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Why Don't I Feel Like Myself? Exploring Mental Health

By Remy Meraz June 18, 2023


Key Takeaways

  • Feeling unlike oneself can stem from various mental and physical health issues.
  • It's important to seek help from mental health professionals when these feelings persist or become overwhelming.
  • Self-care practices, grounding techniques, and embracing life changes can aid in regaining your sense of self.
Why Don't I Feel Like Myself? Exploring Mental Health

Have you ever paused in the middle of a seemingly normal day, struck by the unsettling feeling, “Why don't I feel like myself?” At first, it might seem like an inconsequential hiccup in your mental well-being, but this query runs deeper than mere fleeting feelings. It taps into our core, raising questions about our mental health and identity.

Our mental health is a complex web of emotions, experiences, and memories, interwoven in a delicate balance that determines how we perceive the world and our place within it. When that equilibrium is disturbed, feelings of being detached or not feeling like oneself can manifest.

The causes for these sensations are numerous: a traumatic event, chronic stress, or even the silent creep of anxiety. The onset of such feelings might be gradual or sudden, but the impact can be profound. Suddenly, you might find the world appearing alien, or as if you're watching your life from a distance.

Understanding and nurturing our mental health is akin to tending to a delicate plant. Just as plants require the right balance of sun, soil, and water to flourish, our mental well-being depends on a myriad of factors. Negative feelings or a shift in our self-awareness can signal that something's amiss, much like wilting leaves indicate a plant's distress.

What makes this journey challenging is that there isn’t a one-size-fits-all solution. While some might find solace in self-reflection, others benefit from discussing their feelings with a trusted family member or seeking guidance from a mental health professional. Some might combat feelings of detachment by taking deep breaths, practicing grounding techniques, or even simply spending time in a local park, soaking in nature's therapeutic embrace.

But remember, feeling this way is not an anomaly; it's perfectly normal. Life's ebb and flow often come with waves of emotions and moments of introspection. These moments can be a catalyst for personal growth, driving us to prioritize our emotional well-being and seek answers.

In this exploration, we'll delve deep into understanding these feelings, offering insights, and equipping you with tools to navigate this intricate realm of emotions and self-awareness. Remember, the journey back to oneself, while complex, promises a deeper connection and understanding of who you truly are.

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Understanding the Core Feelings

In the vast landscape of our psyche, feelings and emotions serve as landmarks, guiding our reactions and shaping our perspectives. However, when we encounter sensations like "I don't feel like myself anymore," it can be like stumbling upon an uncharted territory, inducing a sense of disarray and confusion. To navigate this intricate terrain, let's begin by unmasking the origin of such negative feelings and dissecting the psychological layers beneath them.

Unmasking the Origin of Negative Feelings

Every emotion we experience, from profound joy to profound despair, has a root. Often, negative feelings originate from:

  1. Chronic Stress: The constant weight of daily responsibilities, societal expectations, and personal aspirations can take a toll, making us feel detached from our authentic selves.
  2. Traumatic Events: Incidents that shake our very core, be it a personal loss or a distressing experience, can push us into a protective emotional shell, altering how we feel and perceive.
  3. Mental Health Conditions: Conditions such as anxiety disorder or depression often come with a set of feelings and symptoms that can cloud our self-perception.

Dissecting the Psychological Layers

"I don't feel like myself anymore" is a statement laden with layers of complexities:

  • Emotional Overwhelm: The brain, in its bid to protect us, might suppress overwhelming emotions. This can create a rift between our conscious and subconscious mind, leading to feelings of detachment.
  • Anxiety's Grip: Anxiety, especially in its chronic form, has a way of distorting reality. It might exaggerate threats or induce a flight response, making us feel estranged from our surroundings and ourselves.
  • Self-Reflection and Growth: Paradoxically, moments when we feel most unlike ourselves can also be moments of deep self-reflection. They force us to confront aspects of our life or personality we might not be in sync with, propelling growth and change.
  • The Role of External Factors: Toxic people, relentless exposure to negative news, or even the pressure from social media can erode our sense of self. Taking a social media break or setting boundaries can often alleviate such feelings.

