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A letter to my younger self

Dear 9-12 year old me,

I know that you feel guilty, you have rage attacks where you hurt the ones you love the most, you want to stop but you can't. The doctors are saying it's 'deliberate bad behaviour' but you don't want to be doing this. I know that you feel like a horrible person, but I promise you, you're not, you are just struggling and very misunderstood.

Please know that there's no need to hate yourself for this, you are going through so much and it isn't your fault, you aren't 'stupid' for being unable to control your tics and rituals, your brain is inflamed and this isn't within your control right now. You are not being punished by God, I know it may feel like that now as you are going through a living hell, but everyone has struggles in life and this just happens to be yours, but you will grow from this, and over time you will be grateful for your experiences and you will see how over time it becomes a gift. Although you may not see it now, something good will come out of this, you will be able to use your experiences to help others and find purpose in life. The fact that you are so young and facing so much means that you don't really know anything other than the struggle, but this makes things ever so beautiful and meaningful once you grow up and see that there is so much more joy and beauty to life than you once thought, it means that you won't take anything for granted as everything seems like a miracle to you compared to where you were, and you will go further than you ever thought was possible in life within the next few years, I promise.

I know that you feel like an outcast at times, you know that you are different, but you will soon come to realise that being different is actually a good thing. Your life experiences give you a unique perspective, and you can use what you have been through to develop empathy and compassion and find true meaning in life. You will be able to honour the depth and rawness of life and use it to develop creativity and have a different way of viewing the world. You have been through hell but there are also times in your life when it feels like heaven, so hold onto hope and know that things get better. You have the potential to make a difference to the world, so believe in yourself and follow your dreams as you've got nothing to lose by trying.

You aren't the only one in the world going through this, I know it is very lonely for you right now and you don't really know what's going on, but over time you will meet others going through the same sorts of struggles and you will meet those on similar life paths and you will develop strong connections and friendships with these people, and this will change your life beyond measure. You will find people who love and accept you exactly as you are, and who won't judge you for your differences.

Please know that it is okay to be open about your conditions, I know that you didn't used to want your teachers or extended family to know about them, but there's really nothing to be embarrassed about. I know that you feel uncomfortable talking about it, but once you start raising awareness of your conditions over social media, it will become second nature and you will be able to talk about your conditions and struggles freely without shame, as there's really nothing to be ashamed of.

You are one tough kid, you go through a lot and I say thank you for getting through this as you were able to endure the experiences that made me who I am today. Don't listen to the bullies, I know that you know how to stick up for yourself and that is amazing at your age, so don't let anyone treat you badly, you are worthy of love and respect, as we all are.

Your condition isn't who you are, I know you probably feel as if you've lost yourself a little bit, the Tourette's, OCD and other struggles are all that you really know, so you haven't really had time to find out who you really are behind all of that, but you will, it takes time. Soon you will grow to be empowered and confident. I can already see you developing more and more confidence to be yourself and speak your truth, and that is wonderful.

I know it hurts to feel like you aren't getting the support that you desperately need and it hurts to feel as if your struggles are being invalidated or not understood, but you know yourself best and you know the help that you need. I am proud of you for speaking up to your psychiatrist and saying how you feel and not letting them disregard you or say that this 'doesn't really affect your life' or 'you will grow out of it' - you are a smart kid and the fact that you do research on your conditions to learn more about them and understand yourself is great. Know that you can forgive the psychiatrists, they didn't know any different to what they were saying at the time.

One of the quotes I live by now is 'be the person you needed as a kid', so thank you for teaching me and allowing me to become a more caring version of myself by seeing what sort of support others may need.

PS: Please stop eating food dyes, your parents are right, they are triggering rage attacks, and I know that you want to eat sweets with your friends, but it really isn't worth it, find foods without food dye in as you will feel a lot better.

Love from,

Your 18 year old self.


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