Life can be tough – full of good, bad, and downright awful days.
How we deal with that stress, though, depends on the individual.
Some people yell, scream, cry, and kick up a fuss. Maybe they take their angst out on someone else (perhaps, even you).
It’s not up for debate – they have a problem. And it’s clear to you (and everyone else in the vicinity) that they’re triggered, upset, or angry.
Then, there are those who keep it hidden.
Locked away so deep, that the world’s most intuitive person would fail to detect that something’s amiss.
Even Sherlock would be stomped.
In fact, their performance is so flawless, that they’ve convinced themselves that everything is all fine and dandy.
But eventually, cracks begin to appear.
All that’s left is a deeply troubled person. And all those pent-up emotions? They’re staring you right in the face.
Bare and exposed for all to see.
The signs seem so obvious now, to the point that you’re scratching your head wondering how you didn’t notice sooner.
But how do you spot the truth before it’s too late?
Well, if someone is secretly struggling in life, they’ll display these seven behaviors.
Read on to discover what to look for.
1) They seem more distant than usual
It may start off slow. A missed call here, an ignored text there. If they do eventually reply, they seem withdrawn and detached. Perhaps even a little evasive or touchy.
And when they speak to you, it’s like an automated response.
They’re certainly not their usual chirpy self, and you may start to wonder if you did something wrong.
You just can’t quite put your finger on it.
Before long, they’re making excuses and bailing on long-standing plans.
Here’s the thing.
When someone’s facing difficulties, it might be hard for them to open up or admit they have a problem. They might be embarrassed, or perhaps they don’t want to be a burden.
It’s also possible they are trying to avoid the issue altogether.
But you can only bottle your emotions up for so long. Eventually, they’re going to erupt and spill into everyday life.
That brings us to the next point.
2) They are up one minute and down the next
Is your friend or loved one suffering from unexplained mood swings?
Perhaps they’re constantly yoyo-ing from happy to sad. Or maybe they’re prone to anger and sudden, unexpected outbursts.
Let me explain.
A volatile temperament could be the result of internal conflict.
They may appear more irritable, anxious, or even overly cheerful as they try to mask their underlying problems.
But it’s all a facade – a defense mechanism to help them cope.
Dubbed smiling depression, this medical term is used by doctors to describe someone who is hiding their true feelings.
And while there’s evidence that smiling can trick your brain into feeling happy, this fake it-till-you-make-it attitude won’t fix the root cause or reduce the anxiety they’re experiencing.
In fact, suppressing your emotions can have disastrous consequences – emotional fluctuations being just the start.
When all is said and done, this pretense is exhausting and a drain on their mental well-being.
Something that forces them to find a way to numb the pain.
3) They self-medicate
Your friend has always liked a drink. Who doesn’t?
Lately, though. You’ve noticed a change, and that one drink with dinner has turned into several. Not only that but the serving size has gotten considerably larger.
But it doesn’t stop there.
Now, they’re dragging you down with them. It’s difficult to keep up the pace and things are rapidly escalating.
You tell yourself, “They’re just letting off steam.”
Who doesn’t like a drink after a hard day at work?
But before you know it, the bottles are racking up and their demeanor has transformed. This doesn’t strike you as fun anymore, and the person staring back at you is a shell of their former self.
Well, it sounds like they might be self-medicating.
Sometimes, people turn to alcohol, drugs, or other substances to numb their pain or escape from their problems.
And it’s not just drugs and alcohol.
It could be excessive time spent playing video games, consuming comfort foods, overspending, or binge-watching TV.
Anything to distract themselves.
But just like a fake smile, it’s only a band-aid – a short-term solution that won’t fix the problem.
And eventually, this method of self-medication will only make the issue worse, with it affecting other areas in their everyday life.
This leads nicely to the next point.
4) They have trouble focusing
Do you ever get the feeling that someone’s not listening to you? Not properly, at least.
They’re looking directly at you, nodding along to everything you say, and even making the occasional gesture.
But their glazed-over eyes, blank expression, and generic responses say it all!
It’s like the lights are on, but nobody’s home.
You could be revealing the secrets of the universe and they couldn’t care less.
Clearly, something’s on their mind.
Well, having trouble focusing, meeting deadlines, or completing tasks on time can be a major red flag.
What’s more, a decline in job performance or academic achievements is often a result of their hidden personal struggles.
In short, they’re distracted and it’s bleeding into their personal and professional life.
As a result, they desperately try to regain control by obsessing over anything they can.
5) They obsess over getting it perfect
They’ve always been a bit of a perfectionist.
They’re taking it to extremes.
They obsess over every little detail until it’s just right… perfect even. It’s like they’re going slowly insane.
But here’s the thing.
It’s a distraction.
Deep down they’re suffering and they know it. They just don’t know how to deal with it.
Instead, they overcompensate and push themselves to the limit in order to mask their hidden insecurities.
Even if it means putting their personal health and well-being on the back burner.
6) They neglect self-care
Pressure and emotional distress affect everyone differently.
And when someone’s overwhelmed, it can take a toll on a person’s physical health.
Weight loss, changes in eating habits, lack of sleep, or neglecting self-care can all be indicative of underlying issues.
There might also be a noticeable decline in their hygiene and personal grooming routine.
Either way, something’s up!
It’s like they’ve completely given up on life and the things that they love.
7) They abandon the things they love
Until recently, they had a long list of pursuits. They used to be excited to try new things, go to unexplored places, and try unusual foods.
But something has changed.
Over time, they’ve slowly abandoned their hobbies and passions.
And the things they once loved have seemingly lost their appeal.
What’s more, they’re lacking their usual passion and enthusiasm for life.
And they have trouble committing to future plans, this could be another sign that they’re grappling with personal challenges.
If left unaddressed, it’s only going to get worse.
So, if you notice any of the above behaviors, don’t ignore them. Your friend, loved one, or coworker might be secretly struggling.
It could be as simple as checking in to say hi and reminding them you’re there if they need you.