Whether you consider yourself depressed, anxious, or even perfect at life, it would benefit us all to conduct regular personal inventories of mental and emotional status.
I lived for years with the signs of poor mental health, yet I failed to connect the symptoms with the deeper issue. I existed in the dark, lost and lonely, until one day a match was lit.
So, here are seven signs that you might be in a poor mental state. To remember, evaluate SEASONS (Sleep, Eating, Aches, Sex, Outlook on life, Numbness, Substance use). And, because I’m not a professional, I will offer examples from my own life.
Evaluate your sleep. Too much sleep or too little, or just inexplicable fatigue could all be a sign of depression.
At the lowest point, I found myself waking up multiple times a night. I’d wrestle with the bedsheets, binge on Netflix, and try just about anything to escape the nagging shadow that kept me awake.
Look at your eating habits. Do you eat a lot? Not enough?
My sister once Googled on my behalf, “too lazy to eat eating disorder.” I didn’t have an eating disorder, and while I can be lazy, that wasn’t it either. I was depressed. When I’m in a poor emotional state, my appetite is non-existent. But, for you, depression could rear its head on the other side of the kitchen and have you inhaling lines of Double-Stuffed Oreos.
Ask your body how it’s feeling. It is incredible how our mental health can affect our physical bodies. Headaches and body aches can be a sign of depression, but living in a state of paranoia could be as well.
My depression and anxiety fueled a monster truck of irrational beliefs. I was convinced I was physically sick. I spent too much time getting tested in doctor’s offices before one doctor (who couldn’t find anything wrong) finally asked, “Are you prone to anxiety?”
Like sleeping and eating, too much or too little sex can be a sign of depression. And, it doesn’t have to be the down and dirty deed. Many men confide in pornography or masturbation, and an addiction to one or both of these could be a sure sign of poor mental health.
Personally, once I addressed my habit of masturbating, a flood of emotions I’d been avoiding for years welled up inside of me. I realized that I was using it as a coping mechanism.
Outlook on life
What is your outlook on life? Is life exhausting? Overwhelming? Tiresome? Do you live freely? Do you even like life?
Thoughts of suicide, general irritability, and feelings of inevitable despair, tainted my life for years. And, believe it or not, even when I’d readily admit to myself that I didn’t want to live a long life, I still couldn’t recognize that I was depressed! I shrugged it off as feeling overwhelmed.
When I read irritability was a sign of depression, especially in men, something clicked. My constant impatience, rogue frustration, and general anger toward my wife, dog, friends, family, and complete strangers started making sense. I had a short fuse that burned quickly, and I always felt like I was drowning, stuck in that underwater moment of panic that is desperately reaching for the surface.
I remember looking at my two-month-old son and feeling absolutely nothing toward him. It was scary, but it was just one example of the emptiness I felt during that time. I was apathetic, emotionless, and numb to the world around me. I didn’t live; I existed in a haze, day in and day out. My passion for creativity, writing, and music was trampled by my mental state, and I no longer had interest in things I once loved to do.
If you’re just feeling blah, and have experienced a loss of interest in activities that you once loved, you might be depressed.
While having a drink here or there isn’t necessarily a reason to call the doctor, an increased reliance on alcohol, marijuana, or other substances could be a sign of depression as well. Men especially seem to excuse these methods of coping as casual fun. The truth is, when life is spent clinging to the edge, these things can take the edge off. But, there are healthier ways to cope.
I existed for years in the dark of depression before someone finally lit a match. Once I appropriately labeled my experiences, I was set free to explore healing, find help, and rediscover hope.
Evaluate the SEASONS, and if any of this lit a match into your personal darkness, don’t avoid your next step. Talking to a counselor or seeing a doctor are both things you should consider doing sooner rather than later, but, to start, you can try simply talking to a trusted friend, your spouse, or even me.
You can email me at firstname.lastname@example.org. I am not a professional, and I don’t have all the answers, but I can be a friend and a match for men in the dark.