It’s okay to not be okay, but sometimes it helps to know what to do when you’re not okay. One of the things I’ve been asked is, “Do I really need help? Is it bad enough yet?” My personal rule of thumb on this is: if you’re asking the question, it’s time to get help. If you know something is wrong, go ahead and start treating it. Don’t wait for it to get worse. We know that makes sense with physical ailments, and it works for emotional issues too. Here are some specific things to watch for:
- General functioning: am I able to do what I need to do? Or am I having trouble accomplishing my normal routine? Have I lost interest in things I usually enjoy? Do I feel tired, worn out, overwhelmed?
- Social functioning: do I have enjoyable, open relationships with family and friends? Or am I experiencing a lot of conflict at home, at school, or at work? Am I isolating myself, or feeling like others don’t care about me? Do I have lots of things I want to tell someone, but feel I have no one to talk to?
- Sleep: am I sleeping too much or too little? Having trouble falling asleep? Waking up in the night? Do I feel rested in the morning, or sluggish and exhausted?
- Mood: am I feeling sad and empty? Crying a lot? Or feeling angry and frustrated, and lashing out at others? Do I feel guilty and worthless a lot?
- Food: am I eating more than normal? Or experiencing a loss of appetite?
- Thoughts: am I having trouble concentrating? Am I indecisive? Or am I having racing or intrusive thoughts? Are there things I just can’t stop thinking about, no matter what? Does it seem like I’m thinking in circles?
- Behavior: is my behavior normal and healthy for me? Or am I acting in ways that are unusual and unhealthy? (Ask a trusted friend or family member if you can’t tell.) Are there behaviors I wish I could stop, but can’t?
Experiencing a couple of these things over a period of two weeks or more is cause for concern.
If you have thoughts of death or suicide, please call for help immediately. The U.S. National Suicide Prevention Lifeline is free and available 24 hours a day, 7 days a week. 1-800-784-2433.