Instant Gratification and Mental Health Struggles

It’s no lie, and I’m quite open and frank about my roller coaster ride with anxiety and depression. Presently, it’s a bit of a low, purely due to circumstances out of my control and my inability to cope with these problems in a healthy way.

I tried reading the shit load of self help books I own… (side bar; If you’re not from Australia, a “shit load” is an extremely acceptable unit of measure, quite similar to “ass load” and “fuck load” – it simply means ‘a lot’) plus blogs from notable life coaches, psychologists and other health professionals. The same themes recurred… Clean diet, exercise, water, sleep, love and friendships. Basically, the stuff that everyone knows, but easier said than done.

I mean, who knew the answer lay in going for a walk every morning before work when you’re so exhausted you can barely drag yourself to the shower? Who knew the answer was eating salads and drinking water when you barely have time to go to the supermarket or have the money to buy fresh produce let alone have enough energy to summon to cook a nutritionally balanced meal that doesn’t taste like dirt and old hobo’s shoes? EVERYONE KNOWS THIS. BUT – People in a funk, people down, people so low that they can’t get out of bed need instant gratification, not something that will take months to notice the affects of.

I guess that’s why coffee, alcohol, drugs and sex are such huge vices to people in times of struggle – the affect is instantaneous and amazing.

I was thinking about this the other day and thought that the only way to calm myself down at this point in time, when I was balls to wall busy and REALLY in need of some drastic change was to get me some of that instant gratification, the good stuff. But a healthy version of it.

Luckily for me, my mum asked something of me at the same time, which turned out to be what I needed.

Mum and dad are finishing up some renovations on their house and are putting in a photograph wall in the new living area. Mum called me last week and asked me for some small art works, both water colours and black and white ink sketches that they could frame and hang with other photographs.

Picking up the inks and felt tip pens, the calming sensation I felt was instantaneous. Immediately, my jaw unclenched, my shoulders relaxed and my brain got a little bit quiet for a while without needing anything.

Who would of thought?

Now, whilst I am MOST DEFINITELY NOT a mental health care professional of any kind, I am at this stage reminded of what a psychologist once said to me when I was going through a really rough patch. I had just been put onto anti-depressants, I was busting my ass at University, my self worth and self esteem were at the bottom of an abyss somewhere, and I felt that there wasn’t an end to my struggle. The psychologist gave me the usual spiel – drink water, exercise, set time aside in the day, just for you. But then, she asked me, what made me happy… the closest I could come up with was, drawing and taking photos. Her reply to me was, if something makes you instantly happy, you should do more of that.

So – whilst I still struggle with my mental health, and whilst I wait it out until I can have some time to myself and really sort through whats going on upstairs with the help of some health care professionals, I’m going to hold on for grim life by doing something that makes me instantly happy.


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