'Music lifted me up': DJ who suffered long battle with mental health becomes host of breakfast radio show in Preston

After a long history of depression, paranoia and multiple suicide attempts, a DJ from Preston has finally found her feet again through her passion for music, scoring her dream job hosting a radio show.

By James Holt
Friday, 14th May 2021, 3:45 pm

Jadie Swales-Barnes spoke of how she has spent most of her life "in dark and low places" that she thought she could never recover from.

But despite her struggles, music remained the one influence in her life that always guided her back on track since her grandad gifted her with a guitar when she was a child.

It was all down to station manager Leroy Allen at Beat 103 radio, based at Preston's Guild Hall, who took a chance on her when she was at her lowest point, as she now takes over as host of the breakfast show.

Jadie has relied on music to get her back on track

And the 32-year-old from Penwortham is hoping to use her platform to continue spreading awareness of mental health struggles and show others that "anything is achievable".

She said: "I have been in some really low places in my life and want to get my story out there to as many people as I can that if I can come back from it, anyone can.

"With so many mental health issues, especially because of Covid-19 and the lockdown, people need hope. I have suffered a lifelong struggle with my mental health, but music has always given me comfort through my darkest times.

"I self-harmed as a teen and have been medicated for anxiety and depression since I was young. I always had a connection with music and related to song lyrics that resembled how I was feeling. Mental health wasn't talked about as much back then and I didn't understand the feelings I was having and why I was so sad.

She began DJ'ing at the age of 18 and now hosts a daily morning show on Beat 103

"The power of music helped me relate to other people and was so powerful that it gave me comfort. I have always pursued it since I was young, which gave me focus."

Jadie began raising her profile by DJ'ing at bars and clubs around Preston from aged 18, before she went on to study music technology at Preston College and gain a performance diploma.

Having written and performed in bands for much of her young life, she then made the move to London and spent months performing sets in Ibiza in her 20s.

But at the same time, she was going through extreme manic episodes and experiencing psychosis, with voices in her head telling her that she was going to die in an experience she described as "scary and intense."

After years of struggles with her mental health, she is using her platform to remind people they can achieve anything

She was diagnosed with multiple personality disorder and bi-polar disorder, before a turn that would lead her to spend up to three weeks in psychiatric hospital on multiple occasions following attempts to take her own life whilst living down in West Sussex.

She said she felt "hopeless", having lost her job at a finance company and her once huge passion for music.

She said: "This cycle went on for years. I was always in and out of the hospital and was dosed up on so much medication that I couldn't function. I had abandoned music and felt like giving up.

"My uncle persuaded me to move back up to Preston and stay with him, where I started to connect with old friends and being around people who loved music and made me feel supported.

"Music began lifting me back up again and bringing back parts of me I thought I had lost. I began producing music and writing songs to entertain people on social media and started throwing myself into open mic nights in Preston.

"I bought a microphone and began doing podcasts and dabbled in radio before I put a post on social media asking for radio work, which was when Beat 103 got in touch and took a chance on me."

It was this chance that gave her the hope she needed to carry on pursuing her passion for music and DJ'ing, first becoming a co-host on a weekly show at the Preston station.

After hosting her evening shows from home in lockdown, Jadie has now taken the reins at the daily breakfast show on Beat 103, broadcasting to the people of Preston, and has been giving up her time to volunteer with children at Ingol Community Primary School, pre-recording their weekend show.

She is also hosting a weekly show on the internet radio Pulse FM and hoping to be awarded charity status at her record label Chemical Flaw.

Jadie added: "I wanted this so much and have persevered. I can't believe where I am in my life and am so proud of what I have achieved.

"It's been a harrowing journey and I feel like people should be these seeing success stories like mine, which show people they can thrive even with the struggles and to not give up on themselves."

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