The Child Mind Institute started a campaign for Mental Health Awareness Month, May 2018, where celebrities who struggle with mental illness share a message to their younger selves. They share what they wish they’d known, or general advice while recounting their experiences with their mental illness at that time in their lives. In honor of that, I decided to do the same. This is my message to my younger self.
Dear Younger Self,
I’m not going to lie to you and say it’s going to get better and that this will all go away. It doesn’t. But, you can learn how to handle it better and you can open up to people without being afraid that they’ll leave you. I have friends now that I can depend on, and they know about the dark thoughts and awful feelings I experience.
You’re not the only one feeling this way, even if it feels like it. There’s nothing wrong with you and you shouldn’t feel ashamed. I know that you feel the weight of the world on your shoulders, but take time to breathe deeply and know that there are bigger things out there. If you’re not doing well in school, it’s not going to be the end of the world.
I wish you could be prouder of yourself and your accomplishments. I wish you could see how beautiful and bright you are, Ling. You’re an amazing person and you’re so strong for going through this on your own. Don’t let others make you feel invalidated. What you’re feeling–the fear, the hopelessness–those are real emotions you’re feeling. You’re allowed to feel these things without feeling guilty and thinking that they need to be justified.
Finally, I want you to let you know how much I love you and how proud I am of you. I know there were so many times when you just wish it would end, times that you thought about doing it yourself, but you’ve shown such resilience and tenacity by pushing forward. There are going to be unexpected bumps in the road, but just because you trip it doesn’t mean you have to stay down. It’s a long process, but you’ll be able to get to the other side. There’s nothing wrong with going to therapy, nothing wrong with taking medication, nothing wrong with admitting that you’re sick. Mental illness doesn’t make you crazy or any less of a person, it just means that your brain, like any other organ, needs a little extra care.
You don’t have to constantly prove yourself. You are enough. You are amazing as you are, and people see it. It’s okay to cry. It’s okay to feel scared. It’s okay to have bad days. It’s okay, and you’ll be okay.