We all want it, right? But sometimes, it’s just so bloodie hard to be happy.
When you have a mental illness, so much of your time is devoted to this idea of finding happiness again. Because to be quite frank, when you’re mentally ill, life isn’t exactly like a bed of roses. I know I’ve struggled a lot when it comes to this concept of happiness and what defines that exuberant, joyful emotion that crackles across your skin like a heatwave.
You know the feeling when everything clicks into place? Whether it’s waking up to your favourite weather, that song you’ve been enjoying on the radio, a full English and a cuppa waiting in the kitchen downstairs (or if you’re a lazy git like me, when it’s brought up to bed for you!), seeing your friends, watching that film in the cinema for the third time because it’s just SO GOOD; we all want to experience this feeling as often as possible. And in my quest for happiness, I’ve tried and tested a multitude of tools along the way.
Alcohol is a fickle bastard. If you follow me on Twitter, you’ll know that I’ve certainly had my ups and downs with the demon drink over the years. In the right environment and consumed at a comfortable pace (AND when I tend not to mix drinks) alcohol can be a lovely – albeit momentary – escape from whatever is troubling me. Around friends when there’s lots going on and we’re ‘out-out’ or when I’m watching a film and just having a beer or a glass of wine at home, alcohol is divine. But that can totally change when I’m in a depressive cycle/mood. And the worst part is, I can recognise when I’m in one of these moods yet I still take a sip, then another, which quickly snowballs into a session that nine times out of ten will end with Jäger bombs. In the morning, it never feels easier, it hasn’t solved the problem, it’s just helped numb the pain for a few hours. When I was living alone in the flat up in St. Annes, I used to have a terrible routine whereby I’d stay awake drinking bottles of red wine until 3-5 in the morning, wake up at around 1-3 in the afternoon and rinse and repeat. To cut a long story short, it did me no favours what so ever. I was just running away from a pain that I couldn’t express or deal with. As lovely as alcohol has the potential to be, and as good as it feels in the right circumstances, I think I need to re-evaluate my relationship with grapes and hops.
2. Video Games & App Games
I love video games to the moon and back and then back again. I’ve poured countless hours of my life into games like Destiny (actually, I’ve played 607 hours which, erm… yeah, that’s a lot), Zelda, Mario Kart, FIFA, Rocket League, the Lego games, Far Cry, Assassins Creed, Pokémon; you name it, I’ve probably played it. I love app games too; Star Wars: Galaxy of Heroes and Polyforge are my current faves (props to Rach for this awesome blog post which introduced me to Polyforge and many other mobile phone games). I’ve had things said to me like, “You’re wasting your time”, “They’re just games, you need to take life seriously”, “Grow up” etc etc. Well haters, I can safely say that without video games I wouldn’t be here. They’ve pulled me through some of the toughest periods of my existence, often giving me the only source of joy and escapism in those dark times. But recently I’ve noticed that I’m struggling to enjoy them as much. Maybe it’s because I am getting older, or that I really do need to focus on more serious issues in life like putting more time into things that will nurture my health and wellbeing rather than just make me happy. Whatever the case, video games have given me an escape like no other.
I hate it. Running, cycling, swimming, walking, HIIT sessions, training, working out. Whatever form of exercise you throw at me (that isn’t a sport), I’ll probably hate it. I always have and right now, I feel like I always will. My distaste for getting a sweat on (and not in the fun kinda way) stems from secondary school when P.E was a chore, a loathsome, embarrassing and woeful affair filled with breathlessness, misery, rainy, cold mornings where nothing good or fun happened and I got detention for not wanting to run the cross country. But the really annoying thing is that I know now how much good exercise can do for you, not just physically, but mentally as well! It’s infuriating because I feel great after I’ve exercised so I know there are benefits, it’s just building up the motivation to get the hard work done!
