Saturday, 10 June 2017

A Letter to My Younger Self

Dear Taylor, I know that you're still very young and the world is still a mystery to you, nothing makes sense and you can't wait to be grown up but enjoy your childhood whilst you can, please. I know that your head is already confused, you can't work out why bad things happen and you shouldn't have to witness so many bad things at this age but it'll only build your strength up. You'll adore school, you'll have lots of friends and you'll be intelligent. You will lose your closest friend at a very young age, and this won't make sense at first but you'll spend lots of time with her and make lots of memories, you'll see your parents be upset at the news that she has gone because it was a shock to everyone, not just you.

High school will be the point where things start to change, probably about a year before too. Your hormones are all over the place and you'll feel sad, a lot of the time, there is nothing to be ashamed of and please, please, please don't be afraid to ask for help. You'll still have lots of friends but petty arguments will start to occur and some of your close friendships will break down whereas others will save your life. 

You're a shy and anxious child as it is, you will have problems as you grow older but that is OK, like I said before, it'll only add to your strength but at the time, it will feel like hell. Your head will turn into a sad and anxious mess and it won't make sense as nobody talks about it because it isn't yet as much of a common issue as it will be but, everything will be OK. Don't even attempt to diet, you're not in the slightest fat and you'll spend too much time thinking about how much happier you'd be if you were slimmer.

You'll wake up one day afraid that you're going to live and let me tell you, that is the worst feeling in the world but you can get through this. No matter how hard your head gets and how loud your thoughts shout, don't make that first scratch. You won't even know what you're doing at first, nor how you came up with the idea but you will know that it helps and at the time, that's all that matters. A few months later, you'll figure out that there is a name for what you're doing and that you're not as odd as you may think, just don't turn to that website you've been using, it could cause more damage than what it's worth. But like I said, please don't make that first scratch or if you do, please stop because although you don't even know that it is possible, in a few years it will have escalated awfully, becoming much more severe and you will painfully spend many of your nights in the A&E department waiting to be stitched up. I know you're sitting there thinking 'yeah right, I'm scared of blood' but wake up.. it's an addiction and like any other addiction, you have to feed it one way or another.

I know that it gets hard, and I know that you'll wish every single day to be gone from this world but please don't take all of those pills.. you'll get saved, you always do. Your family and doctors won't let you be gone and instead you'll spend countless nights in hospital hooked to drips, preventing your liver from failing, going through mental health assessment after assessment and you'll just end up learning to lie. I know you're probably thinking "I won't tell anyone" but yet again, you're body will fight for you and even if you don't get treatment, it will most likely heal itself. You'll be thirteen when you first enter the hospital and that is where you'll find out that you actually have mental health issues. It will be scary and confusing but unfortunately in a few years time, it will be much more common and people will understand you. Don't try and refuse to go to the hospital because ambulances will just be called and you'll spend hours in and out of consciousness hearing your mum crying because she's afraid you're going to die. 

Again, please don't take those pills, especially in such a short space between them because although services are already involved in your case, you'll be seen as too unsafe to live at home. Your mum will cry and so will you, you won't have any idea what to expect or where you'll be going as you have only now found out that psychiatric hospitals do in fact still exist. Eventually, you'll be shipped away from home, 70 miles away and admitted to a ward, you can try and get out of this and you can refuse, but they will just explain how if you refuse, they'll section you so just suck it up and go. You won't leave your room for three weeks due to anxiety and you won't eat for two, but you'll get there in the end. You'll actually meet your best friend and you'll soon be unsure about what you'd do without her. 

When you arrive on the ward, your head will be all over the place and you'll meet some of the patients. The first thing you'll be asked is if you've ever had stitches for self harm and this will freak you out, you'll feel like you're a fraud and that you shouldn't be there and you'll beg and plead for your consultant to discharge you.

During this time in hospital, you won't be able to have secrets. Your room will be searched frequently, you'll be strip searched every time you enter the unit and although I hate to say it, your first overnight leave at home will be odd.. it won't feel like your home. You'll get so used to having 24 hour support and being constantly woken up throughout the night by a torch beaming onto your face that it'll be weird to sleep through the night. You'll spend every day around other unwell people and you'll probably end up picking up some of those behaviours but please try and resist, you're stronger than this and after all, do you really want to be spending even more time in A&E, but this time for operations? You'll live in constant fear that you'll trigger other patients and trust me, secrets don't last long on a ward of 14 teenagers. You'll spend countless nights at the local general hospital on 1:1 support and hooked on drips, wishing your plan had worked. But when you do have overnight leave, take the opportunity to shower in peace, without somebody being in the room with you or constantly knocking on the door.

