The thought process at the time was the only way I can escape this pain is to escape this body.

My experience of depression started when I was quite young, when I was probably 15, 16 years old. I can go back to diaries and journals at that time and see that I was trying to find a language for what I was feeling, and I didn't use the word depression. I didn't understand that there really was something called depression. I just often felt like there
was quite a big dark cloud hanging over me. At that age I felt like I was really alone. I felt as though I didn't really have an understanding of the way that the world worked. It seemed as though everybody had some understanding of the way we are meant to be in the world, and I felt very alone and on the outside of that, and as though I didn't  understand the way that I became connected to the world around me.

Often there were feelings of worthlessness. When I go back and read those diaries and journals I talk about it as a separate entity to myself, as though I'd been infected by something, taken over by something. I knew that it wasn't me, but it had ingrained itself
so intimately within me that I didn't know how to separate myself from those feelings.

I never spoke to anyone in my teenage years about how I felt.

So it would have been a year after I'd finished school and it was quite close, a couple of days before my 19th birthday. Those thoughts and feelings had started to increase intensity at night. And I became more fearful each day of going to sleep, knowing what I was going to be faced with when I went to sleep. The brain has really narrowed, at that point, it's solutions for dealing with this pain, and the thought process at the time was
the only way I can escape this pain is to escape this body and this mind, and therefore taking my own life is the only way that I can do that.

I realised that I had made a terrible mistake and I wanted to reverse my decision, but eventually my depression came back. And at that point I knew that I never wanted to be
in that place again where taking my life seemed like a reasonable solution. And at that point I felt really motivated and driven to find a professional support network.

The difficulty can be those first words about the fact that you're having suicidal thoughts.
Saying that out loud can feel quite terrifying, but actually there's a huge relief when you say those words out loud.

I look now at things like Beyond Blue where the language is there for teenagers and for adults. And I'm so glad that it exists now to help normalise discussions around something that is quite common.

For me, the biggest understanding I've come to is learning to advocate for myself, because we know ourselves best and we know our illness best.

And we are the people that can speak about that with the most knowledge to those around us who want to help.

But for me, a lot of the times, it is just doing a bit of that disconnection in a positive way.
So disconnecting from social media, disconnecting from a lot of the business, disconnecting from news, disconnecting from all those things that I think can have an
impact on my mental health and finding ways to connect positively to the things around me. So connecting to people, friends and family who know me well, who I can be myself around.

What I've managed to do over time is to try and treat those thoughts that start to permeate into my brain into a different way. I am not depression and depression is not me. Depression is happening upon me, and therefore I have to treat it. I think that's a really important part of depression is finding a relationship with it that's healthy, respectful, and where it doesn't get to take control.

I think about all the things that I've been able to experience that I would not have been
was I not here. I had some amazing trips around the world and seen some really interesting things. I've met my husband and got married. I have an amazing
relationship with my sister, and I have some really beautiful friends. I just have a life that
I'm really grateful for.

Actually reaching out to people helps. So many people have stepped up and helped me along the way. And I think if I had known that at 19, I think that experience would
have been very different. And I can see that reaching out is both a good idea and a
necessity in order to be well.