How skydiving saved Jessica’s life
WHEN Jessica Johnston's brother passed away, a dark cloud came and lingered over her life for some time.
Jessica needed something to stop her downwards spiral, and that ray of sunshine happened to be jumping out of a plane thousands of feet above the ground.
"Skydiving saved me, along with my family and the community," Jessica said.
"I'd dealt with depression and had been in drug rehab. I think everyone's got challenges in their life and it's about whether you learn from your lessons."
Like many, Jessica's mental health had greatly impacted her self confidence.
But falling through the air has helped her regain a sense of self esteem and worth.
"I use to listen to the negative voice in my head that would say 'you can't do this' and 'you won't be good at that," she said.
"Skydiving has helped me learn to listen to the positive voice saying 'I can do anything."
Jessica has harnessed the joy she found within skydiving and blossomed into one of the top athletes in the sport on the planet.
She has just returned from the Speed Skydiving World Cup in England, where she won a bronze medal against the fastest women on earth.
Not only that, she smashed a record and has no plans on slowing down.
"I set a new Australian and Oceania record which was really cool.
"In round four I managed to get a speed of 400.36km, which got me the record.
"I did my 800th jump while I was there as well. The girls who came first, second and fourth have all had thousands of jumps so it's just the beginning for me."
Jessica, who works with Coffs City Skydivers, knows first hand skydiving has also had a meaningful impact on the outlook of others.
"It's something everyone should try at least once.
"People always have the fear and say 'I can't do it' and once you have that attitude you keep saying it you won't do it.
"But if you challenge yourself and think 'I can do this' then you will go and be able to do everything.
"Ninety-nine per cent of people I have jumped with leave their fear in the plane."
Back at home, Jessica is now setting her sights on an event in the Northern Territory before the Queensland and NSW Titles.
She is also confident of qualifying for the Australian Titles next May.
Her advice for those who want to achieve their goals which seem out of reach?
"Put yourself first for a change. This year I've put myself first and look what I've been able to achieve."