When you do eventually come home, it'll be strange, very strange. You still won't be allowed to be home alone or to go out alone for a few months but your family are only trying to help. In your discharge meeting, you'll be told that your consultant expects you to be readmitted but prove him wrong. I wish that I could say that from here on, things get easier but they don't, not yet. You'll attempt to start sixth form after missing six months of your final year in high school and it'll be odd to be in a classroom as after all, you sat your GCSEs in hospital, wearing your pyjamas with a blanket wrapped round you. Sixth form won't work out for the first year, your medication will constantly be changing and you're still trying to find your feet in the outside world after being locked up for so long. Don't worry, you'll be able to retake the year. This first year of sixth form will be spent of days not being able to drag yourself out of bed and other days of swallowing more pills than you can count. You'll spend even more time in hospital, hooked on drips and you'll feel like a disappointment. The second year, however, will be good. You'll be successful and you'll do well. Things may take a downward spiral in the summer holidays before you start your third and final year and you will end up dropping out, but that is OK. You need to focus on yourself. Oh and I should have said earlier, but don't stress over GCSEs, they aren't even that important unless you're planning on going to university. Nowadays, qualifications can be taken at any age so please, for once, focus on getting your head better.

Believe it or not, you'll soon make such a good achievement, you'll make it six months free from self harm. I'll be honest, you won't get further but it'll be an achievement that you cherish for the next few years of your life, wishing that you had carried on and instead, had become years clean from it. Just remember that shit happens, please keep moving forward.

Your 18th birthday will come and go, you'll now be an adult.. you're meant to be independent but there is no point dreading this specific day, nothing changes, you're still a child; you're your mums child anyway.

By the time you turn 19, you'll still be in the same shitty service and you'll constantly be questioning if they're doing more harm than good, but try to stick at it. You'll get discharged eventually, just don't dwell on the fact that you've now been in services for over five years. People who have played caring roles in your life will come and go, leaving you devastated and abandoned but these feelings will pass with time and you'll still have the most important people in your life.

You'll soon reach the year mark of your relationship with your boyfriend and you'll be shocked at how he managed to deal with you and "all of your problems" as well as constantly feeling guilty because he didn't sign up for this but he does care and he does love you, even if your head is trying to tell you otherwise. 

Throughout your late teens, you'll have relatives who are having problems and you'll blame yourself because you must have influenced them, surely? This is wrong, even if you don't believe it. There are many reasons why people can go through difficult times, just don't be so hard on yourself, it's not worth it.

You'll get to a point where the days, months and years just tend to fly past because you're not really alive or 'with it', you're just plodding on for the sake of everyone else and pushing all of your feelings aside, pretending that you're more powerful than you actually are and that everything is amazing. Every so often you'll realise that we are somehow half way through a year that you have barely felt alive for, you can't think of anything that you've achieved other than being sad and still not wanting to be in the world.

I should probably mention now how as you grow older you'll soon realise that it isn't about the amount of friends you have,  it's about having a few real ones. Some friends will come and go, even the ones that you never imagined to. Some you'll simply just drift apart from, others you'll realise that they cause more damage to you than good. But it is OK to not have many friends, it means that you are able to get closer to the ones that you do have. You'll also find that some people will understand you and others won't, try not to be angry at the people who don't, it's not their fault and they're just lucky enough to not have felt as miserable as you have. Having said that, try not to pour your heart out to the people who you think understands you, they might end up walking out of your life right in front of your eyes and it will crush you.

I'd love to say that things do get better, but I am still here, plodding on through the days, months and years. I am still breathing but I don't feel alive, not yet anyway. But the fact that I am still here, in this world is good enough for now and I am sure that we will all get there eventually, but unfortunately, low periods seem to last a hell of a lot longer than the highs and your life will revolve around work, appointments and wasting the day in bed wishing you were asleep which after all, it's the only escape from your head. The truth is, you've come too far to give everything up now and you'll have to remind yourself that numerous times a day and you'll often find a trillion different reasons to leave the world but please hold on, just for one more day as tomorrow may even be a good day.

Thank-you for reading, Tay x
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