BON VOYAGE

Letter to a youngster in pain

På min resa träffade jag en flicka, en intelligent men tyst och trött flicka. Späd som en fågelunge men med en uppenbar styrka och integritet. Hon var svårt deprimerad.
 
Hon fick mig att vilja stanna där, bara prata och krama och vara tills hon verkligen verkligen förstod att det kommer att kunna bli bra. Det var inte min sak att göra, inte denna gång, inte nu. Om det är något jag lärt mig på min egen resa är det att man bäst hjälper andra genom att hela sig själv.
 
Men hon finns kvar i mina tankar, säkert delvis för att det finns så mycket jag vill säga till mitt eget tonårsjag. Jag har skrivit ett brev, kanske skickar jag det, kanske inte. Kanske kan orden komma till användning för någon tonårsflicka eller någon tonårspojke, eller någons inre tonåring som fortfarande smärtar.
 
Dear E,
 
I don´t know you. I will never tell you I understand. I will never tell you I know how you feel. Your hell is yours and yours alone.
I do see your pain, feel it, but not the way you do so I can´t understand. Maybe, not even you will fully understand. Our mind is a very complex thing. And with great abilities come great vulnerabilities. Yours are yours, and yours alone. You got them and they will cause you all sorts of things. People will fall in love with them, people will admire them, people will think they get them and then be disappointed when they´re wrong. Your great abilities and vulnerabilities will make you proud, will make you tired, will make you interesting, will make you frustrated, and above all they will make you, you.
 
Even though I don´t understand your pain, I´ve had my own. I still have pain, it´s a human thing. What I want to share is, that what was once absorbing is now not. It is gentler and even at times a resource. I was once a person in pain, I´m now a person with pain.
 
There is not one truth, but there is personal experience. This is what I have to say about it based on mine;
1. It´s a very serious thing!
First time I met my therapist she said something that changed my life, she said: if you are in pain that is a very serious thing, you only have one life and with that pain you can not enjoy it. I replied; but I have everything, I have parents who love me, I have talents, I have opportunities, I should not be in pain, I should be grateful. She said: I does not work like that, the pain is real and I want to help if you want to work. So I did.
2. Work on the pain not the symptoms.
I stayed with the same therapist for a long time and one of the things she said early on really changed the way I though about myself. I´ve been telling her that people around me called me sensitive all the time, and that I felt diminished by it. She asked; why do you think they call you sensitive? I thought about it for a while and answered; I guess it´s because I cry easily. She said; don´t they ask you why you cry? My inner answer was no, they didn´t. And they are not bad people, it´s just that in their world they could only see symptoms and they could´t imagine the pain. Not because they didn´t love me, it was just not an ability of theirs, then and there.
3. Maybe something happened that causes you the pain, maybe not.
The best way to find out is to find a pro to help you figure it out. If you had cancer or some physical shit, you would want a pro doing your tests and treatment. Give your mind the same respect. And trust me on this, you can still be in serious pain even if there is not one particular trauma to point out. And it´s no ones fault, neither you or your parents chose your gene pool.
4. Your vulnerabilities is part of you, but the pain that they cause is not.
That´s confusing. Yeah, it took me a while to figure that one out. What I mean is your brain is set up in a way that make you react and feel certain ways. But! You can learn to see this and sort among reactions and feelings to see which ones you really think is you and what´s just wired “wrong” in your opinion. If the wrong wired reactions or feeling occur to often, I´m sure there is meds you can try. But a lot of them you can just learn not to be absorbed by. Like accepting your vulnerabilities, get to know them and you don´t need to be owned by pain the may cause.
5. Try meds, if advised to do so.
Always together with therapy and advised by a psychiatrist. Don´t try them to run from yourself. Try them to understand yourself and correct wires you think have been wrongly wired. Be careful, take notes, consider side effects and weigh them against effects. But, you need to do the talking too, of this I am convinced. Meds are not a shortcut it´s an aid.
6. Walk, run, jump, dance.
Whatever you can make yourself do. It´s just the way it is, a body in movement is better for the mind than a passive body. The sooner you accept that , the better. Oh, and just as with the meds, don´t use the exercise thing to run from pain or yourself. If you have pain, you´re probably smart enough to know the difference between constructive and destructive here :)
7. Figure out what you NEED to find sparks of energy.
Time alone? Social stimuli? Outdoors? Indoors? Intellectual challenge? Brainrest?
No matter what you figure out, therapy, walks, talks and routines is ALWAYS a good idea.
8. Accept and respect yourself.
You can change a lot of things you don´t like, some you just need to accept, and some you will learn to love and use. Keep your focus on the goal, to accept and respect yourself (I think that is easier to wrap your head around than to love yourself).
9. Food, sex and other drugs.
Selfmedication is not necessarily a bad thing, like finding out what kind of food that makes you feel better is a good thing. Alcohol or other drugs can be a comfortable break, but it´s almost always a very short term relief that can fuck up a lot of hard work. And often great abilities and vulnerabilities makes you a good candidate for becoming addicted to all sorts of shit. Be careful, ey.
11. Love and be loved.
But don´t expect love, romance, family or friendship to solve anything. I´m sorry, but only you can. Expecting anything else is expecting too much. But choose to put energy into relationships that is more constructive than destructive for the work you´re doing.
12. Give yourself a break.
So you did not choose the vulnerabilities that causes you pain. You do not deserve it. Deal with it the best you can. And when you fail, forgive yourself quickly and try again.
13. Don´t you dare be ashamed.
Mental vulnerabilities should be talked about and treated with the same respect as physical. Anyone who´s not doing that is ignorant, stupid or just old fashioned in a very bad way. That includes you. (If you fail see no 12).
14. Remember.
With your set of vulnerabilities comes your own set of unique abilities. Enjoy them.
15. Don´t give up.
 

Be brave, OK?!
 
/ Linda