"Things you never thought you'd do?"

This is definitely an amusing question for me in a grim sort of way, simply because I didn't expect to live this long. So it follows that I never thought I'd do any of the things I've done in the last several years.

That said, there are some things that seem unlikelier than others that have happened in the last couple of years alone. For example: being part of a team that wrote a report on youth mental health and presented it to a number of committees in Stormont; going to my former secondary school to talk to students about mental health; meeting with highly respected figures in the local field of mental health; sitting up at 2am reading a report on a rise in mental illness in teenagers ahead of a phone discussion for a newspaper article.

Those are all things I never, ever could have expected to happen. Yet here we are, it's 2.30am and I'm taking a break from reading reports on youth mental health, telling myself caffeine is a bad idea, and scolding myself for forgetting to eat two days in a row!

Then there are the not so great things: I never thought I'd find myself being screened for cancer (let alone getting the all-clear!); I never thought I'd cry myself to sleep after reading a newspaper article about the death of one of my secondary school bullies; I never thought I'd be a victim of sexual harassment or assault, and I never even dreamed that I'd become one of many women who decided not to go to the police following assault.

If I had to sum up the main thing that I didn't expect to be doing in one sentence it'd be this: I didn't expect to be shouting at the top of my lungs about mental health, much less to be an example of surviving a several year stint of mental illness.

The thing is, we can make all the plans in the world, but life doesn't have to follow our plans, and honestly? It probably won't, and sometimes that's going to be a kick in the teeth. Life can be a bit of an a**, but it's short, so let's make the most of it together, shall we?