A Letter to My Sixteen-Year-Old Self

Dear Me,

Hi. It’s you. From the future. Don’t get excited–it’s not great. Doctor Who’s a Thing now, though. It was awesome, and then it eventually got not so awesome. Remember how much you hated Trial of a Time Lord? Or Mel, and her stupid fucking carrot juice? Yeah. It’s like that. But Christopher Eccleston is gonna blow your mind.

You’ve just finished your sophomore year. Congrats. Here’s a fair warning about your junior year: it’s going to suck. Chemistry class will be especially bad. I’m pretty sure the ten-page paper on nanotechnology you summer assignment clued you in. But I wouldn’t worry about it too much. She won’t actually grade it, and you’re going to bomb the class anyway. Because she’s insane and you hate chemistry.

But there are some other factors at work. Mainly, the fact that you are clinically depressed. You’re not going to figure this out for a while, but that’s what it is. What you are going to figure out is that cutting yourself helps deal with the pain. I wish you wouldn’t do this.  But the advantage of being an older version of you is knowing why you do it. It’s a numbing agent. There is a hurt in you that you think has no source. So you give yourself pain that you can see and touch and watch heal. There is a therapeutic element to it. It’s just not a healthy one. Trust me: I have learned the hard way that it is no way to deal with your problems. It’s stupid and dangerous and doesn’t actually help anything. All it will do is give you something else to lie about. And the panic you feel over that is just going to make you do it more. You just keep circling the drain, getting closer and closer to the void until finally–swoosh. You’re gone.

Luckily, you do not get to this point, though you come close.

You’re also going to write shitty poetry. I really wish you wouldn’t do this. You are not, nor will you ever be Emily Dickinson. Eventually, you will discover that you don’t like writing poetry. It’s going to be around the time you get help for your depression. And then you will learn a painful truth: sadness subsides, scars fade, bad poetry is forever.

Junior year is going to be your worst one. Around March, you’re going to fall apart–assignments will be poorly done, if at all, and you will spend most of your time alone in the library. You will hide crying in study hall behind allergies. Your English teacher will worry about you, enough to keep you after class to talk to you. This should have been the point where you said something. Told somebody what was wrong. She would have helped. This will be your biggest regret.

Stay strong, kid. You’ll get through it. You’ll be exhausted by the end of it, and that much closer to giving up, but you won’t. Eventually, you will figure out the reason you didn’t: because somewhere, buried deep inside, in a part of you that you did not believe existed, there is a tiny ray of hope that this can get better. Protect this. It’ll take you three more years to get the help you need, but everything will be fueled by that little light.

“Take care, then, that the light in you not become darkness.” (Luke 11:35)

x Anna.

PS: DON’T CUT YOUR OWN BANGS. I cannot stress this enough.

PPS: You will be invited to go meet someone that will be a possible date for junior prom. Do not go. You will spend two hours at the mall, and an hour-and-a-half, he will spend on his hair. Stay home. Play MarioKart instead. It’s what you’re going to end up doing on prom night anyway.

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About Anna

Lots of things make me happy. Running my mouth is one of them. Another is pie.
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