So this a little different content wise for my blog but I feel that this website has also become somewhat of a creative and emotional outlet for myself through this strange past year. It has been a place where I could direct all my energy and instead focus on something positive. So as it is my 26th birthday I thought what better time than now to reflect on the last ten years and think about what I might say to 16 year old Harriet. Hindsight seems like a wonderful thing but I truly don't regret or want the chance to redo my past, all I feel is necessary now is to acknowledge the past and see how it has paved the way for me.
(A little disclaimer - I will mention some things that might be hard to read or might trigger difficult emotions for some readers.)
Dear 16 year old Harriet,
I suppose I should say Happy Birthday, you have made it to 16! I could lie and pretend I remember what we did to celebrate, but I’ll be honest and say I truly can’t think what we did. Not because it wasn't enjoyable, but because now that I look back on that part of my life it’s somewhat fuzzy. The memories are confused with what were thoughts and what was reality. And I can't seem to differentiate between the two.
I'm trying to remember what you were doing your 16th year. I remember feeling tired, exhausted all the time. I spent so much of my daily life pretending I was ok. The days I made it to school, I would be fighting to make it through all my lessons and get my GCSEs and to not just give up. Everyone said you should take time off and redo the year but you said no, that would be acknowledging something was wrong. So like a duck, you were calm and still on the surface, but below the water you were just trying so hard to stay afloat. It was also the year that finally someone told you why you felt the way you did, diagnosed the thoughts and told you it was OCD.
I'll be honest, being 16 is hard. Bloody hard work. While others might be falling in love for the first time, or experimenting with god knows what. You may feel like your missing out, that you had to grow up real quick and in someways you lost your teenage years. Your illness stole that from you but believe me when I say you will get the chance to do all things you feel you missed out on - better late than ever and all that. Remember, try not to rush life, to make everything happen all at once. Work hard, but accept somethings will just happen at their own pace and thats ok.
You will makes mistakes. Lots of them. You will be far from perfect, but you will realise that perfection isn't a real thing. You might think that by 26 you will have it all figured out, a steady career, a partner, money etc. but you won't. You will have faced life's pot holes and realised that whats most important in life is wiping yourself off and getting back up. You will be fearlessly independent, so much so that you might have to remind yourself to occasionally let your guard down and let people in. Share with others your struggles and it will pay off, I promise. You will look around one day and have the realisation that you are indeed wanted. All those times that you felt like a burden will start to fall away when you realise that the same friends you've had since you were younger have stayed by your side. That no matter how hard you tried to push people away, they stood firmly, never failing to not show up when needed.
You will have so much to look forward to, you will carry with you your emotional scars, you will wear them with pride and I know you won't believe it right now, but you will share your story with others. You will talk about the difficult thoughts, the desire to make yourself hurt, you will no longer be embarrassed by the fact that you take medication. You see all the years that have gone by as proof that you have fought against something and that others can do too.
You will have a life full of experiences. You will get to leave home. You won't have to stay locally as to be close to your safety net. You will live by yourself. You will go to University. You will experience rejection. You will learn self worth. You will get a job. You will get another job and then another. You will choose you for the first time. You will feel supported. You will move away again. You will move back home, You will follow your dreams. You will experience failures and achievements in equal measure. You will learn so much. And you always be eternally grateful for everything and everyone.
So I'll leave you with this. Life is short and life is sometimes bitter sweet. Everyday that you wake up and choose to face the day, you are winning a silent battle. You are making a conscious decision to be present and acknowledge that your life is worth living. So have fun, make mistakes, let go, cry when you need to cry, shout as loud as you can and remind those you love how important they are to you, as you are to them.
See you real soon.