1. You’re reckless with yourself and those around you
The big realisation for me was that my behaviour was self-destructive. It had gone beyond adventurous and risky into deliberate sabotage not just of myself but of those around me. It took me some time to see that this was happening – I think I only realised the full extent of what I was doing a couple of years after I made significant changes to my life. At the time, I was so wrapped up in myself that I could only think of how unfair everything was when I didn’t get what I wanted.
2. You don’t sleep well
This may seem an insignificant issue – for many people, especially those who are parents of young children, lack of sleep is the norm. I cannot emphasise enough how important good sleep is to your state of mind. It is something you have to work at but the difference you will feel between being tired and well rested is enormous.
3. You feel that you fail constantly
At my lowest ebb, it seemed that literally everything I did was disastrous. Professionally and personally, nothing worked. I couldn’t even manage making a meal for my family without some part of it being busted. Failing at a particular skill should be a welcome part of learning to improve at anything but feeling a failure yourself should never be normal.
4. You are quick to anger
This was also hard for me to recognise. It still is, sometimes. For as long as I can remember, I have always become frustrated quickly if I wasn’t able to complete a task or learn something. While that is not always the best approach to take to learning and success, it does at least show that doing well means something to me. When it became problematic was when this frustration spilled over into everyday tasks like making coffee or the kids’ school lunches. At its worst, the anger became an automatic response to almost everything that didn’t work as well as I wanted.
5. You can’t concentrate
Noticing a gradual reduction in my ability to focus was one of the most telling signs for me that all was not well. More often than not, the will to get something done was there but I simply couldn’t get anything to go in. I would be distracted by how unreasonable it was that I couldn’t do something else, or get sucked into examining what my colleagues were up to and why they were doing better than me.