Jade's story: 'I could see no way out'
I was 13 years old when I began to experience feelings of depression – I was bullied in school. Those feelings eventually led to self-harm.
It was a particularly distressing point in my life and I couldn't understand why it was happening to me. The bullying began harmlessly – name calling here and there, some teasing. But the situation quickly escalated.
'Do us all a favour'
It became abusive: anonymous phone calls and texts throughout the night. "Kill yourself, nobody likes you, do us all a favour". I began to fear for my safety at school.
I confided in my other - she made it her mission to help. She spoke to my school and school counsellors. But despite her best efforts, nothing and no one could contain or control the situation. It became a long, drawn-out battle with no results. I couldn't take it anymore.
I was breaking down in classrooms and was a wreck. My mind was in a constant state of disarray. Every thought was scattered – I was screaming inside. I was a recluse and didn't smile, laugh or interact with anyone. I locked myself in my room at any given opportunity. I was experiencing severe anxiety and panic attacks which caused frequent paranoia.
At 14 years old, I started to think about suicide – I wanted to die. I could see no way out. I was diagnosed with depression, anxiety and school phobia and was pulled out of school indefinitely as I was far too ill to attend and couldn’t cope.
With the support of my family I started taking steps. I began counselling and began to write. It took time but I eventually began to feel a little better. However, I continued to live with social anxiety – I was frightened to leave the house. My self-esteem was at such a low that I developed body dysmorphic disorder. I became fixated on my face and hair and I couldn't look into mirrors because what I saw was distressing. I felt the reason I was unwell was my fault entirely.
Living with a mental illness is a battle. Every day is a fight. It's confusing and frightening, debilitating and sometimes downright degrading. I want people to know that mental illness won't always be there and it won't always be that. There is no shame in admitting you have a problem and that you aren't coping.
Help is available if you allow it. I want people to know that mental illness isn't your identity or who you are. It's simply an experience that is going to shape you. I would have told my younger self that better days are ahead and recovery is within reach and to turn 'impossible' to I'm possible.
We must do more to look after young people's mental health: 50% of mental health problems are established by age 14 and 75% by age 24.