A letter to those suffering in silence (mostly aimed for teenagers)

Dear sufferer,

My battle with mental illness began at some time in my preteens – don’t know the exact year or age – but I know for a fact that by the time I was in my mid-teens, I had the whole nine yards. What I also know is that by the time I was fifteen, I was already questioning my purpose for living, and whether I wanted to be alive or not.

I’m now 24 years at the time of writing this, so it’s been a few years since I was a teenager, but I still remember what it’s like to be young and struggling with mental health problems. It was hands down the hardest thing I had to endure in my life.

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I’m no professional, so I won’t assume what you’re going through or say that I know, because I don’t know the details. But as someone who went through a bunch of crap, I wanted to write this for assurance: that it’s okay and you are not the only one because I’ve been there and done that.

Being a teenager with mental health problems (undiagnosed at the time but I was so sure of what I had) was the loneliest feeling ever. I was told time and time again that I was “doing it for attention”, or playing the “victim”, or being “crazy”. They also kept telling me I was “too young to know what mental illnesses were”.

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Let’s get one thing straight:
Your suffering is real, and if you ever tell me you are hurting, then
I will believe every word you’re saying
and I will believe your hurt and agony.
Your pain is real.

There are people who will be in denial (been there) or won’t understand what you’re going through. And I feel sorry for those who don’t get it. There will however, be people who get it, just like me and many, many others. There will be people who will listen to you and acknowledge your struggles.

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Photo by Kat Jayne on Pexels.com

When I was a teen I felt this unexplainable empty it of agonising sadness in my core. I didn’t know where it came from because I hadn’t suffered from any kind of trauma back then. I felt hurt and physically and emotionally heavy (to properly know this feeling, the song ‘Heavy’ by Linkin Park explains it down to ta T). That’s all I knew. I’d also go nights in a row of crying myself to sleep, or just lay awake contemplating ending my life. Sometimes both at the same time. I couldn’t explain the pain, but it seemed like a default thing for me to be in this kind of pain.

Despite all this pain, it took me years – over 10 – to reach out for help. I didn’t trust my parents enough to tell them when I first started seeking help from a psychologist. I only told them after several sessions. Whenever I did tell people about my treatment, they shrugged me off at first, telling me I seemed fine back then and I’m too young to know what depression and anxiety felt like, and that I didn’t fit in the physical description of a depressed person (whatever that description is).

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But let’s be real: who knows you better than you? Not me, not anyone else. And who knows me better than me? Not you and not anyone else. We know when something about us is off. Whether it’s anxiety, depression, the feeling of numbness, mood swings, whatever your sufferings are: it is REAL and I know it is.

Getting help was the best thing I had ever done in my life. My biggest triumph. But I didn’t feel like it was at the time. I knew what to expect with my depression because it was predictable. But I wanted to learn how to live my life one way or another, and how to cope and get better. It was a pretty big deal, but it was scary as fuck.

Was it worth the risk? HECK YEAH! Because eventually, I did start getting better. I got the diagnosis I expected I had – depression and anxiety – and this helped me understand what was going on. With both a psychologist and psychiatrist by my side, eventually joined in by my family and small circle of friends, I fixed things and my life made sense once more.

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What would I say to teenagers reading this who are struggling with mental health? You don’t have to do this alone. Suffering in silence is not an option. You have choices, some of which are difficuly and risky. I made those difficult choices myself, and if I hadn’t, I wouldn’t be here writing all this. I’d be dead. I would have done The Deed.

You need to know that your life can change  in the blink of an eye. Everything your thought you knew could be wrong the following day. Your life changes as time goes by, and you deserve to experience this change.

Since then, I have found a good job, made new friends, gave a speech at the local University, wrote a hit article about my mental health for a successful local website and appeared on TV. I’m also in a very great relationship with someone I can call The One and not be uncertain about it. I have touched hearts and changed lives over the past three years.

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This is why I talk openly about my struggles, being able to help others not to repeat the same mistakes I have. Our journeys may not be the same, but  I believe we all have something inside us that’s in common and by unleashing that, the world would be a better place.

So if you haven’t reached out, do so as soon as you can, befor eit’s too late. You don’t have to speak to a professional: a teacher, family member or friend would suffice. Hang in there, and remember the life you’re living now won’t be a clear indication of your future so do something about it.

If you’re reading this, consider it a victory: that you have lived another second, minute, hour, day, month, year. I hope you will be here to read this in years’ time, or even for your children to read it in their teens.

I believe in you. You are a survivor. You have PURPOSE. YOU MATTER.

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If you our someone you know displays any symptoms of mental health problems, please contact your local suicide hotlines, which you can find below.

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A letter to my younger self

Dear younger me,

Don’t be startled. This is not some wibbly-wobbly timey-wimey thing. (If you want to understand that reference watch Doctor Who. Trust me… I mean… you?!). This is a genuine letter guiding you towards your future – I mean my future… you know what? I’ll speak as if you’re you and I’m me.

