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Georgia’s Story: A Battle with Depression That Formed an Online Mental Health Community

1 in 6 adults in the UK experience depression. Humairaa Habib speaks to Georgia Smith about her lowest moments during her battle with her mental health and what led her to create ‘Bekindbabe.’

Trigger warning: This article discusses topics of mental health and suicide, which may be distressing to some readers.

Georgia was studying for a degree in Business Management and Marketing when her battle with depression hit. Credit: Georgia Smith

In 2018, Georgia Smith, a bright and confident university student was thriving in a new city until a traumatic incident changed her life.

Georgia says, “My granny had a stroke, and me and my dad found her; it was a six-month situation of her getting progressively more ill.”

Georgia, 25, who works as a project manager, was in her second year of study at Nottingham Trent University at the time.

She says, “I was back and forth to uni and I'd just blank that situation out, I tried to ignore it all. I'd been really lucky to not have to deal with death or grief until my granny passed away.”

Georgia decided to take a gap year to focus on her mental health, but things got worse when her low mood and intrusive thoughts took over.

She says, “I was scared of my own brain and scared of doing life at that point, my head was full of sadness, I'd just constantly sit and cry, five times a day.”

Georgia had a close relationship with her grandma before she passed away. Credit: Georgia Smith

Georgia’s intrusive thoughts included feelings of worthlessness and suicide, which left her scared and fuelled a worse mental state.

She says, “I was feeling low anyway, sometimes I’d walk into the kitchen and I knew where the cutlery was. I’d think, if I went in that drawer, I could finish this pain that I'm feeling and then my head would go no, and then I'd cry."

Georgia thought that she was relying too much on her friends and family and felt like she had a negative energy. She recognised that her suicidal thoughts weren't normal and decided to take action.

She visited her GP and was diagnosed with depression and prescribed antidepressants. Alongside medication, she started a mixture of grief therapy and cognitive behavioural therapy after receiving a friends and family referral from her mum’s workplace.

She says, “A lot of the time I'd sit there and tell my therapist about how bad or guilty I feel about affecting people around me and how I'm scared to fail in life because I couldn't get my uni course done.”

A study by the charity Humen found that mental health negatively impacted 50% of students in the UK in 2022. The research was carried out across 80 universities and revealed that only 4% of staff received ‘adequate training.’

Georgia would sleep in her mum's bed to find comfort; her mum, Tracey, played a crucial role in her recovery. Credit: Georgia Smith

During her recovery, Georgia couldn’t believe the impact that depression has, both mentally and physically. She decided to set up an Instagram account, ‘Bekindbabe,’ to share her journey, destigmatise depression, and provide a positive platform for those suffering.

She says, “My mum used to say, ‘You need to be kind to yourself,’ the second I heard that phrase, I would feel peace inside for a second.

“I'm a loud, bubbly person normally, people didn't expect me to deal with this kind of thing."

Considered the ‘invisible illness,’ depression has become common among teenagers and young adults with studies pointing to social media as the cause.

“When I was ill, the comparison came in and you're comparing yourself to everyone else's life that looks so beautiful on social media," she says.

“I wanted to have a presence, to reach people easily, help them by talking to them and telling them that there's things they can do to help their mental health.”

She had a positive response when launching her account with many of her followers admitting that she had helped them with their mental health. While anxiety did creep in and she felt as if she wasn't qualified to help others, her motivation to provide a positive platform took over.

Georgia’s mum worried that her new account would overwhelm her and harm her recovery, but Georgia believes that helping others is a form of therapy for herself as she can relate to their problems.

In addition to her Instagram account where she has amassed over 1200 followers, she created an online guide to help those suffering and has sold 15 copies so far.

She says, “I've spoken to people who said they don't feel comfortable going to a therapist.

“The idea of the guide was to put everything that I had learned and different methods to help people, whether it be mental health, confidence or self-esteem. I had positive responses which was so nice.”

Georgia's love for fashion returned as she began healing. Credit: Georgia Smith

Georgia is in the process of weaning off of her medication and plans to attend therapy more regularly. She is working as a Boohoo ambassador and has grown a following on TikTok where she promotes clothes and self-acceptance.

She says, “When I fell into depression, pyjamas were the only thing I wanted and when I started to find myself again, I found my love for fashion.

“You've got to be confident to rock some of the things I chuck on, but I've used that on my social media to try and help women find their confidence.”

Georgia graduated in 2021 and has recently moved into a new house with her boyfriend. She plans to grow her online following, expand into public speaking and continue learning about mental health.

To those struggling, she advises, “Don't do what I did and ignore all your symptoms, even though it's scary as hell, just listen to yourself.

“If you can't see the end of the tunnel and you're in a dark place, trust me or trust somebody that this doesn't have to be your forever.

“Give yourself time, and you'll find her, him or they again."

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