Authored by Amanda Jaide
‘When I fall, I know courage can pick me up off the ground, because I have to keep going.’
I never considered myself a very courageous person. In fact, I always felt the exact opposite, for many years I lived controlled by fear.
From ages 14 to 20 I struggled with anorexia nervosa, clinical depression and anxiety. Over those years I had four admissions to hospital (mostly in psychiatric care) for anorexia and attempting to take my life.
Courage often emerges out of darkness, dysfunction and devastating experiences.
I am now 23 years-old and recovered, it has been an almost impossible journey at times. Yet, as J. R. R. Tolkien writes, Courage is found in unlikely places.
My experiences of suffering mental illness have given me courage. It has taught me that life is short, unpredictable and extremely valuable. Knowing this has compelled me to live a life that gives, helps and inspires hope in people’s lives. The time I spent with young people in psych wards revealed to me that there is hope, even in the most broken places. Sharing this message of hope is so important.
Today I tell my story in schools to inspire young people that they can overcome setbacks and difficulties in their lives.
Sharing stories of resilience and recovery is powerful.
Vulnerability, openness and compassion ignite change. When one person has the courage to share their personal story of overcoming adversity it gives unconscious permission for others to do the same.
Stigma, grim statistics, fear, misunderstanding, and shame surround mental health issues at times. Personal stories, however, cut through all of this. They give a face and warmth to a sometimes depersonalised and neglected issue. They also show that it doesn’t matter what you have been through – there is always hope.
When we have the courage to honestly speak up, share our story and break the silence - it shows people they are not alone. We are all in this together fighting the same battles of anxiety, fear and not feeling good enough.
Nearly losing my life to mental illness has taught me that purpose can emerge from pain. Our battles, wounds and courage can inspire someone who has little hope.
If you have a positive story of recovery – value it, honour it and share it.
Not only for you, but also for other people’s lives it will help change.