As part of our Janice Lee Blue Wave bursary, applicants are asked to write a letter to a teenager struggling with a mental health or substance use problem, as they were at the beginning of their journey. They are asked to share what they have learned about their experience, including what has helped them the most to have hope for the future.
We were so impressed with the letters we have been receiving that we wanted to share them with you here. We are publishing them anonymously but each letter is from a different BC youth. As you can see the letters are heartfelt and inspiring, showing us that young people can and do get better, even when they have hit ‘rock bottom’.
Writing a letter can be a great way to get thoughts and feelings into perspective, whether you are in the grip of a mental health or substance use problem, recovering from one, or looking back on the experience. If you want to write your own letter to share with other young people, please send it into us and we would be happy to publish it on our website.
Congratulations. You made it through another day. Seems unbelievable doesn’t it? I bet sometimes you don’t even know why you’re still going through each day like a zombie; fake smile plastered on your face, numbly making your way through school and home, waiting for the day to end. Sometimes, life gets tough. You may walk into school feeling like you’re walking into a battlefield with no weapons. You may also feel that everyone around you is out to get you. You’re probably wondering how I know all this. Trust me, I’m a professional.
See, it may seem unbelievable, but I’ve been through it all. I have lived every single day of your life, felt every single emotion, and done every single thing you’ve done. I bet you’re surprised. You have a slight doubt in your mind, wondering how I managed to stay alive that long. But that’s what I’m here to tell you. I’m here to tell you that things get better.
I know you’re smirking. What a cliché thing to say.
Don’t worry; I know what I’m talking about. Things do get better. It may seem completely unbelievable right now. But trust me; I’ve been at the lowest of points, and I’ve made it out alive.
I have one thing to say to you. Talk to someone. No matter how hard it is, talk to someone. Whether it’s your counselor, a friend, or your parents, talking helps. Keeping all those thoughts locked up inside will only make things worse. The biggest reason I’m here today, alive and well is because I talked to people. Letting out all that negativity in exchange for support will only help you get back up on your feet. I promise.
You’re doing amazingly. You’ll make it through this, I promise.With love, Me
You are not alone. I know it feels that way sometimes, maybe all of the time but you’re not. I know this because I am one of those teenagers who has gone through those terrible thoughts, done those stupid things, made wrong decisions, and had bad things happen to me, but I overcame all of those things. I got off those terrible meds, stopped having the nightmares, I stopped ruining my life. I have learned that it wasn’t my fault for the things that have happened to me. The thing is, I may not be able to change what has happened but I sure can change how I feel and act about it. I know now that just because bad things have happened to me doesn’t mean I can act out and do bad things; it doesn’t give me an excuse. I dwelled on a lot of my problems for a long time which made my depression worse but then I realized that if I wanted to get better I would have to get over the things that were bringing me down. I worked on my problems by talking to counselors and getting involved in healthy activities that I’ve never tried before. I still have problems, everyone does but I can deal with them now, I’m not afraid to face them anymore. I know it can be tough to face your fears but it’s the easiest way to let go.
‘I believe that everything happens for a reason. People change so that you can learn to let go, things go wrong so that you appreciate them when they’re right, you believe lies so you eventually learn to trust no one but yourself, and sometimes good things fall apart so better things can fall together”.
– Marilyn MonroeSincerely, Me
Like many adolescents I found it difficult to find my own individuality in a growing complex world. Just like many of you, I too had pondered the value of my own worth and the significance of how it would tie in with society. I totaled my worth by my own life experiences: sexual abuse in childhood, teased through schooling, and given up on periodically. Thus, through my own perspective, my tallied result was ‘worthless’, and I strongly believed it. As years passed that belief only grew stronger and in my grade 11 year I had decided that I would commit suicide.
