I was talking with someone the other day about their grief and how they could know when their sorrow became more than just sadness from losing someone and a part of the grieving process. Again, I am not a professional and if you feel you are on the border then please seek help immediately. All I can tell you is some keys things that tell me when I am more than sad, but on a slow-moving spiral downward. When I am just extremely sad, I have bouts of crying that hit me during the day, or I can hold it in and take time later to let it out. While doing this I can still go about my day and find joyful moments, concentrate on task, and eat and sleep like I always have. This for me is just extreme sadness. When it becomes more than that, and it last longer than a week, these are the symptoms I am faced with.
- Brain fog. I feel as though I am moving in slow motion or that I am living in a fog. Things don’t seem all so real, like I am on hold, and my joy is on hold.
- Loss of interest in things I used to enjoy. I love crafting and having a clean house or watching my favorite TV show. When those things become a distant memory, I know it’s a sign.
- Irritability. Sometimes someone can just say the smallest of things and I get irritated by it, or become defensive.
- Avoidance. The urgent desire to withdraw is strong in this one. Once the irritability starts in, I don’t want to talk with no one and don’t want to answer stupid, non-sensical questions. Even though they are not stupid to my loved ones, and I try to make to conversation important. It can be hard not to withdraw.
- Loss of sleep, or sleeping too much. Anxiety doesn’t let us sleep and depression lets us sleep to much.
- Loss of appetite or eating too much. When I am overly anxious or have been crying a lot, I get very nauseous and have to force myself to eat. I also know others who tend to get hungrier than normal and eat their feelings to find some comfort.
- Hopelessness. Thoughts that there is no use, why bother, this will never end. Even thoughts on a negative real give us a sense of hopelessness. Like thinking of all the bas stuff that has happened, or playing over a trauma over and over in our minds. This does not allow our bodies to take a break from our misery, it just adds to it and brings us further and further down.
- Possible chemical imbalance. This is important and tends to be a hard concept for those who do not suffer with mental health issues on a regular basis. There are also some who refuse to believe there is such a thing. There are 3 chemicals that are in the brain that help balance our way of thinking and dealing. I will not go into this as I am not a medical professional, but I encourage all to research a valid source and read for yourself and get more knowledgeable on the subject. (trustworthy sources, mayo clinic, web md, and any university medical website…stay away from all others)
- Looking for someone, or something to fill the void without worry of consequence. This could be shopping uncontrollably, drugs, alcohol, over-eating, adrenaline seeking activities, over exercising, etc. Anything to boost our natural endorphins and feel better.
- Waking up anxious or with negative thought patterns. This sets my mood for the whole day. Moving from dream state to reality can become extremely difficult, especially when there is so much chaos and it seems impossible to conjure up something remotely positive about the day ahead.
- Pain. This indescribable, overwhelming sense of emotional pain. It feels like a heavy weight on your heart and makes everything seem impossible, not worth it, or not have an end in sight.
When I struggle with more than a few of these things and they last more than a week at a time, I know I am struggling and need to seek help. I encourage you to do the same.
If you have a loved one you see struggling with these symptoms, I encourage you to talk to them about it. Demanding they seek help will not help, but loving support honest conversations with gentleness and compassion is key. Remember!
YOU CANNOT HELP SOMEONE WHO DOES NOT WANT TO BE HELPED!
There are so many out there that are content to proceed as they are in their struggle. For whatever reason they put off getting help, or they are too scared to face the consequences of what is to come. Dealing with mental issues are hard, but the only way to improve is to go through it till you get to the other side. I wish I had someone who knew this and could tell me this. I was scared to death not knowing which way to go. I was so consumed by my struggle and overwhelming emotions it is so hard to see where to go. All I know is that I wanted the pain to stop. Mental and emotional pain are worse than any physical pain. Love is the greatest gift God has instilled in us and it can conquer all things. So, love yourself and love your family and friends.
Pray for them continually. When I finally crashed praying was the last thing I could do. It was not that I did not want to seek God or His help. I had prayed, begged, pleaded, and did all I knew how to get Gods attention before I crashed. I needed a way out and the only way out was the one I didn’t want to take, but God knew it was best. A slow step by step process that would last. When I no longer could pray and my mind was switching over to accept the fate I was in, others prayed for me. Those prayers carried me through 2 weeks hospital stay and 4 years later they are still carrying me. It is never too late to pray for yourself and for others. Those prayers are good for an eternity, there is no expiration date and you will never know the impact they could have on the future.
I pray this helps you or your loved ones and I encourage you to seek help if you feel you are struggling. There is hope of better days ahead! Even if you can’t see it or conjure of the emotions to feel it right now. Have faith!
Hebrews 11:1 Now faith is the substance of things hoped for, the evidence of things not seen. 2 Timothy 4:7 I have fought a good fight, I have finished my course, I have kept the faith.