Let’s proceed.

Continue reading A letter to my younger self

Letter to Alice (Anxiety) and Dina (Depression)

Alice, Dina… we need to talk about some things. Well, it has been a while since we’ve last spoken to each other. I hope you two are comfortably sat down because this might be a long one.

Continue reading Letter to Alice (Anxiety) and Dina (Depression)

An Open Letter To The People Who Left Me Behind

Dear people who left me behind,

Thank you.

It is not a sarcastic thank you, as you might be thinking. I actually mean it. Thank you.

Thank you for cutting me out of your life.

Thank you for your short-lasting friendship. It taught me a lot. A lot more than I anticipated really.

Thank you for giving me light and guidance.

Thank you for listening to me, or at least acknowledge my presence in your life if you never bothered listening.

Here’s why I’m thanking you…

Because you have shown me what real friendship is, and who my real friends are. You have also given me the strength to pick myself up and actually listen to myself and my body. You taught me that friendships come and go. It breaks my heart that you cannot witness how stronger I have become since we last talked. It’s probably for the best though, you know.

Overall, I’m doing fine in case you were wondering. And I hope you are too. Because I genuinely care about you, and you know it. In our short friendship, you knew me more than I knew myself. I poured my heart out to you in my darkest of times. We also shared some good memories too! I think of those good times and cherish them even though you are no longer around to reenact them.

I have to say maybe it is for the best because I am doing wonderful on my own. I hope you are doing well and are happy with everything you have in life. But, our lives are on their own paths now, which may never cross again, and this is my letter to you saying I am just fine.

Peace and Love,

The person you left behind.

A Letter to my 30-Year-Old Self

Dear 30-Year Old Me,

… Hi, hey, hello! I sure hope I’m not as awkward in 2024 as I am in 2017 when this is written. This letter itself is awkward because, let’s face it, we both know that… I mean I know… I meaning my person not the past self… so including my future self…

Okay. Back to the main point.

2024… I have a lot of questions about this year. Like who the President of Malta is, if Paul McCartney is still alive and performing, if Betty White was cloned, if the war in Syria came to an end in a peaceful way… you know, normal stuff for us.

I always wonder, year to year, if the world has improved to the better or if it is getting worse. Remember when Trump was elected President of the United States? How we shook our heads and felt sorry for the population? Ah, fun times. And how–

I think I should stop, because this letter should be about me–I mean us… future me… whatever you get the jist–and not what is going on with the world.

What does it feel like to close the 20s chapter and start a new one named 30s? Is it as bad as people make it? As in, we’re not getting any younger now… I hope you’re not scared of this transition. But not to worry, future self, you’ll have me. Every step of the way.

Even though now, at 22, I’m still not sure of who I am, what my favourite food is, what character traits you changed and what remained the same. But one thing’s for sure… I will be you.

And I will be so damned proud of that. Always and forever.

Don’t you dare think otherwise. If you want to improve yourself, then just d it! I’m 100% in support of that, but don’t you ever try and change yourself for anything. Or anyone. Remember how that turned out? We don’t want The Incident to repeat itself, right?

I hope you’ve embarked on some type of adventure, solo and not. Have you travelled back to Paris yet? I hope you still love France and its culture! I hope also that you’ve picked up French again and became fluent after over 15 years of not speaking it! If you’re not, try Spanish… me gusta *wink wink*

Wherever you are in life right now, be it your home country or some other, I only hope for one thing: that you are HAPPY. I hope you still believe that life has so much to offer, and that it is beautiful and cherishable. Here’s to praying that nothing in the next 8 years will change this. If you somehow get distracted in any way, I hope you find the right way out, with the help of your friends and family… and maybe your boyfriend/fiance/husband?

Speaking of him, I hope you’re still together and having as much fun as you had during your first year of your relationship! I wonder if you adopted two dogs and had a child along the way… And are you still BFFs with Marty? That would mean you’d spent more than half your life as friends. That is incredible!

But if some people come and leave, that’s fine too. None of them owes you anything.

Nothing really wrong with people leaving. Things happen for a reason. And remember that people come and go. Relax. Inhale. 1. 2. 3. Exhale. 1.2. 3. And repeat.

And what about your goals? I hope The Goal (the big one) has been achieved, or at least is in the process of being. But if you didn’t, I won’t be the least disappointed. Because what matters is that you tried your best and fought your way to achieve said Goal. You WILL, however, get to it in time, because it was lifelong dream since you were a little girl.

I hope that no matter where and what you are, I want you to always surround yourself with family, friends and past memories, both good and bad. Because they are the reasons why I am 30-year-old you. Live through each memory with a proud smile worn on your face, and grow into the person past you would dream of becoming.

With so much love sent to you from 2017,
Your 22 (almost 23!)-year-old self

PS. I hope you’ve kept all your Beatles memorabilia, because otherwise I would have to build a time machine, travel to 2024 and kick your ass… or would that me kicking my ass?