Circles & Side: to My Teenage Self

Aged around 15: I'm the one on the right.

Aged around 15: I’m the one on the right.

Eh up, young me:

It’s high school graduation time in the States, exam time in England, which is probably what brought you to mind.

Why mention England? You live there now. It’s part of what happens when you marry your British pen pal.

Have you stopped laughing yet? Then here’s a bit of advice:

1) You know how Mom was always after you to practice the piano? Make your old mum happy, and do it.

2) Whilst you’re at it, take up guitar. You can ask Kathy and Corrine for some pointers. Whilst you’re at it, ask Corrine where she got that “Go Steady with a Strawberry” sticker. It’s pretty cool.

3) Yes, you say “love” now, and “whilst”. You also say “cool”. It came into fashion again.

4) Whilst on the subject of hobbies, ask Dad for lessons in DIY, and Romanian. He’ll probably be well chuffed, and they’re both skills that would come in dashed handy.

5) You also say “chuffed” and “DIY”, though where that “dashed handy” business came from, gods only know.

6) You’re probably still in your “trash television” phase, wherein you watch every bit of shite that crawls across the screen. Keep watching. You heard me: keep watching. Because this is going to happen, and it’s going to be fab:

Young love, last love: Detroit, mid 80s

Young love: Detroit, mid 80s

7) Ready for some bad news, good news? You’re going to be diagnosed with manic depression – later rebranded as bipolar – and have several truly miserable stays in psychiatric hospital.

You’ll also lose friends; strain your relationships with your husband, and parents; send your finances up the swanee; get fat, and literally fall asleep at your desk. (Thank you, side effects.)

“Great!” I hear you say. “What’s the good news?”

For starters, you’ll leave office work for mental health, where you’ll meet lots of interesting, beautiful people. You’ll also get involved in Time to Change, and Time to Change Leeds, where you’ll also meet loads of great people.

And you’ll write: this blog, short stories, poems, a part of a novel, even a song. I know you already write a bit. That will continue to be a part of your life – sometimes greater, sometimes lesser – for all the years to come.

Trust me: becoming bipolar, and trying to find your way through it, is going to open up those writing floodgates like you’ve never seen – or dreamed – before.

8) Fact: you’re going to lose people you love: to distance, death, estrangement, the parting of ways, etc. And it’s going to hurt like hell.

9) Another fact: The circle really does only have one side.

Enjoy your youth, and early middle age, as best someone with depression can. We’ll chat again: about becoming vegetarian, and Pagan, and how – against everything Mom ever said – sometimes people go from conservative, to liberal, as they age.

Go on, laugh like a drain.

Bemused in black and white: Doncaster, late 80s/early 90s.

Bemused in black and white: Doncaster, late 80s/early 90s.





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