I was inspired to write a letter to my future self that I would open upon graduation from university.
Dear future Amy,
Dear future Amy,
You’ve finally made it and you never believed you could. You completed the degree that you had been planning for years; you’ve graduated! People always talk about the amount of debt it costs, but the experience that you’ve gained is priceless and even so, there are many organisations out there who can support you. If you’re concerned with the costs, you can always ask counselors about scholarship opportunities, or consider researching alternative ways to save money after college like refinancing debt. Pricelessness has no limit, and for not one moment do I expect that you regret your decision to go to university. Laying on your bedroom floor, in the dark all those years ago, with not even an ounce of hope to hold on to, did you ever imagine yourself to be stood in your graduation gown accepting your degree in front of hundreds of people - I’m so proud!
Anxiety and depression sucked the life out of you, but it didn’t beat you. Sitting in various different doctors and therapists offices, being drained of the same answers to the questions you always had to answer about your anxiety, depression and suicidal tendencies, from watching people go to school and learning to drive, even though it crippled you to walk out of the door and in the darkest of days, when one breath seemed a conscious choice, you carried on. Going to university was the change that you needed and you grabbed the opportunity with both hands. You worked hard to get your degree and receive mental health support that you needed, from continuing with your medication to having the best mental health mentor that anyone could wish for - not to mention the immense support from family and friends which you are ever so lucky to have. You’ve created some fantastic memories with lifelong friends and had some experiences that you will never ever forget; from staying up until daylight, going to night clubs with the majority of your accommodation, walks with your flatmates, indoor cricket, late night talks and finding your first love, just mention a few.
You could honestly say without a doubt, that it has been the best experience of your life and one you’ll wish to revisit for many years to come. Although at times it has been hard, because you’ve constantly been battling the demons, you’ve bounced back. Each time you’ve gotten stronger and faced bigger and better things, from getting your first paid job, to becoming the president of your university’s mental health society. It’s taught you so much, from budgeting and how to cook (or not as the case may be!), how to look after yourself, pay bills and rent and led you onto getting your first rented flat outside of student life. I know you're sad to see it go, but I know you are moving onto to greater things. As you are travelling back to your hometown, I know you’re going to be questioning what’s going to happen next. Perhaps you’re feeling like you’re having a mini-life crisis! You’re thinking about how you’re going to afford your rented flat, or be able to find a job, praying that your anxiety doesn’t become overwhelming, or perhaps thinking about how you’re going to cope with such a big change or deal with the financial worries of the possibility of working in London. But it’s okay, you’re going to handle it like you have with everything else, with strength and passion. Hindsight is a great thing, but unfortunately we cannot tell what’s going to happen in the future, so you’ve just go to keep moving forward with the knowledge that you have at that time.
Now that you’re leaving, just take a moment to look back at that little nine-year old girl who thought the world was all going to be too much. Brush off her shoulders and tell her, she is going to make through and get to university and achieve everything she has wanted. I know you have never felt that you had that capability within you, but you have and always will. At times you were upset that you didn’t join the rowing society, or missed the odd night out, but that was what you felt you could handle at the time, and that is okay. You took up the opportunities when you felt you had it within you to do so and that is nothing to be ashamed of. We are all on a different journey.
We are all capable. Mental illness may be something that is within us, but it is not something that defines us.