Knowing Yourself (noticing mental illness)

Recently I’ve learned a big deal about mental health. One of the facts that caught my attention is that people don’t usually seek help, and often can’t tell that they’re going through some suboptimal situation they could work on.

Stigma (fear of finding out you’re mentally ill), cycles in the symptoms, and the difficulty of knowing that your mind is behaving oddly (because you think with your mind) may all play a role in this. When I encounter a difficulty, I like to tool it away. Thus, a log of how we’re feeling may help detect when we’re feeling differently or showing a different pattern. Because we’re using an external tool during a long amount of time, it is easier to see if the patterns change, because we’re dispensing with our momentary subjective point of view to analyze our long term subjective time-lapses.

This goes in line with the initiative of the guys at Quantified Mind, and the Quantified Self movement. Besides keeping a dairy (narrating what happened during the day) and a log (timestamped list of things you do) to be able to find any anomalies, it’s useful to evaluate yourself in from 1 to 10 in Energy and Mood, and taking some of the tests from Quantified Mind should be helpful enough. Setting up experiments with them can help you see if anything you change in your habits has significant impacts. Periodically looking through your tendencies, log and dairy to notice correlations on your feelings and other variables can help you detect cycles.

If you feel like things are going wrong even though things may look to be alright, or if you notice sharp cycles in your feelings, it could be important to seek help. Please, do not be blindsided by an illness which can be controlled, hopefully kept out of your normal life.

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