A Message For My 17 Year Old Self

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Today I realised it has now been 10 years since my life changed quite drastically.

Between the ages of 16-18, I suffered from pretty bad depression. This started when I was in sixth form. From the very first day, the friends that I’d had from the age of 11 (and some even earlier) began to ignore me. To this day, I still have no idea what the reason for it was. All I know is that I’d never felt so lonely, and a downward spiral began.

But that’s not where I want this post to go.

Today I realised it has now been 10 years since I worked my way through depression, and came out of it a better person.

Because of my depression, I became addicted to a video game. Every day after school I escaped into the world of MMORPGs. But this is where I met some awesome people, many of whom I am still friends with. They kept me going when I hit rock bottom, and if I’m honest, they probably kept me from doing anything stupid. I even frequently stream with one of them on Twitch (shoutout to Shiz!)

Because of my depression, I didn’t get into my first choice university. Instead, I ended up at my second choice – and there I met two of my best friends, and found my true love (archaeology, of course). And if I hadn’t gone to university in Reading, I probably never would have known about Leiden – the two universities had a lot of connections. And my year studying at Leiden? Best year of my life so far.

Because of my depression, I have experienced some really low periods over the past ten years outside of the first two, and even saw a counsellor for a year. But I feel that this has made me a more empathetic and understanding person. I cannot recommend counselling enough. It was truly one of the things that helped me move on, after the depression came back two years after I thought it had gone.

Because of my depression, there were times where I cut myself off from the world. But now when I do something that I never would have thought myself capable of at 17 (not only gone to university, but gone to university in another country; partied in Amsterdam until 9.30 the next morning), I feel so happy that I now have the courage to do these things.

So to sum it all up, a message to my 17-year-old self: it will get better. Things will change, and before you know it you’ll be out of there. But most importantly: in ten years time, you know you wouldn’t change any of those experiences for the world. Who knows where you’d be without them, after all?

(Also without that depression you wouldn’t have found Parks & Recreation, and then what would life be?)

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