To my younger self.
Younger self, I’m going to be cliche for a moment, and I know that you’ll be rolling your eyes upwards at the thought, but bear with me;
All this will pass.
Despite the fact that I am you and you are me, you’ll be thinking that I’m old now, what do I know? You’ll be thinking have I nothing better to do than to write letters to my younger self? Don’t I have any of my own kids to bother?
No. No, I don’t. Not yet. So put your attitude aside and take note.
First of all younger self,
I want to say that it might seem dark now, you might want to die and it doesn’t seem like any of this will ever end. I’m not here to tell you that it ever will because I would be lying. I’ve been here for however long and I’m still in tremendous pain emotionally, mentally and, now, physically.
But, my younger self, that doesn’t mean that you don’t learn to cope better. It doesn’t mean that you are forever stuck in this negative, emotionally stunted reality. You start to heal from the inside out eventually, and maybe through reading this, you’ll begin that journey a lot sooner. Who knows?
I know things with Mum are almost impossible at the moment.
I know that she’s infuriating and so easy to hate. A Lot of what she has done or is going to do is unjustified and, at times, complicated, but in hindsight, I can see that it came from fear and love. That horrible wedge that has been driven between you by mental illness and anorexia will improve. The gap will eventually begin to close. You just need to calm down, control your temper tantrums, and let the dust settle. You have to allow her to help you and understand, please understand, that she loves you unconditionally. In time you’ll need each other more than you both realise.
Spend as much time with your family as you can.
Take the time to be with the grandparents you have now because time is running out. Tell them how much you love them often. Spend time with Grandad J and talk about the farm, he loves it so much. Go and have tea with him. In fact, have copious amounts of tea with all of them as often as possible. Oh, and take Granny and Grandad F out for lunch often before they are housebound completely.
I know you don’t want to think about it, I know it’s so hard, but no one lives forever and time doesn’t stop just because you are going through something. You don’t want the regrets I have right now, you want to know you did as much as you could and often.
It’s good to save and by the time you get to where I am now you are living comfortably. Just know that life doesn’t revolve around money and how much you have of it. You can have all the money in the world and be deeply unhappy inside. Money is nothing if it can’t fix illness. With that in mind keep saving with a house of your own as the goal, but remember to live a little in the process. Don’t let your obsessions stop you from buying what you want, taking those trips and treating the people you love.
With all of that out of the way let’s talk about us.
Let’s talk about all the things I know you are either doing to yourself already or the things you don’t even realise are in your head. You’re feeling depressed, you’re feeling anxious and you just don’t feel like you fit in anywhere. Right? Well, I can’t fix that and I can’t give you any quick answers. Maybe it’s our brain chemistry.
It’s not weird. Everyone gets depressed, everyone has these feelings at some point; But please talk about them. Please tell Mum and Dad about the horrible, horrible thoughts. Tell them how anxious you are all the time, how it’s hard to even get out of bed some days or to look at yourself. But please, please don’t hurt yourself. Don’t cut yourself as a means to get rid of the uncomfortable pulling of your skin across your body. Please.
I won’t tell you to stop indulging the eating disorder. We both know that anorexia is a beast that is louder than our mind. It has shaped us into what we are today, as I write this. Without everything we have gone through I might not be sitting where I am now. So I won’t lecture you about it. Just be careful. When you are asked to step on scales in Loughry College at 19 years old, refuse. Don’t worry about causing a fuss or drawing attention to yourself! Who cares!? Look after your own wellbeing and mental health, because once you step on those scales you start a war inside your head again, and this time it doesn’t end until you are much, much older.
Get involved with your emotions. Listen to yourself and what you need. You are as valid and as important as everyone else in this world, and you deserve so much more than you give yourself credit for. You are intelligent, so damn intelligent, and you don’t even know it. You are creative, so keep writing and drawing! No matter what the outcome of the GCSE’s are!
Above all else, do whatever you want with your life. If you want to do counseling, then do it. If you want to paint or become a tattooist; do it! Don’t let anyone dictate what you do with your life.
Whatever you decide to do don’t stop believing in yourself. Don’t be so hard on yourself, learn to love yourself, slow down and enjoy your teenage years and, above all, please don’t hurt yourself like I know you are.
Stop it right now, younger self!
You are worth so, so much more than you realise.
I love you, girl. Stay strong.
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Did you enjoy this? Why not read ‘‘An open letter to mental illness.”