So you just turned five. Your princess-themed birthday party was fun, wasn’t it? A bunch of your classmates from Mrs. Peartree’s kindergarten class came. School’s pretty cool, too. School gets harder as the years pass, and sometimes you’ll think, “Why can’t I be done with school already!” But don’t worry. One day you’ll look back on your school years and realize they weren’t so bad, and you’ll realize how much you enjoyed learning.
You know how you and your big sister are best friends? She’s still your best friend when you’re all grown up. You may not talk to each other or hang out all the time like you do now, but she’s definitely, and always will be, your best friend.
Right now you dream of being a doctor or teacher when you grow up. I’m sorry to say that’s not what you’ll be when you grow up. Down the road, after many hardships and trials, you’ll find your true passion — writing. I know you’re still learning to read, but trust me when I say this: reading will be your favorite pastime. There’s something magical about getting lost in a good book. Don’t ever forget that.
You’re probably wondering what I’m talking about when I mention hardships and trials. A lot of it starts after you turn 9. One of your classmates, Taryn, will pass away from cancer when you’re in fourth grade. I know she was just at your birthday party. Sure, your goldfish Ariel died and your hamster Mr. Arnold will die after a few years, but losing a friend and classmate is an entirely different thing. A school counselor will talk to everyone in your grade about death and what it means. The reality that we don’t live forever will hit you hard, and it will hurt much deeper than losing your fish or hamster.
Just a few short months after Taryn’s death, you’ll come close to death yourself. During one of your weekly allergy shots, the nurse will accidentally give you too much. You’ll go into what’s called anaphylactic shock. This means you’ll have a really, really severe allergic reaction. Trust me, it will be very scary and you’ll think you’re going to die. But don’t worry, you’ll get through it.
High school is when things start to get really tough. In tenth grade, you’ll have your first depressive episode, and up to this point, it will be the hardest thing you’ll ever have gone through. At first, you won’t know that somethings wrong. You won’t understand why sometimes you cry for no real reason after swim practice when you’re alone in your room. As the months pass, the episode just gets worse and worse. You’ll feel like you want to die. But please, please believe me; it gets better. No matter what, just hold on. At 21, you’ll be diagnosed with bipolar disorder, and it will all make sense.
There’s much more that happens once you get into college, enough for an entirely new letter. You’ll go through mania and more hard times. If there’s one thing I want you to know, it’s to never give up. The panic attacks and mood swings will be hard, but there is light at the end of the tunnel. Keep fighting, and know that life is worth living.
Your 28-year-old self