by Megan Weichnik, CPS
I’m sending this to you because I now realize that there are some things that would have been helpful for you/me/us to hear back then, so I might as well say them now. We just turned 32, (I know, I can’t believe it either), and we actually love our life now. I’m going to explain a little bit about how that happened, so that you will see that even through life’s toughest moments, it can and will get better.
Right now, you’re 17. You’ve stopped going to school, and you are waiting.
to hear back from the colleges you’ve applied to even though all you are thinking is, “College isn’t for people like me.” I know that your life is currently a tightly wound knot of secrets and lies, but you will find a way to break out of that and ask for the help you need. In fact, you will move so far in the other direction that you simply won’t be able to lie anymore. It will become too uncomfortable to be inauthentic. Doctors, therapists, family, friends and peer-support communities will help you when you let them.
You will go to college and it will be a wonderful and challenging experience and a big reason that you need to learn how to take care of yourself. You will study philosophy and psychology and try to figure yourself out. You will come up with more questions than answers, but you will learn that life’s learning never really stops.
You will find connection and people who understand you. I know that right now, depression feels like the most isolating experience. You feel alien and alone and like no one will ever understand what it’s really like to live life with your brain. Miraculously, depression will also be the thing that connects you to more people than you could possibly imagine. You will meet mentors, friends and colleagues through peer-support communities like NAMI, (the National Alliance on Mental Illness), and DBSA, (the Depression and Bipolar Support Alliance). You will speak publicly about living with a mental-health condition, and you will eventually facilitate the same kinds of groups that will help you find your way. Every time you share what you went through or simply listen to another, it will be an opportunity to connect.
You will live independently and also learn to rely on your family in a healthy way. Mom and Dad will stop looking for ways to fix you and will accept you for who you are and how you choose to take care of yourself. Mom will learn to recognize and treat her own anxiety and depression and live her best life. They will both seek their own mental-health support and education, and so will your sister. This will make a huge difference. You will become so close to your sister that you will be maid of honor at her wedding. You will finally feel like you have a place in your family and that you are no longer identified as the “patient.” Today, you and I might still be refining the art of asking for help, deciding who to ask and figuring out what it is we really need, but we have a support network to tap into now and truly mutual relationships with our friends, family and
peers. You and I can see farther into our future than ever before. We have plans and goals and dreams, like we never thought we would. Depression does still make our world feel small sometimes, but we’ve been down this road so many times that now we know that it does not last, that routines and healthy habits help us feel grounded and that catching warning signs early can prevent a major backslide.
Be well, little Meg, and remember what Winston Churchill said, “If you’re going through hell, keep going.” You will make it through.