As I write this, I’m disturbed by the recent tragic news that a man doused himself with gasoline and set himself on fire in the National Mall in Washington D.C. As horrible as that sounds, it just compounded another recent tragedy in the same city where an unfortunate young mother senselessly lost her life. She was being treated for depression and post postpartum psychosis. Somehow, she found herself in the middle of a high speed police chase that tragically ended in her death; while her baby daughter was in the back seat.
Only just a few weeks prior to that, another depressed and angry man carried out a shooting rampage at the Navy Yard in D.C. that took more lives. Now, one might think that life is terribly out of control in our nation’s capital, but really, it’s just symbolic that mental health issues are seemingly being ignored all over the country. It shows what can happen when stressors have been allowed to build up and people can no longer control them. The situation finally explodes, often in tragedy.
Here I’d like to talk to you about seeking help for negative feelings like depression, stress, anxiety, anger, instead of carrying them around with you. Like these 3 cases alone show, mental health issues can spiral out of control and put you – and countless others – at high risk for a tragic outcome.
Warning Signs Your Stress Line Has Been Crossed
As a Certified Empowerment Coach, I often talk to people who are sometimes stressed out, frustrated, even angry, over their current life situation – lost, or troubling jobs, relationships, health issues, etc. They consult me looking for advice, or to help them find a happier solution. Very often, I’m able to empower them to make the best decision for themselves.
Yet, other times, I hear things from clients that give me pause for concern. I hear warning clues in their words, or emotional state, that they may be on the brink of a serious breakdown. Some of these clues include:
1. Barely sleeping at night, inability to concentrate, or stay awake during the day.
2. Getting into fights with everyone – spouse, co-workers, family, and “road rage”.
3. Bursting into tears, talking in pressured speech, while discussing what they’d like help with. These are warning signs that you’re mind is just under too much pressure and is trying desperately to let go of some of it.
4. Destruction of property – this may be as simply as breaking things in your own home, but also throwing rocks at cars, windows, defacing public places, etc.
5. Paranoid thoughts – people are conspiring against them, watching them, waiting for them to take a wrong move.
6. Poor personal, home grooming. People whose mental health is sliding stop being concerned about the hygiene and cleanliness of themselves, their clothes, homes, cars, etc.
7. Fantasizing, talking about killing someone or yourself. Are you so angry with someone, or a group of people, that these thoughts have crossed your mind?
8. Chronic, depressing, or negative criticism, of the work place, friends, family. Everyone has a bad day at work or with their friends or family. But chronically making disparaging comments about it is a red flag that something needs fixing fast.
9. Food/Substance Abuse. Not eating enough, eating, or drinking too much. People tend to drink more alcohol when they’re unhappy rather than any other recreational drug.
10. Isolation. Most psychologists and psychiatrists will agree that a major warning sign that people are mentally in trouble is isolating themselves. Not wanting to see friends, family, go to work, or acting in ways that push people away from them, is a major red flag they need help.
Your mental health should be as much a part of your doctor’s concern for you as your physical health. If you’re experiencing any of the warning signs mentioned above, please talk to your own medical doctor who can also refer you to the appropriate mental health professional. Together, they can offer much needed help to you before your symptoms end in tragedy.
Dale Brown, B.S., M.A., C.E.C.
Certified Empowerment Coach