I know normally, my reflective blog posts come from a really positive place. If anyone follows me on twitter, I tend to joke about my impairments/disabilities, get really political, and tweet photos of my cat, and memes, like any “Woke” liberal millennial (I’m trying to reclaim that word too, on top of all the others).
But today I opened my letter for the first time in a long while. It’s dated March 7th, 2017.
Back story: I was seeing a psychiatrist, specialising in pain, once a week, in the final year of my undergraduate degree.
My relationship with my mental health, and therefore, my own self worth, have been turbulent to say the least.
Today, after a few days of low mood, fuelled by extreme fatigue and a to-do-list as long as my arm (I have a Marfan Habitus body type, so it’s long) I opened my letter for the first time in just over a year.
It reads like this, and I feel like if you switch out my name, there’s kind of a piece of advice in here for almost everyone:
This is just a letter in case you ever need a boost.
I just want to start with saying how proud I am of you, and how far you’ve come.
Secondly, I’m going to list some little pieces of advice:
. Always remember you are YOU
. Always keep pushing forward, no matter how long it takes you- as long as you get there, that’s the main thing
. No one is perfect
. No one has the right to treat you like you are inferior
Becca- You are not defined by grades, statistics, or labels. You are not your illness. You are you. You’re pretty funny, you’re caring and loyal to your friends and family, you’re determined and ambitious.
If people can’t handle you- from your ambitious nature to your illness- then they don’t deserve to be in your life.
If they left you when things got tough for you, then that’s their loss.
When things do get tough, the best thing you can do is be kind to yourself.
Run a bath. Eat some chocolate. Do some drawing– Close your essay down because that can wait- you can’t pour from an empty cup.
Even if it’s a pretty good day, still eat the chocolate or run the bath because you deserve to treat yourself either way!
It’s okay to hit pause on all the stuff that wants doing and to give yourself time to recuperate.
So, how is this going, 577 days later? (Thanks, google)
It’s never easy. But I am getting better everyday. Tiny steps.
I actually admit every-so-often that I work extremely hard, instead of being over humble, and that I am proud of what I’ve accomplished so far.
Doing my MA taught me so much about how my opinions are important, and that people actually want to listen to me (#shook)
I did a conference. I actually stood up, no audience adjustment, no “Oh it’s okay Rebecca, you don’t have to present” – I opted in to talking about my research for 10 whole minutes, with completely unscripted questions from an audience.
If only my high school teachers could see me now.
I’m essentially an embodiment of the positivity and hope in the letter above.
I’m going places.
Those who stuck/stick with me can see the change in me for the better, and I’m a damned good friend: those that didn’t stick around don’t matter
I don’t need their validation.
I am me.
My illness doesn’t define me, but me as a Disabled person does: be it activism, or academia.
You know what?
I’m bloody proud of that too! My Disabled identity is my badge of honour. Just as much as my northern working classness, or my feminism, or even my bisexuality- I went to my first pride this year!
And yeah, I’ve had a couple of rough days this week, because I feel like I’m currently at a “Creepy pasta Russian sleep experiment” exhaustion, but it’ll pass, and my levels will get back to my ‘normal’.
I do things in my own time: and I get them done. I went to uni a year or so later, because I dropped out of college the first time. And that’s okay, because at 16, very few people know exactly what they’re going to do with their lives.
It’s almost as though I have nothing to worry about- but also- I deserve chocolate and a hot bath. So I think I’m going to make a new to-do-list, and put the other on hold.