He handed me a tiny package, an unmistakable look of pride on his face. “It reminded me of you,” he said as his eyes swivelled between me and the dark road ahead. What I expected was a miniature poop emoji, or something else reminiscent of his crazy sense of humour. What I didn’t expect was a beautiful, white angel ornament.

As I held her in the palm of my hand, fascinated by her lightness, her delicateness, I felt moved by the largeness of his romantic gesture that came from something so small. He said I was his angel and in that moment of internal girlish swooning, all I could think about was Aerosmith’s lyrics: “You’re my angel, come and save me tonight.” I liked the idea of saving him, the way that angel would save me in the years to come.

The angel came at the perfect time – the way guardian angels usually do. I was experiencing severe mental turmoil, a consequence of trying to find a diagnosis for an illness very few doctors believed in. On top of that, I was battling to come to terms with a decision I believed was the best one for me at the time – giving up a potential career in law. The weight of my family’s disappointment, together with my own, plunged me into the darkest corners of my mind. I needed a light, something to hold on to, to believe in, and that’s exactly what that angel gave me.

“You are my angel.” Those are the words I hold onto when I feel myself becoming my illness. Those are the words I hold onto when I feel myself falling; they’re a reminder that angels have wings that make falling an option, not an inevitability.

My beautiful angel sits in her equally beautiful packaging in my jewellery drawer, patiently waiting for me should I need her. I pick her up from time to time, sometimes just to admire her and the sentiment she stands for. To be an angel to someone (even when you feel like quite the opposite) is the driving force you need to be strong for yourself. Strength doesn’t come from the ability to remain stoic and emotionless in the face of adversity. It’s about tackling the emotions head on, allowing the tears to flow, then changing what you have the power to change, and letting be what you cannot change. Angels cry too. And that’s okay.