October 10 was World Mental Health Day and everywhere awareness of our mental and emotional wellbeing was raised. Recognizing the warning signs of mental distress or illness was also emphasized.
Senior Wellness Coordinator Michelle Gifford writes, “As you know, I am a huge mental health advocate and have recently experienced my own journey of mental health challenges. Mental health and wellbeing affects all of us to some capacity, learning how to manage it healthfully will be extremely beneficial!
I ignored my warning signs, thinking I could work through them – that it was only temporary. I'd been through anxious times before, but this time was different. The anxiety paralyzed me with fear and the thought of what was in the past, egged on my depression. I was stuck. The clouds were settling in and I felt lonely, yet I wasn't alone.
I read something that perfectly described what I was feeling, "having anxiety and depression is like being scared and tired at the same time. It's the fear of failure, but no urge to be productive. It's wanting friends, but hating socializing. It's wanting to be alone, but not wanting to be lonely. It's caring about everything, then caring about nothing. It’s feeling everything at once, then feeling paralyzing numbness.”
I encourage you, Team Plano, to practice self-stewardship. Listen to your body and other signs of something being not right. If it’s not you, then maybe it’s someone you know who’s having difficulties.”
Only licensed professionals can accurately diagnose mental health issues, but anyone can be on the lookout for the indicators of stress in others. Early intervention can spare prolonged suffering – not just for those who are unwell, but for those around them. Here are some common warning signs:
• Feeling sad or withdrawn for extended periods (2+ weeks)• Increased absenteeism or noticeable productivity losses• Difficulty concentrating• Sudden or unpredictable shifts in attitude or mood• Excessive use of alcohol or drugs
Don’t let fear of an awkward conversation stop you from getting help for yourself or someone dear to you. Try talking about the behavior you see, without suggesting or inferring fault. Share a personal experience to help lessen the social shame many people feel when dealing with mental stress.
If you sense something isn't right, do not ignore it.
Resource: Warning Signs of Mental Illness
City of Plano Resources
NOTE: If having an emergency, please dial 911.