A Letter to My Thirteen-Year-Old Self

Dear Deirdre,

First of all, I know you still hate your name right now but you’re going to learn to love it. You won’t meet anyone with the same name – at least not in the next seven years. Well, you’ve met a Diedra or two but they’re not spelled (or maybe pronounced) the same way so you didn’t count them. Speaking of which, please start telling people to pronounce the first ‘r’ in your name. Thank you.

Anyway you just found a way to get through middle school and you have another three months before high school starts. It sounds a bit daunting but you’ll be tackling it with the your best friends, the ones you never really thought you’d end up spending so much time with. To give you some relief, you’ll still be friends with them. You’re all not as close as before but it’s nice knowing you could speak to them at any time. 

High school… well, it’s high school. It’s going to be great and it’s going to be awful. You’ll go to school football games (okay, just one); record stupid videos with your friends; communicate through notes; stop eating for a period of time; encounter some great people; encounter some not so great people; have more than a few depressive episodes; sever some relationships; find some way to restore those relationships; go to Comic Con; go camping with your friends (in the backyard); break some hearts; get your own heart broken; have a hypomanic episode (or two – I don’t remember); have one of the best nights at prom; cry your heart out; laugh until you cry; apply for universities; and eventually… you’ll graduate in the top one percent of the class. 

Sounds like quite a roller coaster right? Well, it is. It will be. You’re going to want to blame yourself for every ounce of pain you’ll received but don’t. You’ll realize, much much later, that it’s not your fault. Your erratic behavior, your depression, your eating disorder… they’re all part of a much larger problem that you’ll find out about in a few years. I know you won’t believe me now but keep it in mind. 

I wish I could say university was a better experience for you. It was similar to high school except for you never went to Comic Con and you were forced to live in the dorms, which you, after a few months, realized that you hated. But it’ll be interesting.

However, I would just like to tell you that you met some people you still keep in contact with. You made quite a few acquaintances but you’ll actually actively spend time with these people. You’ll also live in an international house and make friends from all over the world. You’ll especially love that. You’ll even meet someone from Russia to converse with. Yes, you’ll learn Russian. No, you cannot ask why.

You won’t know it but you’ll actually suffer from a manic episode – one that made you join the Air Force ROTC program, apply to go to Russia, scale a roof, sleep two hours a night, stop eating for weeks, take a full load of courses, and basically look like a completely insane person to everyone around you. And that’s how you’ll end up back home. You’ll feel like a complete failure but it’ll be one of the smartest decisions you’ll ever make. You’ve been resisting help for years and you’ll finally realize that it’s necessary if you want to have enough control over yourself to live your own life. 

You’ll actually be quite non-compliant (that’s the term the doctors used) but hey, it’ll all be new to you. You’ll find out what I mean. But just know that everyone’s just trying to help. And… you’ll meet several others who understand you completely because they’re going through similar things. It’ll be a complete relief knowing that you’re not just a crazy person

I didn’t mean to give you a huge spoiler about your future but there’s a lot still unwritten. I guess the main reason I’m writing to you is to tell you that everything will be okay. You’ll roll your eyes and scoff that everyone says that, but it’s actually true. You’ll hit rock bottom, and somehow find a way to fall lower than that, but you’ll pick yourself back up. Yes, it’ll be difficult; and yes, it’ll be unbelievably painful; but worry not.

You don’t know this now, but you’re strong. You’ll go through quite a few things for the next several years, and feel like you’ve reached your limit, but you’ll find a way to recover from them. You’ll break out of your shell much more and become more comfortable with yourself. You’ll find the courage to stand up for yourself, and walk down the road you’ve always wanted to. You’ll stumble and fall at times, but that’s normal in the recovery process. 

Most importantly, you’ll realize that the past is the past and there will be so much more waiting for you out there. I mean, you live, you learn, and then you move on. Trust me when I say you’ll be doing a lot of “living”… and a bit of the opposite too but no more spoilers.

Remember, you just have to keep fighting.

Love always,

Your Twenty-Year-Old Self

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