I love Happy Talks. It makes my Tuesdays so much fun to be honest; I love reading everyone’s different stories on life, mental health, joy, and more. This week’s HT comes from Jade, a 23 year old journalist and poet residing in Beeston, Nottingham in England. Enjoy!
1) What has your mental health journey been like for you so far? You can tell us as much or as little as you like.
My mental health journey started in college. I was there for three years instead of two, to finish a course I picked up in my 2nd year. The whole time I was there I was terrified of the idea of going to uni, I just couldn’t imagine myself there, or what that kind of life would be like. I kept putting it to the back of my mind, and tried to focus on getting through each day.
College work was a blur, because for the most part I was on autopilot and just getting stuff done because it had to be done, but my third year was the most difficult, and up to this point I didn’t even consider the idea that I might have a mental health problem.
My granddad died, and this ended up being the trigger for what I would now refer to as a depressive episode. And it was this that brought my anxiety to its peak. I woke up one morning and it felt like my world had changed. I didn’t want to get up, I didn’t want to go to college, I didn’t want this life anymore. I needed something to change, but I felt like I was trapped.
I went into college that day and was no longer on auto-pilot. My aim was to leave, to drop out, to do something different: to escape.
Of course, this was just what I was telling myself. In actual fact, this was what I now know to have been a mental breakdown. I couldn’t handle it anymore and my tutors saw this where I couldn’t, and they gave me a week off college. The head of college also happened to be our psychology teacher (which I dropped out of) and she understood that this was a mental health problem rather than anything else, and I think (although I can’t remember exactly) that she must have advised me to go to my doctor.
I saw the doctor and was diagnosed with anxiety. Soon after, I was having Cognitive Behavioural Therapy, and it was this that got me through the end of college and the application to university.
In more recent times, I had a similar (but not as bad) breakdown during the middle of my Masters in Journalism, and again took a week off. But instead of therapy, I started taking medication, which I am still on now.
2) How do you keep yourself content day-to-day?
I give myself the time to relax each day. I could work on uni stuff and other projects all day, and make sure when I get home to just relax, veg out in front of the TV, sit with my mum and do whatever I want, and try not to worry about work that I’ll still have to do. Earning my relaxation time keeps me content, because if I haven’t earned it THEN I get anxious.
3) Looking back at times you’ve struggled, what would you tell your past self to help them out?
I’d say don’t give up, and don’t dismiss something as impossible, because you can do whatever you want. Things seem scary, but that’s just the anxiety blocking your path. If you can overcome that, you’ll see that you can achieve what you want to, and you can do it well.
I know you’ll wake up and think that’s it’s all over and that you’re going nowhere, but trust me, you just need to wait, because this morning I woke up the day after finishing my masters in journalism and I know for a fact that one day you thought that was impossible. It’s not, keep going, get through it any way you can, and just enjoy every moment!
4) What are the things that make you happy, how do you pursue them, and what would you tell others who are trying to pursue what makes them happy?
Things that make me happy: my two cats, going for walks, exploring new places, drinking tea with a friend in a café, doing cross-stitch, reading books, writing poetry, performing poetry, gardening.
My mentality towards things that make me happy is that if I have earned my enjoyment of them, then I will enjoy them all the more. My cats are always there, so I can pursue them (and be pursued by them) every single day. But with hobbies like cross-stitch and reading books, I pursue these when I can most enjoy them. If I’m stressed with a lot of work, I can’t physically enjoy the things that make me happy. But if I’ve done all my work and have some freedom, then I pursue that which makes me happy.
I would advise other people to identify the things that make them happy, and assess when you can enjoy them. I can read a little bit of a book each day, but I can’t explore a new place each day. Spread out your happiness according to what you need at any given time.
5) How do you take care of yourself when you’re feeling down?
6) How has blogging contributed to your happiness?
I love to create. And I love to express myself with something physical that I can look at and track my progress. I used to keep a diary, and although I still write it in, it doesn’t give me the satisfaction of logging my life that it used to. Blogging, however, allows me to express my thoughts and feelings in a way that can reach other people too.
7) What inspires you, both for blogging and in your personal life?
Exploration. I’m a curious person and I love to explore lots of different things. In my personal life it’s about going to new places, and for blogging, it might be reading a new genre of book, or writing a poem that expresses how I’m feeling about my mental health which puts things into perspective. I might do something new that day, and write a blog post about how it was really good for my anxiety. I’m curious about the world around me, and it is always worth noting how that makes me feel in terms of my mental wellbeing.
8) How have your friends and family supported your mental health journey? What helped and what did not?
My best friend has been super supportive, ready to answer the phone whenever I need a cry, or to go and have a cup of tea or talk to me when I don’t know what to do. My close friends now have experience of mental health problems too, specifically anxiety, so they understand what it’s like and that has really helped.
I’m less open with my family. My mum knows more than anyone what I’ve been through and what I still go through, and has always been as supportive as she possibly can. Although, it can sometimes feel like as soon as I say I feel anxious, things change, the mood shifts. When I’m having a really rough time I get snappy, and it just makes everything worse!
My close family friend has had a harder time understanding, and I think he generally chooses to ignore or not acknowledge that I have anxiety. When I took my week off during college, he didn’t realise it was down to being mentally ill, he thought it was half term or something. When I tell him I have anxiety, he says ‘Don’t we all?’ and that’s that.
Although, after my recent decline and week off uni when I started medication, I told him that the tablets were helping and that I felt much better, and he was genuinely happy about this. It was the most he’d ever acknowledged my mental health in a positive and supportive way.
9) What are your goals for the future, both for yourself and your blog? How do you go about achieving those goals?
Well, I’m just about done with my masters in journalism, and I have a number of projects to focus on. I want to get a job, but I can’t move very far, so I’m considering doing some freelance journalism to start off with, as this will give me the time and space to stay committed to my other journalism roles.
In terms of my blogging, I want to read more books and get more reviews written. I want to return to my mental health blogging and maybe write about how medication has helped me, and what my week off was like in terms of giving me the space to think and breathe again.
I’ve also set up a new mental health magazine, which also has a blog, so I want to write a bit for that and allow other people to share their stories on it too.
I’m going to give myself the best chance to keep up with writing, journalism and personal projects, without putting too much pressure on myself. I’m taking things at my pace, because I have learnt that this is the best way forward for me.
10) What makes you feel most alive?
Visiting new places and experiencing different surroundings. It reminds me that there’s a whole planet to explore, and that there are so many places I have yet to visit.
Thanks so much for talkin’ with me, Jade! This girl’s a jack-of-all-trades, she has a whole bunch of blogs for different projects and I highly recommend checking all of them out. If you want to see more from Jade, check out these links:
Personal Anxiety Blog: https://jadekmoore.wordpress.com/
Book review blog: https://advocateofbooks.wordpress.com/
Letters to the Mind: https://letterstothemindblog.wordpress.com/
Madness Magazine: https://madnessmagazineblog.wordpress.com/
See ya Sunday,