Here’s the thing. Around seven years ago I wanted to kill myself. I was done. Every day was another impossible feat. Every interaction was a struggle. Every morning waking up being alive was a disappointment.
When Mental Health Awareness Week came around, I’ll be quite honest and say I found it harder than I thought it would be to deal with. I’m, of course, pro talking about it, and pro sharing, but it was a little triggering. I read back on diary entries from my worst times and they were difficult to read, and still even seven years on, hard to process. Those were the darkest days, but that’s not to say I haven’t had hard times since, or that the thought of ending it all hasn’t crossed my mind again. But I do know that things have gotten better. So. Much. Better.
So this is my letter to 16 year old me, or to any of you, or maybe even to future me.
“Hey there stranger.
Firstly put down the blade.
I know that right now you feel nothing and everything at the same time, you feel numb from the intangible pain that is bouncing off the walls in your head. You feel sad, and tired, and worried, and unhappy, and angry, and overwhelmed, and completely encompassed by the constant thoughts. I know that right now you feel abandoned and entirely not good enough, and very deeply alone.
I am here to tell you that this will change. It feels permanent right now, I know. And although you believe that things might eventually get better, you’re weighing up whether that “better” is actually worth the amount of pain you’re going to have to deal with to get here. I know it is the hardest thing in the world to bear the burden you have on you right now, but trust me. It will change.
I’m here to tell you that you will get better, that life will get better, that you will struggle but you will be a better person for it. That in a few months’ time the scars will heal and you’ll learn to laugh again, a proper laugh that gives you a moment of silence from the thoughts. That in a few years you will experience some amazing moments of love. Love in many forms. The love of people, the love of food, the love of learning, the love of skydiving, the love of politics, the love of reading, the love of rainbow shoes, the love of hammocks, the love of Bernese Mountain Dogs and sunrises, the love of pasta and long hots showers, the love of the sea, water on your toes or six degree lake water on a hot summers day, the love of Netflix tv shows and beautiful scenery, the love of wind tunnels and the colour purple, the love of homemade meals and freshly washed sheets, the love of a perfect kiss and a good night’s sleep. The love of life.
Right now you can’t see what life can bring you, I get that. I can’t expect you to see it, but please, please have faith in me that it does exist. Such amazing things exist, but you have to be alive to experience them.
So fight, stay alive, be yourself, learn from your mistakes, get up off the floor, learn that it’s okay to not be okay, but that you can’t live like that forever. Learn that talking to people is the best thing ever, learn that you are not worthless, learn that you will find your family of people.
You will be okay.
One day you’ll be sitting in a plane in Norway, flying to one of the most beautiful locations on earth and thinking about all the amazing things in your life. And you’ll think to yourself, thank God I got through it all, because this, this is worth being here for, this is worth it all. “
I quite genuinely don’t know if I would have believed that so much joy existed back then, but I’m pretty damn happy I got to find out. I don’t want to sit here and say that my life is perfect now, because it’s not. God help me, I have my days but I guess I understand now that those days are worth dealing with for the rest of the good things that come with life. I’ve also put so much effort into making my life healthier so that more of the good days exist. I don’t mean healthier in terms of eating, although I do think that helps. But healthier in terms of trusting people, and building a tribe of people who I can count on, in terms of making good life choices and trying not to stress over the small things, in terms of prioritising myself where I can, and making sure that I’m doing things because I want to do them, not because of anyone else, in terms of a whole lot of things really.
Life is a bit of a messed up mixture of experiences, some parts are painful, and heartbreaking, and soul crushing, but other parts are wonderful, and breathtaking, and overwhelmingly amazing. But you have to be alive to experience it, and trust me, that is worth it.