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Letter to My 19-Year-Old Self

Paper Nautilus
Community Member

Dear 19-year-old Jacqui,


You have just been diagnosed with Bipolar Disorder.  Right now you are grieving the loss of the person you always thought you would become.  That is natural.  There are things that you hoped to do that you will never do, but there will also be many things in store for you that you never imagined or dreamed of, some good, some bad.

Don’t be afraid to question your doctors, and the medication they prescribe to you.  It takes many years to find the right drug, combination of drugs, or the right dosages, and if you are plagued by side-effects, such as weight gain, don’t suffer in silence.  Speak up.  There is no one-size-fits-all drug to treat bipolar disorder.  Experiment.  There’s nothing wrong with being a human guinea pig if it means eventually achieving a better quality of life.

Be ambitious.  You are intelligent, creative and talented.  Your confidence in yourself is well-earned and genuine.  Not all ambitions are delusions of grandeur, and what may seem like crazy ideas won’t always be that crazy.

Not all excitement is hypomania, and not all sadness is depression.  You are allowed to experience the spectrum of human emotion without always second-guessing yourself and interpreting every feeling as a “warning sign” or something to be feared.  Allow yourself to feel.  It is a fundamental human right.

You may be told that creative or spiritual endeavours are just triggers to be avoided, and that indulging in these sides to yourself will always be a slippery slope down a dangerous path.  Don’t listen.  These things are a part of who you are.

You deserve to be loved, fully and completely and not just tolerated.  You are not a burden.  You are a joy, and a delight.  You are not ruining lives, you are enriching them.

Hyper-sexuality often comes with bipolar disorder, and it is nothing to be ashamed of. It is something to embrace and be proud of.

Throughout your life, you will have both successes and failures.  Not all of your failures will be because of your bipolar disorder, and not all of your successes will be despite it.

You are still the person you have always been.  Love yourself and let yourself be loved by others.


Yours faithfully and sincerely,

40-year-old Jacqui.

2 Replies 2

Valued Contributor
Valued Contributor

Hello Paper Nautilus.

This is a wonderfully intelligent & empathetic letter to your younger self. I can easily imagine your younger self would love to give you a big hug in return.




Community Champion
Community Champion

Paper nautilus

thanks for your letter. I was diagnosed at 16 nearly 59 years ago at a time when there was much stigma and little understanding.

once at 16 I was in my dads car and it was the 5th day he had taken me to school and I never got ot of the car. I felt so stupid and alone. All the other girls were were happy  I was stuck to the car seat . They had shiny hair ,mine was greasy and stuck to my head like licorice.

i would tell thst 16 year old I would get out of that car in a week and she would be ok . She would struggles .she would in her 40s help others by giving talks. She would be proud she live to her60s and helped others. 
Thanks for your letter.