Bridget, 26, Sydney, Australia

Bridget“I’ve had depression and anxiety for many, many years but it’s only recently that I’ve been actively tackling my illness head on.

Last year I hit a very low point in my life and it was just like all the others I had experienced many times over – I was dumped by a partner because they could no longer handle my illness, I was very unhappy with my career path and felt stuck in a never-ending circle of debt and self-loathing for not feeling good enough or talented enough, I was constantly exhausted, and I was abusing alcohol and licit/illicit drugs.

I felt suicidal and I started planning how to end my life. I didn’t hide my feelings from my ex (who I was living with) and I told him I could not be alone otherwise I might try to take my life. So, we went to my doctor who immediately sent me to the hospital. I spent three short days in the mental health ward. This made me feel absolutely insane like I could easily go down the path of seriously losing everything in my life, including my ability to function on a daily basis, if I didn’t do something drastic.

So I started to take steps towards recovery. Tiny, small, minuscule steps, but it was all I was capable of, and you know what, it started to become enough. I found a place to live all by myself, I changed jobs and started studying an online course in youth work, I got a cat (and then a few months later, got another and day in and day out they give me a reason to live), and I met an incredible man who has shown me that I am worth it, more than I could ever have imagined.

I owe my life to my courage to choose to do things my way, on my own time. I’ve spent the past year making very little money, spending many hours lying in my bed unable to move, and holding my cats very closely when I could feel a panic attack coming on. I started telling myself that it was OK to feel sad, to spend time on myself, to let myself cry, to let others know what I was going through. I learned to forgive myself, and in doing so, I have realised that after forgiveness, comes acceptance, and after acceptance, comes self-love.

In May, I started writing a poem every day to help me get through the daily grind of living with a mental illness. I told myself that it didn’t matter if I did absolutely nothing else on that day, so long as I finished a poem, I could say that I had accomplished something. My poetry became a place of healing, of venting, and of consistency. I now have a blog and social media pages and hope to publish 365 days of my poetry once I reach that benchmark. That’s a whole year of commitment to healing myself and I am in awe of myself for making it this far.

I’m still not “fully healed” and I’m not sure I ever will be. This rarely bothers me now, though, because I’ve realised that people with a mental illness are some of the most beautiful, sensitive, and caring people in this fast-paced and selfish world. We are special because we have fought many battles and once we reach the other side, we are fully committed to helping others who are going through a similar issue. We are compassionate and important, and we deserve to be heard.”

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