Dear younger self

When I’m asked, “Why do you do this?” My answer is always, “Because I wish someone was there for me when I was growing up.”

Anxiety and depression weren’t real then and you can bet there weren’t advertisements about it either. Our PSAs were more like, “Don’t you put it in your mouth / Don’t you put it in your mouth. / Don’t you stuff it in your face / Don’t you stuff it in your face.” Sang by two blue-freezie-coloured fluffy things. It was messed up. Unfortunately mental illnesses still aren’t a real thing to many others and it’s not talked about in the home or in classrooms. Healthy conversations can change the ideas and beliefs, or stigma, that are often known as “crying for attention” or “scary”. Most importantly, engaging children, teenagers, and young adults in conversations about mental illnesses can collectively decrease our suicide rates.

Someone doesn’t have to die from suicide every 40 seconds.

We can make depression; anxiety; bipolar disorder; multiple personality disorder; schizophrenia; eating disorders; and all other mental illnesses tolerable. We can change worthless to worthy of love. We can change hopeless to hopeful. We can change their dark life behind a screen in bed, to a colourful life speaking in front of others instead.

So here is an open letter to all the youngin’s out there. Here is the hard stuff I wish I knew instead of the mickeys of shitty vodka I was drinking. Here is hoping for change.

Share this with someone that you love and let them know first hand that everything will be okay.

To my dear youngerself and fighter,

Believe in yourself because you can achieve whatever it is that you will work hard for. The sky is limitless if you keep trying. Your mental illness is your strength and not your weakness. The same shit that makes you vulnerable and exposed is the weapon you can use to scan other people’s bullshit and intentions. You can read emotions like an x-ray because you have so many emotions of your own. Seriously. I bet your anxieties have anxieties. You have this gut instinct like no other because the emotional rollercoaster you have been on has taught you so much that you don’t even know yet.

You know what the problem is? You don’t end up following your gut because everything else is bogging you down and blurring your vision. You feel like you can’t do it and you can’t see the light and the end of the tunnel because that’s what you’ve been told and made to believe. You think you’re not good enough to do great things because you’re crazy and unstable. You feel trapped in an invisible cage that is locked because of the thoughts, ideas, and beliefs that everyone else has about your mental illness.

Believe in yourself because you can achieve what it is that you want. The key ingredient here is telling yourself you can do it. Repeat it enough and you might just believe it. And if you use the same amount of hours you spend scrolling through Instagram on your goals instead, you can make it come true.

If you’re struggling right now, get yourself on Google and find help. Go on Reddit and take a break from “photoshopbattles” and search “depression” or “bipolar”… whatever your battle is. Find yourself a drop in centre to connect with someone your age. These exist!!! And now being an adult, I wish they had drop ins for adults. You dream of growing up and having all this freedom. But right now you have all the time in the world to figure it out. When you begin adulating, time will slowly slip away from you and suddenly you won’t have any time left for yourself. Cherish it or you’ll look back like the rest of us and wish we were you. Of course, talk to your parents or an adult you trust. I mentioned Google first because I’ve always been alone to figure it out myself when I was growing up so I’m just passing on what is familiar to me.

Last but not least, talk about your struggles instead of Kendall’s lips, the shit Kanye says, or who the hell Becky might be (also Becky was never real anyways – old news, I know).

Why? Because you’re not the only one crying in bed, numbing your mind with weed, and pretending to smile and laugh with all your friends when all you want to do is die and disappear.

Reconsider suicide for a second.

You die. Your body disappears. Even before you’re dead, I bet you’re in a complete bliss thinking about being dead because it all hurts so much. A year ago, I would 100% agree with you. I’m not saying I’m on the “suicide is selfish” band wagon, because I know that no one will ever feel the battle you fight with yourself so intimately that has pushed you towards suicide. I just want you to think about it differently for a moment.

Having been through it not once, but twice, I see that I wouldn’t just be killing myself; I would be killing everyone else around me too.

I would kill the happiness and laughter inside of everyone who has cared about me. Yeah, maybe they’ll forget about it in a day, a month, or a few years. But there will always be those who will feel the aching forever that comes with having a part of their heart removed.

Like I said earlier, use your gut instinct and who knows where it will lead you. There is no perfect decision and certainly I have made many far far from perfect. Keep doing you without breaking your heart or others. I believe in you. You’re OK. I know you can do it because I’m still doing it every damn day with so many others who are doing it too. Do it. Do it. Do it. If I write DO IT enough your parents might question what you’re reading. Do it do it do it you can do it do it do it do it.

xoxo,
Joanne

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