Wednesday, 3 September 2014

To My 16-Year-Old Self

For my 16th birthday my mum bought me a book called 'Dear Me, A Letter to My 16-Year-Old Self', which has lots of letters written by celebrities and popular figures addressing themselves as teenagers. I was recently flicking through it and thought, that'd be a bit of a fun blog post to do and a bit of a different way of tackling the old 'dealing with a chronic illness in your teens' issue. So that's what I'm going to do. Just a bit of background, I was actually at my healthiest at the age of 16 but I still struggled with the prospect of my disease impacting my life in the future. Not being able to dance at some point, not having children, and I really developed my fear of death in these years. I did however have a pulmonary embolism when I was 16 so it wasn't a time free of catastrophe. Hopefully that'll make the majority of this letter make sense to you.


Happy Birthday from your 21-year-old self. If you're reading this then your future self must discover magical powers, so be sure to look out for that. Here's the advice. Keep doing what you're doing. Don't be tempted to "fit in". People spend the whole of school trying to fit in and the whole of university trying to define themselves as unique. It turns out you're a few steps ahead everyone else.

Secondly, smile. You always knew the value of a smile. Smile at everyone and anyone. It's been proven it makes you happier and it makes those around you happy too. You don't have to be bubbly, embrace your shyness, but definitely keep smiling. And keep dancing because that will make these years the best years of your life. Enjoy it. Throw yourself into everything at Ribston - moving schools was the best thing you ever did.

Carry on writing that book. It turns out your good at writing (who knew?) but you still need all the practise you can get. Carry on living inside your head, daydreaming and talking to yourself because it feeds your creativity. 

Your feelings on not being able to have children and generally being ill will get easier. You're beginning to realise what's happening to you and it's scary but you'll accept it. Having a chronic illness is enough to make a grown (wo)man cry let alone a teen. Trust me, you're handling it brilliantly. But please, stop googling your disease.  

That horrible feeling you get in your stomach, that's anxiety and it's completely normal. It's the body's way of warning you that something is happening that has hurt you in the past. There's no quick fix here but stop getting anxious about getting anxious and you're halfway to coping with it.

You're right to dislike your doctor, you're not just being a grumpy teen. Don't let him scare or upset you anymore. Focus on all the good things and learn to accept the bad. Think of your disease as a part of you rather than some horrible parasite destroying your life. I'm going to stick in a Harry Potter quote here, "only with acceptance can there be recovery". That's what you have to do, accept all the things that are happening to you because hate and dispair for your illness will destroy you. It might have done a lot of bad but it's done some good too because you wouldn't be who you are without it.

You'll be pleased to know that I have no regrets. Just be happy. If you take no other advice, take this - be happy!

Best wishes, 
Sara x 

If you're interested in this little book I would definitely recommend it. It's a nice thoughtful, funny read and with letters varying from two sentences to pages in length it's great to pick up for a quick read. It was a great 16th Birthday present too! 

I hope you enjoyed this different post. It's not always nice to think about yourself at a tough time in your life but it felt good to write it all down.

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