Shit You Should Care About … Getting Through the Thick of it.
New Zealand as a country prides itself on physicality. Whether that be huge people tackling other huge people for a ball, shearing the wool of sheep for a bit of friendly competition, or free falling off things from the highest of heights, us Kiwis come at life with a passionate force that other countries are in awe of. People move thousands of kilometers around the world to live in a society where sayings such as “she’ll be right” and “good as gold” encompasses the population’s mentality.
This is a beautiful thing, but it can leave you lost when it feels like “she’ll never be right” again, or when your ‘gold’ isn’t actually ‘good’ because it turned out to be that fake crap that leaves your skin green.
Our generation is definitely more in-tune with our mental states than perhaps our parents and grandparents, but life for us seems to be at 10 times the pace. The new psychology of the ‘daily grind’ makes it hard to keep up at the best of times, so taking a break feels as though the world will run off without us. But sometimes it’s okay if the grind isn’t your side hustle, or shredding for summer, but instead the grind of filtering out your heavy, useless thoughts, on days when only crying once in the bathroom is the most you’ve achieved. And that it absolutely fine, because you’ve made it through a shit day, even when you were sure you wouldn’t.
I have always believed that mental health is THE most important thing to take care of. And this is valid for everyone, because part of growing up is realizing that we all have a mind that only we are responsible for. But sometimes no matter how hard you try, fighting off negative thoughts can become a battle that you see no hope in winning. Whether it is because of the shit hand you’ve been dealt by life, demons from your past that you can’t seem to conquer, or for literally for no apparent reason at all (this can often be the worst), you can feel stuck in the never-ending abyss of your own head.
Throughout my 20 years I’ve found myself to be a relatively emotionally stable person, but after a series of strange health issues over the last few months, anxiety has begun to follow me everywhere I go. I’ve found it comes in different shapes and forms, at different times and for different reasons. Sometimes it creeps up on me throughout the day, closing in when I’m trying to take refuge in my bed. On other days it’s there when I wake up, like a snake wrapping itself slowly around my neck. Or sometimes it presents itself as hands of a stranger, gripping my back. Throughout all of this I’ve realised that NO ONE is immune to a phase of poor mental health. It can make you feel like everyone around you is strolling through life like a functioning bipedal human, while you’re dragging yourself around with just your arms and your legs are uselessly flailing behind you. But one day you’ll wake up to find that you can walk again (because you will) and your arms will be the most toned they’ve ever been (snatched).
However, sometimes that ‘one day’ can seem like a distant dream, and even though time truly IS the best healer you could ever imagine, it is the last thing you want to hear when you’re in the middle of having a totally shit time. So here are my best tips for getting through the thick of it, when you don’t know what step to take next.
Cry. Cry by yourself, in front of your friends, cry on FaceTime to your parents so all they can see is your red blotchy face. Cry until you have no more tears and all you can do next is go to sleep. There is no shame in crying. It doesn’t mean you’re weak, it means you are a human with a biological response to the pain that’s in your head, and it’s a damn good way of getting it out. I’ve actually found that nothing brings a flat closer together than when someone is having a slight mental breakdown (so maybe give it a go if there’s a bit of tension).
Move. Get up, go outside and move that body of yours. Move until you have sweat out every one of your problems. Or don’t sweat at all. Stretch or go for a walk. First around the block, then the park, then the entire city.
Create. In any way you can. Even if it’s the worst thing you’ve ever seen/heard/read in your life, I can assure you it will have taken away some of the negative energy blocking your head. Build something, paint something, even write a rap if it suits (just think – when Kanye becomes President it’ll leave the rap scene open to new talent).
Escape. Escapism can be a wonderful way of passing time and giving your brain a much-needed rest. Buy yourself the kind of book that you can read in a day, binge watch a feel-good TV show, or watch cute YouTubers doing mundane YouTubey things.
Look. Look at something beautiful and try to appreciate it. Sit in your garden on a sunny day and take in your surroundings. Go to the beach to just sit and watch the waves roll over, or look at the stars (and how they shine for you) at night (if there isn’t too much air pollution). Look at that ugly expensive Persian rug in your parents’ lounge, even if it’s only to ask why the fuck they spent a portion of their inheritance on it, while your Dad tells you they can’t afford unlimited Wi-Fi.
Lather, rinse and repeat these 5 notions, and I promise you that time will pass and life will inevitably become brighter. At some point you’ll forget about that time anxiety had you locked in your room at your flat mate’s 21st, and your friends had to bring you a plate of food from the platter (as they knew this was your biggest source of FOMO). Instead you’ll be lying on a beach somewhere, finding your mind getting lifted by small exciting thoughts such as going out for dinner, or watching your favourite TV show. I’m sure about this because EVERYTHING PASSES. It is the general rule of life. Even if your situation is unable to be changed, your thoughts surrounding it most definitely will. Maintaining good mental health can be challenging, and at times impossible, but watch as you dip in and out of that dark, scary place to find yourself on the other side, stronger and more appreciative of everything in the world that is right.