I believe everyone will experience a certain amount of mental anguish in their life. For some, it’s a relatively short, intense pain that can hit hard at any time; a feeling that may not ever repeat itself. For others, it can be less intense but spread across their whole life, gradually wearing them down. However, without some sort of discomfort we simply will not recognise when happiness and peace are begging to be embraced.
When I experienced periods of extreme pain, it felt like the pure essence that made me, was ripped out to the point where it was extremely challenging to find my balance, my happiness, my mojo.
“Those who break are not weak, they have been simply trying too hard for too long.”
In 2019, a perfect storm of events occurred in my life. I was broken. Hang on, that doesn’t describe it. I was really f…ked up. I knew it, and everyone around me knew it. I needed a lot of help, but how was I ever able to get out of this state? While there can be stigma surrounding mental health hospitals, I’m trying to break that down. I’m proud to say I checked myself into one. Although it was a short stay of a couple of weeks, I viewed it as an opportunity to press the reset button, a place to gain strength. I did, and it was time to find my happiness again.
Like me, you read flyfishing articles, watch videos and go out to experience all that flyfishing has to offer. You learn from observations and apply your new skills to achieve your goals. The same principals can be applied to so many things in our lives.
It had been two years since I lost my mojo, so why weren’t my new skills working for me now? Was I still stuck in the eddy? Flyfishing was one activity I was always passionate about, but I didn’t even want to do it. I knew that forcing myself to go fishing just because it made me happy in the past, was not going to be a cure. I didn’t want to have anything to do with flyfishing. I thought that if I pressure myself into going, then I’ll likely not enjoy it at all.
When we flyfish, we try to maximise our chances of catching fish by choosing the right time, location, fly and presentation. The more we succeed with each element, the greater the chance of success. It’s pretty much the same for mental health. To increase my wellbeing, I focused on basic elements like exercise, nutrition, connection, sleep; and it worked.
I’m fortunate to have a wonderful family and friendship group who supported me through my difficult time. But there was still something missing: my flyfishing. Then, in the last couple of months, I slowly got my gear out of the cupboard, checked my flies, replaced my leader, and serviced my reel. With no intention of fishing, I could see my interest had sparked. Could this passion be rekindled?
It really caught me by surprise when one day I woke, I put my gear in the car and I was gone. I was doing it – I was actually going fishing and couldn’t get there fast enough. One hour later I was surrounded by natural beauty, had a lake to myself and caught 10 beautiful trout on dries. Since then, I’ve never looked back, fishing almost every weekend with family or friends.
A great friend of mine, JD, knew what I had been through and has always welcomed me to fish the north-east Victorian rivers with him. I have worked with JD for many years, sharing a common interest in fishing and fisheries, and also a desire to support people in need. A couple of weeks back, JD showed me around his fishing backyard. Visiting numerous rivers, both of us got as much enjoyment catching as we did experiencing what flyfishing, nature and friendship have to offer. JD provided an exposé of what the flyfishing life can be (because I had forgotten). From admiring native flowers, to watching river rainbows ferociously take a Stimi, it can be very beautiful; a happiness finally found. As the last cast came for the night, JD quietly said, it’s all about the drift – get it right and magic happens.
To me, the perfect drift is one where your fly is in balance within its environment, a state of equilibrium where it’s not being pushed or pulled, dictated, or harshly judged by the fish. That’s a position where we all want to be in life, and where we are most content. I’m just so grateful I found my drift.
I’m getting close to 50 years of age, and reflecting on my life, I have gone through a lot of shit! Someone once said, “You’re the unluckiest person I know!”, to which I replied, “I believe I’m actually the luckiest because without experiencing all the difficulties in life, I wouldn’t have been able to build the resilience to experience all the happiness life has to offer”.