A Letter to My Younger Self

Life is not over. You just hit a bump in the road. No one plans on getting sick. You cannot account for how an illness might derail your life.
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I bought this book, but haven't read it yet. The concept is that you write a letter to your younger self, giving the advice you wish you would've received at the time. Here's my letter. I've chosen to write to myself after my first hospitalization when I was working at a Newark, NJ, charter school.

Dear Krystal circa 2008 (age 25),

Life is not over. You just hit a bump in the road. No one plans on getting sick. You cannot account for how an illness might derail your life.

I know you write your life in pen. You are a planner. You're meticulous that way. I get it. It's one of the things I love about you. But you have to learn that you cannot plan every minute of every day. Learn to become flexible. Trust me. You'll thank me later.

I know you are disappointed that you did not graduate from Rutgers on time. I know it is hard to see all your Duke friends living fabulous lives. To see them in medical school or law school. To see them on track with their goals. You'll get there one day. I promise.

Do not lose sight of your own goals. Yes, you went to graduate school to become a teacher. But working as a teacher's assistant and substitute teacher is not the end of the world. Observe. Hone your craft. You can learn a lot by watching others teach. I know you will view the two years you spent at the Newark charter school as a waste. But don't. You learned a lot about yourself. You learned that even though you had your heart and mind set on teaching in Newark, urban education is not for you. This does not mean that you are not "down for the cause." There are other ways to give back. The cause is not more important than your sanity. You can't make a difference if you are depressed.

Be kind to yourself. Don't beat yourself up over the $10,000 in credit card debt. In a few years your credit will recover.

It will take you two years to finish four papers. It is hard to do school work when your job is so toxic and you are depressed. But push through. Finish the degree. As your therapist says, you don't have to become a teacher, just finish the degree. I know the real reason you are not working on your degree: You fear that teaching will cause you to become depressed again. In your mind, you have connected your depression in 2006 with your student teaching. The two are not connected. Yes, the student teaching was a trigger. But you can learn to manage your triggers. You will learn bipolar disorder inside and out. You will become attuned to how you act when a manic episode is looming. You will learn how to manage. I promise.

I just wanted to say that I love you. So very much.

June 2014 (age 30)