It was not easy for me to acknowledge that the negative emotions I was experiencing at some point were a reflection of my poor mental health at the time. But eventually, I realised that confirming these feelings and emotions, and allowing me to go through them was the first step towards more positive feelings.
There were times when even the smallest daily tasks became major problems. But that was only in my mind, because in fact, these are tasks that I do almost unconscious, as a routine. It can create a lot of anxiety, and suddenly life seems to be full of problems that will never be resolved. I learned how to accept the situation, and that the only way to overcome it is to encourage myself to continue doing those daily tasks; our mind is sometimes tricky and it might tell you to leave something for later to be resolved. But that is just a trap; I fell into it and I can tell you that the result is nothing else but a higher level of dissatisfaction.
Feeling restless was another generator of negative emotions. Every day we make hundreds of decisions, some of them are easy, others have a higher importance. When experiencing poor mental health, those two categories do not exist anymore, and it feels as every single decision needs to be debated; it is a fear of failure and we end up overthinking everything that happens around us. The way out for me was to immediately take action; sometimes it is better to deal with a wrong decision rather than ending up in balancing pros and cons for days, over something that does not change our lives that much.
Living in isolation is another challenge. “I am not calling that friend or family member right know as they are not able to understand me anyway”, “I will no longer go to the cinema because that is not going to change my mood”, “I don’t feel like meeting my friends today as planned; I would prefer to stay at home and try to find solutions for my problems”. Are these sentences familiar? Well, it is ok to spend some time on your own, but when experiencing negative emotions it is important to keep an active lifestyle too and act as nothing is wrong. Maybe you don’t feel like meeting people as often as before, but it’s important to keep doing that. Doing sport is also very important; it keeps you busy and doesn’t allow you to have time for the overthinking mode.
Depression and anxiety makes you feel as problems will never end, and you will never feel more positive. It’s almost bedtime when you already think that you had another bad day, and there are no signs that tomorrow will be different. It’s hard to convince yourself at the time that actually that was not such a bad day, but only your mind makes it look like that; it is hard to believe that. A book or something that will distract you might help; or anything that will not allow you to guess the future any longer and overly analyze the day that has just passed.
Usually we are happy about ourselves when we overcome obstacles, challenges, when we fix something. When experiencing poor mental health we feel that we are not capable of achieving even the easiest goals; that is low self esteem and as days go by without acting on it, the more labels we attribute to ourselves: “lazy”, “not capable”, “useless”, and many others of that sort. When I experienced this, it was helpful to set small, short term goals, which by achieving them, it made me feel proud of myself: running a set distance or time, finishing a book, doing research on a subject, finishing that report for work, cooking a special dish. Soon my motivation started to change and so my self esteem.
There are many physical and emotional reactions when experiencing poor mental health. In my case, it took some time to realise that these reactions are generated by my mind and most of the time, they did not reflect the reality. Everybody feels it differently. Do not take this article as advice; that is to be given by a professional. But I have been there and if you are currently dealing with it, I can only encourage you to seek support and do not let it affect you even more. You're half way through it!