Editor: Hannah Todd
Genre: Nonfiction/Self Help/Mental Health
Length: 112 Pages
Release: October 2016
My Rating: 4/5 Stars
I received a copy of this book through Netgalley in exchange for an honest review.
Hello me, it's you
Right now you're sixteen, it's nearly Christmas, and you probably feel more alone than you ever have before. You feel lost, like there is a deep chasm in your heart that can not be crossed. And you're making everyone listen to really angsty music, when all they really want to do is listen to all the happy Christmas stuff.
But don't let me get you down. I'm you. But I'm twenty-five now. Crazy to think it's been nearly ten years! There is so much you have accomplished in that time, even with the drastic lows and the medium highs caused by your depression. Oh, and don't forget the constant lip picking. Unfortunately that's not something you've overcome--yet.
Right now you're feeling low. The only really bright thing in your life are the horses, hold onto that. Cherish it. Joe is one of the best things that ever happened to you. And soon you will have a new horse who will help you grow even more.
You think that everyone feels the way you do, that everyone suffers from the exact same issues and that you should just get over it already but that's not true. Depression runs in our family, which you know now and will learn even more. But that doesn't mean that the whole family feels this way, or that everyone else feels this way. People will try to make you think that this is just normal "teenage" behavior or feelings. It's not. Don't let them convince you otherwise.
In the past 9.5 years, you've graduated college (a degree in math! Who would have thought it, right?), written a few more novels (though you haven't tried to publish yet), become even more obsessed with reading (and found your two all time favorite authors--listen to mom when she talks about killer clowns, you won't regret it), seen David Cook in concert (four times!), traveled to London (I know, I know. I still freak out about this one.), and made some amazing friends both near and far.
But things aren't completely wonderful. The depression still hits, though it never overcomes you quite like it did before. Trust me when I say you should go to church. Right now it seems like just another place to pretend, but it will help. I promise. You've suffered some great losses, too. I won't tell you exactly what or when, but even now you blame yourself, to a certain extent. There is always that pesky what if lurking in your thoughts. Bur you're making peace with that.
Oh, and on top of depression you now have anxiety. It manifests itself in weird ways. I guess it was always there--you'll see it in the pattern of you're life when you look back, woven in and out of those depressive episodes so smoothly you can barely differentiate the two. But you're working on it. Sometimes it threatens to consume, drag you under to depths you will not be able to escape. But it can only do that if you give it the power. So stay strong.
You aren't over the depression or anxiety or paranoia, if these are things that can ever really be overcome. But you aren't consumed by them either. There is so much to live for. Talk to people. It really does help. Even when you don't think they are listening, they are. Also, don't ignore your talents. There is so much you can learn and do that will help you and others if you just keep practicing. It's hard, but it's possible.
There is beauty in the world. I know you don't see it right now, but it's there, waiting to be discovered. And you're on your way there. And so am I. So don't give up. You've got this. Look for the miraculous in the small things.
The above is my quick attempt at recreating a piece of this book, which is a compilation of letters written by young adults to their sixteen year old selves. Each of these young adults has suffered from some mental health issue. And each one of them has found a way to work on it. Each person is in their own stage of the path. No one is "cured," they all tell you about the struggles they still have. But they share some words of wisdom with their younger selves. And those can be quite inspiring.
One thing that I think is great about this collection is the fact that everything is left so real. It hasn't been compiled into a narrative story, it's just the letters. And it showcases how different each person is. Some of these individuals have similar struggles, some drastically different. Just because you aren't the same as everyone else does not mean that you don't matter. That is essentially the message here.
This book also does a good job of showcasing how writing can be therapeutic. Each of these individuals seem to discover something about themselves in writing these letters. In that letter I've written to myself above I've discovered things about myself that I've had a hard time seeing before. So whether you write to your past self or your future self (something I want to do), writing helps.
It's ok to suffer with mental health issues, whatever they may be. Don't be ashamed to talk about your problems. Be real.
I would recommend this to anyone who either suffers from a mental health disorder or wants to learn more about it. This isn't a textbook that will give you details on all the things mentioned, but it is the thoughts of those who are going through it, which can be even more informative. It might sound depressing, when you hear what this is about, but it's definitely not. Instead it's inspiring, because all of these people have found hope somewhere.