Monthly Archives: July 2018

To my 18 year old self

Dear 18 year old Cherry,

I’m writing this letter to you after reading about a project led by @TheEmpWomanProj on Twitter about writing a letter to your 18 year old self.

I’m approaching the age of 36 and I’m imagining that I’m writing this on your 18th birthday. At this time you won’t know a lot of stuff that will happen. You won’t know that you will actually pass your A Levels including that AS Level you didn’t actually mean to take as you assumed it was an option within your existing module.

You will also be under the mistaken assumption that you are dealing quite well with the death of your mum and you won’t be anticipating that you will, at some stage, need some support which will be completely okay.

You are also thinking about going travelling before starting your career as a lawyer (more about that later!). You will do that mainly because your mum, unlike you, was a planner and left you an amount of money to do what you wanted to do. Like travelling across the US for 5 weeks in a camper van.

At this stage you’re uncertain and shy about everything. Don’t worry so much, you’ll get there. You are worrying about meeting someone. Unbeknown to you, that person will dance themselves into your life in 4 years time and never leave. You won’t have achieved the 2.4 children ‘norm’ but you will be with someone who loves you.

You won’t be perfect during the next few years and that will hurt. You will constantly be worrying about whether you’re ‘good enough’ but you will be able to have some days where you won’t care about being good enough and that will be enough.

You will lose both your nan and grandma and auntie to cancer and you will learn that grief is constant and expected.

You will learn that building a family of trusted friends is important. Friends who are so different but so worthwhile and genuine. You will learn that marriage is hard and difficult but ultimately worth it. You will find friends who get you and who will always be there.

Don’t avoid anything in the next few years. Don’t avoid the career change (twice) because work is something that you need to be happy in. You can only control your own feelings and behaviours. Everything else shapes the person you have become and, even if some days it is really hard to believe, you’re okay. Not brilliant, not perfect but definitely okay.

Contentment

Contentment is an emotion that comes and goes for me. Contentment indicates good mental health and that is something that sometimes eludes me.

This week there has been moments of contentment. I am a fully fledged staff member after passing my probation and I had some good moments this week at work.

Last night I spoke to my dad and stepmum, again provoking contentment. My relationship with my husband is good, we have acknowledge we need to get back to being silly and that has happened, culminating in a tic tac catching contest earlier tonight.

Volunteering today helped as well. I can’t go into it because of confidentiality but the moment when I said something which provoked a different way of thinking for a young person in a bad place made me truly content. I hope that young person knows they have helped me as much as I have helped them.

Good mental health isn’t easy to maintain when you have had periods of bad mental health. I look back to a month again and I can barely recognise that person. It’s hard to maintain the consistency but the difference is I know consistency and good mental health can be achieved and that is the main thing.