Dear young Jess
You’ll probably be surprised to know that you made it to 27 (and counting)! You have held down a job for many years and have turned into quite an ambitious person which will probably also surprise you. You’ve been to university, passed, and still love Geography. You are quite a massive bookworm now, and actually enjoy a bit of English literature every now and then.
You’ve also done a lot of things which would surprise you, but then maybe they wouldn’t. You’ve drunk a large amount of alcohol (haha!) and took up smoking (now on the ecigs). Back then you would never have dreamed of smoking, and would give your parents a hard time for it, but you also don’t feel bad any more about it.
Some things haven’t changed though. I suffer from anxiety ‘now’ but this was always a large part of your life without realising it. You would be nervous getting on the bus to go to college, and not staying in contact with friends would eat you up big time. You would read each message over and over again to ensure the right meaning was given and wouldn’t offend anyone. Sometimes you wouldn’t reply for fear of being misjudged or might cause someone to be upset with you. At the very worst you would go into a shell for a few weeks and not respond to anyone during that time. No essays would get done and that would just make things worse. Sitting there for hours on end in front of your laptop trying to write, would turn into no sleep, further anxiety and stress. Your friends would tell you off for not keeping in contact but as much as you tried, it wouldn’t work.
If I could tell you something now which would have eased your university years; it would be that you are suffering from anxiety. What you are feeling is extremely normal with a mental illness such as anxiety and you should get proper help. Counselling doesn‘t work for you and you need to seek further help from the doctor. You are extremely stubborn, but also don’t know there is medical reason for the things you are doing/feeling. You cry a lot randomly with no explanation but this is also the anxiety making you tearful and frightened.
Try and open up with people a bit more. Anxiety can be such a lonely experience because you never let anyone in to talk about it. It is hard work I’ll give you that, but take tiny baby steps at a time. You’ll be surprised at the number of people around you who also suffer from some sort of mental illness. Everyone is different but there are qualities and symptoms that you feel that others also feel. You even got a high 5 from a colleague a few months ago from posting something on Facebook about it. He said “big up on getting over anxiety”. I haven’t got over it but that feeling of accomplishment actually telling him, but also his reaction, meant everything to me.
Try not to drink to ease the feelings of anxiousness. Looking back now I know this is what I was doing. It wouldn’t be every day but it was never far from your mind. I feel bad saying this now but I’m admitting it which is hard. You would drink a lot but because you were a student that was about being involved. Starting a job after university was a big transition and that should have been the moment things changed. But they didn’t and it’s no biggie.
You have some really close friends now who mean a lot to you, and you to them. Don’t worry about that, as I know you would in my younger self. You’ve had a lot to deal with but now you wouldn’t change it for the world. You have an awesome, if not strange, family and a boyfriend of 2 years who also helped you along the way.
The most important thing to understand is that you aren’t alone, as much as you might think you are! Spend more time on yourself as you know you don’t do this enough. Learn meditation or relaxation techniques to calm you and sleep much better. Talk to your friends about your feelings; as much as you might hate it. If speaking to friends is too hard – join a forum or speak to your doctor.
You are going to make it!