One of the most difficult parts of poor mental health is acknowledging that there is a problem. Once you have recognition of an issue it can be easier to pursue a strategy for coping with it, seek help, and focus on getting towards a good period of mental health.
Poor mental health can manifest differently in people, we can end up making false assumptions about people’s wellbeing - and even our own. When someone says ‘you look fine’ or ‘you don’t look sick’, then we feel that our feelings are invalidated and there must be a rational explanation for poor mental health. This is the wrong approach to take - as is telling ourselves ‘I’ve got everything I need and want, what could I possibly be sad about?’ This implies that poor mental health is a choice; when in fact it is not. We ought to confront what is really happening beneath the surface, and accept that appearance doesn’t count for everything when it comes to mental illness.
Asking yourself ‘am I okay?’ and thoroughly assessing how you feel is the first step towards feeling better. There are a multitude of mental illnesses, and each one will vary in how it affects each person. While some symptoms may be shared with other sufferers, others won’t; just as not every treatment works for every person. It is helpful to understand some of the common indications, though:
These are just a handful of the symptoms listed by the NHS. More can be found on their page.
It’s important to note that you may have one of these symptoms, a few of them, or a myriad of varied symptoms both listed and unlisted. You may also have overlapping mental health problems such as suffering from both anxiety and depression at the same time, and thus experiencing symptoms of both. For more information on clinical depression see this NHS webpage.
It is said that most panic attacks last between five and 20 minutes, but can exceed this. They sometimes feel so intense that they feel like a heart attack; however, they don’t cause physical harm, according to the NHS.
These are just three mental illnesses from over 200. If you are struggling, don’t struggle in silence. Make that first step. Acknowledge what barriers are in your way to accessing help –
Whatever that barrier is – or barriers are – break it down into a small and manageable problem that can be solved. First, why not explore the website? If counselling is the route you want to take (and not a route forced upon you by someone else), then try to learn about the services available.
Once you’re comfortable with the website, you could drop an email or phone up the team to talk through your options. If this is too big of a barrier, then maybe confide in a friend that you’re considering counselling. Try to fix an appointment and write that down in your calendar. You may need time to work up to the appointment, and/or encouragement and support in attending it, so set yourself a realistic timeline.
Day to day, you will also experience struggle. So, don’t put too much pressure on yourself to ‘get better’. Set yourself small goals, such as getting up out of bed, or making some lunch, and take time to celebrate every victory.