At the time of writing this, approximately 1 in 4 people in the UK will experience a mental health problem each year. The statistics are alarming, and while I could talk about the various things I think contribute to poor mental health, I wanted instead to talk about the warning signs. Many of us will experience some of these symptoms and just write them off – unaware that it could be a telltale sign of a larger problem. It’s important to note however, that if you do experience any of these symptoms, please talk to your doctor. Everyone is different, and this is by no means a definitive list. These are symptoms I have personally experienced:
I’ve talked about this symptom before; and it’s one that genuinely terrifies me. I forget what I’m talking about mid-sentence, and I can’t follow basic instructions because they’re too confusing, and I can’t concentrate on any task. My brain is like a sieve and I end up needing to write everything down just so I can function normally.
I’m very introverted in general, and will always prefer quiet spaces to loud and busy ones. But when I’m not feeling mentally well, it seems like just two people talking is enough to fry my brain. As soon as I step into a crowded shopping centre, or a noisy restaurant, all I want to do is run away. Music is too loud, daylight is too bright, everything is suffocating me. Sensory overload is frustrating, and can easily result in a panic attack.
Stuck in bed
When the world outside seems beyond help, it feels like there’s no other option but to hide from it. If I have no intention to do anything that day, then there’s no point in getting out of bed. I’ll stay in my pyjamas, under the covers, wasting the day away watching YouTube videos. While this can be a great self care activity, if you find yourself in bed more than you’re out; it’s probably not a good sign.
Irritability and impatience
When I’m not in a good place, I haven’t got the patience for stupid questions, delays, or any kind of obstacle. Everything that gets in my way or slows me down just annoys me to the point of yelling at it. My fuse is extremely short, and I take that frustration out on other people and inanimate objects instead of dealing with my anger in a healthy way.
Crying, lots and lots of crying
Along with feeling angrier than usual, the outbursts normally result in tears. I’m quite emotional at the best of times, but when my mental health isn’t great, I feel like the only way I can express myself is by turning on the waterworks. Everything feels hopeless, and every minor inconvenience causes me to cry.
Sleeping too little or too much
You’ve definitely heard this way too much, but you should be getting 8 hours of sleep every night. Cortisol – the stress hormone – will interfere with deep sleep. So if you’re lying awake most nights, there may be an underlying problem you’re not dealing with. However, there is such a thing as getting too much sleep. If you’re hibernating more than a bear in winter, you shouldn’t write it off; fatigue is one of the most common symptoms of some mental and chronic illnesses.
While these are symptoms I have personally experienced; I am not a medical professional. These are also not the only symptoms of a mental illness, nor are they exclusive to mental illness. If you have any concerns about your mental health, please speak to your doctor.