I speak a lot about how well and motivated I am at the moment, but I don’t think I’ve ever truly broken down the facts of how I got to this vastly improved state of mind and general being. I will do that right here, and hope you find it useful, but first let me take you back to where I was. I’ve always struggled with my mental health, depression and anxiety being the longest remaining difficulties that I’ve had to endure. Then just over eleven years ago, an incident triggered PTSD and OCD within me. I was on and off a number of medications and therapies to help cope, but nothing really stuck… that was until two years ago. Something in me ignited, and I pushed to better myself and get help. It was then, and only then, that the therapy stuck with me and worked. I think we all have those moments though, eventually. Those moments where the universe tells us to get the fuck up and do something. Along with therapy, and enforced by therapy, I took it upon myself to make improvements to my everyday life. These made a significant difference and got me to where I am today. Here is what I practised and dedicated myself to, in order to improve;
Exercise– I cannot stress how important exercise is to your state of mind. I think it’s a common misconception that the physical cannot help the mental, but from experience, I can confirm that it can. The body is a thing that needs to be trained and exercised just as much as the mind. I began training my body with a simple set of weights (that I picked up cheaply) and have used them for about six years. This was alongside a routine set of exercises (sit ups, press-ups, air boxing) and walking everywhere possible. Getting enough exercise is easy, and the costs some people relate to it are just an excuse. You need to push yourself sometimes, but it’s worth it. Do what you can. I have never been at the fitness level I’m at now, and it feels amazing.
Be around nature– Nature has always helped me in a way that I struggle to explain. I am always drawn to it when I feel lost or unhappy. It’s the air. The beauty. The colour. The life. The mystery. The absolute magic of this world, or the closest to it we will ever perceive. Maybe a part of it is the way that humanity has come to live. We aren’t supposed to be surrounded by all of this concrete and material possession. We are just creatures, after all. We are supposed to be around nature, and that is why it calls to us sometimes. Take a walk among the trees. Stare deeply into the ocean. Look up to the stars. This world is incredible and full of inspiration, you just need to start seeing it.
Meditation– Meditation was key to my recovery. It allowed me to search deep within myself and discover the issues with my thought processes. It allowed me to come to terms with the negative and enforce the positive. It gave me direction. Many people think that meditation is just about clearing the mind, but an empty mind is the result of practiced meditation. You must first let every thought in and focus on what you want to do with that thought. We are absolutely in control of our minds and what they do, we just need to keep them in check sometimes. It takes practice, but the effort can make a huge impact.
Writing– Writing has always helped me. I’ve written things down for as long as I can remember, from thoughts and feelings, to ideas and dreams. It helps me to visualise my thoughts and put them down in a way that I can return to them when I need to. A thought, especially a negative one, can initially be daunting. So daunting that we don’t know how to deal with it when it emerges. I think it’s these moments that writing has helped me the most. I often put these thoughts down in the form of fiction, but that is the way that I have trained myself to cope. My creativity has always been my solace and sanctuary.
Reading– Reading is the ultimate distraction for many of us. By focusing on words, we can lose ourselves from reality and exercise those brilliant minds of ours. My two main passions in life have always been fiction and knowledge… through countless books, I have my ultimate escape always at hand. Through books we can lose ourselves and what’s around us, even if it’s just for a moment, but sometimes a moment to escape is all we need.
Make time for yourself– Always make time for yourself when you need it. Life is busy and we are always on the move, but realistically, we can’t keep it up. We need time to recharge and re-energise. We are beings of limited fuel and energy, remember that. Take a walk among nature. See a friend. Talk to a family member. Be alone. Do something you absolutely love more than anything. Have all of the YOU time you need.
Learn to speak up and ask for help when you’re struggling– One of my biggest flaws in life has always been bottling up my thoughts and feelings. Even with a therapy that focused on this, I’m still guilty of it now… but I’m getting better at it. I think many of us need to learn that we are not as alone as we sometimes feel. We need to learn that it’s okay to show weakness, because in learning to show and target that vulnerability, we can learn to become stronger. We need to ultimately learn that it’s okay to not be okay. It’s modern society that is to blame for this imposed suppression of feeling and the ‘keep calm and carry on’ approach. Social media loaded with false smile and fake life. Emotion turned into emoji. We all have issues, we are just now more afraid than ever to expose them. This is something we need to break out of, and we can learn to… as with everything, it just takes practice.
So, there it is; things that I practised to learn more about myself and take a step closer to becoming a happier me. That would have been the end of this written form of thought, would it have been a week ago, but alas, fate would have it be more. The beginning of my year would have my heart unexpectedly broken. I feel that this is completely relevant to this piece, so will delve more into my thoughts to add a current state of mind.
I’m okay. It was cold and sudden, but I’m okay. It wasn’t the start to the year that I had expected, but I guess it was something that had to be. Everything happens for a reason, or so everybody keeps telling me… and perhaps they are right. I have been here before… more times than I’ll care to admit, but evidence of experience tells me that everything will be okay. Maybe I’m supposed to hurt, in order to learn. Maybe I’m supposed to be alone, in order to excel. It feels weird at the moment. Different. Not ultimately bad, just different. I’m keeping myself distracted with everything that I’ve mentioned here, and it is helping immensely. My practices have helped me through much worse, and for that, and the people that have helped enforce them, I am ever grateful. From evidence, I know that I am stronger and more resilient than I feel right now. I am okay, but will be better… perhaps better than ever before.
“New year. New Energy. I have never felt like this. I have never felt such an abundance of determination. I have never felt so powerful. The creature within me stirs, my wolf spirit has returned. Last year I achieved everything that I needed to. I achieved focus. I achieved fitness. I defeated my demons. I am now ready for anything this universe can throw at me. This year I thrive and revel in the chaos.”
I posted that the day before it happened. I guess the universe was giving me what I needed to endure… and strangely, the idea for this article came at exactly the right moment too. This life really is strange. It works in ways that we cannot comprehend or fathom. Everything truly does happen for a reason. Life is an ebb and flow of the good and the bad, the dark and the light, we need only go with it… there is always a reason.