the park or writing in your journal are excellent methods for getting out of a funk, they are not the best tools for when you are on the event horizon of your dark spiral. It may be difficult initially for a person to recognize that they need some additional help. Couple that with the stigma that mental health carries and it can be debilitating to make the first step towards finding help.
Whether you have been suffering for a long period of time or are beginning to feel the pull of the dark side, there may be signs that you need something more than just some fluffy words and a one hour massage. Here are some signs that you may need to see a therapist/counselor.
Small, everyday tasks become arduous.
Whether at work, home or at school you may begin to feel like some of the simple tasks that you have consistently done are too much work. The energy and motivation to focus or engage people is lacking, nor do you want to cultivate the energy. You may think that you are having just the blues occassionally when in fact you could have been down for longer than you think.
Little things can set you off.
This can be a more telling sign for most people. One minute your fine, living life and enjoying precious moments and then the next you flip on a dime. Someone may have said something or a situation may not have turned out as you hoped and in a snap your world is upside down. You may feel a deep sadness, a flash of anger or a wave of anxiety. Whatever the emotional response it comes on hard an heavy after what can be a minor infraction.
People in your life treat you differently.
Suddenly people call you on a regular basis to see how you’re doing. Family may encourage you to get out more, friends may not want you to go out drinking with them, co-workers ask what’s going on in your life. If people begin to handle you with kid gloves a bit more then there may be something there. The reverse is that people may also begin to remove themselves from you. If your behavior is such that it makes other people uncomfortable or feel drained by just being in your presence that can be a sign as well.
You begin to abuse someone or something.
When someone brings things to your attention you may become defensive and lash out at someone. It can be hard to receive information that you know may be correct but you are not ready to hear. If you feel anger or frustration well up inside of you when someone highlights concerns they have about you, you may have to take a step back and evaluate some things. Turning to substances such as alcohol, drugs, or cigarettes are dangerous when they are used in excess. Using any of these to desensitize yourself are very big warning signs. Other signs that are not as obvious are retreating into social media. Spending hours on Instagram, Facebook or YouTube to hide from the outside world are becoming more and more common.
Of course not everyone will fit neatly into these boxes. One of the best signs that can determine whether or not you need to talk to someone is your inner voice. Most of the times in my life when the shit hit the fan I knew that I needed some help but I often muted that voice. The danger in muting that voice is that you can begin to tack on more and more problems as time goes on.
Seeking help is not weak, it is the strongest act that anyone can do.