My sister is three years younger than me and she’s just begun the school year that I was in when things really went downhill for my mental health. It’s one of the many things at the moment that is making me really reflect on the times I went through when I was her age.
It’s been weird the way I think about it. Having left school a year ago and so many things happening inbetween has given me a huge deal of distance between myself now and my breakdown. For the first time in a year, I’ve spent the summer not having at least a while every single day where I think about my breakdown – those days I didn’t get up, the anxiety that physically hurt me and the mind set that it was all fine. But when I do think about it now, it doesn’t hurt so much.
For a short time, I was internally angry with myself for having a mental breakdown, which is ridiculous. But it still happened. I was angry that I didn’t do as well as I could have done at school, I was angry that those years felt wasted and I was angry about the impact I’d had on my family. It is ridiculous for so many reasons, I can’t do anything to change it now. The most prominent reason, though, is that I wouldn’t be here – as happy as I am about everything in my life – today.
My mum always says “everything happens for a reason” and I think everyone is guilty of just saying “yes, mum” to things like that and moving on. After nearly 18 years, I’m not sure why I don’t listen to her all the time because she really is always right.
If I hadn’t had my breakdown and burnout, I would probably still be so unsure of myself, having meltdowns and hating myself for them instead of understanding, letting them happen and moving on. I’d still be autistic – like I was for nearly 16 years – without that diagnosis, I just wouldn’t know. I don’t think I’d like myself or have confidence in myself, nearly as much as I do now. I wouldn’t be able to have or appreciate the happiness I have today without having those terrible lows of the past. I probably wouldn’t have a job that I enjoy and love, I wouldn’t be making plans that typical teenagers make to go out like I am now, I wouldn’t have my wonderful friend who supports me and likes me for who I am, I wouldn’t be less scared to give things a go and have new experiences – I wouldn’t be the me that I am today.
Those years, while horrible at the time, created the person that I am today and honestly, I’d rather have a few horrible years as a teenager with the rest of my life in front of me than anything else. I know who I am, I like who I am and while I’m not happy I had those difficult years, I appreciate that they made me who I am.