Worth Living Ambassador Jessie Fawcett
Hello, my name is Jessie and I’m a first-year student attending Ryerson University to obtain a Bachelor’s Degree in Social Work. I am dedicated to being able to work in a juvenile detention centre in order to help aid youths who are struggling with their own lives. Mental health has always had a huge impact on my life and I’m finally starting to be able to share my story in hopes to help others who are also struggling with the same issues as well as shedding some light onto mental health.
Depression isn’t about being sad all of the time. It’s about not being able to feel anything but feeling absolutely everything at the same time. It’s crying for no reason. It’s not showering for days because you just don’t have the energy. It’s sleeping 15 hours a day and still feeling tired. It’s having your body constantly aching and nothing to help the physical nor emotional pain subside. It’s about being constantly angry at the world but especially at yourself, having the smallest things like dropping a spoon or a friend canceling plans on you, sending you into a blind rage. It’s about wanting to just let go.
The Thorn that Built the Rose
When I was twelve my parents got a divorce. It’s not a big deal, right? Forty-five percent of marriages end in divorce so it’s not as though I’m the only one to ever have gone through this type of situation. However, it was the beginning of such a dark ride for me. I was required to adjust to a life where I didn’t live with my mom. My brother, sister, and I were in your standard broken home. But during my thirteenth year, my perspective on life began to change. All I could see was darkness. I felt the bone shattering feeling of being alone. The silence that surrounded me was so intensely numbing that it was almost deafening at the same time.
Depression is an incredibly odd illness. It’s as though what is suffocating you is caused by always feeling alone but the only thing that you want to do is to be alone. People try and make the effort to hangout but all you can do is push them away to avoid inflicting more pain onto yourself. At least, that’s how it worked for me anyway. I stopped leaving the house, I stayed in my room all of the time, and I hardly ate. Eating was the one thing in my life that I had control over.
People began to become increasingly worried because I wasn’t leaving the house and I seemed to be losing weight. I didn’t care. Self-destruction seemed to be my coping mechanism for the longest time. It wasn’t much different at school neither. I always secluded myself from the other students. I spent my lunch break alone a lot of the time during grade 9 and 10. I didn’t participate in any school activities nor extracurricular ones. My teachers came up to me quite often asking if I was alright and why I was so quiet. They could see something that I couldn’t; that I was fading away to nothing. I was so mortifyingly consumed in self-loathing that it became all that I could think about. I wanted the darkness to go away, I wanted the pain to stop. I felt like nobody cared for me, that I didn’t matter, and that people would be better off without me around to add darkness to every room that I walked into.
My teachers saw something else in me that I couldn’t and that I still have trouble seeing to this day, talent. One of my teachers saw true potential in me in the art of theatre and writing. Unfortunately, when the depression became increasingly worse I stopped writing. Also, due to the generalized anxiety disorder I was unable to go in front of others and demonstrate the theatrical talent that my teacher saw in me. Theatre was something that ignited a spark in me. Every aspect of me changed, according to my teacher. My face lit up like the night sky filled with glistening stars and it felt like my voice could echo through the mountains. But the paralyzing anxiety that I faced made me unable to show everyone else what I was able to do. So, instead of shining like the night sky, the darkness came and shadowed that too.
Suddenly, fate stepped in. I found a best friend, someone who acted like a mother to me. She saw my potential too. I opened up to her about everything; my pain, my self-destruction, the entirety of my darkness. She stood by me and she pushed me to get help. I was petrified of getting help, of letting someone into my head so intimately. I was afraid of being labelled crazy or ill or even worse, of being hospitalized. It was one of the most challenging things that I have ever had to accomplished in my life. But that’s the thing, I did accomplish it. It took time, it took tears, it took pain, and it took humility. Fortunately, it was worth it. I was able to find myself again; I was able to start seeing a speck of light once again. Even though it took me nearly five years to get help, I was able to.
During my recovery, I was required to do things in order to combat my depression but also face my anxiety. My friend made me join the school theatre club, so I could face my anxieties of crowds as well as show my true colours on stage. The feeling after a show is so mystifying. There is the utmost feeling of pride when you see all the people that you care about in the crowd cheering you on, especially seeing the person there that pushed you to do it in the first place. She also pushed me to join several different sports and school activities. Of course, those achievements did not come without a fight, however. Regardless, they were still accomplishments.
I think my greatest accomplishment in high school was graduating and being my classes valedictorian. I spoke from the heart and I gave it my all. I never thought I would be able to make it to graduation let alone speak on behalf of my class. But thanks to my amazing teachers and best friend for pushing me so hard I was able to do that. I would not be where I am without them.
I am pursuing a career in social work to hopefully help adolescents who are struggling and whom have made the wrong decisions turn their thorn into a beautiful rose too. The pain that I was enduring seemed never ending. I didn’t think I would be able to survive it. But after everything that I conquered my friend would say the same thing to me, “you survived.” And that is exactly what I did.
To commemorate that, I got the words you survived in her handwriting tattooed on my collarbone to remind myself every day that life is worth fighting for, recovery is possible, and that no matter how alone you feel, you never are. I turned my thorn into a rose too.