The Journey to Better Mental Health is Like a Rollercoaster

For nearly my entire life, I have lived in a shadow. A consistent state of tug-of-war in my brain. It’s been tough, but I’ve pushed through. My struggles have been persistent, sometimes unbearable, but always instructive. As I close out this blog series titled Navigating the Shadows, I wanted to remind everyone who has been following along why I write this.

So why am I writing this? To share my story, and to share a truth. Improving mental health isn’t a tick-box task. It’s not something you can just complete and forget. It’s a commitment. A commitment for life. You’re in it for the long haul, with no finish line.

But, don’t get disheartened. This is not a tale of endless struggle. It’s a tale of continual growth. In sharing this, I hope to inspire you. To help you realize that your mental health journey is not a single battle. It’s an ongoing war. It’s not a single event, but a lifelong endeavor. I want you to know that it’s okay to have setbacks. It’s okay to be on this journey. It’s okay to fight, to grow, to heal. Step by step. Day by day. In our own time, and in our way.

My Personal Journey: It’s Ongoing

My battle with depression and separation anxiety is like a mystery novel with countless chapters and even more twists and turns. The cause? A traumatic event from my childhood. It left me with an intense fear of being alone. This fear grew, morphed, and became a shadow I couldn’t shake. It’s been with me ever since, my constant companion.

Every summer, when my wife returns to her part-time job, my anxiety flares up. I feel the old fear creeping back in. The house feels too quiet, too empty. The loneliness is suffocating. I can hear it, a whisper in my mind, “You’re alone.” These struggles have shaped me. They’ve changed my perspective on mental health. I’ve learned it’s not just about healing. It’s about managing. It’s about learning to live with your shadows. My perspective has changed. It’s not a fight to win but a journey to embark on.

The journey has setbacks. My wife’s job every summer feels like a plunge into old fears. Each time it’s hard, but each time I learn something new. I learn resilience. I learn the power of acceptance. The value of self-compassion. I learn that it’s okay not to be okay.

The Nature of the Journey

Recovery from mental health issues isn’t a straight path. I’ve learned this the hard way. It’s not like climbing a hill, reaching the top, and then it’s all downhill. No, it’s more like a roller coaster. Full of ups and downs. Twists and turns. But mostly ups and downs.

Roller coaster. Fee“/ CC0 1.0

There’s a common misconception about mental health recovery. It’s the idea of “being cured.” I wish it were so simple. The idea of “getting over it” is a myth. A dangerous one at that.

Better mental health is not a destination. It’s a journey. One with no end in sight. This may sound daunting, but it is not. Not when you understand the nature of the journey. It’s about progress, not perfection. It’s about learning to dance in the rain, rather than waiting for the storm to pass.

My Strategies for Long-Term Management

In the journey to manage my depression and separation anxiety, I’ve learned that there’s no one-size-fits-all solution. On the contrary, it is a mix of strategies of different methods, tailored to my specific needs, and my unique experiences.

Medication: Medication is part of my journey. I take 150 mg of sertraline every day. It does not eradicate my struggles, but it makes them more manageable. It smooths out the wild ups and downs of the roller coaster ride.

Art: Digital art is where I go to hide from the shadows. A place where I channel my emotions into creativity. Each stroke of the Apple Pencil is an echo of my journey. Each creation is a testament to my resilience.

Writing: Writing plays a crucial role too. This blog, for instance, serves as an outlet for my thoughts, and my experiences. Hearing of others having been helped by my writing is my driving force for this blog. In addition to this blog site, I am also working on another writing project, a murder mystery novel that I hope to turn into something which can be published someday. This project fuels my creative spirit despite my struggles.

These strategies are not quick fixes. They are simply tools that I have learned to use over time. Sometimes it’s trial and error, and that’s okay. Each day is a step forward, a little bit of progress on my ongoing journey.

Self Check-ins

In my journey, routine self-check-ins have become crucial. It’s a simple act, but its impact is profound. It’s my compass in this tumultuous journey of mental health.

What’s my routine? It starts with a moment of quiet. A moment of honesty. Each day, I pause and ask myself, “How am I truly doing today?” Sometimes, the answer is, “I’m thriving.” Other times, it’s, “I’m barely hanging on.” The responses vary, but the essential part is truthfulness. This may come as a surprise, but being truthful with yourself is just as important as being truthful with others.

I engage in this introspection each morning. I sit in the recliner tucked neatly in one corner of my home office. With a prayer in my heart and a Bible in my hand, this moment is sacred. It is just me, my thoughts, God, and His Word. These prayerful check-ins, this time with God, are the bedrock of my journey. It keeps me grounded, and alert. Each day, it reminds me that my mental health, and my well-being, matter to me and God. It’s a daily whisper of divine love and human resilience.

Lessons I Have Learned Along the Way

One key lesson is acceptance. I’ve learned to accept that my struggles are part of me, but they don’t define me. Acceptance does not mean giving up, it means understanding my battles and facing them with courage. Another lesson is resilience. My journey has tested me, pushed me to my limits. But each time I have stumbled, I have found a way to get up. To press on.

Even on good days, I remind myself of these lessons. I remember to check in with myself, lean on my support network, and embrace my creative outlets. It’s easy to forget these things when the skies are clear, but they’re just as important then.

This journey is far from over. And I’ll keep walking it, step by step. Carrying my lessons. Holding onto hope. Drawing strength from God. And with each step, I’m becoming a better, stronger version of myself.


If you made it this far, please consider commenting below, subscribing, and also sharing on your social media sites. Most importantly, I ask for your prayers. I write this weekly blog as an outlet in my fight against depression. However, my hope is that something I write here may help others who may be struggling. If you would like to help with my battle against depression, check out my online Etsy store. Most proceeds are donated to the American Foundation for Suicide Prevention.

If you or someone you know may be contemplating suicide, call the National Suicide Prevention Lifeline at 1-800-273-8255 or by dialing 988. You may also text HOME to 741741 to reach the Crisis Text Line. In emergencies, call 911, or seek care from a local hospital or mental health provider.

Scripture quotations marked HCSB are taken from the Holman Christian Standard Bible®, Used by Permission HCSB ©1999,2000,2002,2003,2009 Holman Bible Publishers. Holman Christian Standard Bible®, Holman CSB®, and HCSB® are federally registered trademarks of Holman Bible Publishers.

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