The Warning Signs Decoded

Many people have asked me over the course of my mental health journey about what signs both myself and other people saw in me before I was diagnosed with depression. I think we all knew something was wrong but we weren't quite sure what, which is where I think a lot of other people are stumped as well. Alright so I want to give you a few of the warning signs that you can identify in people that may have depression or a mental health issue. Of course, as always I am no expert and am purely speaking from my own experience and no two people are the same. So what you see in one person may be completely different to what you see in another, please don't forget that.

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1. Not talking as much.
This one applies more if you notice that someone has stopped talking as much as they used too. For example excluding themselves from conversations that once would have enticed a whole argument out of them. This won't apply if the person was never a big talker to begin with.

I went from probably talking too much to get some kind of attention to not wanting to open my mouth and say anything at all. I felt like everything I said was complete rubbish and people didn't want to hear it, that my opinion didn't matter, and that my voice was so damn annoying. (I've since had a few people tell me how annoying my voice is and all I've done is laugh in their face).

2. Feeling tired and sluggish all the time.
This could be identified as not concentrating as well as usual, complaining of being tired often and the general look of being tired. This also ties in with not being able to sleep well, taking a long time to fall asleep or having a very interrupted sleep.

With me, I was sluggish enough to not want to get out of bed because I was so tired all the time. At night I couldn't sleep, it would take hours and multiple sheep counted to finally close my eyes. Except when I did I was awake very often and for no apparent reason, it wasn't like I recalled having dreams. In the mornings I was still so tired from the night before that I would often sleep all morning and still have to have afternoon naps as well. My sleep has been just as bad as this lately, except because I work I don't have the opportunity to sleep all day anymore, but because I finish at about three in the afternoon I do tend to have afternoon naps. My sleep at night is still terrible, I often don't fall asleep until the early hours of the morning and wake up often for no reason.

3. Being irritable or restless.
This is a big one, being quick to annoy is a fairly good sign that something is wrong. Especially if you notice in a person that has gone from being a very patient and calm person to being very irritable.

In myself, I wasn't just irritable and restless, I was impatient and I was very quick to get angry over the smallest things. It drove everyone, including myself mad, because I was getting angry over all these small things and it was like I couldn't stop myself, it was so hard to handle being angry all the time that my anger often resulted in me crying. I've managed to control my anger so much from those days, some days I have a little lapse and take my anger out on someone undeserving (sorry mum/dad/Brodie). I still cry every time I get angry (that is very much my thing now haha) but I'm a lot more patient and it takes a bit for me to get angry now.

4. Cancelling plans at the last minute or not making plans at all.
As with most of these things this is most noticeable if the person has gone from going out regularly to not going out at all. If the person has started off as not really being one to party then this isn't really a concrete thing to assess their mental health on.

With me, I didn't leave the house, for anything. I didn't hang out with anyone, I refused to go to family events, I missed out of a lot of things in favour of staying in my bed. I got a lot better in year 12, I became more of party person- parties at my house, parties at other people's houses, meeting people- the works I was very much a person who liked to go out (and enjoyed it even more with alcohol). These days, I think due to more of the fact that I don't have many friends and I'm quite sick lately, I don't leave the house very much. I got to the pub for drinks when I'm asked to (it gets quite boring when you can't drink because of being sick though), I go to friends houses for dinner now. I do feel like I spend a lot of time alone in my house still but I don't know if that will ever change.

5. Loss of interest in activities once found enjoyable.
This one can be fairly obvious- if someone looses interest in the things that used to make them happy it's not hard to see that something is wrong. Things can be anything from daily activities to their hobbies like a sport or writing or knitting.

I lost interest in a lot of things- I stopped writing, I stopped working out, I stopped wanting to do much at all. These days I'm back writing, and I do work out when I'm not feeling like poop because of being sick. But for a while there I was the most unmotivated, lazy version of myself I've ever been, and often I use that person as motivation to not get to that point again.

6. Excessive hunger OR loss of appetite.
This one can definitely go either way. Someone can begin eating a lot more than they usually do which can lead to excessive weight gain. Or they can eat a lot less than they usually do leading to excessive weight loss.

In the early years of my depression I ate more than I usually would but I didn't eat enough to gain an excessive amount of weight. These days if I fall into a lap of depression I usually don't eat much at all, I have to force myself to eat or I won't eat at all. I often forget to eat, my mind preoccupied elsewhere or sometimes the thought of food really churns my stomach. I think depression has also changed what foods I will eat, because there seems to be a lot of foods that I used to enjoy that I just can't stomach the thought of anymore.

7. Increased intake of alcohol.
Someone who is depressed could use alcohol as a way of covering up their feelings. It can also be used as an excuse to stop thinking clearly and escape your mind. Once again this one can only really apply if the person is drinking an excessive amount more than they usually would.

I didn't really have an interest in alcohol until I was in year 12 and since then I've never really been that into it. Sure I will get drunk on occasions and I'll go out for drinks with friends but I'm defiantly not one of those people that can drink for days on end.

8. Lack of grooming.
So this can be as tiny as you stop brushing your hair to as big as you go from wearing a full face of makeup every day to wearing mascara on a good day.

With me I stopped wearing makeup because it took so much energy, and really who was I trying to impress? I remember that I stopped dying my hair and brushing it? God maybe on a good day. When you're depressed you really don't care about personal grooming, sure you still was daily and you still wear deodorant but other then that anything else is a task and a half.

Okay so here are eight signs that someone may need to seek some medical help. Of course there are other signs, including thoughts of suicide, which if present please seek help via one of the depression help lines listed below, please remember you aren't alone x

Lifeline Australia: 13 11 14
Kids Helpline: 1800 55 1800

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