Wouldn’t it be great if we could go back in time and offer ourselves some insight into what was to come? I have been thinking and reflecting a lot recently, so I decided to write myself a letter filled with the things I wish I had known when I was 17. The 17-year-old version of me was a brand new mum with a poorly baby. She was living as an adult for the first time in a rented flat above a bank and struggling to adjust to her new life. I wonder if she would have believed it if someone had told her what the future would bring? Probably not. The teenage version of myself was incredibly stubborn. If I’m completely honest, I still am!
If you could go back and give the past version of yourself some advice, what would it be?
You’re not going to believe this, but I am you. Not the right-now you; you haven’t started writing letters to yourself and forgetting about them, I’m future you. I’m the you that you will be in 16 years.
Right now, you’ve got a new baby. He’s in and out of the hospital and nobody can really tell you why. In the last few weeks, you have been diagnosed with postnatal depression. You’ve moved out and left your home town and, in a way, you are now a fully-functioning adult. But there are a few things that I wanted you to know.
Firstly, you are stronger than you realise. At the moment, you are planning a wedding. It will be a wonderful day filled with happy memories and for a long time life will be great. But when it ends, and it will end, you will be left feeling broken, desperate and lost. You won’t see it coming and it will make you question everything you thought you knew. But you are better than that. You will grieve and then you will pick yourself up and start again. You will come out stronger than before with plenty of memories of the happy times that don’t hurt to think about and wonderful children who are genuinely the best reason to get up in the morning. You need to experience the loss in order to come out the other side. Once the grieving is over, you will be brave enough to find someone new and start a new life with new adventures.
The next thing you need to know is that Steven is going to be ok. The next few years are going to be tough, you will spend a lot of time searching for answers. The challenges that you will face during his time at primary school will make you want to give up. Keep fighting for him, keep backing him, keep cheering him from the sidelines and keep loving him completely unconditionally. He is 16 now and he’s a wonderful young man who will make you feel proud every single day.
Never be afraid to ask for help. I know that your mental health isn’t great right now. Postnatal depression is hard. I wish I could tell you that once you get through this blip it will all be better, but that would be a lie and lying never helps anyone. In truth, that cloud will keep reappearing from time to time. The important thing is to talk about it. Spot the signs, let the emotions out and ask for help. You can do this.
Lastly, never lose sight of who you are. There will be times when you feel lost, alone and unsure. There will be times when you feel that you can’t work out who you are or remember who you were. Always remember that you are strong, you are brave, you are a survivor. Your stubbornness and sheer determination will get you through the darkest days. Your refusal to lose will get you through a difficult divorce with your head held high. Your completely limitless love for your family will fuel the fire of fights with schools and a million other meetings. Your desire to do better will give you the confidence to start a new relationship and embark on a new career.
You are amazing and I am proud to be the product of the times that you went through.
Keep your chin up, you’ve got this.