I know that when I visit a blog for the first time, the "About Me" section is usually one of my first stops, so if it's helpful to me then perhaps it will also be helpful to you! 

So, hi!  My name is Jess and I'm a 24 year old female living in Melbourne, Australia.

I'm studying a Bachelor of Arts full-time, and I volunteer at an animal rescue shelter and with a refugee and human rights advocacy group. 

Generally I like to think I'm a friendly person, but I can be quite the introvert, and I really enjoy my down time which I'll usually spend reading, seeing films, watching documentaries, or swimming.

In regard to my mental health, I first knew that all wasn't well when I was seventeen and couldn't get out of bed for two weeks.  I was diagnosed with Major Depressive Disorder, took medication for about three months, and bounced back.  I have a family history of mental illness on my father's side, which did help with diagnosis.

I then entered a ridiculously high pressure career that I would continue for six years.  For the first few years I didn't have any mental health crises, as I'd figured out ways to manage my stress or sadness, often with the help of a very loving and supportive partner.

Then I would meet the person who would ruin my life, many times over.  It was a sickeningly steady decline into self harm, substance abuse, disordered eating, promiscuity, suicide attempts, and eventual hospitalisations.  I've written more about this time in the blog post "Falling Apart & Beginning Again: Jess' Story".

It was during the trauma of all this that the diagnosis of Borderline Personality Disorder became evident.  One friend said reading the diagnostic criteria was like "reading my horoscope", so I guess you can say it's a pretty good match.

In working through my treatment it's also become clear that Social Anxiety Disorder plays a role in making socialising and relationships more difficult, as well as the fact that my sleep is affected by Delayed-Phase Sleep Disorder.

So I'm now medicated and working my way through treatment therapies.  I'm hoping that if I blog about my experiences here, it'll add another voice to the discussion about mental health, so that we can get our communities talking about these issues and make it that much easier to raise awareness and reduce stigma.

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