'I had completely lost myself within the dark cloud of mental illness.'

As I sit here at my desk, ready to write an article about my mental health journey, I can’t believe how much my life has changed.

Today I am a mentally healthy young person who has a dream career in the arts, is getting married in less than a month, has great friends and family, is active in my community. I even managed to get up at 6am to go to a kickboxing class today.

I have struggled with mental health issues for as long as I can remember, yet I didn’t realise what they were at the time.

During high school, I put on a fake smile and I did my best to pretend everything was OK.

It was exhausting and dangerous. I had completely lost myself within the dark cloud of mental illness.

After high school I went on to study theatre at university and I continued to be a high functioning person with depression and anxiety. At the age of 19 I moved to America to study and work for nearly two years. When I returned I could no longer avoid my mental health issues.

I found myself without a job, living with my parents and unable to get out of bed. My whole life took place within the four walls of my bedroom for nearly six months.

"I could no longer avoid my mental health issues." Image supplied.

Looking back, I put my life back together by starting to walk my family dog every day. For weeks that was the only thing that I did.

Eventually, I built up the courage to go to my GP and ask for help. I was so scared and anxious that I pretended that I needed a blood test.

The conversation went a bit like this:

Doctor: How can I help you today?

Me: Can I get a blood test?

Doctor: OK. Are you having any unusual symptoms that are worrying you?

Me: Oh, you know — I’m tired all the time, I don’t like doing anything that once made me happy, I can’t sleep, think, get a job or do anything of value. Oh, and there’s a raging storm going on inside my brain 24/7 but other than that I’m fine.

"I can’t sleep, think, get a job or do anything of value." Image supplied.

That day I completed a mental health plan as well as taking a blood test. The next week I was diagnosed with depression, anxiety and a mild iron deficiency.

I was fortunate to be able to go on to get counselling and find a great psychologist (you can shop around, you know). I was fortunate to be was able to build a life I loved and was excited to live every day.

I was fortunate that my neighbourhood had a Headspace centre and that I had access to youth friendly mental health services that gave me the tools I needed to navigate my way out of my dark cloud and into the sun. These tools have saved my life.

Tuesday October 11 is #headspaceday, a national day to ensure every young person across the country has access to youth friendly mental health services, no matter where they live.

Whether it’s at a Headspace centre, over the phone or online via eheadspace, there are people out there that can help you if you are going through a tough time. On Headspace Day I will be wearing a Headspace day wrist band that will also be worn by politicians, sportspeople, musicians, celebrities and hopefully you because we need to let young people know that they have a right to be mentally healthy.

Here’s how you can show your support:

1. Wear – Wear a headspace day “Access all Areas” wristband on the day. You can pick one up at any headspace centre or through one of their partners. You can also print one off here and make your own.

2. Share – Post your support on Facebook, Instagramor Twitter using the hashtag #headspaceday

3. Donate – Make a donation

If you, or a young person you know, is struggling with symptoms of mental illness please contact your local headspace centre here or chat to them online, here. If you are over the age of 25 and suffering from symptoms of mental illness please contact your local GP for a Mental Health Assessment Plan or call Lifeline Australia on 13 11 14.