This blog is going to be something we don’t want to talk about. “Mental Health or Mental Illness” Yes, you read it right. Many readers might not want to read this blog or read it half or just be ignorant even after reading it.
I am no Psychiatrist, but I do know that every other person is dealing with stress in some or the other way. The ways to deal with it might differ, however, some are ignorant enough to hide it well. But, not talking about it makes it worse.
What is Mental Health ?
Mental health includes our emotional, psychological, and social well-being. It affects how we think, feel, and act. It also helps determine how we handle stress, relate to others, and make healthy choices.
Most of us take the term ‘mental illness’ in a wrong way. We think that we will be considered ‘mad’ or ‘psycho’, if we talk about mental illness. Seeking help or visiting psychiatrist becomes a matter of shame or embarrassing for person suffering already.
Anxiety and Depression are the most commonly known types of Mental illness. And I am not ashamed to write that I am one of those who suffer from Anxiety disorder (Mild). And thankfully, I have people to talk about it and gone through right consultations. And no! I am not ‘Mad’.
Anxiety is your body’s natural response to stress. It could be feeling of fear or over joy. It could feel like restlessness for some. However, if these feelings of anxiety are extreme, last for longer than six months, and are impacting your daily life big time, you may have an anxiety disorder.
It’s normal to feel anxious about moving to a new place, being a new parent, starting a new job, or taking a test. This type of anxiety is unpleasant, but it may motivate you to work harder and to do a better job. Ordinary anxiety is a feeling that comes and goes, but does not interfere with your everyday life.
In the case of an extreme anxiety disorder, the feeling of fear may be with you all the time. It is intense and sometimes debilitating.
Factual information provided in this post can be found on various health websites. However, if you feel like your anxiety is becoming overwhelming and you are unable to deal with it, contact helpline or your doctor for best advice.
What does Anxiety feels like?
The day started normal. You wake up and still in your Pajamas, make your tea, wake up your kid, cuddle with him, and do all the morning stuff. Now you’re sitting and watching your kid play. You are all good. Nothing much in mind, that is bothering you and you get a fluttery feeling in your stomach like a wave thousands of butterflies. You take a deep breath and hold your breath for a few seconds and then release, hoping it won’t come again. You try to ignore it and get busy with your chores. Now it’s afternoon nap time for your little one. While putting him to sleep, you yourself fell asleep and then ..bam! It comes again. You want to sleep badly but these butterflies won’t let you.
This incident is one from the recent one. I have had few before I had baby. Being stressed for no reason, worrying to much on how other people think about you, overthinking on any casual conversation and so on.
This feeling is more like a feeling that you get when you’re going to write an exam or going for an interview. And from there, you start to go lost. You are not able to concentrate or you become forgetful.You keep water on the stove to boil and forget, you are on your phone with your mom and suddenly feel like oh! I haven’t called so and so in days. Or you are talking your heart out with her, and suddenly feel like disconnecting. Thoughts of not being a good mother often crosses your mind, when you were exhausted and couldn’t calm your crying child. Talking too much or not wanting to talk at all.
When you start to tell about this to your partner, he keeps on listening to you and suddenly you feel that you are talking too much or complaining about your health everyday.
I remember when I was in grade 10 and there was too much pressure of studies. I had these butterflies troubling me since then. But as a normal teenager, I did not pay much attention to these as the focus was on getting good grades in board exams. Mathematics was the biggest fear back then.
After school and college, I really can’t remember all this happening again. Or, may be the focus was shifted.
When I moved to US, that is when I started noticing sudden changes. Probably because I was here immediately after getting married, knew nothing about this country, had no job, use to be home alone while my husband was at work. Then slowly things became normal and I was quite settled in a year or so.
All this started again, or probably with a greater intensity, when I was expecting. And little anxiety during pregnancy is common as per the doctors. But, with time, it increased. The good thing was, it was never constant. As I mentioned it is mild anxiety, it was more like once in two days or twice in a day and for next few weeks I was normal. This went on and off for few years and Today, if I look back, I feel much better.
