This letter writer wishes to remain anonymous. The very brave and strong writer shares a lifetime of anxiety, depression and at times self harm. They write this from the viewpoint of hope. This is a quite a long letter which had me hooked from the start. It is a letter which I believe could be written by so many people.
To my younger self,
You may think that life is hard now but unfortunately it gets worse before it gets better. Not the greatest news but that’s the way life goes.
At the moment you are ashamed and embarrassed of your family. You are ashamed to talk to anyone as you feel people won’t like you or see you in the same light that they did before. So what- things change and you will realise that for people that mean something to you that these things don’t matter to them.
In the next few years as you finish school and start college you will lose contact with most of the people that you went to school with. But as you look back you see that’s not the worst thing. True friends from school will stick by you no matter what and if you had stayed friends with everyone from school then you would not be the person that you are today. Do not worry about that- more friends will come along and you will feel so much more at ease with them and won’t worry about hiding the truth from them.
You will find college hard- especially the first year, but stick at it. It will be worth it. You will find some of the best friends that you are ever going to have there. They will stick by you no matter what comes in the future.
It starts in 3rd year of college. You were so calm and happy with everything, and then those 5 weeks were when you noticed things were not going your way. Things started getting hard and going against you. You lost your confidence, you wondered would this career be for you, could you cope? You just need to have faith in yourself and keep going, it will work out and you will come out other side. College will still be hard after that, but you just need to keep calm, talk to your friends, they may not seem it but they are going through the same thing, and stay patient.
You will graduate from college and won’t be fully happy with your results. You will spend the summer looking for jobs but will not be successful. You will feel worse and worse as more and more people that were in college get jobs and you get more and more CVs sent back to you telling you, you were unsuccessful but good luck in your future career. You just don’t feel happy and don’t know why but you will put it down to not being able to get a job while it seems that everyone else does and you have no idea why. Your parents seem to be getting annoyed with you, and you are getting more annoyed with them, telling you this job and that job were advertised in the paper and why weren’t you applying for jobs her and there and everywhere else. Take a deep breath, stay calm – you will rely on your parents more than you know in the future.
Finally you get a job, not an ideal job but a job none the less. You head in your first day full of great ideas and ready for anything. You will last 6 weeks, and during those 6 weeks you will go in crying some mornings, feeling sick, not able to eat and just wondering what are you doing wrong. You will finally hand in your notice- it will take a lot of courage and feel so wrong but it will be one of the strongest things that you will do. You will not feel it then, it will go against everything you ever thought was right and it will follow and haunt you for years. But it is for the best no matter what anyone says or what you think any body is saying about you. The darkness has lifted now and you feel better for yourself and think everything is going to be alright now. You’re wrong there is still worse to come.
You get a job, that you are happy in. You find it hard going and sometimes just can’t deal with your boss but you go through it. That is until you reach your 22nd birthday. A chance meeting of a family friend in the shopping centre will trigger some feelings in you that you didn’t ever want to have again. You know then that it is time for help- you build up the courage and ask for help. The feelings subside a bit and you think you are ok again. You are not! It is not until a month later that you realise that you need more help and that is when you go to the doctor and ask for medication to help. You are strong enough to ask for help but at the same time you won’t want to advertise that you are getting help. You don’t tell friends that can help you through it, you just keep it inside you and it still builds and builds. You will feel ashamed that you need this help and think that if you tell people about it, they will treat you differently. But you are still strong inside and you go and get further help. You talk to people they help you through some stuff and allow you to leave some of your baggage behind. You rely on good friends to care for you after these sessions and finally you think you are better. You are getting there, but it’s still a long road in front of you.
So you are happy in your job, you are on medication and getting help. You are living with friends and are happy with life or so you think. Then you lose your job. You stay strong though and you don’t fall to pieces too much. You do self harm but it could be a lot worse. You think it will be easy for you to get another job- it’s not. You work a few days/weeks here and there for a year. You are jealous of your friends who are happy in their jobs and think why is this happening to you. You reflect back to whether things would be better if you never left that job before. Don’t worry and ponder too long- it will take time but you will soon realise that, that year has been one of the best things for you. It will give you experience in your job that none of your friends get, it will build your confidence, you will feel more at ease in your job and talking to other people in work places. It will start you on a better track.
In the following months you will have your first boyfriend, you will be happy, you will move into your new house and things will seem as life is finally on the right track. You are no longer seeing people to help you and around your 25th birthday you think it is time to come off your medication. You don’t see yourself sliding, you don’t see that you are changing, you are full of self doubt and black clouds again, you get upset easily, nothing seems right. You don’t take advice from others that you need help again. It takes you a while to realise that they are right- you do need help. You fall to pieces before you finally ask and accept help. You are back on medication and have extra to get you through these tough times. You find someone new to talk to, a psychologist – he seems to make sense. It is very hard going at the start but it is worth it. It will take you time to adjust and to accept what he says. But it is true. It is hard for you to hear these things about yourself not to mind accepting them as true. Your self confidence will grow, you will believe in yourself, you will get stronger, you will learn to say no to family, you will take time out for yourself.
The years will go past – you will change jobs, you will find the summers hard going but will get better, you will occasionally self harm but nothing like you used to, you will become closer to your friends and open up more, you will open up more to your mum and not be afraid of doing the wrong thing in their eyes, you do things for yourself and not for others. You will still be on medication, but you won’t feel it as such as a stigma, and still be going to talk to psychologist, not as regularly but as you need it. You are more aware of your feelings and when the dark clouds come again and when you need that extra bit of help or friendship. Others open up to you and you can see part of what you went and are going through in them. You see it is not just you.
You think you are doing well- but there are still a lot of down hills to go. You are single when all your friends are with people, engaged, married. Family life is not great all of the time. Your job is tough at times. You try to go without medication again and you slide. You recognise that you are sliding and ask for help before it is too late. You take time off work and take time to look after yourself. You talk through everything with the psychologist and more importantly friends. You see they are there for you and have had these problems as well. You worry what others may say but your friends soon help you realise that if people truly care about you, they won’t care what your life is like, what kinds of medication you need, what sort of people you talk to. Your friends will want what’s best for you, they will help you through the dark times, they will notice when you are not right and help you, they will help to keep things in perspective and not make mountains out of molehills, and to take small steps.
In the future you will have a tough time but just take everything as it comes, it will change you and make you a better person. Don’t worry what others think or say. Don’t be so self conscious about those people talking behind you- they are not talking about you and if they are so what! Talk to your friends about things – don’t be ashamed of your life and the help you will need. You think others will look down on you – they won’t, they will want to help to build you up again.
So for the future the best advice I can give you is
Try new things
Keep your worries small
Don’t worry about what YOU THINK others or saying or thinking.
And most importantly- Believe in yourself. You are strong and the things that you go through will only make you stronger.