A Letter and Plea To a Younger Me
I’ve been afraid to reach out to you. I was worried you’d be disappointed. That you’d be ashamed. That you’d want nothing to do with me because I’m not who you thought I’d be. I didn’t want to scare you. You don’t need that right now. I know. You’re young and still have hope for a better me. And before you say anything, look, I know that you hate when people tell you that you’re young. I know it feels dismissive. But, look, trust me. Ok? I can tell you that you’ve got some time left, so there’s nothing to worry about now. Well, ok. Not nothing. But don’t worry about that. You’re going to be here at least a little while longer.
You’ve made it most of the way through your twenties, so good on you there. I’d love to tell you that it gets better. I guess, in a way, it does. At least now, you know what’s wrong. It’s going to take a while to get here, though, which sucks. I wish I could tell you now. Save you from the anger and frustration. Save you from your self-destructive tendencies. Give you a path out of the darkness. I can’t.
If I could, I’d tell you that you’re not lazy. That things are actually harder for you than people realize. You’re depressed. You’ve got anxiety. Those are real, and you’re not alone in it, though I know it feels that way. Your family doesn’t understand now. They’re frustrated that they can’t help you. That they can’t fix you. I know you feel broken. You’re not. Though, you still feel that way now, despite that fact. I’m sorry.
I wish I could tell you that you’re happier now, now that you now. I wish I could tell you that you found treatment that works. That you’ve got it managed and under control. Maybe, if another guy comes along later, he can tell you that. I can’t. I know you, Nick. One you figure out that there is a problem, a real tangible problem, you’re going to want to fix it. It sucks that you’re going to fear medication so much, because maybe if you started that earlier, I wouldn’t be writing to you now. Some other guy would. A better guy.
What I can tell you is that it’s going to be a long road. You’re going to keep thinking that you found the answer, and you’re going to keep getting knocked down again. You’re holistic approach will only work for so long. You’ll only get so far with therapists, and there will be a lot of them. Every time something fails (sorry, not “fails,” but let’s just say, isn’t the ultimate solution), you will feel broken. I wish I could be there for you in those moments, because you will feel so along. There are people that love you, that care for you, that want you to feel better, and it won’t matter. You’ll need something else, and it won’t be there for you. All you can do is to keep pushing forward.
But, after years of working at it, will you eventually see a light? Eventually find something that does help you and make life worth living? I don’t know. I’m not the guy to tell you that. I wish I was, but I’m not. That’s why I didn’t want to talk to you, not yet at least. I wanted to be in a better position so I could give you something to hold you over until then. You don’t want to talk to me, I know. You’re not going to listen to me. You’re not going to think I can offer you anything. Look, Nick. I don’t care. This isn’t about you. I know I can’t change you, not just because you’re stubborn and afraid of any real, meaningful change, but also because I understand the laws of space and time as they stand right now. Those haven’t changed…yet. This letter was never really for you. It’s for me.
You see, Nick, I’m scared. I’m scared that the guy that can give you all of that, the guy you’d really like to meet may never come, not because it’s an impossibility, but because I won’t let him. I really wish I didn’t have to tell you this, but things are going to get real dark for you. Your head is going to be filled with these demons that, sometimes, it feels like you can’t control. And those demons, those fucking demons? They want you dead. They want me dead. They want us dead. You’ve been fighting them for a long time, but they come on strong, and you’ll start to run out of weapons.
I know you’re scared of medication now because you don’t want to lose control of your mind, but let me tell you this. Even without medication, you’re going to start losing control, and you’re going to get so scared that you’re finally going to accept that medication may be the only thing that can save you. You’ve got to start somewhere, and that somewhere is Lexapro. After three weeks on it, you’re going to start to worry, and you’re going to start overthinking things. Here’s how it will go:
You’ll think, “I can’t tell if the drugs aren’t working yet or if they’re actually making things worse. I’ve already had suicidal thoughts, so who’s to say if these are from the medication or if they’re just the ones I’ve already had. I feel tired, but maybe that’s because I’m not sleeping well, but then I wasn’t sleeping well before either. My energy’s gone, but was it there before I started taking anything? Am I just looking for problems because that’s what I was so afraid of from the beginning? I know these negative effects aren’t common, so maybe I’m building them up in my mind because that’s what I always do. It’s still early. There’s a good chance these pills aren’t even working yet. But what if they are? What if they are actually making them worse, and in ignoring the effects, I’m putting myself in danger? It’s probably nothing, but what if it is? It probably isn’t.”
I’m sure that line of thinking won’t be a surprise to you. It’s what we do. So, maybe, I should have waiting at least a little longer before writing you to at least tell you what happens next. But here’s the deal. You’re going to feel claustrophobic, in your body, in your mind, and in your apartment. It happens often. I’m pretty sure you know how that feels, but honestly, it’s been so long that I forget exactly what you know and feel at this point. Anyway, on one particular night, in this unrest, you’re going to go out to see a movie in an attempt to clear your mind a little. That movie will put you in this kind of introspective mood where you’ll feel the need to pen a long, rambling letter to the kid you used to be. It’s not pretentious. Stop judging me. You’ll understand when you’re older.
So, here you’ll be. You’ll be me, sitting on my couch at 1am on a Saturday night, pantless and sweating because it’s May and it’s finally warm enough to be uncomfortable, and you’ll have your laptop on your lap, and you’ll type these words to yourself (and you’ll also post them only because that’s what you do with your thoughts now, I’m sorry). And you’ll make this plea:
Nick, please, I need you right now. I need all the help I can get, and that includes you, because right now, I feel empty. Maybe together, we can keep pushing forward, because you’ve been so good at it this long, and I’m forgetting how to. I need you to guide me through this, because I don’t know if I can. I want the next guy to be able to write to you. To tell you that everything is going to be ok and that you’ll find that peace that you’ve been looking for. Maybe together, we can get to that guy. We can find that guy and he’ll be able to teach both of us how to be us.
And if you can’t do that for me, Nick, I understand. You don’t owe me anything. You have your own shit to deal with, and I can’t be there for you, so really, it’s fine if you can’t. I’ll try to manage. I’ll try to make it, because you’ve worked so long in the darkness that it’s the least I can do for you. You deserve happiness, Nick. You deserve peace. You deserve what you desire, because you’re a good kid having a rough time right now, and no one will give you the answer or the help you need. Not right now. But you’ll make it this far at least.
So, I’ll be here. And if I don’t see you, I’ll still be here. For now at least. And if I make it to the next guy, I’ll be sure to pass your info onto him. I hope you hear from him. I hope I do to. I hope he exists, and I’m not the last guy. Sorry, that’s a little bleak. Positivity, Nick! Hold onto it as long as you can, because you’re going to need it someday when your supply feels depleted.
Stay strong, kid.
P.S. Please don’t judge me on the typos. I’m not going to reread this. It’s late and I wrote too much. You know how we are.