'I lost my appetite': St Margaret's College head girl's stunning mental illness admission in speech

St Margaret's College's head girl has bravely opened up about her battle with depression in her end-of-year speech. 

In June, Jem Vaughan was diagnosed with depression midway through her final year at the Christchurch school. 

In her speech, she said everybody has a story to share, and she wasn't sharing her's for "attention, pity, therapy or drama".

"Instead I speak, making myself vulnerable in the hope my words connect to any of you who have walked or are yet to walk through similar things," Ms Vaughan says. 

She told her peers and their families how 2018 looked to be a perfect year for her, but only on paper.

"Captain of netball teams, good grades, attending the coolest school ever... amazing friends and an incredibly loving family. I feel blessed.

"Despite this, at the beginning of the year, I actually found myself really unhappy. I was tired all the time, I lost my appetite, I was crying a lot for no reason.

"I had been really sad for quite a while and feeling really guilty about it, angry at myself. My problems seemed so trivial, so why was I unhappy?"

Ms Vaughan went on to offer a message of hope for anyone suffering through similar struggles.

"Whatever sadness, anxiety or worry looks like for you, please remember you are so incredibly valued and loved and you are always enough, just as you are."

Ms Vaughan says she learnt after her diagnosis that mental illness doesn't discriminate - and that if you don't feel perfect right at the moment, that is okay. 

She also urged her audience to always work hard at loving yourself and spread kindness and gratitude.

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