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21 Things You Should Expect When I'm Having a Bad Mental Health Day

Having a bad mental health day can be incredibly challenging — especially when the world around you seems to carry on as you struggle internally. You might hide that struggle under the guise of a smile, productivity, silence or one of the many coping mechanisms you’ve developed, but that doesn’t always make it any less difficult.

It’s not always easy to explain what a bad mental health day is like. That is why we asked our Mighty mental health community to share things others can expect from them when they’re having a bad mental health day. That way, we can continue to understand how to support one another through the good days — and the bad.

Here is what they had to say:

1. “I need a little more time to do things. I won’t be able to function as well compared to a good day.” — Emily C.

2. “I don’t have the energy to talk about errands I need to run or even do small tasks. My roommate boiled me some ravioli yesterday and it was a huge help to me just to not have to worry about waiting for the water to boil and then worry about a timer and draining a heavy pot into a strainer. People doing little things for me means more to me than they realize.” — Jill K.

3. “They can expect me to ignore messages and phone calls, and any interpersonal contact. Usually it means I am sitting on my couch, wrapped in a blanket, with the curtains pulled closed, watching mind-numbing TV programs (or reading a book) so I can shut off what is going on in my head. Even being around my son is too much, and he’s 20. My dog and my cat can even feel too demanding on these days.” — Sarah H.

4. “I consider it a major success if I get out of bed and put clothes on. Not even clean clothes. Just clothes. I am extremely irritable and moody. And the inability to care about anything dominates my life.” — Monica S.

5. “I become unreliable. I have asked friends to text, rather than call me. Talking on the phone is exhausting. I never know how I will be from one day to the next.” — Nancy S.

6. “[I ask] alot of questions all aimed to gain some reassurance everything is all right and that I’m liked and approved of.” — Kristy D.

7. “Mental fog. I can’t focus. And I know when it’s going to be bad mental health day the moment I wake up. I can feel that monster breathing down my neck. I can tell the days when an anxiety attack is coming. Some people claim it just happens, but I can feel the build up coming. I hide in my office at work. I don’t do small talk. I go from point A to point B without chatting or making eye contact, waiting to wrestle with the monster when he shows up. Don’t tell me to breath or relax. I know what I’m doing. I’ve done it several times. Just buckle up and be understanding and tell me you’re glad to see me. I know I look pale. I know I’m fidgeting. I know I’m breathing weird and yeah maybe I just got done crying. You don’t need to point it out.” — Michael J.

8. “Withdrawal and isolation, rapid mood swings, sleepiness, glazed eyed and foggy mind. Also a lot of the time I get really intense physical pain in my abdomen and throughout my body so I could be lying around all day too.” — Gabby M.

9. “I become short-tempered — no patients, snappy, irritated by everything and everyone. Tired! Tired when I get up, tired during the day, waiting for a time that is expectable to go to bed but then dreading the fact that I will have to get up with the alarm.” — Becky T.

10. “I am paranoid about everything and usually convinced everyone does not love me.” — Faith D.

11. “[Don’t] expect me to do physical or emotional labor. I need space, I need support; but mostly I need to not feel bad for needing those things.” — Meghan B.

12. “I completely shut down. I often don’t have the ability to get in the shower or get dressed and I can’t gather the strength to leave the house. I cancel plans because I really am too sick to go anywhere. I often sleep and if I do wake up, I stare at my phone in bed or re-watch episodes of a TV show I’ve seen a thousand times so I don’t have to pay attention to it. Mostly I sleep and cry. It’s not something anyone can talk me out of or hug me out of, my friends and family have tried. Only the right medication and time has helped so far.” — Rebecca L.

13. “Everything confuses and frustrates me. It’s like walking through a labyrinth and each exit I see is a mirage.” — Cash P.

14. “Serious distraction/forgetfulness, legit just zero motivation. Like people joke about it — I’ll be at home and literally starving because I can’t find the will to get up and boil some noodles with butter and salt or microwave a burrito. Or I’ll be in hyperdrive trying to do 100 things at once and then screwing it all up, even if there all small things like remembering to mail something, then getting super overwhelmed” — Cheyenne L.

15. “How disconnected I am. I will have trouble following conversations and completing simple tasks. My husband and family are very good at making allowances, but they still try to help too much and it just makes me anxious. Just give me a hug and maybe nudge me when I forget why I am in the kitchen.” — Becky B.

16. “I start to desperately seek validation if it’s a bad borderline personality disorder (BPD) day. I might message you with unrealistically jovial things just to see if you reply, I might cook obsessively so I can invite you to dinner; on those days I just want someone to tell me I matter and that you want to spend time with me.” — Val P.

17. “I can be completely silent. You won’t hear more than the bare minimum from me all day. All I want to do is curl up in a ball and go to sleep. I might randomly start crying. If I’m at work, I may go to the bathroom more often so I can have extra alone time.” — Kaili M.

18. “Distracted! Finding it hard to stay present because I’m ‘stuck in my head.’ As a Mum to two little girls, I work hard all day to stay present, which means I’m exhausted by the end of the day.” — Rachel H.

19. “Saying I’m near the edge or telling them to stay away from me to avoid unnecessary bursts of emotional breakdown.” — Mary S.

20. “Chicken nuggets for dinner. Cooking takes too much energy.” — Sarah M.

21. “[They can expect] friction, unfortunately. They can expect nothing and yet everything. They can expect tears and murmurs from the depths of my despair. They cannot expect magical words to make it disappear.” — Jeim T.

If you or someone you know needs help, visit our suicide prevention resources page.

If you need support right now, call the National Suicide Prevention Lifeline at 1-800-273-8255, the Trevor Project at 1-866-488-7386 or reach the Crisis Text Line by texting “START” to 741-741.

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Getty image via bernardbodo