However, the most crucial understanding to have is that these feelings, while distressing, are not permanent markers of our psyche. They are like clouds, casting temporary shadows but eventually making way for clarity. Recognizing and acknowledging them is the first step towards understanding our deeper selves.

As we journey ahead, we'll explore tools and strategies to navigate and, more importantly, reconcile with these feelings, ensuring our mental and emotional well-being remains robust and resilient.

The Anatomy of Mental Health: Triggers and Symptoms

The human mind, intricate and profound, operates on a spectrum of emotions, sensations, and responses. When we delve into the anatomy of mental health, we find a complex web of triggers and symptoms that shape our experiences. From the often-misunderstood realm of anxiety disorders to the stealthy impact of chronic stress, understanding these facets is vital for maintaining our physical and mental health.

Introducing Anxiety Disorders and the Spectrum of Feelings

Anxiety disorders are more than just fleeting moments of worry. They encompass a broad range of conditions, each with its unique triggers, symptoms, and effects:

  • Generalized Anxiety Disorder (GAD): Marked by consistent and exaggerated worries about daily activities. Feelings of restlessness, fatigue, and irritability often accompany this.
  • Panic Disorder: Sudden and intense anxiety attacks that may feel like a heart attack. Symptoms include palpitations, sweating, and a fear of the next attack.
  • Social Anxiety Disorder: A profound fear of social interactions, driven by feelings of being judged or scrutinized.
  • Phobias: Intense, irrational fears of specific objects or situations.
  • Obsessive-Compulsive Disorder (OCD): Characterized by repetitive behaviors or thoughts, driven by underlying anxieties.

The Effects of Chronic Stress and the Physical and Mental Health Tolls

Stress, in its acute form, is a natural response to challenges. However, when it becomes chronic, it poses severe repercussions:

  • Physical Symptoms: Chronic stress can lead to sleep disturbances, muscle tension, headaches, and even digestive problems.
  • Emotional and Mental Impact: Feelings of being overwhelmed, irritable, or anxious are common. Over time, it can pave the way for depression and anxiety disorders.
  • Behavioral Consequences: Overeating, alcohol or drug abuse, and social withdrawal might emerge as coping mechanisms.
  • Cognitive Impairment: Persistent stress can affect focus, decision-making abilities, and memory.

Revealing the Unseen: Depressive Symptoms and Feelings of Detachment

Depression, often cloaked in misconceptions, manifests in subtle and not-so-subtle ways:

  • Physical Changes: A constant feeling of fatigue, changes in appetite and sleep patterns, and even physical pain can indicate depression.
  • Emotional Symptoms: Feelings of sadness, hopelessness, guilt, and worthlessness are telltale signs. Anhedonia, or the inability to feel happy or derive pleasure from activities, is a crucial symptom.
  • Cognitive and Behavioral Indicators: Indecisiveness, lack of concentration, and suicidal thoughts or tendencies require immediate attention.

Furthermore, a common yet overlooked symptom of depression is a feeling of detachment or disconnection from oneself and the world. This isn't just a fleeting sensation; it's an emotional numbness that affects one's perception of life, relationships, and self.

Understanding these facets of mental health is more than an academic exercise. It's a journey towards self-awareness, enabling us to recognize the signals our minds and bodies send. In the subsequent sections, we'll delve into tools, strategies, and resources to navigate these challenges and foster a deeper connection with ourselves.

Self-awareness: The Beacon in the Fog of Self-Doubt

In the swirling fog of negative thoughts, chronic stress, and the anxieties of life, a beacon stands resolute and guiding - self-awareness. This intrinsic understanding of oneself can spell the difference between being trapped in a cycle of self-doubt and finding clarity, grounding, and purpose. As we unravel the significance of self-awareness, we'll touch upon the transformative power of self-reflection and explore grounding techniques that offer solace when the world feels disorienting.

