You’re 16 and I’m writing to you to you to give you a heads up. There is a rough few years ahead.
Being different is nothing to be ashamed of, but unfortunately you will learn this the hard way. Soon you will be mocked, taunted, pushed, and shoved. A feeling of dread hangs over you every morning when you wake up.
Next a dizziness, shortness of breath and a cloud of fear will come over you. Sadly, Shannon this is only the start. Some days you’ll be afraid to leave the house. You’ll feel alone and sad, and wonder if this is your life now…It’s not. It gets better.
At 17 you’ll be home-schooled, as not even money can get you to sit in a classroom. Trust me, you will be angry, left out and isolated from everything considered to be a normal teenage life. But this is not where your story ends.
After eventually finding a therapist that works for you, things start to look up. Shannon, your life slowly begins to slip into place, with a lot of hard work. Everyday you’ll face challenges, most you will overcome and some will be too much. But that’s okay because you are trying.
Now you’re 18, you made it to adulthood. The last month and next one or two to come are like a roller-coaster. No wonder you get dizzy so easily! You will hit a low you never imagined, a deep and lonely sadness, paralysed by fear. Anxiety and panic disorders can be and will be ruthless. They will know your fears, become a voice in your head. They will use these fears against you until…
Shannon, you will realise you are strong and brave, you will stand face to face with your fears every day and fight away the darkness. You will chase away your fears and find your superpower. At times it will feel like you have no one until one day you notice your support system.
So, for now I will leave you with some advice I acquired along the way. Even though it’s hard and you feel like quitting, this is when you push through and learn about yourself. You’ll develop morals, opinions, and empathy. You will find courage and passion. You will realise this experience ahead of you will make you who you are and who you will become.
p.s. Just keep swimming.
This letter was submitted to us in 2017 from Shannon who had just completed her leaving cert. Thanks so much for sharing your story, we hope you find happiness wherever your path takes you x