Why depression (and other mental health challenges) can be difficult to recognize in yourself.
Updated: Nov 3, 2020
Living with mental health challenges can often be an isolating experience. Most of us weren’t raised to recognize the signs and symptoms of declining mental health, either in ourselves or others. Because of this, it’s easy to think that what we’re going through is unique to us, and that there isn’t anyone else struggling with the things that we are.
But this isn’t true.
About 1 in 5 people experience mental health issues at some point in their lives. This means there are countless others, including friends, family, and loved ones who may also be experiencing similar things, and everyone is just as afraid to talk about it.
One of the biggest challenges in recognizing mental health issues in ourselves is that it’s often disguised as a character flaw. It can be so easy to believe that we are the problem. That there’s something deeply wrong with us at our core. That if we just try harder, push harder, or work harder, we’ll be okay, everything will be okay. We think that if we change something about ourselves, who we are at the core, then that will solve our problems.
This is the lie that depression and anxiety tell us.
There is nothing wrong with who you are as a person.
You are not deeply flawed.
The truth is that we’re facing something bigger than ourselves.
No matter where you are in your mental health journey, you deserve to reach out for help if you’re struggling, even if you think it isn’t “bad enough”. If you’re having this thought, chances are, it’s already bad enough, and seeking professional help can likely make all the difference in your healing.
It can be helpful to understand what you’re dealing with when it comes to mental health challenges. Anxiety, depression, and other mental health issues can make it difficult for you to care for yourself, be productive, or manage your daily responsibilities.
Learning about the signs and symptoms, and the ways in which they can impact your day to day lives can bring a sense of clarity to what you’re experiencing, and lift the mental burden of off you for what feels hard, or what you’re struggling with.
Mental health symptoms are your body’s response to circumstances in your life, whether internal or external, past or present. Your symptoms are a messenger trying to communicate something to you; there is something you are being asked to pay attention to.
It’s not a life sentence, and not an indicator of brokenness.
Learning to recognize when you’re slipping back to a dark place can be the most important thing you do for yourself. Remembering in those moments that you’re not a flawed human being, that there is just something bigger than you that you’re struggling with can make all the difference between spiraling further into that place, or making the decision to reach out and get help.
Most of all, it helps to remember that you’re not alone; there are countless others walking the path with you, and with the right kind of support, healing is possible.
On the other side of the heaviness, a lightness awaits. Life gets better again.
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Written by Alia Rajab