TWENTY FIVE: Cowa-brain-ga Dude

I got arrested for surfing on a dolphin. They claimed I did it on porpoise

I am beginning to think I have disappointed a few of my new European friends when it comes to stereotypes, because one of the most frequently asked questions I get is “do you surf?”. No I do not, I never got into it. And if their reactions are anything to go by, I must be the first non-surfing Australian they have met. I wasn’t one of those kids who spent loads of time catching waves at the beach. I was more into martial arts, Crash Bandicoot and being self-aware (jk that took 25 or so years to achieve). Probably explains my pale complexion, come to think of it…

If you have just joined us, (welcome to the Timmunity) or if you haven’t quite cottoned on yet, this guy loves himself an analogy. On a personal level, I’ve always found it a little easier to manage the challenges of my day or week (or life, am I right haha jk jk), by taking the human element out, and taking a more logical approach by looking at them from another perspective. So I hope you get something out of my interpretations too. Primarily I’ve used this as a sort of diary to express what I’ve learned on my mental health journey, but if I’m helping even one person understand how they’re feeling 1% better, I’ll feel 1000% better myself!

With that being said, I want to share with you one analogy I considered one afternoon, as I sipped my metaphorical depresso martinis on a walk along the beach back home in Aus. A real *insert “Bad Day” by Daniel Powter* sort of vibe. Remember that song? Boy, what a throwback. Anywho, as I watched the waves I thought about my last month. I’d had a shit week, everything absolutely bloody sucks. I give up. Sound familiar?

But then it occurred to me; *LIGHTBULB* nothing in particular had changed to make this week especially shit, only how I felt about my circumstances. Then I thought back to last week; nothing was any different, I just carried my emotional burden with more ease. So this week, my beautiful Timmunity, let us consider our emotions as waves

So if we’re to do this flawless analogy justice, we need to consider the similarities between our coastal tides and our brainwaves (brainwaves! Man, I’m just really vibing this, y’know?). They build up a head of steam, they pull back and tumble forward. After that? They do it all over again. Some waves are big, some are lazy little nudges on the sand, some are freakin’ tsunamis. But no matter what, they come up, they come down and they start again. Regardless of the circumstances or how big they are, you can rest assured knowing it’ll be followed by another wave. But if you take a single wave, you start to consider that a solitary wave in itself…is temporary.

Emotions are like that too. Don’t just think about the off days or low emotions we feel, consider the happy times too. Think about the times you’ve gotten good news; you’re elated, your excitement builds, you celebrate and then you settle into a calm rhythm. When you’re low or are on the receiving end of not-so-good news, the same process takes place within your mind and body, the only difference being the basic emotion from which our waves gather momentum.

The reason I find the wave metaphor so effective is because it’s a great way to process and manage how I feel. Not only that, but it helps me remember two equally important lessons that I learned as I stood there watching the indecisive tide go up and down the beach. And it was this;

  1. When you’re in your bliss, whether that be in a happy environment, or in the comfort of the people you love; be present in the moment. You owe it to yourself to treasure the time and be at one with the positive emotions that you are currently feeling. Because those are the times worth savouring, and those are the times you’ll look back on fondly.
  2. No matter how low you get, no matter how hard things feel right now, they’re going to pass. I can assure you of that. Like any big wave, it’ll come crashing down, it’ll sweep things up in its wake, but then it will calm back down. In those times when it all seems to much, remind yourself that this is just a wave I’ve got to ride until it’s run its course.

While I may not be the most proficient of aquatic athletes with a board in hand, I learned to surf without stepping foot on a board. Because baby, I surf those emotional waves like Kelly Slater, some would say even better than Mr Slater. I’m a real Lilo’s-big-sister-Hawaiian-roller-coaster-ride (how hot was Lilo’s sister though? I mean what I didn’t say that she’s not even a real so hot person) kind of surfer. But even Lilo’s hot sister got dumped by a wave from time to time. But what did she do? She got back on the board and grabbed the next one.

So next time the world comes crashing down around you, find your board. If you can’t find it, go with the flow, keep your head above water and see this through, ol’ boardy will come back to you.

All emotions are temporary. All of them. Every. Single. One. From my experience, I certainly have not felt a consistent emotion for the last 26 years. And you won’t either.

Cowabunga dude, Happy Mental Health Monday.

It can take sadness to know happiness, noise to know silence and absence to value presence

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