2016:01 JanineI’ve lived under the darkness of a black cloud since I was 15.

From a ‘quiet as a mouse’ little girl through to a reckless and rebellious teenager who always succumbed to peer pressure, I was binge drinking by the age of 15 and landing myself in some pretty dodgy situations whereby my inability to speak up for myself left me feeling lost and even more sorry for myself.

Continuing into my twenties, I went through stages of introversion – becoming a shut in my own home, success – due to my tendency to people please and over work, and hardcore partying with my bestie – not stopping until I got sick or ended up in a depressive heap.

Thankfully I found a wonderful GP – who I still see to this day – whereby I levelled out on anti-depressants, but after a few years I weaned off of them because I didn’t like the side effects and had decided to go travelling. Why would I need them? Unfortunately my plan backfired on me as I suffered greatly from anxiety as I backpacked around Europe and the UK, ending up deeply depressed and broke.

Returning home it was out with the old and in with the new. I ended destructive relationships, started working out, and threw myself into a new career and relationship. This should have been a time of happiness, health, love and success but as it turns out my awesome new career – of which I was incredibly good at, turned out not to be so good for me. All of the hard work to change my life, to be healthy, happy and successful, had led me to physical and mental burnout.

After taking a step back to reassess what I wanted in life, the realisation dawned on me that I had become so obsessed with achieving happiness through any external means that I had forgotten what it was like to live. I had spent my life looking for a life rather than living it.

Through a hell of a lot of counselling, a few ‘wake up calls’, and by discovering mindfulness, I’ve developed a new and incredibly positive outlook on the way I see the world and of life itself. Stepping out into the sunshine in my 30’s, I spend my days living more in the moment rather in worry and despair which truly is a beautiful thing.

Janine, Australia