Do you suspect that a friend or loved one is having a hard time weathering the inevitable storms of life?
It is understandably difficult for those in the eye of a hurricane to reach out for help. Thus, it is important, especially considering the isolating effects of COVID, that we remain vigilant of these warning signs and stay supportive throughout.
Here are 8 signs someone is secretly struggling:
1. Change in Demeanor
Has this person been acting more subdued, aloof, or irritable recently? An abrupt change in personality could signal a few things; if transient, this person may have just had a bad day. On the other hand, if this change lasts for days or even weeks, this person could be struggling with something more profound.
2. Neglecting Hygiene
Sometimes the best reflection of our inner state is our exterior appearance. Those that are preoccupied with deep problems may neglect basic self care such as showering, washing their face, or changing their shirt from day to day. Because hygiene may be a touchy subject, if you notice any of these signs, simply check in with how they are doing.
This one shouldn’t stun most, as day-drinking is a commonly recognized cry for help. Drinking during the daylight hours, in large volumes, or both is an unhealthy method some may turn to as a coping mechanism. Remember that those with drug or alcohol dependence are just ignoring their problems as they accumulate, so it is important to refrain from enabling excessive drinking.
4. Defaulting on Responsibility
Has this person been absent from work for a while now? For those dealing with something in their personal lives, surviving past each day can become a taxing uphill climb. Daily tasks including attending class or showing up at work no longer becomes their priority.
5. Sleeping Too Much or Too Little
How long does this person sleep? Those that oversleep consistently may be subconsciously avoiding the difficult situation they are in by using sleep as their escapism. Others lay in bed restlessly tossing and turning wrestling with their unpleasant situation.
6. Emotional Volatility
Those stuck in a ditch of solitary suffering may be experiencing some of every emotion all at once. If they become brash with you, remember to refrain from taking these comments as personal, and allow them some distance when they need it. Instead, guide them through easy breathing exercises and meditations, or take them on a scenic walk outside.
7. Rapid Weight Loss
While this may be a symptom of many things-among them eating disorders and body dysmorphia, in concert with the other indicators on this list, this sign may be linked to internal struggling. A loss of appetite and general disregard for subsistence can manifest in unintended weight loss.
Did this person used to knock on your door whenever they needed help? When they neglect to do so as frequently anymore, it could be that the storm clouds have cleared up-or it could actually be the exact opposite. Situations as these are hard to come to terms with, let alone discuss with others. Refrain from forcing discussion, instead let them know that you will remain there on every step of the road.
Recognizing these signs is a good first step to being a source of support at a time of need. The next step, expressing your concern and being a compassionate listener, is equally as important. If the gravity of the situation escalates, don’t be hesitant to contact a trusted adult or counselor for help.
Hope this helped!
Anthem. “Mental Health: Signs That Someone May Need Help.” Anthem Blue Cross and Blue Shield, Anthem, 2 June 1970, www.anthem.com/coronavirus/blog/well-being-and-community/mental-heath-signs-that-someone-may-need-help/.
“Encouraging a Friend to Reach Out for Help.” ULifeline, www.ulifeline.org/articles/407-encouraging-a-friend-to-reach-out-for-help.
“How To Recognise When Someone Is Struggling With Their Mental Health.” Coach, www.coachmag.co.uk/mental-health/7750/how-to-recognise-when-someone-is-struggling-with-their-mental-health.
“Signs a Friend Might Need Help.” ULifeline, www.ulifeline.org/articles/406-signs-a-friend-might-need-help.