6 Mental Health Red Flags *for me*

Dear Diary,

How’s it goin? I’ve been doing my little dance of dipping my toes in the depression and anxiety pools back n forth a bit. I think it goes in line with all of the usual, typical situations that arise in my life. I’ve caught myself feeling a little sorry for myself and that’s usually a red flag. I told my husband I might throw myself back into therapy because I’ve been feeling like I might need a little extra help lately. And that’s okay. I’m fortunate to have that option and it’s easily covered by our insurance. I know that’s not always the case. However, if you acknowledge that you need help & you truly prioritize yourself and your mental well-being-you will find resources to help & that’s a wonderful thing. There is no shame in seeking help & it’s important to know when you need it!

I’m so grateful for my life and a lot of wonderful things are happening for me. I know that every day and every moment is either joyful or stressful depending on the mindset I’m in at the time. This is not rocket science. I think most of the time, we are intellectually, (& painfully) aware of how simply we can ‘logic’ ourselves out of our predicaments but obviously it’s not that easy. Sometimes I can feel that I need extra support and sometimes I just see the way things are going (aka my behavior) and I listen to the perspective my mind is operating from- & I can tell it’s time to call in reinforcements or make some changes. 

My top red flags: 

  1. Victim mentality- If I find myself with thoughts like “Why is this happening to me” “How could ___ do this to me” “Why do I have bad luck” I know that I’m giving my power away to either someone else or the situation at large. This is a perspective issue that is reinforced by spiraling negative thoughts and seeking negative patterns in my life. If I drop something and stain my new work pants; that’s an unfortunate occurrence. Depending on all my other thoughts that day; that can either be an “oh well” situation or the hell cherry on top of a shitstorm of a day that makes me want to curl into the fetal position and weep like a recently-broken-hearted teenage girl watching the Titanic for the first time. My life and my mind is my responsibility. At the end of the day, if someone is “doing” something to me, it’s because I’m letting them. And even worse, I’m probably projecting that this behavior is okay because I’m probably treating myself the same way! I need to stand up for myself and communicate clearly. No one else can do it for me! But maybe I need a few mental tools to snap me out of it.
  2. Leaning hard into vices- Alright, alright… I know I rant a lot about healthy habits, but obviously everyone has their vices. If you know me on a personal level, you know my vices. I try not to publicize them too much in conscious control of what I’m manifesting for the rest of the world-but the reality is I, too, enjoy unhealthy habits. It’s so bad and yet so good-especially when you’re down in the dumps. If I’m not quite emotionally aware at the time or simply just riding that denial train real hard-a good sign that I need to refocus my life and mind my mind is the simple fact that I’m leaning into my crutches a little harder than usual. If you’re a cigarette smoker, drinker, gambler, binge eater, etc. - you know this about yourself & you have probably been in pursuit of eliminating this habit. The yo-yo-ing of the frequency of this habit can be linked to your mental and emotional health! Take note that you’re breaking your commitments to yourself and accepting less than you deserve. Everything in moderation, my dear friend..
  3. Maintaining unhealthy habits/relationships- This one goes along with the last one as far as continuing to knowingly do things that are unhealthy for your body/mind/soul. These can be habitual vices or just random actions that show up in all areas of your life. Last year, my therapist helped me set boundaries. (I’m still improving on this skill.) I felt completely powerless in my life and it was because I had forgotten to use my voice. I felt trapped in my hamster wheel of toxicity that I chose to continue on a daily basis. No one was benefitting from this. I was lacking boundaries everywhere-in the workplace, in my friendships, and in the relationships with my family. It was easy(-er) to start with the workplace boundaries (even though it seemed impossible at first) and then I stretched out my new/healthy actions from there. I started setting boundaries in more complicated relationships in my personal life & it has really improved my quality of life 10-fold! Seeing myself pursue an unhealthy habit or relationship with someone/something is a good indicator that I’m doing this in multiple areas of my life!  And ask yourself if you could use extra support breaking the cycle or growing out of the root belief! Once you get the ball rolling, your own power will keep it going!