The Power of Self-Reflection and Its Role in Understanding Oneself

Self-reflection, at its core, is an intimate conversation with oneself. A deep dive into our emotions, motivations, and desires. By pausing, looking inward, and asking pivotal questions, we start to decipher why sometimes we might think, "why don't I feel like myself?"

  • Decoding Emotions: Recognizing and understanding our feelings, whether they're spurred by anxiety or spurred by moments of joy, can shape our emotional well-being.
  • Unearthing Patterns: Over time, you might spot patterns in your reactions to certain situations or people. Recognizing these can guide your responses and decisions in the future.
  • Clarifying Values: Knowing what truly matters to you can provide a clear direction, especially during times of turmoil or indecision.
  • Healing and Growth: Reflection can be therapeutic, offering insights that might otherwise remain buried, and fostering growth.

Explore self-reflection questions to deepen your understanding of your inner self.

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Grounding Techniques: Anchoring Yourself When the World Feels Unfamiliar

There are moments when the whirlwind of stress, anxiety, and the overwhelming pace of life can make us feel detached or adrift. Grounding techniques are tools designed to anchor us back to the present moment, creating a bridge between the mind and the physical world.

  • 5-4-3-2-1 Technique: Focus on your surroundings. Identify five things you can see, four you can touch, three you can hear, two you can smell, and one you can taste.
  • Deep Breaths: Simple, yet profound. Taking deliberate, deep breaths can calm the flight response triggered by anxiety or stress.
  • Physical Grounding: Stomp your feet, clench and unclench your fists, or touch various objects around you. These actions help remind you of the physical world.
  • Visualization: Close your eyes and imagine a place where you feel safe and calm. It could be a beach, a local park, or a cherished memory.

Cultivating self-awareness and harnessing the benefits of self-reflection and grounding techniques can be pivotal in navigating the mazes of our minds. They remind us that even in the darkest moments, there's a beacon within each of us, illuminating the path to understanding, empathy, and healing.

Seeking the Right Help: Pathways to Recovery

Embarking on the journey to mental well-being is akin to navigating a complex maze; though the path might be fraught with challenges, every turn offers a potential insight, and every step forward is a testament to resilience and hope. Key to this journey is seeking the right help. Whether it's turning to a mental health professional or drawing strength from our close-knit circles, the support systems we choose play an integral role in shaping our pathways to recovery.

The Critical Role of a Mental Health Professional in One's Journey

A trained mental health professional, be it a therapist, counselor, or psychiatrist, offers more than just a listening ear. Their expertise bridges the gap between our feelings and the medical, psychological understanding of what we might be going through.

  • Diagnosis and Understanding: Pinpointing specific mental health conditions can be a complex endeavor, but professionals can offer clarity, giving names to the feelings and symptoms we experience.
  • Therapeutic Techniques: Tailored therapy sessions provide coping mechanisms, grounding techniques, and strategies to manage and mitigate symptoms of disorders such as anxiety or depression.
  • Medication (if needed): For some, medication can be a beneficial aspect of treatment. A mental health professional can advise on its need, potential benefits, and oversee its administration.
  • Creating a Safe Space: A therapy room is a judgment-free zone, a place where one's feelings, fears, and hopes are validated and addressed with empathy.

Emotional Support: How Family, Friends, and Community Matter

Beyond the confines of a therapist's office, our emotional landscape is deeply influenced by the people we surround ourselves with. Family members, friends, and the broader community can serve as pillars of support, understanding, and love.

  • A Listening Ear: Sometimes, merely talking about what we're going through can make all the difference. A trusted friend or family member offers solace through empathy and understanding.
  • Acts of Kindness: Whether it's a surprise visit, a heartfelt message, or just spending time together in silence, these gestures remind us of the love and care that surrounds us.
  • Shared Activities: Engaging in shared activities, be it a walk in the local park, joining a community group, or pursuing a shared hobby can be therapeutic, offering a sense of belonging and purpose.
  • Community Support: Support groups, both offline and online, connect individuals undergoing similar experiences, fostering a sense of camaraderie and mutual understanding.

