Recognizing Early Warning Signs of a Mental Illness

One of my goals of writing “The Bipolar Writer” blog is to inform my followers. I also want to reach those who might read my blog on topics in mental illness awareness. Those that are seeking to understand in their own mental health. Or those who are trying to better understand someone they love with a mental illness. The best way to inform is to use my own experiences.

Most experts will agree with the following statement. Mental illnesses rarely emerge out of this air.

It is imperative that we look out for our loved ones as mental illnesses are becoming commonplace in our society. What I want to talk about on today’s blog are the early signs of mental illness. If we can catch a mental illness through education, it can mean our loved ones will get treatment sooner. That’s the goal. To make the upward trend of more mental illnesses that get treated each year to go down.

I will share some of the early signs according to experts and some that I have read over the years.

  1. One of the first signs of mental illness is with your mind. Problems with concentration is an early sign. I know in my own experience in middle school I had problems with concentration at times. It would lose my place while reading or studying. My mind would start racing at a million miles a minute. It became overwhelming.
  2. Other signs include problems with memory, logical thought, or even changes in speech.
  3. Experts say that a heightened sensitivity is an early sign. Things like sensitivity to sights, sounds, or even smells can be an early warning sign.
  4. A sign that was common in my life was a feeling that I had to avoid situations (a feeling of avoidance.) In my sophomore year in high school, I often felt the need to avoid school. I was “sick” all the time, but I didn’t like being in the social setting that is high school. I always wanted to be alone and I faked most social interactions. It was my earliest signs of my social anxiety.
  5. Another early sign according to experts is avoidance of over-stimulating situations. This could be another sign of anxiety. It could mean avoiding social situations like dances or football games. Or life in general.
  6. In my own experience, the lack of “wanting to get out of bed” for days at a time was a big early sign of my mental illness. I often felt “not interested” in anything that in a single day could provide a teenager. It was a sign of depression.
  7. A very common sign is when a person stops doing things that are good for personal hygiene. Not showering for days at a time. Not eating regular meals. Or a disinterest in daily activities of life is an early sign of depression.

If you see one of these signs in someone you love, don’t panic. For the most part, everyone deals with these things in life. Everyone gets depressed or anxious at some point in their life. When it doesn’t go away then it’s a sign of a bigger thing. If you start to see more than one of these signs in someone and over a period time. Then it might be time to look closely at the one you love.


Mental illnesses are a real thing. I have written so many different stories of other people’s journey and one thing is common. There were always signs that things were becoming a real issue and they chose to let it go. It’s a fear of the “mental illness” label.

The fact is the stigma surrounding mental illnesses keeps people from looking at the signs for fear of what it means.

People have told me so many times on this blog that they didn’t seek help because they were afraid of the label. Mental illness is not a bad label. In my mind, it’s not a label at all. It’s what some of us in society live with every day, and it’s not a bad thing. We are a strong community. If more voices talk about the stigma surrounding labels like Bipolar, then we can make a better world.


A world where every person suffering from a mental illness can talk about it, and not be afraid.

I will be the first to admit that I gave into the stigma for years. In the first three years after my diagnosis, I denied that there was something wrong with me. After three suicides I finally made the realization that I was Bipolar. I was part of the problem and these posts are my way of taking away the stigma.

It is why I continue to write my blog and why it is so important to share my experiences in my memoir. It means that my life is out there for the world to see, well then I am okay with it. The truth is the more we talk about mental illnesses the better the world will understand us.

And maybe. There won’t be an “us” anymore. I hope for a future where we don’t hide who we are with society.

It will never be easy. I understand that there are those in the mental illness community that are not as comfortable talking about the issues. It took me years to get here. That’s okay. It takes time and a lot of healing to get to a good place. I will keep writing and share the stories of others. If you want me to share your story I will do that for you.

My last point is this. If you think that you are suffering from a mental illness then seek help immediately. It could mean getting the help you need, and fewer problems down the road.

My list seems incomplete to me. So I offer this challenge to my fellow mental health bloggers. Write a post about some early signs of your mental illness in your own journey. We all had them that got us to this point.


Always Keep Fighting.

J.E. Skye

Photo Credit:

unsplash-logoNicholas Kwok

unsplash-logoEverton Vila


51 Replies to “Recognizing Early Warning Signs of a Mental Illness”

  1. Thanks for sharing this. This will definitely help a lot of people! There is such a stigma with mental illness. And it’s so hard to recognize the signs sometimes.
    Thanks for starting this blog!