Well, after getting right consultation, what helped me the most was meditation and reading something of my interest, like-Poetry, blogs etc. That is how I decided to write my thoughts down. I started to feel better. But that does not mean the butterflies have lost their way. I started to write blogs because, I feel less stressed when I put down my random thoughts here and there is no judgement involved.
Another thing which is common in people these days is ‘Depression’. Depression is a mood disorder, especially being sad, not being active or a significant increase or decrease in appetite and time spent sleeping, feelings of dejection and hopelessness, and sometimes suicidal tendencies when severe.
Feeling sad or hopeless is natural and normal, when we are involved in multiple tasks and come in contact with people with different backgrounds and different nature. But, being sad and developing hopelessness constantly and overthinking can affect your daily life and can cause clinical Depression. Clinical depression can be treated by medicines or talking to your therapist. However, awareness is important. People usually do not take it seriously and slowly and gradually this eats up the brain, causing a greater damage. Now there is Major Depression. “major depressive disorder.” is the term used by the doctors for those who are constantly sad, or symptoms like loss of interest or pleasure in your activities, weight gain, weight loss, eating too much, eating too less, insomnia, feeling worthless or guilty, suicidal thoughts, angry and agitated etc.
If you feel any of these symptoms on most days for 2 weeks or longer that are significantly affecting your life, the first step you should take is consult your doctor.
Read more about managing depression here.
How to help Your self ?
- Right Consultation: If you feel that you are having any of the symptoms mentioned above and has a significant impact on your daily life, first thing you need to do is, Consult your doctor (General Practitioner). Right consultation is necessary in order to know the exact condition of your health.
- Talk to someone: Consulting with your doctor is important, however, talking to someone and sharing your thoughts, who listens to you and understand your feeling also helps. we are mostly hesitant to share our random thoughts with anyone, but trust me it works like wonders to take the load off. Talk to your partner, call a friend, call your Mom, or anyone whom you thing is close enough to understand what you are going through. The person might not give the best advice or solution, but even if he empathize, that is enough. That’s what we want sometimes.
- Practice relaxation and Calming techniques: Like I mentioned, for me meditation worked well. Meditation can be a highly effective to reduce stress and relieve anxiety. I understand It can be boring for some. I experienced the same when I started and use to feel like sleeping while doing it. But if we look at the positive side, it helps us in getting sound sleep. To be honest, I never meditate on a regular basis, because quiet environment is just another question for Mom (on a lighter note). But I make sure, I meditate at least once or twice a week. You can also listen to a relaxing music or concentrate on your breath to give it a start and you will eventually start liking it. There are other relaxing techniques like reading a book or doing Yoga or Chanting Om.
- Find out the ways to Switch off: We all love social Media. And to some extent, life without it seems empty. Keeping in touch and being aware has become easy for sure. But with the pros comes the cons. Social media definitely heightens up the anxiety levels. Distracting yourself from such triggers can help you in reducing your anxiety. Like for me, a single post and then all the comments and then reactions, calls the butterflies back. So, to help myself, I try to reduce my screen time. Another way to switch off can painting, gardening or something you like doing as a hobby. Video games can also be one one of the distractions from anxiety as it brings joy. However, it can be addictive too. So, find out the way which suits you best.
- Recognize what triggers Anxiety: Recognizing what causes those butterflies flutter or any other symptoms bothering you is important. Find out the ways to deal with these triggers when they arise. Like, sit and relax for few minutes and take a deep breath or go out in fresh air. Avoiding your triggers can be counterproductive, so it is better to find out ways to deal with it.
These are some of the ways which can be helpful for you or someone you know, who is suffering from mild or acute Mental Illness. I would like to reiterate that consulting your doctor is the first thing you have to do, if it is significantly impacting your routine life.
Feel free to share your anxiety stories in the comment section and Reach out to someone you know, who can help you. Also, there are various helpline numbers available in your area/region/country. Please do not hesitate and talk about your Mental health.