So, you’ve done it. You’ve finally accepted that continuing the way you have been feeling for the last few years is not the way you want to feel for the next few, or ever again for that matter. Who knows what it took for you to come to this seemingly-obvious conclusion; it could have been a particularly frivolous argument with a friend that ended in unecessary and unexpected tears; you’ve overspent and feel ridiculous about it; or partaken in an accidental over-indulgence at the bar or dinner table; even something so simple as looking in the mirror one more time and not feeling that a single hair on your head looks good, because heaven knows a good hair day requires co-operation from more than just one hair.
Whatever it was, once the tears have dried and the excess biscuits have been digested, you are finally clear. For once in your life, it seems obvious, and for once you don’t feel stupid and berate yourself for not having seen it before – you need a change, and this time it’s actually going to happen. The other times were all a practice, a drill. Empty threats and promises to yourself that you knew deep down weren’t ever going to happen. Like swearing you’re only going out for one and that you’ll be on the last bus home and up in time for work the next day, when in reality you’re craving a Desperados and know your bank account won’t entirely do what you’re used to doing and crumble into a bucket of hate and self-pity after ‘just one more night out’.
Because bank accounts are strong. Even when almost completely depleted, they can withstand the mental torrent of regret and despair that float around inside human heads after something bad happens. When I imagine a bank account, I imagine something similar to the inside of a small, very cramped and very personal safe; one last, terrified five euro note quivering in anticipation of being removed – and when you’re down to your last fiver you know you’re in trouble. It takes every ounce of willpower not to carelessly throw it away on a coffee that will only make you feel momentarily better about your whole situation. Not listening to your own thoughts and not heeding your instincts have left you unhappy, broke, in a rut and in emotional and financial situations you genuinely thought only ever occurred on particularly clichéd episodes of Gossip Girl; because you knew you didn’t need another night out, or the dress you bought to wear. But did you listen to yourself? Absolutely not!
In reality, bank accounts are just a series of numbers on a screen, assigned to each person in accordance to his or hers account number. The physical paper-money that comes out of an ATM is just that – paper. The same ripped twenty-euro note I just lodged will be distributed very soon to the old man who was waiting in line as I entered the bank. The important part, and the bit that needs looking after is inside the safe. Not on the screen or on the salary column of an impressive job application. What matters most is what’s on the inside – what’s happening and what happens regularly in your own mind and head and how you recognise and keep track of it.
They don’t do online banking for mental health, but if they did it’d probably come in the form of some sort of diary, one that required a passcode and login details to access regularly, and to make notes of ups and downs. Because it is a private matter, but being secretive or embarassed about it isn’t going to change the fact that it’s there. Nothing will be or can be done to help if you don’t let it. There is no magic password or number that can be used to help someone gain access to your thoughts and understand what’s going on with them if you don’t put some trust in them, and let them in.
Saving yourself from the massive lows that life can sometimes throw around can sometimes be done simply with a combination of consistant and regular investment in your everyday wellbeing. Recognising things that work for you, and implementing them into your life; daily exercise, a healthier diet, a day off once a week to read a book; or even all three! Everybody is different, and being able to recognise and accept these differences is becoming one of the most valuable skills a person can have.
Invest in your mental health – give someone an account of your day and how something made you feel, take stock of the reactions you have to things, and you’ll see that even the little things matter. Even if there was nothing that stands out or seems particularly relevent, you’d be surprised how things affect you! You wouldn’t let your bank account spiral out of control without retaliating with some pretty drastic action, so why not keep tabs on your mind in a similar way? Even if all this makes you do is a quick mental check every time you go to the ATM – self-awareness is key to understanding yourself, your body, and your mind.
In the end, it’s all about finding the balance. 😉