I hardly journal anymore—I’ve been turning to letters instead. So on Friday I emailed my mum and dad:

Hey folks, Mama and Papa, etc. etc.,

I’ve had a weird day, one of those days where it’s easier to have minimal outside-world contact—but I’ve been OK. DON’T WORRY OK?

Anyway, I’ve been reading a lot of stuff today, and I read through Dad’s emails and found one that he sent just after I got to university. It made me emotional, because when I came to uni, I wanted to be like everyone else—I made a conscious decision to tell as few people as possible about my history/mental health, etc. And that’s why it’s hard on days like today. Even with the people I have trusted enough to tell, Erica especially, it’s really hard to vocalise it, because they’ve never experienced those dark days with me. But you two have. So I wish I had you to pat me on the back and tell me I am doing well. Because I am doing well: I am in London, and I go to lectures and galleries on my own. But in my desire to be “normal” and to treat myself no differently than I would anyone else, I rarely acknowledge the fact that I have achieved so much.

Dad’s email reminded me how strong I am. I don’t tell myself that enough. I tell myself I SHOULD be doing this, I SHOULD be doing that, that life should be a breeze.

Uni has taught me that life is hardly a breeze for anyone. This makes me feel somewhat better, but worse at the same time. I am not “special”—other people get sad and have loads of shit to deal with too. But then I think that I should be better at dealing with my shit.

The past is always sort of there. I carry it around with me, and it makes me feel distant from some people. The memories are the worst. I cried a bit this evening, and it was sort of a happy cry because I realised I am here despite how shit last summer was. It was SHIT. And I have to find ways to deal with the fact that it was shit. I have to accept that it was shit. I have to accept that there has been a lot of shit in the past. And being in the past doesn’t mean it has gone away.

But other people only see what I am now. This is a complete catch-22, because that is how I want to be seen—it is more who I really am—but there are reasons why I feel or act the way I do sometimes. In fact, all of my past is the whole reason I am who I am NOW. I can’t separate the two. I can’t separate the two. How can I get them to be friends with each other?

I have been trying to remind myself that my anxiety is not my fault. It is an illness that I actually take medication to control, and I still can’t control lit 100 percent of the time. I live with it every single day, I am reminded of it every single day—it is part of my life. I am OK with that. But it is not the same as “just being sad.” It is not just an emotion that other people experience regularly. They might get a taste of it every now and again, but to put myself on the same playing field with everyone else does me a disservice. I need to remember that. I need to give myself a break.

There is more I wanted to write, but I am tired. My main point was actually going to be to thank you both for being there through all of that. Making a fresh start and having new friends is such a pleasure, but they don’t know me like you do. They just don’t know. And that is incredibly frustrating sometimes.

So this makes me miss you and also reminds me how much I love you and how much you have done for me.

Lots of love,