    Liked by 1 person

  2. Love this, will be incredibly helpful for those who are unsure of the signs they are displaying!

    Liked by 1 person

    1. I am not convinced that mental illnesses can ever be truly “cured.” You can get better but things like depression and anxiety never go away for good. You can find the right combination of medicine that makes like manageable but a cure? It’s not possible right now. Maybe in the future. Most mental illnesses are due to a chemical imbalance that is why we take different medications.

      Liked by 1 person

  3. I had signs of mental illness as a child, but I didn’t know that at the time, no one else figured it out either. Not being able to ask to go to the bathroom, instead peeing my pants in the classroom. Not being able to focus on one thing. My mind would go blank. I could stare at a sentence forever and not know what it said. i still have that issue sometimes. I’m glad you write about this.

    Liked by 3 people

      1. You would think an adult eould have picked up on that, especially a teacher. I was 8 years old, way past potty training. But that was 50 years ago. Mental health has come a long way since then, but still has so far to go.


  4. Great post, as always! I feel like I’m going a little bit crazy right now just from internal battles. Sometimes I feel like I’m being torn apart 😦 I posted a bit about it today, but am finding it hard to share all that I want to share. For me, it is really hard sometimes to tell what is actually indicators of mental illness and what are indicators of trauma.

    Liked by 1 person

    1. I can understand that, it can be hard to differentiate. It took me years of journaling before I got to the place where I can share all that I want to share. Give it time. It’s not a race for any of us. Have faith that you will find the difference between indicators of mental illness and trauma.

      Liked by 1 person

  5. Thank you for this post. I believe this is very informative and insightful for those who need to understand what their loved ones or they themselves may be going through. Thank you, thank you, thank you! ❤️❤️

    Liked by 1 person

  6. Thanks for sharing this, it is very sad to realise how there were sings for so many years on end but they just weren’t recognised for what they were and I had to deal with it so much later in life.

    Liked by 1 person

    1. It was the same for me. I pushed the signs aside. I partly blame the stigma around having a mental illness but I gave into it. A lot of it was me not realizing the truth. Thank you for reading my blog post.

      Liked by 1 person

      1. I really am glad I discovered your blog. It is reassuring that you are not the only one like that out there and it’s great to know, where to look for support and find it!

        Liked by 1 person

      2. Well thank you for reading my blog. For it helps to know that what I share is being received by my fellow sufferers. It’s a kindred spirit that keeps me writing.

        Liked by 1 person

  7. I am up for the challenge, James! I avoided school in my junior year of High School. I had no interest in doing social things, and I developed anorexia, which sealed the deal. As I grew older, and to this day, I avoid social functions like the plague. Fabulous piece on the importance of communication, understanding and hope. Well done~

    Liked by 2 people

  8. Such an important thing to highlight. I can definitely relate to having had/sometimes still having feelings of avoidance, heightened sensitivity and no interest in getting out of bed. It’s comforting to read about other people’s experiences with this, and so important for decreasing societal stigma.Thanks for writing this!

    Liked by 1 person

  9. I’m really grateful to read about this. Thank you very much. And I’m surprised I could understand anything, so big thanks, as well, for a common, “normal” and quite easy language you choose to write. (This is positive !!) Because the more people can understand your texts (I’m from Germany, mostly not able to understand all those “science” news articles on web, do you know what I mean? ; ) This is absolutely great !! +++

    Liked by 1 person

    1. I am glad that my blog posts help you. I stay away from being to technical and instead I write for the masses. Thank you for reading my blog all the way from Germany. I have a really close friend that moved there recently. I plan to visit her hopefully this year.

      Liked by 1 person

  10. Thank you for this. I was diagnosed at 19 with bipolar and my mother had it as well. I am glad I have found so many people are open with it and okay with the “label”. I’m 32 now and still deal with it. I don’t take drugs anymore but try and use a more natural approach such as meditation to help control it. It still creeps up on me though especially now during the wintertime. I try to write motivational posts on my blog to help myself and others.

    Liked by 1 person

  11. Yes, I kept trying again and again. You have to almost retrain your brain. It doesn’t always work but I am a lot better now than I was before.

    Liked by 1 person

  12. It’s so funny, before your challenge at the end, I had already begun to compose a post in my head about my early warning signs! I will be sure to link back to this post when I publish that one


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