I think I might be depressed — 5 tips that will help if you need a mental health check up!
I am not one to shy away from the fact that in the past I have experienced issues with my mental health. I freely admit that I am a victim of Mental Health issues whereby my teenage years, right through to my early twenties, were riddled with poor self confidence and bullies preying on that very weakness. Being a Ginger kid in any country can be a bad thing and being one in Ireland was no different. Each day in school was simply a barrage of attacks at me for simply being who I was. Add in the fact that I was battling with my own sexuality, trying to convince myself each day that I was straight and that I liked girls, and you can see how my mind became a breeding ground for negative thoughts.
I recently got into a fight with my boyfriend where he gave out to me for not talking about ‘how I feel’ and he said that he can see something is bothering me but when asked if I am ok, I simply respond ‘I’m fine’, even though I am not, I am definitely not. We fought, we talked and we sorted it out, though I went on to tell him that ‘he should ask me if I am ok every day and If I say I am fine for five consecutive days then something is wrong with me.’
During a recent conversation with my Mum, she told me something valuable about myself, something she observed that I never really put that much thought into. She said, ‘Ciarán, you hate to admit that you are not good at something.’ and as I thought about this I realised that she was right, or almost right. It was less about hating to admit that I am bad at something and more to do with the fact that I simply don’t like to show any signs of weakness, at all.
“She said, ‘Ciarán, you hate to admit that you are not good at something.’ and as I thought about this I realised that she was right, or almost right.”
Now I am not entirely sure where this started, this may be a bit of a chicken/the egg situation, as I am not entirely sure if this is just part of who I am or whether I learned this technique in my teenage years. Nevertheless, it exists and I know that I would rather continue on with life pretending that everything is ok than admit that I am not happy or that something is wrong. My Mums observations reminded me of how, as a teenager, I would bottle all those negative feelings up and ignore them until it got to the point where I’d fight with myself each day to keep going, growing more and more tired until I’d simply give up!
So it go me to thinking, if I could offer advice to people what would it be? So here are my five tips to know if you are in trouble ‘mentally’.
1. Know Your Own Mind
This might sound stupid but its really simple and really effective. You should be conscious every day of your own mind. Each day I woke up and pretended everything was ok when it definitely wasn’t. People who are depressed are likely to continue pushing their body and mind until it breaks. Everyday, as soon as you wake up, you should go into the bathroom, look at yourself in the mirror and ask yourself ‘How am I feeling today?’. Answer honestly. Are you feeling down? Are you happy? What in your life makes you feel happy? What in your life upsets you? If you can’t answer the question then its likely you are simply numb, and thats not a good thing!
“Everyday, as soon as you wake up, you should go into the bathroom, look at yourself in the mirror and ask yourself ‘How am I feeling today?’.”
This might something that is very easy to be a difficult thing to do but let me try and explain it. If something about your life causes you to be depressed then you should change it. There are obvious limitations to this but the principle applies to most things. If you don’t like the colour of your hair, then change it. If you find specific people have a negative impact on your life then stop allowing it. If you are in a school where you are surrounded by bullies then leave it. If you are in a job that you don’t like then consider changing it.
There is an Irish expression that says “a change is as good as a rest.” It means that sometimes changing something have just as positive an impact on peoples lives as stopping and relaxing. Take a fresh start and a step away from the negativity that can pollute the mind.
“If something about your life causes you to be depressed then you should change it.”
3. Spend Time with Friends
If you are the type of person who is comfortable talking to friends or family about whats going on in your life then by all means use them. They are the single greatest asset that anyone can have in fighting depression. If you are not, then thats ok too. Sometimes the best thing about friends will be the break away from the negativity and having a bit of fun with friends is absolutely what the doctor ordered. Laughter can be hard to find when you are in a dark place in your life but it’s a great way to break down barriers even without needing to mentally break down.
“Sometimes the best thing about friends will be the break away from the negativity and having a bit of fun with friends is absolutely what the doctor ordered.”
I am naturally introverted and so I prefer my own company. I am certainly not comfortable in groups being the centre of attention. Unfortuantely this is true for groups, both big and small and I find it difficult to talk about whats going with my life or in my head and starting a conversation. The idea of texting a friend saying ‘Hey! do you mind if I meet and have a chat about my life?’ is something that I would shudder at the thought of. It item number 3 I said that people should do exactly this, though I am a realist and I can understand just how difficult this can be for some people (aka me). Instead if you can’t meet and talk to friends then I would encourage you to write. Buy a notepad, start a diary. Buy a domain and start a blog. Whatever, simply get whats going on in your mind out on paper, digital or not. Trust me it will help bring clarity to your thoughts.
5. Admit your own weakness
Life is never simple. Just when you think life has dealt its worst then its pretty safe to say that something else will come along. People battle with their own sexuality, go through family issues, breakups of relationships, divorce, death etc. People who are not prone to Mental Health issues are able to adapt however others may not be. My advice to you is to do the one thing that I never did as a teenager, and that was to talk about them with friends or family. Admit that you can’t solve these problems on your own and that the only weakness you are showing is in not getting help or advice. The real strength is in admitting you are not perfect and neither is anyone else.
“Admit that you can’t solve these problems on your own and that the only weakness you are showing is in not getting help or advice. The real strength is in admitting you are not perfect and neither is anyone else.”
Thats it, my five tips on mental health. Strangely this blog post has made me think about my own mind (tick item 1), made me write about it (tick item 4) and made me admit that I am not perfect (tick item 5). If I can do these things than you can to…. do it! Try it! You’ll be surprised.