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A letter to my younger self

One of our Young Champions writes a letter to her younger self as part of #SelfcareSummer. 

Dear younger self,

I was once before asked to do the reverse of this, in high school. To write a letter to an older version of myself. I wrote an incredibly naïve piece, asking if I was still friends with the same people (I wasn’t), and things like that. But we’re not at high school yet.

So let’s start here.
Dear myself at nine.
You don’t know what’s coming yet. You’re not the happiest child. You don’t feel like you fit in. There are a few reasons you feel that. We’ll get there.
I want you to know that you are capable of surviving the coming years.
You will exit them with little innocence. But you will be wiser than most.
I suppose you always were.

Dear myself at ten.
You’re really going through it.
I know it’s hard.
I know what everyone else doesn’t. That when the other kids are bouncing against the bike sheds, liking the way the flimsy plastic contorts behind them – you are hitting your head. You don’t understand why that is.
I remember being you at your age. With the housing and the family dynamics and the bullying and those men, it’s no wonder you feel this.
But please know that what you’re thinking – it’s not going to happen. Here I stand, almost 10 years later. I haven’t died. You aren’t going to do it.
Your friend will tell the school when you tell her. You’ll be angry. Please forgive her.
I love you very dearly, ten-year-old Maddi. You’ll get through this.

Dear fourteen-year-old me.
You’ve just had a panic attack. I remember how scared you feel: how lost, confused by the world.
When mum comes home, the first thing she’ll ask is: “Have you unloaded the dishwasher?”
It still makes you angry, so you tell her.
“I just had a panic attack. So no.”
I’m proud of you for telling her this.
I’m also proud of you for coming out. In lighter times, a while before this, you had joked: “I’d get with Brendon Urie, and with Sia!”
Soon, you’ll find out you’re pansexual, not bi. This will take a while to adjust to and not everyone will understand, but just know that being yourself is the best thing you can do.

It’s been a few months now since that first panic episode, and the attacks aren’t going away. Something else is developing, too.
In a while, this will be named as clinical depression.

You’re nearly fifteen now.
You’re at the hospital. You were going to do it, but luckily you decided, in some confused act of self-salvation, that you would ask for help first.
Your friends will probably be upset. In time they’ll accept this.

Dear me at fifteen.
Hospital, not just A&E this time, is a scary place. You are three and a half hours away from home and going through one of the most unwell patches of your life.
Hold strong. You will be moved soon – in fact, you’ll only be in that terrible hospital for a month before you go somewhere far better.

Dear me at sixteen.
The most notable thing that will happen in this admission is that you will be diagnosed autistic.
I wish I could tell you that you will be able to accept this straight away, but after a bad interaction with a hospital teacher, you will hate this part of you.
I want you to know that one day, you’ll embrace it.
You’re no different than you were yesterday. You just know, now.

Dear me at seventeen.
So you’re in hospital again, this time for your anorexia. That’s started this year, and you’re infatuated with it.
You won’t be forever. There will come a day when your ED thoughts are an annoying niggle, not an obsession that consumes you.
You’ll also be diagnosed with OCD. You’ve known for two years, but they’ve finally diagnosed.
You shouldn’t have had to get this ill just to be believed. But sadly, you have. Just know, though, that nobody will be hurt if you break a ritual.

Dear me at eighteen.
First time in an adult ward. It’s daunting.
But right up until the present day, this one week admission (compared to your six months, then four, three) will be the last I know of as of yet.

Dear me at nineteen.
You have been through several attempts, so many bad situations, and yet you are still standing.
Yes, you are traumatised and still unwell. But art and poetry, your newfound passions, are taking off. You are accomplished, kind, funny, talented, and above all, strong. You always have been.
I want you to believe all the things you just wrote about yourself.


On My Mind is a website that was co-produced by young people to help other young people. The website includes a self-care page that has 86 self-care strategies, as well as an urgent help page, which features organisations that offer help and support for young people.