Growing up, sport was pretty much my everything. It was my adventure, my freedom, how I could connect to myself and others, it was the way I could challenge my abilities and learn about many things, who I could be, who I wanted to be and who I would be despite any doubt. Being active was my go-to place when everything was too much. When I was lonely or upset, I could find a ball or a bat and run and kick and hit and let everything out. When I was sad or felt trapped by my circumstances, I could jump in the pool or the ocean and swim as if there was no worry in the world; just my body and the water; I felt free, like everything would be okay.
And everything would be okay, but not until after travelling through seven years of what seemed unbearable struggle, pain I could not express and complete sorrow. From top grades to sports awards and a great place of health and fitness, my pursuit for perfection eventually broke. At 16, after finishing year 10 I was diagnosed and urgently hospitalized with an eating disorder. Being so unwell and medically unstable I was no longer able to do my sport. That hurt, I had lost my outlet, my happy place.
After that, I managed to get through college but battled majorly with mental health issues and had multiple hospital admissions. At 18 years old, I turned to drugs. It gave me something to focus on that wasn’t my fears, it numbed the pain I was in and brought quiet to the torment… Until it didn’t. Drug addiction took every last piece of what I had left, every last piece of who I was. After years of psychosis, hospital admissions, emptiness and fear; I eventually found myself at Velocity Transformations, a 12 month Addiction recovery program. Velocity, I soon realized were associated with Reclink and Friday afternoons became the highlight of my week. Through the healing/recovery process I had to face and work through; with Reclink I was given the opportunity to discover again that awesome happy place I had loved my whole life; sport. I remembered that I could. Could do anything I dreamed of. That I could run and swim and laugh and move my body with freedom. I learnt that there were others out there too, travelling the journey or cheering me on; and there was hope, I could re-claim that healthy person I once was and go into the future with her strength, courage, and determination.
Nearly 13 months later I can say I know who I am again. I am the fittest I have ever been. I love my sport and find such enjoyment in the challenge and the fun. Reclink have supported me on that journey and into the future where what once looked so dim, are many exciting opportunities.
Jess has been nominated as a finalist in Tasmania's Young Achiever of the Year Awards.