A journey to health, happiness, and higher mountains

How to Tell If Your Mental Health Is Deteriorating

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When I was first admitted to day hospital they asked me if I could identify any signs or behaviours that were an indicator that my mental health was deteriorating, and at the time I couldn’t and didn’t even care enough to want to work it out and help myself.

Following my recent return to crisis state but newfound drive to try even harder to get as near to well as I can, I’ve tried to look at these most recent events to see if there were any similarities in my behaviour so that in future I might be able to spot the descent myself, or at least so that other people can advise me to get help if they spot them and I don’t.

I want to share my list here so that not only does it keep me accountable, but perhaps if anybody reading this is in a similar position to where I was before, you might be able to draw parallels to your own life and it might help you to work out what your own indicators are. Of course though, this is very much dependent on what your conditions are.

For me, my list goes almost in order:

  • I start to stay longer in bed and ignore my schedule.
  • I stop allowing even my closest friends to touch me.
  • I stop cleaning.
  • My washing piles up.
  • Eating patterns become erratic. (Don’t eat for a week, eat everything twice the next.)
  • Significant weight loss or gain.
  • Making no effort with my physical appearance. (Not washing my face, not even dry shampooing my hair, wearing mismatched clothes)
  • Physical health deterioration.
  • Avoiding contact with friends.
  • Avoiding/cancelling necessary appointments.
  • Not attending classes.
  • Irrational thinking (that I don’t believe to be irrational until afterwards).
  • Only leaving the flat for alcohol. (People seeing me drunk more often outside of a standard social setting should definitely ring alarm bells)
  • Becoming more flirtatious with the few people I do make contact with.
  • Not making contact to excuse my absences.

There are other things that I have probably missed, but these are the biggest indicators that spring to mind that aren’t necessarily the most obvious to begin with. At some point I may well go into more detail about my thoughts on why I think these things happen, but right now I don’t want to distract from the purpose of what I’m saying.

Today I’m making a promise to myself that if I even start to see one of these signs re-emerging I’m going to reach out to somebody, and while I don’t expect to never end up in crisis ever again just by trying to keep track of these things (often crisis can be sudden), I’m sure hoping that it might make it a lot less likely.

If you are in a similar position as me, I invite you to join me and make your own list, and if you ever feel yourself slipping downhill at all please seek some kind of support even if you don’t feel like it’s a full blown problem yet, because it can become too late very, very quickly, and you are never “not sick enough” to ask for help.

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