A letter to myself 14 months ago

I’ve not posted for a little while because I’ve been doing really well with my recovery. I’d be lying if I said every day was perfect, all flowers and sunshine. It’s a daily battle but it’s becoming easier. I know how to handle my head and I’ve put strategies into place to help me should I have another wobble.

I’ve made the decision that this will be my last blog post. Id like to take the lessons I’ve learnt from this horrid past year and move on to a new exciting chapter of my life without being held back by my past. A clean break into a new me.

The timings a little appropriate too, it’s been 2 months since I came off antidepressants which has made a phenomenal difference to my mental health and I’ve not looked back. It’s also a year since I put myself into hospital. Something I didn’t think I’d feel weird about after having come so far since then, but for some reason I can’t quite work out I am feeling a little uncomfortable with the looming day.

So. Here is a letter of advice I’ve written to myself 14 months ago when I was first diagnosed and place on medication. All things I wish I’d heard and believed at the time. I hope it helps someone else in their battle.

Dear jen,

Antipressants are horrid, truly awful things that will make you nearly fatally worse when you start taking them. Don’t jump to the decision to take them just because it seems like the only option. Caution and more thought needs to be given to them and other more natural approaches should be tried first. Meds aren’t a quick fix

The friends and support group you have when you start your recovery won’t be the same when you get back on your feet. A lot of people are shit

Going through this, getting better and the road to recovery is horrid. It’s unattractive, scary, soul destroying and one of the most difficult things you’ll ever do 

Some people just don’t care that you’re having a tough time but there are plenty of other people who do

You will become something you don’t recognise, someone you hate, try to push everyone away and punish yourself for how you are. But a better you will emerge stronger the other side

Self harm doesn’t solve anything and there is no easy way out

There isn’t a ‘normal’ or a ‘better time’ to try to revert back to. You can only move forwards and be better than you ever were

Alcohol will become your best friend and worst enemy and it cannot be trusted

Your judgement on everything becomes completely skewed. Don’t react to situations too quickly – try and see logic and perspective before opening your mouth

Your boyfriend is an exceptional person. The financial and emotional support, love and care he shows is unfailing and unconditional. Tell him and show him every chance you get

You’ll lose all feelings of being horny and lose your sex drive. Sex stops and cuddles will become the most intimate thing you’ll do and it’ll take longer than you can imagine for your self confidence to improve enough for that to change

Talking and listening to people without judgement is the most helpful, supportive and kind thing someone can do with you

You’re really bad at patience. Having patience is the most important thing you’re going to need to get through this. Everything takes so much longer than you can imagine to improve but it will get better

The road to recovery isn’t a straight line. There will be bad days but they should be treated as rest days not days to torment yourself on ‘failing at life’.  celebrate the good days and any little victory

Just because the world is still spinning and people are going about their lives doesn’t mean you can punish them for feeling lost, lonely and isolated

Because of being housebound and being so focused on your illness you’ll become really self centred. Remember the other people in your life around you

Sometimes people just don’t understand but it’s not their fault

The only person who can make an actual difference is you. Doctors, friends, counsellors, therapists, family, medication can only do so much and even then might not happen.

Any progress is good progress and a step in the right direction

Depression will attack your immune system. You’ll get poorly more often and it’ll take longer to recover. This is normal. Keep healthy

It’s ok not to be ok

Baby steps are better than giant leaps

Depression will have an effect on every part of your life. And everything in your life has an effect on your depression. Getting the balance is the tricky part

Those closest to you will be finding your illness hard too. They can’t be at your beck and call. Give them a break if they need space

Don’t be hard on yourself, none of this is your fault

Emotions and feelings you never thought you had will emerge. Dealing with them and recognising what’s you and what’s the monster is what’s most important

The people that matter the most are those who stand by your side while you’re in the darkness and are still there for you when you get to the light – they’ll be friends for life

Deep breath. Be strong. You can do this