Mental Health

An Open Letter To My 23-Year-Old Self

A photo of a 23-year-old girl walking a dog along a beach in Cornwall - An Open Letter To My 23-Year-Old Self - Mrs H's favourite things

Trigger warning: This post contains references to depression and attempted suicide. You may find this triggering if you have personal experience of such subjects.

Dear Lucy

I know that this is the most traumatic year of your life. I know that you’re broken. And you’re looking for a way to mend yourself. But there doesn’t seem to be a solution. The pain and depression are too intense. The hole is too deep. Nothing can fill it.

You feel like you’re wading through treacle. You don’t know how to move forward. Where can you go? What can you do? All you see is pain and heartbreak.

You loathe yourself. And see yourself as the main culprit for your downfall. There is no one else to blame. Only someone as horrendous as you can be to blame for all the sorrow you feel. You’ve brought it on yourself simply by being Lucy. By being you.

And in November, you will reach a point where you can see no further. Where you can see no other way out. And you will take another overdose. And it will almost destroy you in every way that a person can be destroyed.

But the most tragic thing of all is you will resent the fact that you are still alive. You will wish you had been successful. Wish that you had fallen into the sweet slumber of eternal sleep.

I know this is how you feel. Because this is how I felt. Every pain. Every emotion. The heartbreak. The sorrow. Each depressive episode. Each suicide attempt. I’ve lived it and my heart breaks for you.

A photograph of a 23-year-old girl holding a terrier puppy in her garden - An Open Letter To My 23-Year-Old Self - Mrs H's favourite things

You were so young. Too young to be carrying such pain, such misery. Too young to have the weight of the world on your shoulders. And definitely too young to feel that your only way out was to end everything.

Because, Lucy, everything you believed about yourself was a lie. It wasn’t true. It was the insidious voice of the depression whispering untruths in your ear. And you believed them. That is what depression does. It makes you see all your faults yet you become blind to your positive points.

Lucy, you are a lovely girl. You are not the worst person in the world. You are not evil. Fat. Ugly. Stupid. Hideous. Loathsome. And all the other words you apply to yourself.

You are sweet, kind and loving. You’re caring and patient. You have a pretty face and a lovely smile. You’ve just graduated from university with a 2:1 degree, so you’re definitely not stupid. There isn’t any fat on your body and in years to come, you’ll be envious of the figure that you once had.

But Lucy you’re ill and you need help. And although this overdose is an awful awful thing. It does mean that you start to get the help you finally need.

You’re released into your parent’s care and with their love and support, you begin to heal. You begin to put yourself back together – like a jigsaw. You find ways to fill the hole inside you. And they don’t involve men or booze or sleeping tablets. Instead, you mend. You grow.

And you change as a person. You can’t go through the experiences that you’ve been through without changing. You find an immense inner strength that you never knew you had. And you use that strength to become a better person. The person you want to be. A person that you can learn to love.

My dearest Lucy, I know that you feel this depression will never end. That your life will always be cursed with such sorrow. And I wish I could tell you that you will never feel the sting of depression again. However, it is now a condition you will have for the rest of your life.

But darling girl, you learn to manage it. You have control of your depression and not the other way around. You are its master. And over time you develop tools to keep it at bay and to stop it taking a hold.

And you have joy in your life. Such joy.

It won’t be long before you are well enough to think about moving forward with your life. You decide to organise some work experience. You have an inkling that you would like to work for a charity and that you could be a good fundraiser. And so you set up two days work experience. On the first day, you’ll meet a young man. You’ll think he is cute and that he seems kind. He makes you laugh. At the end of the day, he will ask you to go for a drink with him. Say “yes”!

Because that man will become the person who brings you the most joy in your life. He will also be the person that puts the last pieces back in place. He will become your husband. The father of your children. And the love of your life.

So, dear Lucy, I know things look bleak now. And I know things have to get worse before they get better. But you have so much to live for. So hold on. Hold on! You have so much joy ahead of you, beautiful girl. And I promise you, it is worth it.

Lots of love and hugs

Lucy (aged 40)

xxxx

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