The day in which I chose to kill myself was a day like any other, the sun still gleamed, people carried on with their daily routines, and the school bell still chimed for another day to begin. However, this particular day will forever be burned into my memory. The significance of this day wasn’t due to me knowing what will happen to me in just a few hours, but by the normality of the moment. It was then I realized we all are blinded by normality.
We are all afraid of being judged, thus we do not express what we truly feel on account of what others may accuse. So we choose to live our lives to what we think is normal in the perspective of other people. That is when I realized if you want to change the way people see individuality and understand you as a person, you have tell someone how you actually feel because if you don’t nothing will change. In that moment, I had decided that I would talk to someone I trusted and that person was my high school art teacher.
The moment I walked into his art room he gave me an expression as if he knew already. There was just silence and then, with hesitation, I just told him everything. He was shocked, but from that moment on, he never left my side. He spent not days, not weeks, but months helping me and he didn’t stop there, he even made sure I got a professional to talk to. It was a long process, coming to terms with myself, but it changed me as a person. It made me view others and the world differently, more openly, and I can now say that those thoughts I had couldn’t have been more wrong. From that experience I now see my full potential as a human being.
This experience has also lead to me to my passion in life, I’m going to university to become a child psychologist. Throughout the two years it took me to realize who I am as a person I realized that I didn’t want people to feel the way I felt. I truly believe that every individual deserves the best life possible and it has now become my goal to help as many people as I can.
My advice from this story is first of all, be brave, never be afraid to tell someone how you feel because in reality they will be more than happy to help you and they will never judge you or your actions. Secondly, if you don’t know your place in the world, it’s okay; it will one day come to you. Thirdly, figure out what you are passionate about because if you are having trouble finding out what your calling is, usually your passion will lead you to your purpose. Finally always remember this, in darkness there is always a light. It may not shine bright and bold for you to see but if you look hard enough and except the journey to find it, you will see that darkness slowly fading. Then you’ll start to see that light that once was dim will be brighter than ever because you fought for it. If you stay true and believe in yourself you will one day rise into greatness and have the life that you deserve.Sincerely, Me
Today you get diagnosed with autism. So I wanted to write to you to make sure you know how to deal with everything that happens over the next few years. In grade 5 you will be told something by an older kid that will take you down a path of addiction. Don’t listen to him. You will spend the next 7 years of your life fighting that addiction. Once you get into middle school you will start fighting with teachers because you got in with the wrong crowd. Get your mom to test you then. You’re missing the sarcasm that the teachers are using. Your addiction gets worse here so fight it if you didn’t listen to me. Now months later you will get into trouble with the law if you don’t listen to me. So now you’re stuck there. That’s your first wake up call. LISTEN TO IT!!! Smarten up and work hard. Focus in English so you can learn to write better. You’ll need it lots later in life. Be a good boy and tell your dad you love him every day, because later you’ll fight more because you get in trouble so much.
Trust me, listen to my words.Sincerely, Me
An obstacle in my life that I have had trouble living with and overcoming is my anxiety. I first noticed it having an effect on me when I participated in an exchange during the summer to Beijing, China. When I left for China I was not aware of the symptoms of anxiety or that I had been experiencing them, therefore while I was gone I experienced for the first time what an anxiety attack feels like. I have gone through the fear and uncertainty. I have since obtained the proper help I require and I have established several techniques to help control my anxiety. Also and most importantly I have managed to be successful in many aspects of my life by not letting the anxiety take over.
The most difficult part of dealing with anxiety for me has been distinguishing between what a normal reaction to a situation is and what is a reaction fueled by anxiety. When I experience anxiety I begin to hyperventilate and I struggle to obtain air into my lungs, I get extremely warm and overheated, as well as feeling an insane buildup of fear. It is an overflow of emotions trying to be expelled from my body.
The first couple of times I experienced this I always had the same worries. What if I died? What if I am going crazy? What if I lose control and act out? I have done research and read many articles and papers; I have learned that all these things are impossible. Just by learning and informing myself I gathered a better understanding and therefore a peace of mind about what I experience.
