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  • Lindsay S. Wheeler

Letter to my Younger Self

Dear Lindsay,

I know it’s not easy right now. I know your pillow is all that shields you from the terror of your worst mornings. You are fighting like hell but can’t yet see it as an act of bravery. In the future, Counselor Gerundo won’t have to drag you from the parking lot to the school entrance. Running a faster mile, getting an A in social studies, and wearing the right jeans won’t matter one day. You won’t be getting an A for a while and that’s okay.

I know right now you hide in the depths of that full heart of yours; trudge through the muck of being the liability you think you are. One day you will be strong enough to say “I’ve had enough” and, “I am enough.” You will learn to channel your pain into things that are bigger than yourself. You will be fiercely loved once you take that mask off; once you wipe off some of the makeup that hides your beauty.

You will someday wake up without guilt for last night’s dinner. You’ll even find the words for what's incinerating your insides. Instead of burying your face in the vents of a car to soothe your swollen eyes, you will leave the puffiness in plain view. You will not fear the judgment of others because you will know you are enough.

But I must tell you, it will get worse before it gets better. You will have to fight to be heard. You will lose the person you most trust. I know this feels impossible to believe right now, but the “unconditional” love will run out when she finds a condition she doesn’t like. Every single day, you will feel the ache of the scar left behind. But the void will be filled by the courage you found when you said, “I am better than this.”

You will have to write through elation, tears, and loss, and sometimes doing so will only intensify what you feel. But you will suddenly find relief after you’re done. You will need to learn to ride out both the manic moments and the lows. When you’re manic, your mind will fill with ideas, aspirations, and a frenzied need to tell everyone in the world that you love them. This pattern is part of what will feed the passion and vigor you have for life. In your lows, you will withdraw into yourself and your flame will burn out before you even know it is upon you.

In time, the fire will re-ignite because you are not nearly as disposable as you feel right now. Someday, you will sing often, cook lavishly, eat real butter, and dream in color. You will save a puppy who will save you from yourself. His name will be Tubs and he will be emotionally fragile just like you are. But your fragility will someday be your most respected asset. Tubs will need to be swaddled in a blanket often, just as you will. Like you, he will be hypersensitive to sound and hide when he is irritable. But you will both find someone who wants to love you and draw you back into the light.

Your brother will one day be your best friend, not just the kid who went to boarding school and never lived at home again, or the one that zipped you into an Orvis bag. Remember the first time you learned he’d always be there for you? A bully tried to punch you in the stomach and he stepped in the middle. He was smaller than you at the time but you were still his little sister. You will one day be thousands of miles apart but you’ll still carry him with you. You will have his middle named tattooed on your forearm and you’ll feel unapologetically proud of that. You will see your mom wilt into a pile of tears over the gesture, despite her aversion to tattoos. That will feel pretty weird and awesome. You'll realize you're a strong adult.

One day, you will be able to tell a man on the subway that you are depressed and it won’t be scary. You will be proud to know that everything you do is well intentioned and every day has meaning.

One day, you will no longer let worry make you physically sick; you will fight for people just like you who can’t see the light. One day, you will be exactly the person you need right now.

#childhooddepression #depression #bipolardisorder

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