In essence, the journey to mental and emotional well-being is multifaceted. While a mental health professional offers expertise and guidance, our personal networks of family, friends, and community imbue our journey with love, understanding, and the reassurance that we're not alone. By actively seeking the right help and nurturing these connections, we forge a path to recovery that's both resilient and illuminated by hope.

Practical Strategies to Reconnect with Your Inner Self

In the age of perpetual connectivity, ceaseless notifications, and mounting responsibilities, it's no surprise that many of us feel detached from our true selves. We become strangers to our own emotions and feelings. However, amidst the noise, finding peace and rekindling the connection to our inner selves isn't a herculean task. With the right strategies, we can center our minds, eliminate the static of negative thoughts, and rediscover the essence of who we are.

From Deep Breaths to Meaningful Breaks: Techniques to Center Oneself

Taking time for oneself is not a luxury; it's a necessity for our mental well-being. Here are some straightforward techniques:

  • Deep Breaths: Simple yet profoundly effective, taking a few deep breaths helps in reducing stress, calming the mind, and offering a moment of respite from the chaos.
  • Mindful Meditation: Even just a few minutes of meditation daily can lead to increased self-awareness and a greater sense of calm.
  • Gratitude Journaling: Taking time to note down what you're grateful for helps shift focus from what's lacking to what's abundant in life.
  • Stay Active: Physical activity, whether it's a brisk walk, yoga, or a workout session, can have significant benefits for both physical and mental health.

Navigating the Social Media Landscape for a Healthier Mental Well-being

The digital realm, especially social media, is a double-edged sword. While it connects us, it can also be a source of stress, comparison, and anxiety.

  • Scheduled Breaks: Taking a social media break, even if it's just for a few hours or a weekend, can help recalibrate our minds.
  • Mindful Consumption: Curate your feed. Follow accounts that inspire, educate, and uplift. Unfollow or mute those that lead to feelings of inadequacy or negativity.
  • Limit Notifications: Not every notification warrants immediate attention. Designate specific times to check social media, email, or other apps.

Evading the Cycle of Negative Thoughts and Relearning Self-love

Negative thinking can easily spiral into a vicious cycle. Breaking free requires conscious effort, but the rewards are manifold.

  • Challenge Your Thoughts: Not all thoughts are facts. When a negative thought arises, challenge it. Ask yourself: Is this true? What evidence supports it? Often, you'll find these thoughts are merely perceptions, not reality.
  • Affirmations: Positive affirmations, repeated daily, can help instill a sense of self-worth and love.
  • Seek Professional Help: If negative thoughts become overwhelming, consider seeking guidance from a mental health professional. They can provide coping strategies and a fresh perspective.

Self-love is essential, dive deeper into its importance. Read our blog post on Why You Should Learn To Love Yourself First.

Rediscovering oneself amidst the cacophony of life's demands can be a journey, but it's one that leads to profound understanding, peace, and happiness. By adopting these practical strategies, we can nurture our mental well-being, reaffirm our worth, and reconnect with the core of our being, where true contentment lies.

If you want to learn more about embracing the opposite of victimhood, click here to read the full blog post.

For practical strategies to calm anxiety at work, check out our blog post on this topic.

Misconceptions and Myths: What's "Normal" in Mental Health

Navigating the intricacies of mental health is challenging. The journey becomes even more complex when shrouded in myths and misconceptions. It's crucial to differentiate between fact and fiction when discussing feelings, symptoms, and well-being. This not only empowers individuals to seek appropriate help but also fosters understanding and empathy in society.

