How Journaling Helped Me Rebuild After Hitting Rock Bottom

By Sophie Gray, founder of DiveThru

Have you ever asked someone to rearrange all their plans so they could drive you from one side of an entire continent to the other? I have and I’ll never forget it. It was the moment I allowed my anxieties to take full and total control of my life but it was also my first step towards taking charge of my mental wellbeing

But, we’ll get into that in a moment. 

From the outside looking in, I was the epitome of health. I worked out every day, ate chia seeds and drank the greenest smoothies. I also had a global social media audience where I shared countless photos where I roared: “Love yourself!” while I flashed my core. I wanted others to embrace who they were, but only through the lens of fitness and “healthy” living. 

But, underneath all of the flashy workout clothes and spray tans, I was in the depth of an eating disorder and exercise obsession that would soon push me over the edge and to my own inevitable rock bottom.

Now, back to that whole driving across the continent part. My work as ‘that fitness person you hate follow’ landed me in New York. I was speaking on a panel about health, ironic, I know.

When it was time to head home, I had two flights before I’d be cuddling my puppies from the comfort of my own home. On the first flight, from New York to Toronto, I watched the door close and was suddenly drenched in sweat.

I was freezing cold, and yet, unbearably hot. I was shaking uncontrollably. My thoughts raced, but my lips couldn’t form a single word. I felt as if I might throw up and poop my pants simultaneously. It wasn’t the flu. I wasn’t sick.

I was, however, freaking the f*ck out. 

Panic attack. Mental breakdown. Rock bottom. Whatever you want to call it, my world turned upside down. 

To this day I can’t entirely remember what happened on the rest of that 45-minute flight as I quickly passed out from the panic. But, I knew as soon as those tires hit the runway, there was no way I’d be getting on the next flight to Edmonton.

When we landed in baggage claim, I broke the news to my now husband and we picked up the rental car and hit the road. 

At first, I felt like I had won. I had avoided four hours on a plane trapped with my thoughts. The reality? I trade it for 36 hours confined to a car. 

During the first few hours of the drive, I felt great. But as the sun began to set, my anxiety rose. For the rest of our 36 hour drive, I experienced non stop panic attacks that left me physically and emotionally exhausted. 

When we arrived home, I lay in bed and knew I had a long journey ahead before I’d truly arrive at a place of comfort.

In the days that followed, I spent the next few weeks crying every morning. I’d wake up, sit on my couch, and try my best to take some deep breaths and get my thoughts down on paper. At first there were more tears than words in my journal. But, every morning, I tried and tried again. And again.

Though the tears eventually stopped, my morning practice of deep breathing and journaling did not. I slowly started to put the pieces back together. I would journal and engage in a dialogue with a part of myself I’d been ignoring. I’d answer different journaling prompts that helped me understand what was going on within my mind. 

How are you doing today?

What do you need in this moment?

What is your fear trying to communicate with you?

I began to learn how journaling could be used to help you alleviate stress, navigate interpersonal conflict, make decisions and build trust within yourself. 

Word by word, I began to put my life back together. My insecurities, self doubt and anxieties slowly started to lift. I started to feel empowered within my own mind. My panic attacks subsided and it felt like I had finally arrived home. 

I started to take charge of my mental wellbeing.

When I reflect back on my journey, I laugh thinking that I might have been able to avoid a 38 hour drive if I had just picked up a pen and paper. But, regardless of how I found journaling, I’m sure glad I did. 

For anyone’s that’s interested in starting a journaling practice, I created a guided journaling app called DiveThru. We work with mental health professionals to create guided journaling exercises that help our users take charge of their mental wellbeing. You can download the app here. 

Sophie Gray is the founder of DiveThru, a guided journaling app that features guided journaling exercises that help you DiveThru what you go thru. She is also the host of the SophieThinksThoughts podcast and reaches an audience of 400,000 across her social media channels. Sophie has been named Greatist’s 100 Most Influential People in Health & Wellness three years in a row. Her work has been featured in Cosmopolitan, People, Refinery29, Marie Claire, Self, and many more.


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