An Open Letter To My Younger Self

Wednesday, 11 January 2017

 Dear Jayde,

You're currently 15 years old and Easter has just passed. You have been "linking" a guy for a few months now, and in a weeks time you're going to lose your virginity. It's going to be pretty underwhelming for you. You're not going to feel much - pleasure or pain - and it'll be over quickly. Things with this guy will soon fizzle out, but you won't struggle to get over it. You'll soon realise this is a regular occurrence with guys.

Soon after this your parents will split. You'll think at the time you're handling it well, but a few years down the line you'll realise how much it did actually affect you, including failing a large majority of your GCSE's. Don't worry about that though, not one single job you get has asked you for proof of these qualifications, and you'll actually be happy about your parents separation in years to come.

You'll try college, fail, then try college again; but this time you'll do really well. You'll study Art, Design and Photography and you'll leave with a Distinction. Despite not even thinking about University as a kid, you'll apply just for the hell of it and get accepted on a Photography course. After a bought of Swine Flu, you'll move to Portsmouth in September 2009 - you won't enjoy University much, in fact you'll really struggle with studying, but you'll explore your sexuality and get confirmation that fancying Avril Lavigne when you were 12 was a little more than just a "girl crush".

Although you won't finish University - and end up dropping out after 19 months and 3 courses - this period of your life will be really significant in your journey. Perhaps not in a good way, but this is where you'll first battle with your mental health. You'll isolate yourself from the real world. You wont be doing this intentionally, and at the time you will have absolutely no idea that you struggle with mental health issues. You assume what's going on in your mind is "normal", and you'll continue beating yourself up over your battle with yourself, relationships, and University. 

Your Nana's cancer will also come back. You won't have much longer with her from the time you find out, to the time she passes. This is the first death you have to deal with and in short, you won't take this well. It will cause your mental health to plummet, but you'll ignore this and concentrate on the fact your Nan - your Nana's daughter - has (understandably) taken it even harder. In a few years time, she'll be diagnosed with Dementia and you soon won't be recognised by the woman you used to spend your summer's with.

You'll leave University, move back home to London, but the next 2 years of your life won't be great. In fact, they'll be really fucking shit. You'll struggle to find a job, you'll have a bunch of meaningless flings with guys and girls, and your self-loathing will hit an all-time high. You'll start self harming. You won't tell anyone about it, and you'll cover it up incredibly well, but you'll achieve this in various different mediums. At the time you'll convince yourself it's extremely normal, you'll spend your days sleeping and your nights awake, and you'll and you'll continue isolating yourself.

After years of being in a rut, in 2014, you will finally pluck up the courage to speak to a doctor, and after various back and forth you will soon be diagnosed with GAD. This will absolutely terrify you. You'll keep this to yourself and refuse medication or any form of help. You have never been educated on mental health and don't understand it, and are actually still pretty ignorant towards it. You will then spend a good few years in and out of different jobs. Retail, music PR, venues. But you struggle to hold anything down because of your battle with anxiety. You'll soon settle at Scribbler, where you slowly but surely start to pick the pieces of your life back up. You'll start a music blog, that opens opportunities you'd only ever dreamed of, like interviewing your favourite musicians and attending awards ceremonies. Having routine really helps you with this, and eventually you finally stop self harming.

In 2015, you'll realise you can't progress much further in retail, and decide to grab an opportunity for a full time office job at Kier Construction. You'll hate construction, like, really hate it, but you'll work with good people on a decent salary which will keep you afloat for a good few months. But this is the year your life significantly changes. You'll finally come to the realisation you're gay. You're okay with it. You don't struggle to accept it, and you will have an incredible support network around you that won't make you feel like your sexuality is anything but normal.

As great as the realisation of your sexuality is, this is around the time your mental health plummets again. By then, you've actually taken the time to research and learn about mental health. You understand what GAD is, and you learn and practice different techniques to control your panic attacks. However, your mind cannot control it this time around, and when you start self harming again you realise it's time to get help. You will start medication, Citalopram to be exact, and this will begin a rollercoaster ride. You'll be back and forth to the doctor, trying different dosages, your mood swings will be greater than ever before, and you'll isolate yourself from the real world, once again. You'll start to notice this is a re-occurring trait.

Your anxiety will reach a point where it affects the things you actually enjoy in life. You will stop socialising, stop going to shows, and end up cancelling a trip to New York City you'd planned for as long as you can remember. By the time 2016 comes around, it's almost no surprise that you're diagnosed with depression. If you thought GAD terrified you, this was another level. You leave your job, shut down your blog, continue to hurt yourself, and on top of all this, you will be in a manipulative, controlling relationship. You'll be cheated on, again.

It's just before your 26th birthday when people start to really worry about you. Your mother becomes aware of just how severe your mental health is, and the friends you pushed away will fight their way back to look after you. These are the friends that will become your bestest friends - treasure them. It's a horrifically dark period in your life, but you'll somehow end up in a new relationship. It doesn't last long, but it's a definitive part of your journey. You'll be brave enough to end things when she doesn't want to understand your mental health. You'll put yourself first. You won't settle. This is the first recognisable step in your healing process.

By the summer of 2016 you will start a new job. This is scary for you after a year of uncertainty, but you're excited about it. It doesn't take you long to settle in, and before you know it you've found friendships in your colleagues, and you don't wake up with that feeling of existential dread everytime your alarm goes off.

Things are steady, but reach a hiccup after you've had a few hospital trips to investigate your severe abdomen pain. You're soon diagnosed with Adenomyosis which means you're unlikely to ever have children. Being gay, your chances are obviously already slimmer, and this news hits you harder than you ever expected it to. You wasn't sure you even wanted children, but having the option taken away from you hurts you more than you care to let on. It's tough, but you move past it, and the way you handle this is another recognisable step in your healing process. You're learning how to handle things with how your mind works. Something you've really struggled with all your life.

You stay single, but you start dating more. You don't hide behind the internet, you'll meet girls after a few days. You laugh at the fact years ago you would be terrified to meet new people, and now you're doing it on a weekly basis. You grow a confidence you never had before, and as the year draws to a close you pluck up the courage to start a YouTube channel. This is something you've wanted to do for years, but been too afraid. You're all of a sudden just not scared anymore. It's around this time that you come to the realisation that you haven't had the need or want to hurt yourself for a while. This is a huge milestone for you, and you decide to attempt quitting your medication. You did this once before and it didn't work, but you're willing to give it another shot.

Before you know it, it's January 2017. You've been off medication for 3 months, you've been at your job for nearly 5 months, you haven't self harmed, and you're currently texting your best friends making plans for your holiday to Greece for your 27th birthday. Your recovery process is at it's highest peak. You're happy.

You have overcome many battles, some big, some small, but all worthy of acknowledgement. You are finally at a stage of your life where you can see positivity and strength. You're still working on your flaws - isolation being the main one - but you've finally accepted that life is a journey. If only you knew when at your darkest times, that there really is a light at the end of the tunnel.

You're going to be just fine, Jayde. Don't you ever let that current circumstance tell you otherwise. Just maybe give up on guys a little earlier than finally you did - you can trust me on that one.

Love, J x

Whould you like to comment?

  1. the Wicked soundtrack always helps too because I sing along to every single word which is a good distraction. Also Wicked is magic too...
    What does a hangover feel like


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