Whitney Houston said it best: “learning to love yourself, it is the greatest love of all”.
“But is it Whitney? Is it really?!” I yell to no one in particular. Here I am, lying on the couch, calling out to the ghost of Ms Houston, chocolate and spaghetti stains on my pyjamas as I YouTube one motivational song after another. I immediately find myself caught in the online self-help labyrinth which starts with Her Majesty Oprah of course until it inevitably leads me to an inspiring speech by Matthew McConaughey. I am mostly surprised by the fact he’s managed to keep his shirt on throughout the entirety of the speech.
To be frank, I think I’m having an existential crisis. As my friends talk about work and relationships, I am like the drunk aunty we all try to distance ourselves from at the wedding. How-are-yous are responded with “I’m fine...but what is the meaning of this life? Why is life so difficult and why the hell did I get out of bed?”. My friends, as you can imagine, tend to ignore me when I’m whining. I can’t imagine why.
I’ve come to the conclusion that I need a little bit of assistance - by little, I mean a hell of a lot. I have always vehemently avoided the self help section in book stores, mainly because of their flowery titles about secrets and magic and the *insert number here* steps to success and happiness. Basically I thought they were for wackity wack jobs. I'm now a platinum member of the wackity wack society as I find myself anxiously googling the latest self-help book, even flirting with the idea of purchasing a Jordan Peterson book. God forbid.
I had always vehemently avoided the self help section in book stores, mainly because of their flowery titles about secrets and magic and the *insert number here* steps to success and happiness. Basically I thought they were for wackity wack jobs. I'm now a platinum member of the wackity wack society.
The wellness and lifestyle industrial complex is a multi-billion dollar industry. The imperative to try different “self-care” products is strong and I’m no stranger to this growing industry. I currently have so many books on my bookshelf with ‘healing’ in the title and there’s a laundry list of activities I haven’t bothered to do because ironically, I am lacking the motivation to become motivated. So far, I have been wooed by Yoga, Qi Gong, Veganism (which lasted no more than three hours), Goalcast videos (you know, the ones with the cheetah at the end), somatic healing, mindfulness, organic food, traditional medicine, meditation, essential oils, affirmations, calming apps and gratitude journaling. I've tried everything barring bee-venom therapy - yes that's a thing. I also draw the line at following the ultra elitist Goop and drinking kombucha. Eww.
Some have made me feel better, but the rest I suspect are consumer driven fads that will fade out as others hit the marketplace.
So far, I have been wooed by Yoga, Qi Gong, Veganism, Goalcast videos, somatic healing, mindfulness, organic food, traditional medicine, meditation, essential oils, affirmations, calming apps and gratitude journaling. I've tried everything barring bee-venom therapy - yes that's a thing.
I am still on the journey to self discovery and I'm incredibly under qualified to dispense pearls of wisdom and/or unsolicited advice; but here's what I've learned in my quest to feel better. Firstly, it’s good to get fresh air and to breathe properly. Breathing in general is important, you're probably thinking ‘oh d’uh, breathing is important otherwise I’ll die’ yes that's true, but deep, controlled breaths can apparently help to alleviate stress.
Write down a list of goals to motivate you such as writing that book you've always wanted to write or opening up that cat cafe with a pun in the title like Feline Good har har. A daily walk will do you no harm and a friend you can confide in is always good to assist you in your journey to self discovery and dare I say it, spiritual contentment.
I can't promise you'll reach Nirvana and I don't have the answers. I'm still traversing the murky waters between feeling blue and being uplifted. But I know trying different fads and methods to feel better is all part of the excellent adventure we call life. Maybe the reward is in the exertion of effort. Or maybe it’s in the Kit Kat bar I’ve just unwrapped, who knows. Either way, I shall leave you with some sage advice by the great 80’s icon Ferris Bueller: “life moves pretty fast, if you don't stop and look around once in awhile, you could miss it.”
Asma Fahmi is a writer. You can follow her on Instagram @aztanbul.
Mental health support services:
Lifeline - 13 11 14
Carers Australia 1800 242 636 - Short-term counselling and emotional and psychological support services for carers and their families in each state and territory.
Headspace 1800 650 890 - a free online and telephone service that supports young people aged between 12 and 25 and their families going through a tough time.
Kids Helpline 1800 55 1800 - A free, private and confidential, telephone and online counselling service specifically for young people aged between 5 and 25.
Mindspot Clinic 1800 61 44 34 - An online and telephone clinic providing free assessment and treatment services for Australian adults with anxiety or depression.
QLife 1800 184 527 - QLife is Australia’s first nationally-oriented counselling and referral service for LGBTI people.
Relationships Australia 1300 364 277- A provider of relationship support services for individuals, families and communities.
SANE Australia 1800 18 7263 - Information about mental illness, treatments, where to go for support and help carers.
Source: Beyond Blue
The new SBS series 'How 'Mad' Are You?' takes a unique look at mental health. It will be broadcast on SBS on October 11 at 8:30pm on SBS.