By Jade Kelly

At any one time there will usually be what feels like a million thoughts buzzing around my head. Sometimes I write them down, sometimes I type them on my phone, just to get them out of my head. Well, now I’ve decided to put those thoughts out there in the world. I’ve decided this because I am a warrior in the battle that is anxiety and depression, I am stronger now than I have ever been and that is from being open about my feelings. I figured that if this helped me, it could possibly help others.

I know I am stronger now because there is a voice in my head as I type this saying: “Nobody cares, Jade, people will just think that you are attention seeking and that you are stupid and weak.” Well, to that voice I say FUCK YOU!!! I am NOT weak. I am NOT stupid. People DO care. The people that don’t just won’t read it and if me being open about my feelings can give even one person hope, then I have done what I set out to do.

My name is Jade, I am 26 (almost 27) and I have battled depression for most of my life. The anxiety came later and about a year or so ago. The panic attacks then decided to join the party (who said three’s a crowd?!) Depression is different for everyone; there are similarities in the feelings, but it is still different. For some it is reactive to a situation or a trauma. It has been that for me at stages in my life. Three years ago I hit the lowest point in my life; I had felt depressed before, felt suicidal before, but this was the worst it had ever been. What made it worse for me was that it was completely unreactive – not what I was used to.

I can pinpoint the exact time the tsunami washed over me. I was in work, I was having a good day, it was a slow day so my friend and I had been chatting and laughing all morning. I went to the bathroom and it was like someone pulled down a blackout blind and switched off all the lights. There was no warning, no trigger, no reason. I went from smiling and laughing to an overwhelming feeling of sadness, loneliness, emptiness.

It was a long road from that point, I tried to fight it for a while; I only used to talk about my feelings to a select few back then. I can tell you that the most exhausting part of depression is pretending to be ok when you are not. It led to a breakdown. I was signed off work and for two weeks I didn’t even leave my flat. It was the closest I ever came to suicide, thankfully I stopped myself.

I called a bunch of my closest friends and family and nobody picked up since it was the middle of the day and most people were in work. I was desperate and fighting the urge to just do it and end my pain. My sister saved me, she picked up or called me back, I don’t remember. I just remember starting the conversation, trying to be normal because that was my go to, I couldn’t help it. She knew though, she could hear the pain in my voice; she stopped me and asked me if I was ok. Well, I opened the floodgates. I burst into tears and spilled out all the ugly feelings. I don’t even remember exactly what we said on the phone that day, it was a blur of emotions (plus I have the actual memory of a fish, for reals!).

I just know that my beautiful sister reminded me that I was not alone and reminded me that I had people that loved me and cared for me and would help me turn on the lights again. Sabrina, I don’t know if I ever really thanked you so I am taking the opportunity now to tell you, you literally saved my life, thank you, I love you.

(I have actually starting shaking and was crying writing that, so am moving on to the recovery process).

I spent a year on antidepressants, something I always considered a weakness in the past. Well, it is not a sign of weakness, going to the doctors and asking for help, then making the choice every day to take those happy pills – that took more strength than I could ever describe.

I changed jobs, because I no longer felt fulfilled there and at the time it was the best thing for my mental health as I needed a fresh start. I made the decision to not hide my depression any more, the happy pills were balancing out my feelings so my bad days were fewer anyway. I eventually came off the pills and finally experienced joy again. Fast forward to now, I still get bad days, I am human and the depression, anxiety and now panic attacks are with me always. I described how it feels to a friend once: I feel like I am walking on a tightrope, spinning a bunch of plates over a tank of sharks (I have a very irrational fear of sharks). Some days I barely notice all of that, I am a plate-spinning, tightrope-walking master, the sharks are like those ones out of Finding Nemo (fish are friends not food!) I GOT this. I move forwards, might even do some tricks, laugh, smile and enjoy it.

Then other days there is a freaking storm, shit gets real and the sharks get bloodthirsty. I wobble, I might end up going backwards, I drop some plates and I start to panic. The difference between the me now and the me three years ago is, now I remember to look up. I look up and I see my tribe, my tribe is made up of family and friends, some friends I have known for years, some only for months but they are still my tribe. They are my cheerleaders and my biggest fans. They remind me that I’m not in this alone. I remember that I’ve been here before, I survived it then and I can survive it now, I am a badass after all! I understand now that it is fully ok to not be ok all the time. I don’t fight the feelings, I let them out. I tell people that I am having a bad day but I will be all right, and I believe it!

I have read a quote on Pinterest (also one of my saviours, seriously, I use it when I need to read some positive quotes to pull me back. Pinterest is amazeballs). This quote is: “Don’t forget that you’re human. It’s ok to have a meltdown. Just don’t unpack and live there. Cry it out and then refocus on where you are headed.”

Well, that quote is life! It is exactly right; you are allowed to feel shitty, whether you have depression, anxiety, other mental illness or you’re just having a bad day. It is ok to not be ok. Once I allowed that, I found that the bad days got fewer, sometimes it isn’t even a whole day anymore, hallelujah! I have accepted and embraced my feelings, the good the bad and the ugly and I am stronger than ever. I love myself and I am not ashamed to say so, I love even the bad parts of myself because they make me who I am. My scars are on the inside but they shine through my skin, I wear them with complete pride now. My scars are a beautiful reminder of the battles I have won. I am a warrior!

To anyone who has felt, or feels the same way I have or the way I do now, you are an absolute BADASS! You are not alone, not ever. If you don’t have your tribe yet, don’t worry, you’ll find them. You are not the only person who feels this way, you are not crazy. There are people in the world who feel the same way, even if some don’t, there are people who understand and accept you exactly how you are. You are a warrior too – wear your scars with pride!

Reproduced with permission, originally published here

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