• kdungee1 submitted a contest entry to Group logo of Write a letter to your younger selfWrite a letter to your younger self 1 year, 3 months ago

    CONTEST ENTRY: To a decade of strength

    Dear 15 year old me,

    Man are you in for a ride.

    And I don’t mean one of those smooth sailing, dreamy boat rides that you find in Disney. I’m talking Six Flags Goliath, being suspended in the air with no choice but to stick it out.

    That’s probably not what you want to hear, but preparation is key.

    Let’s start with the good: You win homecoming queen your senior year. I already spoiled something huge, so now you don’t have to make such an ugly crying face when they announce your name as the winner.

    But underneath the tiara, something is happening within your brain. The extreme episodes of depression and highs aren’t just hormones and the instability that comes with being a teenager.

    I know you remember the bouts of sadness you witnessed from your dad. How he’d stare out the window for days, completely mum. How you’d crawl into bed and sleep next to him, hoping to incite some reaction out of him that wasn’t stillness.

    But his depression never permanently stayed. You know those nights he’d be up for hours, awaking you and your mom at 2 a.m. with a plethora of brilliant ideas that he wanted to get started on? True, you haven’t seen him for years, but he left you behind something. You probably don’t want it, but it’s not up to you.

    It’s more than looks that are hereditary. Everyone says you look just like him, but every time you see your mom’s face, you swear you look just like her. Maybe it’s wishful thinking or sheer admiration since she was the parent that stuck around.

    That gift he left leads you to therapy your junior year of college (Sorry, but I can’t spoil where you end up at). But as soon as you hear your therapist, who you made so much progress with, utter the words “bipolar,” you no-show enough appointments to the point they bar you from coming back for months.

    You wait. And wait. I know that sounds improbable since you’re the most impatient human on this planet. You’d hit the fast forward button on life if you could … but again, you wait, and try to get better on your own.

    I want you to know that it’s always okay to ask for a helping hand. If you did, the episodes of hypomania and depression might’ve been frozen in their tracks earlier.

    You’re 24 by the time you seek help. Your “Kobe year” as they call your 24th birthday (here’s your head start on all the cool kid lingo) kind of feels like a championship, word to Black Mamba.

    You’re finally diagnosed. But this time, the mention of bipolar II is almost a relief. A win. There’s still a stigma around taking pills for your mental health, but it’s not as cutthroat as it is your freshman year of high school. It helps that you’re surrounded by people who can relate, navigating their own battles just like you.

    This totally sounds like a nightmare, and your mind will jump to the worst after reading this forewarning. But let me tell you this — you will experience so many moments of beauty that it’ll be hard to wrap your head around.

    Yes, you have bipolar disorder, but that didn’t stop you from embarking on a solo trip to the Canary Islands (No shade, but do you even know where that is on a map? If not, you’ll soon figure it out). You live in Argentina for a summer. You see the Coliseum and your high school textbooks won’t do it justice. You spend surreal nights partying in Madrid, New York, Los Angeles, Miami, and all over Italy. You pack up your life in Atlanta and turn over a new leaf in Boston.

    I know you’re dying to know about your love life too. Again, let’s start with the good news: you meet a LOT of cute boys. Bad news: they all suck. So let’s not focus on that part.

    Life is going to put you through the wringer, but you will be astonished and so, so proud of the person that comes out on the other side. To simply be alive is an incredible thing.

    Your disorder is a gift. It’s made you into a force that’s resilient beyond belief.

    So buckle up champ. Your journey starts now.

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