Throughout my life I have been a successful athlete, a good student and I have always had vision, also a drive to succeed and achieve. Therefore when I became aware that anxiety was becoming a real problem in my life and that it was beginning to take over and overwhelm me I knew I needed help. I learned from my doctor that there was medication that could help this problem. I decided for myself that medication would be a last resort to help me. I sought out the help of a therapist and I have been seeing her every two weeks. She helped me develop techniques to control my anxiety such as deep breathing and most importantly not to fight it. Fighting the feelings of anxiety only make it worse and more intense. I am extremely grateful for her help and for the support I have received from my family. I can honestly say that I am proud of myself. With support and love I will continue to keep my anxiety at bay throughout my life.Sincerely, Me
This is my journey. I started using drugs and alcohol when I was in middle school. I was suspended numerous times and couldn’t have cared less about my education. I also suffered from anxiety and depression. My mental health problems were exacerbated from being bullied at a young age. I would hang out with people much older than I, and was sexually abused by one of them. My life was a huge party and I saw nothing wrong with it.
My attendance was poor, so I was expelled. I continued to drink and use drugs every day; not attending school made accessing these things much easier. My depression was so severe that I attempted suicide many times. I associated myself with the wrong type of people; I cut my family out of my life. I ended up being assaulted by a group of people I thought were my friends, and suffered a concussion as a result. I met a boy shortly after my assault and became pregnant with my son.
Consequently, I decided to become clean and sober, and have stuck to this. My son’s father was abusive, so I cut him out of my life completely. I attended many counseling sessions, which greatly helped my anxiety and depression. My family accepted me back into their lives, after everything I put them through. I returned back to school and work, and am very excited about where my life is heading. I have learned many lessons from my past; including knowing what type of people I want in my life. Having faith in myself and being able to see the changes that I was making in my life made me have hope for the future, and I am proud to be accepted into university this fall.Sincerely, Me
I was diagnosed with Anxiety and Depression Disorder. I didn’t have this mental health problem till about grade 3, I was bullied from grade 1 till grade 11 which is the reason as to why I have it. It may be a hassle just because you never know how you are going to feel or what is going to trigger you that day, but there are ways of controlling it. I control it with music because music is one of my favourite things to be involved in. If it is music lessons or just listening to music, it calms me down. Think of one of your favourite things to do that doesn’t involve substances and try it; reading, writing, drawing, painting, music, or even running. Anything can help that doesn’t consist of filling your body with things that it really doesn’t need. In my experience with my mental illness I have learnt so many things, new ways to keep myself under control, that I am not the only one out there going through this, and so much more. The main thing that you want to remember at all times is that you may be feeling the lowest of lows but you are not the only one out there and there will always be somebody to talk to.Sincerely, Me
If you’re anything like I was, you’re guarded, scared, and confused to the point of exhaustion. Pain, discomfort and melancholia became normal in the way that breathing should be, but is not anymore. We cling to discomforts for dear life because some broken (but not irreparable) piece of our own traitor soul tells us to. It told me that what I wanted was this thing called “perfection”. It told me to want perfection so badly that pain lost conventional meaning, and turned my life into a game of priorities. Perfection was more important than happiness or healthiness or curiosity. It was more important than anything, and the whole time I was entirely conscious of the fact that perfection doesn’t exist. It was a cruel kind of confusion that had me starving myself in the hope that I would eventually cease to exist all together. The part of me that isn’t Me doesn’t understand logic, truth, beauty or happiness. It shut me in my own chaotic mind and obscured body, away from all of the things that used to matter. You have to expose yourself to those things; true friends, passionate conversation, curiosity, art. They will be your redemption. If there’s one thing I can pick out of the rubble, it’s the knowledge that I have the ability to achieve literally anything I put my mind to, if I put enough time and effort into it. Bear in mind, however, that with power comes responsibility. Please use it for good.Sincerely, Me