How do I know if I'm mentally ill?
The World Health Organisation estimates that by 2020 depression will be the second leading cause of disability globally, after heart disease.
The statistics about mental health, in my opinion, are gut-wrenching, but it is our current reality.
Having a mental illness is not simply 'feeling sad' or 'not being bothered to go out one day'
It is normal to feel all of the negative emotions including, sadness, anger, confusion, shame and guilt.
What are the symptoms of bad mental health?
So how do we know if what we’re experiencing is actually a symptom something more serious?
When what you are thinking, feeling or doing starts to have a negative impact on your day to day life.
When your feeling of sadness becomes your 'norm' for at least 2 weeks.
All of the things you enjoyed doing or that apply to your daily routine have been forgotten and instead, you find yourself lying in bed or on the couch all day, aimlessly starring at nothing.
When your appetite diminishes or increases dramatically.
When you consciously have negative, repetitive thoughts that have never entered your mind before.
When you can't concentrate on the simplest of tasks
When you spend hours in the mirror, obsessively examining your body and appearance.
When you don't want to go out with your friends or to the places you love because you feel so afraid.
These are just a few ways in which we can tell if something is not right.
However, some people lack insight into the fact that they are ill. That is why it is so important to not only look out for yourself but for others also and if you notice any concerning differences about them, its is worth bringing it up, even if everything is ok and they are just having a blip. At least the will know that you care and are there for them.
Another thing to remember is that not everyone will experience the same symptoms.
Symptoms manifest in all sorts of ways and what might be present for one person, may not be present for another who has the same diagnosis.
Conditions can present differently. Think of it as a sliding scale, people will fit up and down the scale of depression.
Remember: Wherever you fall on the scale doesn't mean that you are more or less worthy of help or that your mental illness is not valid.
What to do next?
If you do notice or are aware of any negative changes in your life at the moment, my sole advice is to either talk to someone you trust about what is happening for you or make an appointment to see a GP.
Seeing your GP will either confirm or deny your worries and then lead onto the appropriate course of action, be it be a referral, medication or simply some advice.
Check out What to expect when going to your GP