I have an incredibly diverse taste when it comes to music, ranging from old swing and big band music like Frank Sinatra and Glen Miller to rap, metal, grunge, pop, punk, all types of rock, country and acoustic, singer-songwriter style stuff. I play the guitar, a little piano and can keep a (very) basic 4/4 drum beat. When I was 15/16, I was in a band called The Conspiracy Theory and we were awesome! Looking back on those days with rose-tinted glasses, we were the best band in the world! Music is the most immediate form of escapism for me. It can alter my mood in a heartbeat, evoking memories, tears, sadness, an eruption of laughter, smiles and happiness. But sometimes, I stick on Fix You (one of my favourite songs ever) and cry. It’s cathartic and you just gotta do what you gotta do to get through the days.
I am a book worm, a book nerd, a reading geek, call me whatever you want. I just love books. I don’t care whether they come in paperback, hardback, leatherbound or in the form of an ebook, I’m still amazed at how words on a page can transport you far away from your life and plant you at the feet of an amazing story that grips you by the lapels and doesn’t let go until you’ve satiated your thirst for the story, the tale, the regaling of a life or an adventure as told through the eyes of another. Books, simply put, are magical things.
I rely on food way too much to mask how I’m feeling. I comfort eat, I eat when I’m bored, I eat when I’m happy, when I’m sad, when I’m watching a film or playing video games. I eat out (don’t be rude) and I get takeaways, I adore Dominos Pizza (as I’m sure you’re all aware) and I relish pasta with cheese. But all this piles up, literally and figuratively, to the point where in the last 7 months, I’ve gone up 3 waist sizes in jeans. Now, I’m not ‘unhappy’ with my weight in terms of a number on the scales, but I am upset with how it makes me feel inside. I’m unfit, I’m lethargic and in turn, that gets me down and becomes another vicious catch-22. I know things need to change, it’s just a case of finding the motivation to do so. You’d think with a 10K run in less than 2 months time for OCD Action (please donate if you can, if not, please share the page) would give me the kick up the arse I need wouldn’t you! So it’s in my hands to shape my future in terms of my physical fitness.
Yes, you, you reading this right now… you’re probably the one thing on this list that does as much harm as you do good to me. I’ve relied on other people throughout my life to help me forget about my troubles, to give me an emergency exit when life’s banging down my door, trying to pull me out into the real world, my hands fervently clutching at my dream one. They might be a close friend, a family member or a total stranger. They might be older or younger, a man or a woman, rich or poor, gay or straight or anything in between. It doesn’t matter who, it just matters that they’re there. I am a walking contradiction, because I spend a lot of my time wishing to be alone, but then as soon as I’m stuck with my thoughts, I’m desperate for human company and social interaction and I don’t care if it’s in person or online, sometimes I just have to talk to someone. However, thanks to the likes of Twitter, I’ve been able to meet some wonderful people (you know who you are), especially you, Soph ❤
Basically, I need to find inner peace. How I get there, I’m not so sure. Meditation, mindfulness, yoga, pilates, moving to the middle of nowhere and living like Henry David Thoreau a la Walden Pond? They all sound appealing right about now. With my mind, it’s always seeking a distraction. It never settles unless I’m watching a film really. Like now, for instance, I’ve been trying to write this blog post for about 3 hours but I’ve been flicking between Facebook, Twitter, Instagram, Snapchat and Playstation so much so that I left my phone downstairs but I still kept checking on my laptop! It really bugs me and I know that I’m not alone when it comes to social media and my phone. But I really need to stop seeking happiness from things, places and people and start looking inwards. I take a lot of inspiration from my close friend, Kay. She has her own issues with mental illness but every day, she is building people up and taking action with her own life to find that sense of serenity.
I envy people that are content with their lives because all I wish for is to wake up and not feel like I have to distract my brain instantly and not have to play a game on my phone when the thoughts are too frequent. I want to change things, get myself fit, eat better food that’ll give me more energy to do the things I love, sort out my sleeping pattern to help my body out. I know all of this, it’s just hard to do when you’re mentally ill.
Can you feng shui your mind? Do you have any thoughts on this post? Any tips for me? I’d love to hear your thoughts on ‘happiness’.