Dear past self,

I wish I could be stood beside you when that picture was taken. It was July 2012, and you were on a run. You really liked running, you said it helped to clear your mind. You’d spend hours running. I wish I could be stood there for a very simple reason: to warn you.

I’d tell you, that in years to come you’d fall sick and it would happen very quickly. When I say quickly, I mean a day, it will only take a day to change your life. I’d tell you that it’s illnesses that can’t be cured. It’s illnesses you’ve heard and seen before because your dad has them. I’d tell you that you’d have appointments at the hospital every other month but you have a brilliant consultant – the same one your dad has been seeing for 10+ years. You’re in good hands. At first you will lie to him and tell him you feel better, you do this because you feel like a burden. Listen to the doctors and nurses, don’t lie to them they just want to help you. You also aren’t a burden, you never have been and you never will be. 

You will take a handful of tablets everyday. You must take them, although at first there’s days you forget but that’s because you’re not used to needing tablets. You’ll eventually set an alarm to help you remember. There is days you won’t want to take them because you will wonder if they’re doing anything to help. You will have a little tin in your handbag, no it’s not for make-up although it originally was used for that. It’s got pain killers in it, remember to keep that stocked. 

Pain, there will be a lot of pain, somedays you don’t think you could possibly endure anymore but you do and you always seem to get through it. There is days you won’t be able to get out of bed, now I know 17-year-old Emily likes the idea of this, but it’s not fun and you will stay there for hours. You’ll spend a lot of time alone, which is okay because you still really enjoy your own company.

You will sleep for what seems like an impossible length of time even for you, I know you also like the sound of this but even 20 hours of sleep is too much for you. You experience a level of exhaustion you didn’t know existed. You always thought you’d had bad under eye circles, but just you wait – you’ll see what bad under eye circles are. 

You find a job you love, you surprisingly go into health care and it suits you perfectly. You like to look after people and make them feel better. However, you will need to look after yourself so you will give the job up. Leaving it will break your heart but you have to do it. You will apologise over and over – don’t apologise, you have nothing to be sorry for. 

There are people who won’t believe you, you will be put in situations where you will have to fight for yourself. It’s these situations that help you eventually grow that backbone your mum wanted you to get years ago. 

It all sounds so dire, but I’d also tell you, that you will be okay because there’s a trait you won’t lose: stubbornness. You will never let it consume you, you very rarely let it make you cry. You don’t show anyone how you feel, sometimes they wish you’d show them but you never do. You become incredibly resilient, and trust me when I say it, you’ll get used to it. You’ll lose your runners strength but you’ll develop a new strength that’s unbreakable, it’s a strength that can’t be taken away it will only grow stronger. In my honest opinion it makes you a better person and you will learn a lot about yourself. It will teach you so much and it will broaden your knowledge on a lot of subjects. 

It will throw a lot of crap and obstacles at you and it will kick you when you’re already down but you’ll show the middle finger and stand back up…and once you’re back up you’ll look back and smile. You’ll smile because for the first time in your life you’ll know how it feels to be truly proud of yourself. 

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