Been in a funk lately and can’t figure out why? Recently Andrew, 28, came in to see me puzzled over why he’d been feeling unusually irritable, sensitive, down and unfocused lately. He’d been doing what most of us do when untoward feelings emerge, i.e. anything he could to avoid facing them. He was drinking a little too much, consuming large quantities of comfort food as a way to escape his unwanted feelings.
After having ruled out a clinical mood disorder and other potential medical conditions which may have triggered his symptoms (e.g. thyroid disease) the real detective work began. I then took Andrew through what I call a Whole Life Inventory, a very common-sense exercise that any of us can do when the origins of our distress elude us. Whether we realize it or not our lives are broken down into components, the sum of which creates a whole life picture. And if any one of these components is “mal-functioning” it can begin to wreak havoc with the overall quality of our lives.
The good news is that although speaking with a Behavioral Health Professional can be extremely beneficial, taking your own Life Inventory is something you can do for free, right here and now, and this is what I did with Andrew. We looked at the various aspects of his life, below, and rated each on a scale of 1-10:
Health, Fitness and Exercise: Andrew recently had an annual physical and his general health looked good. He had injured his ankle a number of months earlier, however, and was forced to give up volley ball, something he loved. Since starting to feel down he had stopped exercising altogether and his nutrition was poor. Andrew rated this area of his life a 3.
Job/Career: Andrew loved being a software engineer for a Fortune 100 company. About 9 months prior to our meeting, however, half of his department was let go and Andrew was now performing the job of 2 people. He found himself increasingly over-whelmed and short-tempered. But he kept thinking that because he is in the career of his choice he should have been able to roll with the circumstances. Upon reflection he rated this area of his life a 4.
Intimate Relationships: Andrew grew up across the country in a very close-knit family. One of his brothers lived near by until a few months ago and this left a significant hole in Andrew’s life. His relationship with his girlfriend was strong, however, and he rated this area of his life a 7.
Social Support/Network: Andrew was a social animal and would normally have rated this area of his life a 9. The fact that he found himself choosing TV and computer games over an evening with his best buds brought it down to a 7.
Home Environment: Andrew loved his apartment including the reams of sports memorabilia it housed. In fact he’d have benefited from a vermin infestation as it might have forced him out of his all-too-comfortable man cave! He rated home a 10.
Spirituality: Formal religion was something Andrew had resisted once he left home for college, however, he felt bereft when things weren’t going well in his life. He knew he lacked spiritual tools to get him through the tough times and rated this area a 2.
Are you getting the idea? Taking Andrew through this inventory allowed him to see quite clearly the origins of his distress. Further simply by identifying his problems he felt he’d taken a huge step toward solving them. Although he didn’t embrace some of the necessary action steps (e.g. resuming an exercise regimen) the healthy sense of control he now felt over his life gave him the motivation to do them anyway!
In a Funk?
by Maud Purcell