Dear Seventeen Year Old me,
I am not going to ask how you are, because I know the answer is miserable and depressed. I know you have not used the word depressed confidently to describe how you’re feeling, but I am happy to tell you that in the future, you will. You will also come to terms with the definitions of Post Traumatic Stress Disorder, Anxiety and the big one – “Antidepressants.” Weird, right?
You’ll need to go through your journey to get there yourself, but I know you are holding onto a thread of hope that one day you will be okay. Okay is correct, but it won’t come in the form you think okay means right now. You will not be cured, your depression is not temporary, but you do recover from those awful life-ending emotions you feel right now. It goes on and off, but ten years from now is a big year for you because of that journey.
You mentioned before that you have a hard time letting yourself write. I implore you to keep at it, even if it’s just short nonsense for yourself. It makes me so sad to think of all the time I did not write because I was afraid of my own judgment.
I know according to the laws of time travel I can’t change the past, but I truly wish I could in this case. Yes, you’re an awesome yearbook editor, but I mean even keeping a diary, something to get you writing every day. I don’t think that will change the course of things, but it may help you be a bit more prepared, with a sharper tool set for the day when writing becomes part of your job. No spoilers there either, I will let you wait until you’re twenty-five to figure out what it is you need to do to bring yourself there.
It's Not Your Fault
Oh, how I wish I could hug you. In some ways, I do. Every day. Thanks to all those quotes I’ve seen, where I am supposed to remind my inner child that she’s ok and taken care of. But I don’t think you can feel those hugs through space-time, otherwise, you wouldn’t need one. You deserve so much love, and it’s really not your fault no one can give that to you presently.
Your family should be doing a better job truly raising you. They’re less than half-assing it – they’re blaming you for their own mistakes, making sure your self-esteem stays low so that you depend on them to bring you back up. I hope this helps confirm your suspicions, but I do understand that might take you another five years to truly believe me.
Dreams Do Come True
Reading back this letter, I realize I've focused on comforting you, because I wish I knew some of these things before.
Now. The good stuff. And there is so much! I want to address all the things you have told me you dream about when you lock yourself in the closet or the bathroom to cry. You achieve these things in the future, so, I will go through them one-by-one so that you hold on knowing that, yes, better things do lay ahead.
You know how dad often says “This is how this house runs, and once you grow up and earn your own money, you can call us, put us all on speaker and tell us to F***k off.” I know you imagine this moment after a knife is thrown at you, or you are told to leave the house. It’s often what motivates you to keep working and doing well. So that one day you can finally leave and never come back. Well, it’s not that dramatic, we still talk to dad, but you do leave! Really. It’s been a few years since you cut ties with most of that family and I still look back at the moment when that all came to a head with pride. I don’t want to ruin it for you, but it is as satisfying as you imagine it to be. I know you've resolved it will happen and that motivates you when things get especially tough. Keep at it.
Now, about the boy you’ve been pining over. I’ll tell you what happens even though I know you won’t listen to me anyway. He breaks your heart. Crushes it. Into small pieces.
A bunch of people are going to tell you “you’re young, you’ll be fine.” Sure, that doesn’t make it hurt less, but also know that the guy you’ve been dreaming of? You get to meet him in just another year and a half. And after you two grow together, you have the prettiest wedding ever. I know right now you think marriage is stupid, but can you imagine how amazing he is, that he makes you change your mind? Yeah, man! Totally worth the wait. You have an apartment and a dog. As I write this letter, our dog is on the blanket next to me, snuggled against my lap as I type. It’s everything we’ve dreamed it would be, but better because it’s real. And we wake up every morning grateful for it.
I know you asked me about our sister, well, she walks you down the aisle, so you can imagine how awesome that relationship will get. You’ll re-connect with her, and it will be better than it ever was.
The Bitter-Sweet Part
Despite all of this you, unfortunately, still suffer from Depression. Because mental illness is a real thing and it doesn’t care how awesome your life is. Right now, you're being told you’re just “weak” and “clingy” and “stupid,” but honestly, that’s some crap. You have a chemical imbalance and that makes leaving dark thoughts rather difficult. In the future, you’ll learn how to handle and manage them. Don’t feel rushed (I am sure you will) or freak out (you will do that too) – you’ll get there.
No reason to worry about this either: your illnesses do not define you, your other personality traits are way too big for that, but I think it will help you to know you can come to terms with it.
I know how much you beat yourself up, and just want to remind you that you are doing the best you can for the circumstances you are in. Truly, the odds are not in your favor and you are shining anyway. With the jobs you keep, the friendships you are fostering, and how well you do in school even though English is not your first language.
Oh wow, this ended up being so long. I hope you’re not crying. I got a little teared up looking back but overall, I am proud of us.
And, by the way, crying does not make you “broken” or “whiney”, I know you’ve heard all of those terms from others but you get even worse with using them towards yourself. If you keep telling yourself all of those awful things, of course, you’re going to believe them. What’s worse is that you will create cycles that you will continue to perpetuate for years.
Consider cutting yourself some slack. You’re trying so hard, and if you continue working this hard, I promise you, you make it this far. And then we're going to keep working so that the next ten years will be worth writing about as well. The community of incredible people you have surrounded yourself with now do work to make sure no one ever feels alone like you do now. The world gets brighter and vibrant once you embrace yourself.
Keep inspiring me, kiddo. Thank you for everything you do that brings you here. I am so proud.