Mental Health Series, Part 2 — How are you?
This piece is largely inspired by the conversation Josie and I had this morning about a question I get asked a lot — “how do I know my mental health is bad?” I find this question to be rather ambiguous because to answer it, I’d have to know you in the depth you’re required to know yourself.
Life is challenging and more often than not, you are going to find yourself in stressful situations. The way you navigate them is telling of the state of your mind.
For me, crying is/was unusual and when I found myself tearing up about seemingly irrelevant issues, I knew something was up. When I find myself acting on my anger, I know something is up. When my house is untidy for longer than 2 inactive days, and it takes me over an hour to get ready for work, I know there is a problem. Whenever I experience disappointment and the foggy eyes and migraines kick in, I know it’s time to seek help.
I am glad I know my body enough to be prepared in the event that my mental health takes a left turn; but it was not always like that. A lot of opportunities, relationships and dreams of mine have served as collateral damage in this process and you need not reach that point. My hope for you is that you take your mind as seriously as you would your physical features.
Martin Amanya, a counselor at Safe Places Uganda encouraged the following questions to enable you understand your state of mind. If the answer is yes, then it could be a sign of a mental health issue and it is advisable to talk about your feelings with a trusted friend, relative or professional counselor.
Pay attention to how you’re feeling and what your body is telling you.
Do you feel stressed out most of the time?
Are you having trouble sleeping?
Do you feel angry or depressed?
Do you often feel like you don’t have enough energy?
There is an overbearing fear of being average or basic that stops a lot of us from sitting down and actually asking ourselves the aforementioned questions. We forget that unless we have the basics figured out, the complex things will be hard to navigate. It is essential for you to take time and build a solid foundation for personal mental strength. There is power in the mundane.
So how do you know your mental health is bad?
- Well, start by asking your self those questions and answering them intentionally. How are you? truly?
- Spend time alone. It encourages self awareness. A lot of the confusion you feel stems from the fact that you barely know who you are and in turn, it is hard for you to figure out when you’re okay or not.
- Listen to your body!! I used to think migraines were normal and meant I wasn’t drinking enough water or that I was hungry till a physician said “we are not supposed to get used to pain.” Nowadays when I feel any slight difference, I deal with it immediately( but don’t be paranoid on my account). Unexplained Headaches, back aches, lethargy among others are signs that your mind could be taking a blow.
- Take note of the quality of your relationships. My very personal opinion is that if you have multiple failed romantic relationships or friends who mostly tolerate you, then something is up. A failure to form good nurturing relationships is telling of how your mind is doing. Relationships are an important aspect of humanity because we are an interactive species thus the emphasis.
- How do you handle stressful situations? There are different copying mechanisms you have adapted with age. However, some could be detrimental to your mental wellbeing. Like alcohol, risky sexual activities, over spending etc. If you know you’re doing the wrong thing but continue anyway to “numb” the pain, then something is up.
- Emotional intelligence level. I have little to add on this because I am struggling with it too at the moment. What I will say is that you do not have to act on your every emotion, there is a time and place as I have come to learn. If for instance your emotion anger is causing you to respond with violence, then something is definitely up!
The best route would be to get a proper mental health assessment for effective diagnosis and treatment in case the above signs are overwhelmingly true for you. I will be linking the places wherein you can get one with prices attached in the next piece.
Keep On Living🌻