This One Thing Changed My Life

Now, I am the last person you’ll find throwing a pity party – which is ironic cause I have depression – but I have my reasons for feeling down and experiencing depression and anxiety! I have spent months wishing it would end followed by months of genuinely thinking I wouldn’t make it to adulthood, I know, cheerful right?

But in all honesty and full disclosure, I’m not telling you this to make you feel sorry for me, I am telling you this so that you understand I’m not some wishy washy crazy person promoting something thats not really going to help, before you come out of depression and anxiety (and i imagine most mental illness though I can’t comment on all of them/any others because i haven’t experienced them) you need to face a couple of hard truths first…

  1. The only person that can save you is you – at the end of the day, you can talk to all the professionals and supportive people in the world and you definitely should, no one should have to go through this alone! But they are all there to help you to do one thing, get your shit together. They might lead you down a different thought path or help you realise something that takes you to a whole new mental positive world or something, but its you that has to get there. No one else can step into your brain and fix it for you (even though we might really want them to).
  2. It is possible to CHOOSE happiness – I once said this in comment form on somebodies Instagram, I didn’t say it as short and as quick as that but that was my point but someone found it offensive and reckoned it was easy for me to say because obviously I have such a privileged life, pretty ironic if you ask me but I responded politely and left it there, however, it got me thinking… I have been severely depressed, I’ve had medication for it and my anxiety has stopped me from doing much more than walk out the door… but I still chose happiness, I am not saying that choosing happiness heals mental health, I am saying however, that it bloody well helps! There comes a moment – or there did for me – when my world was ending, self harm and suicide was all I could think about, I was swallowed in darkness but I chose happiness, I didn’t wake up the next day healed, cured, whatever, but I did wake up the next day. 

Which leads me onto the one thing that really has changed my life, gratitude. This won’t work for everyone, I genuinely believe that if I wasn’t such a determined, driven person who once has her eyes set on a goal, that’s all she fights for I wouldn’t be here today because making the choice of choosing happiness and making the choice to be grateful pretty much saved my life.

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My mum had told me literally 100 times that I need to appreciate the little things more, especially in my situation, I spend a lot of my time ill, in bed which would almost be fine and I’d eventually get used to it if I didn’t have days where I was almost normal!

It started with the very basics I said (you don’t have to thank God, you can just be thankful, I obviously believe in the Big Guy so thats who I direct my thankfulness towards) “Well, yeah its a bit shit that I am stuck here again, I feel like I am in a viscous circle, I can’t even move my arms, how am I supposed to have children? How am I supposed to live outside of my mothers care?” Yes, it starts of pretty depressing, I was depressed after all and those thoughts would go on and spiral out of control until

whats the point of me even taking up all of this space,

my brother or sister would have much more fun in this room-” then I stopped myself and I thought “I have this room yeah but-” then I stopped myself again. Even though my whole being – for some reason – wanted to go down the route to the darkest parts of my brain I said no. “No Jess, you have this room, you have this bed and when you are ill your mum looks after you, if your situation was different you could be trying to work a job, getting fired all the time with no one to understand you, even worse you could be in a country that doesn’t understand you, with health care that won’t treat you because it doesn’t believe in what you have and you could be on the streets so thanks, God, for what I do have in this room right now” and from that moment everything changed.

Again, I am definitely not saying that I was happy once again right there and then but heres the thing, you learn anxiety and depression, it starts happening way before you realise anything is wrong and thats why you fall into patterns of dark thoughts, self harm etc etc, because you didn’t stop it in the first place, you let it continue (without realising thats what you were doing of course) and it overtook you, the hardest part is realising when it is happening and thats something else I am grateful for. Although CFS has been a giant pain in my ass its also taught me just how much and how well I need to listen to my body so once I knew I wasn’t going crazy and what I had was actually both anxiety and depression I could then start to pinpoint when I needed to kick myself up the butt, pick myself up or go to someone that might be able to.

Like I said, anxiety and depression is learnt, so is the healing process, you have to teach your brain to get better, only you can. I could never get access to a therapist (still trying) but I had a lot of people around me teaching me these things, they didn’t realise that’s what they were doing and neither did I but I suddenly started to remember everything anyone had ever said to me.

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One of my teachers used to put up with me complaining about all sorts but never said anything other than words of encouragement so I knew I could trust them when it came to this, they wouldn’t always know I was talking about me and they wouldn’t always make it obvious they knew it was me if they could tell I didn’t want them to but they have given me enough pep talks to last a life time!

My parents too, I have spent HOURS crying to my mum and trying to explain everything! The thing is too, when you’re having ‘an episode’

its the littlest, tiniest things that add up and push you over the edge,

not once did my mum dismiss my worries or question why I was upset, in fact I would often say “I’m so stupid for this” and she would respond with “if you are feeling something, that doesn’t make you stupid” – even writing this now I am tearing up because these people saved my life!

But ultimately it was me, I chose to listen, I chose to focus on the little things, the tiniest of things and when I had nothing to focus on because I had been ill all day I chose gratitude,

“thank you that I have this bed, that I can curl up and cry and be comfortable in my own home”

“Thank you for the people who are keeping me going”

“thank you for the passion you have put in my heart, the determination that will get me to the other side”

Some of you might read this and think “yeah alright, sounds a bit wishy washy to me” but let me tell you, I didn’t think I’d make it to now, I didn’t think I’d get into uni, I didn’t think I’d ever be able to talk about it in such an open way but I have to, you have to know you can and even though you might not believe it right now,

if you chose life, life choses you. 

I’m not there yet, I still have moments, hours, days, weeks when my heart turns cold and putting one foot in front of the other seems like the hardest thing in the world, but I believe in me, I believe I can make it, I believe in my future and I believe in yours too.

So thank you, you know who you are, friends that stick by me when I fall silent and withdraw, thank you for messaging me, coming to see me, thank you to teachers who didn’t get angry but helped me get through some of the toughest months of my life so far, thank you mum, dad, for letting me cry and then making me smile.

This one is mostly for me but I hope its for you too, I am off to go cry happy tears and get a hug. Don’t be afraid to reach out for a hug yourself, if you feel so lonely, like theres no one else, message me. But I can promise you there is someone else.

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