Jade Dandy is a glowing image of someone who has overcome so much. In her pink vintage dress, with her hair flowing down her shoulders, she oozes elegance. Like a mysterious woman from the 60’s, she stands surrounded by retro flowers. Here she is healthy and happy, but you wouldn’t guess from a first glance the pain she often felt on the inside from the common monster, depression.
You can imagine the challenges of growing up as a young female teenager, let alone having to deal with depression. It can knock a person’s confidence and create more insecurities, doubts, and makes life almost unbearable. In saying that, I’ve been following Jade’s journey for a while. I’m excited to find out how she found the courage to battle her depression, and start her own vintage clothing shop online! Check out our chat below:
It’s been awhile since we last spoke! How has life been treating you?
Hey, Nadia! Thank you so much for this opportunity! Life has been a roller-coaster of emotions and full of changes. But I am happy to be alive and learning from my own experiences.
At what age did you feel like depression started to creep in?
Looking back and reading over old diaries I was definitely suffering from depression from a young age. When I was younger I wasn’t aware of mental illness and didn’t really know anything about it! I didn’t wonder why I thought and acted in such a negative way. I thought it was normal the way I was feeling and didn’t think much more of it. I went many years keeping my inner struggles to myself before it progressed and I was finally diagnosed in early 2016.
Was it hard for you to open up to people about it to friends and family?
Definitely. A huge effect of depression in myself and many others are feeling ashamed and guilty of the way you think or act. I felt detached from the world, like an outcast. I was afraid no one would understand and sadly I felt embarrassed. I believe a lack of knowledge in myself and others contributed to this, along with the stigma around mental health.
I’ve only recently started opening up in the past year as I was tired of having to make excuses for my behaviour and I realised I couldn’t get through it alone. People shouldn’t be afraid to open up or ask for help no matter how stubborn you are! You need help.
Do you think depression has had an impact on your personal life, if so how?
Yes, definitely. Depression affects so many areas of your life but for me particularly my social life and physical health. My depression is always there but comes in waves that at times can be crushing, in those hours, days, weeks or months all I want to do is hide. Eating is an effort, getting dressed is an effort, talking and especially keeping up with my social life. I’m partly grateful for this as you learn very quickly who your real friends are and who’s going to be there for you in the end.
I think a lot of people don’t realise depression is like a disease of the mind, and your brain is the motor to your body so when it doesn’t run quite right it can set off a whole lot of physical health problems. I am always feeling run down and unwell but try to look after my mind and body the best I can.
While everyone is different, do you think it’s hard to hold down a job with depression?
Well, last year I decided to quit my job as I couldn’t handle the stress of my thoughts and emotions while trying to work a full-time job. I was miserable and struggling on a daily basis for so long. I would get up every morning and just sit there for a good hour every morning trying to get motivated. I would tell myself why I needed to be at work while getting frustrated at the weight in my life that was my mind.
I finally realised I needed to stop and address my situation when the job that used to be so easy for me became like climbing a mountain everyday. When it left me in tears every afternoon and stressed me out every morning. I applaud those who manage a full-time job while dealing with their own inner demons, it all depends on how you cope and what support you have around you. Don’t be ashamed to take time out for your own well-being, it’s much more important!
Do you feel you have more control over depression, or do you still have bad days?
Now that I’m more educated on depression and I’m slowly working out how my own works. I can sometimes tell when I’m sinking into the abyss and shutting off from the world, that’s when I know to reach out for help or do more of something that makes me happy. Usually, my dark days will sneak up on me out of the blue and those are usually the worst days. It’s important to embrace those emotions and take yourself seriously and seek help or talk about it.
What gets you through the low times?
I feel the happiest when I dress up in my 60’s gear, throw on some makeup and put my heart and soul into music. Lyrics mean a lot to me and being able to relate to certain songs make me feel not so alone in the world. It’s also a great distraction for an overthinking mind! You have to do something that brings you some level of joy. As well as talking to someone. I have a couple of close friends and family members who I talk to when I can’t handle my emotions by myself, they help me see reason and bring me back down to life.
What advice would you give to someone who might be having a similar experience?
I have learnt two very important lessons. One is, take yourself seriously!! If you’re feeling sad, angry, guilty, frustrated, any emotion that is having a significant impact on your life, don’t shrug it off. You may need to take a step back, evaluate your feelings and do something to make your mind happier and healthier.
Number two, It can be scary asking for help but we are only human, we are fragile and we shouldn’t be afraid to better our lives by speaking up. Tell a friend or a family member you’re struggling even if you don’t know why that doesn’t mean your feelings aren’t real or there for a reason. You do not have to go through this alone. Look into your local counselling services, call a helpline or tell your doctor you need help, it’s never too late.
What inspired you to start your vintage clothing shop online, Dazed and Dandy?
I’ve never really known what or where I want to head in life. Depression can sometimes make you feel like being stuck in a maze going round in circles but one day it just clicked. The one thing that makes me happier than anything in this world is vintage clothing. I’ve always had this strange emotional connection to the 60’s and 70’s, I like to think I lived through those years in a previous life.
I’ve been collecting vintage clothing for years and half of them were sitting lonely in my wardrobe just waiting to be worn by some groovy folk. I thought what better to do with my time than to share these beautiful unique pieces with the world. Being my own boss also allows me to work at my own pace and have the freedom to be creative!
Where do you hope to take Dazed and Dandy in the future?
I would love to one day open up my own clothing line inspired by true 60’s and 70’s fashion! Learning to sew has always been something I’d love to tackle.
How do you find the right balance between work and your mental health?
I find taking time out of my day or at the end of my working day to do something I love is a must. Especially if it’s going to benefit my mental and physical well-being. Whether it be listening to my favourite album, reading, op-shopping or going for a walk, it stops me from falling further into depression and becoming unmotivated.
A piece of advice is to stop and slow down when you’re feeling stressed or under pressure, it only makes things worse and the longer you ignore your issues the worse they will get and the longer it will take to recover. Your well-being is more important than a job!
What would you say to people who often stereotype mental health or might not understand it?
We’re not crazy, we are human just like you. If you don’t understand it research it. Because it’s highly likely you know one or more people suffering from a mental illness. With New Zealand’s sad and shocking suicide rate especially among our youth, we don’t have time to waste! Instead of waiting and wishing for our government to fund more services and take mental health more seriously, we need to stop being afraid to talk about it.
Reach out to those struggling, speak up, and let people know how you feel. Be honest and seek help or we’ll keep running in circles. I believe no one really wants to end their life, they want to end the pain and anguish and feel some relief. However, there is a way to get some relief right here on earth so never give up! I’ve been so close to the edge but I held on and I’m still here. I’m living proof that those dark thoughts and feelings will come but they will go.
To see more of Jade’s funky collection follow her on Instagram @dazedanddandy.