Debunking Myths: From the "Flight Response" to "Just Feeling Blue"

  1. Flight Response is Overreacting: Often, people label the flight response as overreacting. However, it's a deeply ingrained biological mechanism that safeguards us from perceived threats. Dismissing it belittles individuals grappling with anxiety and may deter them from seeking help.
  2. "Just Feeling Blue": Dismissing depressive symptoms as merely "feeling blue" is a detrimental oversimplification. It's essential to recognize that depression is a serious mental health condition, requiring intervention and support.
  3. Only Traumatic Events Lead to Mental Health Issues: While traumatic events can exacerbate mental health conditions, they're not the sole cause. Genetics, chronic stress, or even hormonal changes can play a role.
  4. Seeing a Therapist Means You're "Crazy": This damaging myth can prevent many from seeking help. Engaging in therapy or talking to a mental health professional is a sign of strength and self-awareness.

Emphasizing that Everyone's Journey with Mental Health is Unique

Each individual's experience with mental health is as unique as their fingerprint. What might be perfectly normal for one person can be distressing for another. Some might find solace in self-reflection after stressful events, while others might need the emotional support of family members and friends.

It's pivotal to remember:

  • Mental Health is Fluid: Just as physical health can fluctuate, so can one's mental well-being. It's perfectly normal to have ups and downs.
  • Symptoms Vary: What one person experiences with an anxiety disorder may differ from another's experience. The intensity, frequency, and type of symptoms can widely vary.
  • Seeking Help is Crucial: Regardless of how insignificant or common a symptom may seem, reaching out to a mental health professional can make all the difference. They can provide guidance, support, and coping mechanisms tailored to individual needs.

The world of mental health is vast and nuanced. By dispelling myths and fostering a culture of understanding and empathy, we can ensure that everyone receives the support they need. It's essential to remember that no matter how one might feel, help is available, and there's no shame in seeking it.

Embracing the Journey to Mental Well-being

The expedition into one's own mind, filled with its nuances, layers, and mysteries, is a formidable yet enriching journey. Each step we take in understanding our feelings, acknowledging our struggles, and celebrating our triumphs, big or small, brings us closer to achieving mental well-being. The phrase "Why don't I feel like myself?" is more than a fleeting thought—it's a beckoning call for introspection and self-awareness.

Throughout this exploration of mental health, we've underscored the pivotal role of self-reflection, the guiding light of self-awareness, and the significance of seeking appropriate help. Embracing our unique journey ensures that we treat ourselves with compassion, fostering a healthy relationship with our minds.

If you're looking for practical daily habits to enhance your mental wellness, check out our blog post on 20 Daily Habits to Track for Improved Mental Wellness.

It's paramount to remember that our mental health voyage isn't a solitary one. The communities around us, the knowledge we seek, and the professionals we turn to all play vital roles in shaping our paths. As we conclude, let's reinforce the importance of continued learning, being open to support, and most importantly, celebrating every ounce of progress we make in the realm of mental health.

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About Remy Meraz

Remy Meraz, co-founder, and CEO of Zella Life, is a visionary leader who leveraged corporate glass ceiling challenges as a woman of color to drive systemic change.

While leading and cultivating high-performance teams from VC-backed startups to Fortune 500, she consistently faced obstacles such as inadequate mentorship, lack of psychological safety, and non-personalized training. Taking matters into her own hands, she turned to executive coaching and NLP training. This life-changing growth experience led to breaking leadership barriers and a passion for cognitive psychology.

Motivated by her experiences, she co-founded Zella Life, an innovative AI-driven coaching platform bridging the talent development gap by enhancing soft skills and emotional intelligence (EQ) in the workplace.

Her vision with Zella Life is to transform professional development into an inclusive and impactful journey, focused on the distinct needs of both individuals and organizations. She aims to promote advancement and culture change by ensuring every professional's growth is acknowledged and supported.

Today, Remy is recognized as an influential innovator, trainer, mentor, and business leader. Under her leadership, Zella Life has delivered significant measurable outcomes for numerous well-known brands. This track record of positive outcomes garnered attention and funding from Google for Startups and Pledge LA, establishing Zella Life as a pivotal force in the learning and development arena tackling and resolving fundamental talent development issues for organizations of all sizes.

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