  4. Sleep issues -Sleep issues are great indicator of everything. That being said, if I’m not sleeping a full-well-rested 7-8 hours (most) nightly, I know something is up. Now this can be for a cocktail of reasons including something as simple as the pillow you use or the position of the bed. However, I know for me, if it’s a pattern of staying up extra late or waking up throughout the night- it’s because my mind needs some minding. Typically I allow myself to lose sleep when I’m allowing my thoughts to run my mind instead of the other way around. This might mean I need to check in with myself about how often I’m meditating and/or receive some dedicated coaching to grab the reins of my brain again. My fool-proof sleep recipe (including a great pillow & proper bed positioning) requires a lavender spray on bed/pillows/etc., complete darkness & sleepy music (usually from youtube) & the discipline to go to sleep at a time that allows for a full 8 hours before starting my next day. If I’m doing all this for myself and still not sleeping regularly-it’s time to say “help.” Also- the opposite holds true as well. If you’re over-sleeping, this can be a sign of depression as well.
  5. Brink of tears- This expression “brink of tears” has been tossed around a lot in my family/friend circle. A terrible affirmation, I’m sure. However, it’s beautifully descriptive of a low point. Feeling like your body is constantly in fight-or-flight & your eyes are welled up and swollen-you’re on the brink of tears. Going back to that first point of victim mentality-this is a deeper level of that. When the littlest things can make your knees weak and your eyes water, it’s okay to seek help. In fact, you really oughta honestly. It’s hard to pull yourself up by your bootstraps when you’re this low. You can’t even see your damn bootstraps if your eyes are filled with tears! I’d say if you’re not a cryer, an equivalent for this one is irritability. If dumb, little, things are growing tension in your body and you’re feeling unprecedented frustration boil in your veins, you’re not in a good headspace either. We typically should be well-equipped to roll with the punches of life-but in our low points, that’s not always the case. It’s life-things are inevitably going to go “wrong” or “not as expected” and if your depression/anxiety/etc. is making every little moment like that feel like life or death-it’s time to call in the big guns. Keeping your mind and body in this “fight or flight” mode isn’t sustainable and it’s also totally unnecessary!
  6. Extra anti-social- I’ll always be extra & at least a bit anti-social, but if I’m being extra anti-social, I know it’s time to do a mental audit. I’m confident in my loner abilities and proud of my self-respect for “me” time and quality time with my loved ones. Unfortunately, I can tip into the “rude” neighbor/wife/friend when I’m feeling below average. It is 100% a reflection of my personal issues and nothing to do with the person/people I’m “blowing off” but it’s hard to explain that sometimes. And sometimes it’s okay to stay home and recharge and sometimes it’s okay to force myself out and remember to have fun! However, the one constant I can say for sure is that I need a pick-me-up, a therapy session, etc., if I’m cancelling even more plans and avoiding even more humans that usual. If I don’t have the energy to pour into others, it’s because I haven’t even poured into myself yet so it’s time to re-prioritize and call in back up if necessary. 

There are plenty more warning signals, as Dr. Leaf (check her out if you haven’t yet) refers to them. In fact, I know I have more too. These are a few that I’ve seen in myself lately and the ones that reoccur in my life during my low points. If you’re triggered by any of these-you might want to consider the fact that you could mind your mind a bit & it’s honestly a great idea to get help too! These signals tell me that I need to increase my mental self-care and that can come in many different forms. Maintaining/increasing healthy rituals such as meditation, journaling or working out, talk therapy, medication, etc. In future blogs I’ll dive deeper into each of these self-care practices. But anyway, all of that to say, “I’m gonna get some help” & I’m not ashamed of that. And you shouldn’t be either. Individually and as a globe, we have mental health issues that keep building up the more we sweep them under the rug. It’s doesn’t have to be a big deal-let’s just address it & heal it & keep moving forward!

🙂 

Til next time,

Love ya, 

Kelly

Xoxoxo

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