I’M NOT LAZY! 5 Signs It Was A Mental Health Struggle.

Nearly one in five adults in the United States will experience a mental health disorder this year. I thought I wouldn’t be one of them. I was wrong. Here’s the moment I knew something more was going on.

Though the signs and symptoms of mental health struggles can vary significantly in severity and frequency for every person, I honestly figured that it wasn’t something I had to worry about. But it took me nearly 35 years to determine that what I was feeling wasn’t situational, it was something that required professional help.

You see, in my brain, I thought that mental health struggles had to be LIFE AND DEATH kind of serious in order for me to want to (or have to) reach out for professional help. I seriously thought that unless you were about to hurt yourself or someone else, you can just handle the small stuff on your own. But as I was about to turn 35 this year, I learned that it’s way deeper and prominent than I realized.

I remember in early 2022 laying in my bed for an entire weekend, ignoring my responsibilities, crying uncontrollably, not eating, not sleeping… it was getting so bad that even my mental health ignorant self was beginning to get concerned about my mood and my behavior. The warning signs were there that weekend. And I realized that they’ve been there long before, I just chose to suppress them out of fear that I’d be considered weak or dumb.

With that said, I would like to share with you the five signs that indicated that I needed to reach out to a mental health professional as soon as possible.

Sad Woman

#1 – I Was Feeling Disconnected From Reality

As I sat in my bed struggling, the dark thoughts began to take over my entire body. I had never felt so disconnected from the world around me before. I honestly felt like I was living on a different planet, even though my roommate, my girlfriend, and my co-workers were constantly connecting with me on a daily basis. I’ve learned quickly how dangerous this behavior and thought-process can be and I knew if I didn’t take action, I would continue to exhibit negative behavior that could result in me hurting myself, or worse, hurting someone else.

#2 – My Concentration Went Out The Window

I was getting by at work, enough that my team and my clients probably weren’t aware of the mental struggle I was having, but I knew that I was performing poorly. Concentrating at work was getting more and more difficult every day I stepped into the office. My concentration would get even worse when I got home and tried to be productive. There was nothing worse than being distracted AND unmotivated. I accomplished NOTHING of value for a very long period of time… which was very uncharacteristic of me given the work-ethic I am known for and the high standard I hold myself to.

#3 – There Was No Sleeping For Me… At All

Getting sleep is obviously essential for everyone’s wellbeing, but it wasn’t happening for me. Yes, even though I was laying down in my bed for days on end, there was no sleeping happening. And if there was, it was in short spurts. Getting no sleep certainly didn’t help with the lack of energy/motivation I was experiencing, which in turn didn’t necessarily put me in a good mood. (This is when the word “anxiety” started to get introduced into my vocabulary.

Sad Woman Listening To Music with Headphones

#4 – My Hunger Craving Intensified & Gained A Lot of Weight

At 220 pounds, that was the heaviest I had ever been in my life. And with no motivation to go to the gym, or eat healthy, the weight continued to pack on. I’d try to hide it as much as possible with loose fitting clothing, but I began to realize through pictures that my body was far from healthy. I felt like garbage and (in my brain, at least) I looked like garbage. Rapid weight change is never a good thing, whether it’s gaining or losing.

#5 – I Felt Guilty ALL THE TIME

Man, if only I could explain to you some of the dark, intrusive thoughts I was experiencing every second of the day. All of which were brought on by this incredible guilt I was feeling day-in and day-out. Here are some phrases that were repeated in my head over and over and over again:

  • I failed in my life.
  • I don’t deserve to be loved.
  • I regret my decisions that got me to this point.
  • Everything bad that’s happened is because of me. It’s all my fault.

It Was Time To Get Help

After experiencing all of these signs (and others too), and after speaking with my both my girlfriend and my roommate (both of whom have experience with this topic), I knew I had to make some changes. I knew I had to take action to improve my mental health. Here’s what I did:

  1. I spoke with a variety of people I trust: my doctors and my closest friends.
  2. I was diagnosed with Severe Depression, High Functioning Anxiety, and later, ADHD.
  3. I worked with my doctor to get the tools and strategy to manage these mental health struggles, both medically and therapeutically. 
  4. To this day, nearly 6 months later, I continue to speak with my doctors and my confidants about how I am feeling and what I experience.
  5. I look for safe spaces to tell my story, and I try to provide safe spaces for others to learn and share their stories as well.

I learned something, and I’d love to pass it over to you: If something just doesn’t feel quite right, don’t delay seeking help. With the right support, you can start feeling like yourself again, even if the world appears to be turned upside down.

You Are NEVER Alone – Help Is Here For YOU

Consider contacting professional help if you or a loved one talks about or considers self-harm. If you think that you or a  loved one may harm themselves or has talked about suicide, contact their doctor or call the 988 Suicide & Crisis Lifeline by dialing 988 in the United States. If you think the danger of self-harm is serious and imminent, call 911 immediately.

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