On the Internet, there are hundreds of letters to your younger self at a particular age or milestone in their life. As my path is different, I thought I would write a letter to myself at the aged 13, shortly after getting a diagnosis (M.E/CFS). I didn’t want to sound indulgent, but I really needed someone who had M.E/CFS that was older to tell me it was possible to live and be ill at that time. I was in a much better situation when I was newly diagnosed to where I am now. But this would be what I would tell myself all those years ago.
Dear Newly Diagnosed,
Life is pretty overwhelming these days, I’m glad to tell you this passes. The most important things you can do right now listen to the advice you are given and see if it works for you as an individual. It’s a scary time and I’m sorry to say I won’t be giving you a plan or blueprint to follow. All I can say is to focus on you and not on what everyone else is doing. Take help when you need it, I know you don’t like to but it’s your health. Someone once said, “Health is the crown the healthy wear, which only the ill can see.” This I strongly agree with, so try to take care of yourself, from the food you eat to how you interact with people.
The road ahead of you looks terrifying and unknown. But try to remember even individuals executing a plan don’t know what the future holds. You. You are the focus you should have; because let’s face it, the only person you can compare yourself to is your future and past self. No one is you, therefore; it cannot be a comparison. You will find your strength, and through the challenges, you will face, your strength will get you through. Trust me.
Time is my next piece of advice. Time will be in a paradox situation for you as it already is. You will feel left behind, yet like time is on fast forward. Time is something precious and something to savour don’t get me wrong. But you have time, time to have adventures, and time to work out your game plan. You have been given the gift of knowing what is important at such a young age that you’ve already ahead in some respects. No day is wasted remember that.
Lastly, listen to your body and how you think you need to get through life. There will be times when your Mum will be right on this matter and times when you are right. Take the mistakes as learning and know better for next time. Trust your instincts and the rest is a puzzle to work out.
Even though the illness and the lack of understanding you face are isolating; know that you have amazing support all around you. With that support, you can do anything.
Keep going and life will work out in the end.
Your Future Self
P.S I’m happy, just in case you were wondering.
What advice would you give your newly diagnosed self?