Dear Past Me #BellLetsTalk

Last week, I published a piece about anxiety that I wrote when I was 17 called “I had anxiety before I knew I had anxiety”. It was written two years before I began to understand the way my mind works. If you haven’t read it already, you can read it here. For #BellLetsTalk, I wrote an open letter to myself, and today I’m sharing it with you. 

Dear Past Me,

Thank you for staying. Thank you for fighting. I’m sorry I couldn’t give you the tools I have now, and I’m sorry that shame made you suffer in silence for too long. I blocked you out for as long as I could, until your words somehow found me. Even though you were a shell of a human, built on lies that society forced you to make a reality, you persevered. I want you to know that you grew and became stronger, and shed the skins you never wanted. I want you to know you’re still shedding them. But more importantly, you’re doing what you can to be unapologetic for who you are.

For the record, for all the “good” things you thought you’d never have, you have the important ones now. All your hard work got me where I am today, and I’m learning to accept myself for who I am.

If my memory is correct, you’re probably inundated with the “why me?!” questions in your head right now. Don’t bother with those – you won’t find an answer. You’ll find a lot of answers, though; some you’ll like, some you won’t, but you’ll never wish you didn’t know them.

I know the question you really want answered: does it go away? The feelings of nothing and everything all at once, the nights you lie awake unable to shut off, the fear you can’t label or express, the longing for it all to stop, the unbearable intensity that you can’t understand.

It’s never gone away.

It may never go away.

We may never understand why. But it’s okay, because you’ll learn to work with it, and not against it. You won’t need to fight yourself all the time, and you’ll learn that these struggles made us who we are today. Some days will be bad, and some will be good, but none of it lasts and the bad somehow fades away, and on some days it feels like a faint memory. You will struggle with many things, especially yourself, but it you really are a better person because of it. And even though it’s really scary, you don’t have to be afraid, because I made it here, and so did you. You’ll be proud of the way you faced your struggles, as opposed to ashamed that they ever existed.

I wish you had more faith in me, The Future You, and by default, more faith in yourself. For all the times you felt you were drowning, you were doing just fine. And though you are sick, you are NOT weak. I know you never thought we’d make it here, so thank you for giving me a chance to be here. I’m sorry you felt you had to think of me more than you, and give up your time and happiness so I could be happy someday. But I’m grateful for it. We’ve felt happiness now, it’s not like when we were younger and didn’t know what it meant. It’s cherished now, and filled with gratitude.

So, thank you. 

For demanding I learn the meaning of being alive.

For fighting every moment to make it another day.

For not giving up even when it seemed like the only choice.

For being you, just the way you are. 

Keep Surviving by Living.


Me, age 17, a month after I wrote the original piece


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