My Never Ending Journey of Mental Health

It’s been a while since I posted about my mental health. The general direction is good. I learn more about myself and how to manage myself as the years pass. The last ten months have seen me push a couple of notions aside. My never-ending journey of mental health has been powerfully demonstrated to me. As an aside, the image of me here is me feeling good, having just finished a hard circuit training session. Even though I look a bit grim.

As documented elsewhere on my blog, I had a severe cycling accident last May that left me in ICU for 12 days. Positive mental approaches saw me navigate that and make a remarkable recovery. What did that tell me? – mental health and mental strength are two different things. Undoubtedly, even after trying to rise from the tarmac, I was already engaging a part of my brain that made me determined, adopt a positive attitude, and work through some immense pain without doubting myself once. I’ve had anxiety attacks and short bouts of depression since my recovery, but during the crucial weeks and even months after the accident, my mental strength didn’t waver.

I stepped back from full-time work five months ago. Over the years, several people speculated whether work-related stress was the source of anxiety and depression and all the baggage that comes with those conditions. I didn’t feel that it was. This was me. The same me that was anxious and depressed as a teenager. In the five months I’ve had to pursue new interests, including helping young businesses and exploring a couple of things I’ve always wanted to try, I’ve still had bouts of depression and particularly anxiety. No more 60-70 hours a week, no more business pressure. But still the same challenges going on inside my brain.

Let me quickly say I’m not one of these professional mental health victims who circulate social media. I do not want to garner likes, or want people to feel sorry for me. I regard my mental health as something that’s part of me, my makeup, my personality. Now, I get that it does not add to my appeal, and it has and can make me a complex man to be around. But I’m still here, and I’m not complaining.

I can make significant progress for extended periods. But make no mistake, there’s no bartering with mental health. It’s a perverse companion and can take me down a peg or two when I believe I’m on sunnier uplands. But what can one do? Give up, feel sorry for oneself, despair? These are all options. Yet I owe it to myself and my friends and family to wring the most from this life. My Achilles heel is my mental health. Many others carry much more debilitating health conditions or have life struggles that put my health into perspective. Life is not fair, no sir. But I feel blessed for the life I have.

My never-ending journey of mental health. Do I have any practical advice? The articulated mindset is powerful; there is always a way to improve one’s mental health. Keep moving forward, and don’t get discouraged, even on dark days. The words sound trite, but we are here for a short time, and we owe to ourselves and those around us to make the most of our one life. If a day feels dark, there will be another day and another. And each day is an opportunity.

I have also found that a mindful approach can help. For example, taking a moment to detach yourself from the now to do a mind and body check can be helpful. I’ll realise I was good a couple of days ago; I will check off that I’m doing all the right things and take a snapshot of my current circumstances. That can reveal what is happening for me in the here and now, which are feelings and moods that will likely pass. Mainly if I accept the concept of my never-ending journey of mental health. It’s part of my being; it’s who I am, and I accepted that a long time ago.

My second check is to run through my list of support habits. Daily meditation, journalling, regular exercise, sleep routines, and supplements help me. That makes me sound like one of those dreadful LinkedIn types who get up at 3 am for an ice bath and then go through a three-hour spiritual awakening before cracking on and making their next billion. For me, it’s more straightforward. When my brain chemistry is fizzing and banging, anchoring myself with positive habits centres me. I’m still determining which of my habits works, if any, or are placebo; I will leave that to the self-appointed social media gurus. I know they all feel good and provide me with a positive platform for self-care—a gift to myself. I also know that when I take stock, I often realise that I’ve dropped a couple of good habits, so I snap back into the discipline, the focus.

The journey continues. I meet a psychiatrist every six to eight weeks. I’m on medication, but I’m feeling optimistic as I’m at the start of a taper. And I see a therapist every four to six weeks. There is no illusion, and I know all three of these professional props could be with me for a long time. But that will not make me stop working on my mental health journey. I won’t feel hopeless, helpless, or defeated.

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