One of the most challenging things about having a mental illness is that the symptoms and signs are easy to miss. Most of us tend to set them aside as normal stress, not realizing that it is excessive and unhealthy amounts of stress that often cause mental illness. A downward spiral is one of the most important symptoms of mental illness.
What is a Downward Spiral?
Have you ever found yourself suddenly getting low? Feel a decline in your mood? Usually accompanied by frustration, helplessness and sometimes even anger, it’s quite similar to what most of us describe as feeling “bummed out”.
While a downward spiral may seem like a small thing, it’s usually the start of something bigger and worse. It’s easy to push it aside. Who doesn’t feel frustrated every now and then? Who doesn’t feel low after a long day or work? But if these feelings persist for a long period of time or if you experience them frequently, it could be a sign of a downward spiral.
Here are some other small things which you may ordinarily overlook, but are big symptoms of declining mental health:
- If you’re someone who sleeps well, sudden insomnia or problem related to sleep could be a sign. Feeling excessively sleepy is also a sign.
- Sudden and unexplained loss of appetite is also a common sign.
- Sudden weight gain or loss in the lack of changes to your eating habits or lifestyle.
- Unexplained soreness in the joints or body aches.
- Feeling overly and unusually emotional. Breaking down into tears, crippling fear or extreme anger & frustration.
- Wanting to be alone and canceling plans you’ve looked forward to or with people you normally love.
How to stop when you feel yourself slipping into a downward spiral?
- Recognize your triggers: Most of the time, there’s usually a trigger that leaves us feeling like this. However, triggers are not easy to spot. Look for patterns when you feel yourself slipping downward. Was it a similar situation as a previous time? A similar topic of conversation? Time spent with the same person as who you were with when you last felt like this?
- Pull away from the bad: If you find yourself feeling “bummed out” frequently, consider observing your surroundings and the situation you are in when you feel that way. Loneliness, unhealthy relationships with friends, family or your partner and taking on more work than you’re capable of are the most common causes of deteriorating mental health.
- Do something that helps you feel relaxed or more comfortable. Usually, it is something you enjoy. Some people read some colors and some watch movies or listen to music. The key is to do something comforting.
- Speak to people who soothe you: Whether a childhood best friend, your partner or the soothing words of a parent, be with people who are kind to you. More often than not, speaking to people about how you’re feeling helps. Many a time, what’s bothering us is difficult to figure out. But when you talk to a person about it, the real issue becomes clear.
- Be kind to yourself: If you’re feeling low or if you’ve made a mistake. Don’t berate yourself. The biggest mistake most of us make is to expect perfection from ourselves. But the truth is, perfection is a utopian concept that will only hurt you. Accept that you are a human who is bound to and supposed to make mistakes. Learn to forgive yourself.
For any mental health problem, the biggest trick to tackle it is to find a solution, rather than just pushing it aside. Understand that there is a difference between comforting yourself and distracting yourself. A distraction is temporary. In fact, distractions can sometimes more harm than good. Remember, you can’t fix everything with a Band-Aid. Sometimes you need something stronger.
Don’t hesitate in seeking help when you feel yourself slipping too deep. It makes you stronger, better and healthier. Sometimes speaking to a professional is just what you need!