Quick note to three years ago me

On September 25, 2017, I wrote this comment in response to a post on a ~lifestyle~ blog I follow:

I’m way late to this, but this post has been rolling around in my head for the past few months and I just had to say something. Of course I don’t know specifically what you’re dealing with, but I’m a grown-up version of that kid going through difficult times, and it only recently occurred to me how it probably affected my parents. This is kind of long, apologies in advance…

For one, I’ve had a mild/moderate/severe (depending on the day) stutter since I was 3, and my parents took me to specialists and therapists, and had to watch me struggle with less-than-kind peers and strangers, and to deal with the emotional ups and downs that came with this thing that is a constant source of anxiety and stress for me, while being largely brushed off as something to joke about by the larger world that makes assumptions about people who don’t speak “normally” (for one, I was told by my guidance counselor that I wasn’t really “college material”) must have been heartbreaking. Having to stay up with me while I cried about an oral presentation I had to give, or watching my confidence deflate when yet another person jokingly asked if I forgot my name.

I’ve also dealt with severe depression and anxiety since I was a kid, but only got up the nerve to deal with it when I started graduate school (what now, guidance counselor?) at 25. Fast forward to this past year, and two hospitalizations later, I’m now on five (5!) medications, see a therapist every week, and am seven months into regular electroconvulsive therapy (ECT) with ketamine infusions.

I was hoping to tell my parents about the first hospitalization at the “right” time when I was home for Christmas, but a friend’s mom spilled the beans first. That kicked my carefully plotted out schedule into high gear, and they were sort of hit with all of it at once. The first six weeks that I had ECT, it was three days/week, and my parents came down for the first two weeks, one at a time. The procedure is done under anesthesia, and causes serious memory loss. I can only imagine what it’s like to see your kid be in such an awful place that this treatment that leaves you confused and wiped out is your best last hope; to find out (from someone else, no less) that your kid wanted so badly to die that they used an x-acto knife to give themselves ridiculously deep cuts that were still not done healing when the ECT started. It kills me to think that they might blame themselves for any of it, when they’re a big part of the reason I decided to Uber myself over to the ER that night instead of finishing what I had started.

And now I’m tearing up at my desk thinking about how scary it must be to be a parent. Whatever you and your family are going through, you’re all so, so lucky to have each other and I hope your support system in real life is as amazing as the one online! Sending you so much love.

I just got an alert that someone commented on my comment (commentception), which gave me a chance to read a “realtime” thought I had in that terrible year. So here’s what I wrote back to the lovely person who wished me well.

Woah! I just got this reply note! Gosh, reading that comment from 2017 me is heartbreaking. I’ve had SO many ups and downs with treatment (I thought I was done with hospitals until last month, when I lost two people and my beloved dog and ended up back in there). I want to wrap Sept 2017 me in a big hug and tell her that people really do care, and that she’s going to have a really rough go of it for awhile, but that she’s so much stronger than she thinks she is. People will leave, others will stay, new people will come, and people from long ago will show up out of nowhere to be so important. If there are any parents out there worried about their kid because of a difference they have…please also remember that they are tough as nails. Please be proud of them.

So if you’re that parent or that kid or whoever…it does get better. It sometimes also gets worse, but man, you just keep going because there isn’t really another option. For the parents: your kids are so fucking strong. And to the kids: your parents (or maybe your teacher or your coach…your adult) is working their fucking butts off to give you everything you deserve in life. That’s it. Do with it what you will.

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