Most days I wake up and I just know. Some days, I’m really good at fooling myself. I am greeted every morning by the sweetest little face I’ve ever seen and think to myself, “Today can be a really good day… that face will make it all better.” Lucas and I make breakfast, run around and sing, but something’s just not right. I remind myself, “Stay positive Ki, it is only 9AM.” We get dressed and finish the morning routine, and I’m more certain of it now: it’s clear. After the sweet, innocent snugglyness of a newly awoken Lucas wears off and the terrible-twoness sneaks in, there’s no fooling myself anymore… it’s going to be a fever day.
How do you know it’s a fever day?
It’s really difficult for me to explain to people the difference between being in a bad mood (and being able to come out of it) vs. being clinically depressed. Let’s face it, I’m not a doctor and don’t try to recite the fancy terms that go along with the laundry-list of symptomatic feelings linked to depression. Rather, I just like to tell it how it is. I’ll be honest, I’m not ecstatic about using the term “clinically depressed” because it is a very limiting title. I do not believe I’m limited exclusively to depression, or anxiety, or OCD, or (fill in the blank) … I experience symptoms from all of the above.
Let me just start with this – if you’re reading this and suspect someone you love is going through something that you don’t quite understand (or necessarily agree with – because I acknowledge some people believe depression can be cured by pulling up your big girl panties and getting through the day, HA) here are a few tips to help clue you in…
How she/he is dressed – I mentioned in an earlier post a recent panic attack I experienced at a mall. I expressed my conflicting emotions about a hat I was wearing at the time of the attack – the feeling that I was hiding behind it. Often times if I am struggling, I cling to tangible items that I feel will hide who I am – I.E. hats, jewelry, baggy sweatshirts, scarves – anything to divert attention from the person I am. I steer clear of fitted clothing (that may bring unwanted attention) and wear less makeup. So remember, if your loved one displays drastic differences in appearance from day to day, it may be a red flag.
Excessive crying – If your loved one is a woman, this may be a normal occurrence especially during “that time of the month.” (haha, okay now let’s get serious) For me, however, this can be a dead giveaway that the day is going to be paired with speed bumps… or more appropriately, mountains.
Fears & Obsessive behavior – Does your loved one express irrational fears about the world around him/her? Ex. – Fear of leaving the house, avoidance of specific places that in reality pose little threat of danger. Or perhaps you notice repetitive actions such as excessive cleaning or checking… all of these examples can be serious signs of anxiety. Here is a great summary of everyday anxiety vs. an anxiety disorder.
Irritability – If you call your loved one and he/she gets upset that you called at 12:04PM instead of 12:05PM, then perhaps he/she is having a rough go that day (yes, this is an actual example). On days when my fiancé comes home from work, exhausted and hungry, and I start bitching that the dog needs to go to the vet before I even utter “Hello, how was your day?” – it probably hasn’t been one of my better days. Make sure to really listen to what your loved one is saying… if he/she is stressing over minuscule tasks, is quick to argue, or is making rude comments out of the blue, try to take a step back and empathize with that person. It is easy to be offended and argue back; it is beneficial to observe and take notes.
The first step in helping someone is understanding his/her behavior. Like anything else, you have to KNOW before you DO.
**This list of ‘clues’ only skims the surface of signs of mental health disorders. In no way am I saying if you experience these, you have a problem… but these CAN be serious signs that should not be overlooked. It is better to be annoyingly observant of your loved one than to accept his/her actions as quirks and ignore the severity of what the signs could really mean.