We are proud to announce that the winner of our Mental Health & Me writing competition in collaboration with Liverpool Mental Health Consortium is GEMMA ROGERS. Congratulations to all the finalists! All the winners have been published, you can get a copy of there book by ordering from Writing on the Wall or online at Amazon, iTunes and Barnes & Noble.
We have published the winning entry on our blog, exclusively for you!
Letters to Myself
To my 11 year old self
This is the year when you pick up a razor blade for the first time and cut yourself with it.
I’m not going to sugar coat things for you. You’re young, but you’re going to have to grow up fast so sit down and listen to what I have to tell you.
Pretty soon you’re going to get ill. Not a cold or a stomach bug, but something much worse and harder to recover from. I can’t stop it from happening; this sickness isn’t like that. It can’t be prevented by happy thoughts and a positive attitude. Our brain is messed up. Learn to deal with it.
Your illness is ugly. It steals all the happiness out of your life and makes every single day a struggle. Just getting out of bed will at times seem impossible. Prepare to be lonely because it tricks you into thinking being alone is the best way to survive, and you’ll push friends away until they stop coming back. We make it a long time without anybody.
I bet you have a great relationship with mum right now. I envy you for that. I miss her. You can’t tell her you’re sick. It’s a secret. You won’t be able to speak a word until it’s almost too late. The pills don’t work and talking about it doesn’t help either. Self-medication is even less effective, so don’t be fooled by the high of a different kind of pill, because it won’t last forever.
Get ready to hate yourself. I mean to really hate yourself. You’ll cut and burn your skin to match the mess you feel inside to the outside. You won’t eat for days to look like the girls in the magazines. You’ll stare at your reflection and cry big, ugly tears of a person who knows they’re broken. We break a lot and have been taped together so much it’s hard to tell what’s a real part of us anymore.
I can’t stop you from hurting yourself. I can’t take all the pain away. I can’t make the next ten years any more bearable. But I can tell you this; we get through it. So when you feel at your very lowest, when you go to step out in front of that train and when you take all those pills remember that we do make it. Life clings to us against all odds. I promise.
To my 31 year old self
In ten years I hope to be a grown up. A real adult with a career and a car and a house of my very own. To have graduated university and finally have passed my driving test and visit all those places in the world I haven’t yet.
I bet to you being 21 seems like a very long time ago. University and your first crappy red car and all those problems that seemed so big to us at the time are just memories to you now. They are things that have moulded you into the person you are. I wish that your memories of illness are exactly that; memories. It’s a lot to hope for, but it gets me through my days. To think of a version of myself that is happy and healthy.
I’m a bit stuck right now. I have the potential to do anything I want but I hold myself back. Do you remember this? Do you remember feeling like all the bad things could come rushing back at any moment? I’ve been keeping busy but the darkness lurks in the corners of my mind, threatening to emerge.
We say we’re in remission. It took so long to get to this point but it’s bittersweet. It could all come crashing down at any moment.
I envy you, future me. You have all the knowledge of what I need to do now to pick the right choices in my life, but you can’t tell me. I have to figure it all out myself, and I’m scared I’ll make the wrong decisions. Please tell me that if I keep my head above water I won’t drown. Please tell me that if I work hard enough I can have everything I ever wanted. Please tell me that if I keep putting one foot in front of the other I will eventually climb a mountain.
To my 21 year old self
Just. Keep. Going.