I have extreme mood swings, don't know what to do. Small issues upset me, and it could go on for hours or days. Also, I get happy when I am complimented by someone I like and that feeling stays on. In fact, I have a happy face all the time, and I rarely put my guard down, but inside I might be upset. How can I tackle my mood swings and lead a normal life.
A reader, who wishes to remain anonymous, asks.
Dr Melanie C. Schlatter, Health Psychologist, Well Woman Clinic, Dubai, replies
I'm sorry to hear about the difficulties you have been facing. Emotions and mood swings that seem out of one's control can be worrying and stressful; you may even wonder if it is normal. Well, the facts are that small issues can indeed upset us, but it shouldn't last for days at a time.
Likewise with compliments -- it's wonderful to get external validation and be socially approved of -- but whether you feel unrealistically happy as a result, or if you need that compliment to make you feel happy or to erase the upsetting smaller issues, then it may indicate an issue worth exploring.
Sometimes when one is hurting inside, overthinking / ruminating, or feeling like things are out of control, we put on a happy face to hide our turmoil. You see, it's easier to smile and pretend, than it is to be vulnerable and tell someone we need help, and perhaps this is why you "rarely put your guard down"-- an underlying fear of being hurt or of appearing weak.
There are many reasons why we try to protect ourselves this way, but it can be difficult to continue coping if we don't express our emotions appropriately, or if our emotions are just unpredictable and carrying us away with them, as such. You would definitely benefit from a thorough assessment of your current situation, because you can then be given appropriate strategies and support to help you. In turn, you will find it easier to focus on that 'normal life' that you wish to lead.
What you can do
First and foremost, I would recommend consulting with your General Practitioner to check your medical health and lifestyle habits, to make sure they are not influencing your mood (eg., thyroid, iron, hormones if you are female, sleep etc). They can refer you to a Qualified Mental Health Practitioner for further support regarding emotion regulation, specific to your situation.
If you feel like hurting yourself or others due to your mood, then it is absolutely imperative to seek professional help.
Note down any stressors, triggers and patterns regarding your experience -- what do you notice? This will be helpful to bring to your practitioner too.
Are there things that you like to do which help to calm your mind or contain your emotions?
Learn some calming or breathing techniques to help you manage those down times, and to help you feel more grounded in general.
Do have an idea of what your 'normal life' would look like. What would be different? It's always good to be able to work towards! But this will be easier, when you get help for the above. Good luck!
If you have questions that you would like answered by a mental health professional in the UAE, please write in to firstname.lastname@example.org. Also, please let us know if you'd rather stay anonymous.
Disclaimer: This blog is a conversation and is not an alternative for treatment. The recommendations and suggestions offered by our panel of doctors are their own and Gulf News will not take any responsibility for the advice they provide.