To Emma, Love from Emsky

Emma Louise Cheetham by Emma Louise Cheetham Additional Needs

Emma Louise Cheetham

Emma Louise Cheetham

I live in Stockport, UK. I have Borderline Personality Disorder and Generalised Anxiety Disorder. After years of therapy and getting back on my fee...

First of all, 15 years from now you’ll despise your name, you don’t like it much now I know but by then you’ll rarely introduce yourself as Emma, unless you absolutely have to in some sort of official capacity. It’ll either be Em, Emz or Emsky.

You’ve had a rough time so far I know but believe me your biggest challenges are yet to come.

I know you’ve had a real issue with school, I know you weren’t being awkward not wanting to be there.

You had a deep-rooted fear of school, of authority, of feeling trapped in a situation you couldn’t easily remove yourself from. Believe me, you’ll explore those issues later on and you’ll learn a lot about yourself.

Don’t be too hard on yourself; you survived those early years and you’re now trying to figure out what you want to do with your life.

Don’t get too excited though, five years from now life is going to hit a major bump in the road, it’s going to completely derail you off this path that you think you’re heading.

You want to have a nice house and car, be married and have had your first child by the time you’re 25?

Your dream life is going to remain just that; a dream.

But guess what? In 15 years time, you’ll still be here, you’ll be surviving and at times thriving.

You’ll be fighting a daily battle with your mental health, but more importantly, you’ll be fighting for your son.

Yes, you heard me correctly. You’re going to have a son.

It’s not going to be when you wanted to and it’s definitely not going to be how you’re imagining it to be right now. But you’re going to create the most amazing, beautiful, resilient little human.

When you first lay eyes on him you’ll realise that true love is real.

Let’s go back, or in this case, forward in time.

So you’ll go to college. You won’t like it though, remember the whole not liking school/authority thing? Yeah, that’s still there.

Give it a couple of months and you’ll have given it up. You’ll go to General Physics instead (don’t worry it’s nothing to do with science), it’s a training provider who offers additional support for those who maybe left high school without good grades or in your case, don’t have the confidence to go out into the big wide world and get a job.

They’ll put you in a six-week placement, only you being you will stay there for almost 18 months. They’ll help you get a permanent full-time paid job though and for a while, you’ll be happy.

You’ll spend the last couple of your teenage years acting a little recklessly.

Not too recklessly though, you won’t get into drugs or get arrested. You’ll just make some unusual choices and then look back on your life wondering what on Earth you were thinking. Don’t worry though, it happens to the best of us.

You’ll unexpectedly settle down into a relationship a lot earlier than you’re imagining right now.

Look around your close circle of friends. Yes, really. I know it’s hard to believe that you’d settle down in a romantic relationship with any of your chums but it happens.

I’ll leave that one with you though to figure out who the chosen one will be.

You’ll suffer one of your biggest losses just three months after you turn 21 years old. This will be the beginning of your, shall we say, new life?

I say new because 15 years from now you’ll be a very different person from the young lady you are now.

Somebody will even tell you that the events mentioned later in this letter will change you forever.

He will tell you that you won’t ever be the same again and he will be right.

So here is where things start to go wrong.

CJ, your cat, your best friend, your ever faithful companion since you were nine years old. I hate to tell you this but she won’t be around forever.

You don’t need me to tell you now that when the time comes for her to leave you’re going to be heartbroken. I wish I could tell you it’ll be a peaceful passing but I can’t.

She’ll leave you suddenly and unexpectedly. She’ll go without you having a chance to say goodbye.

It won’t be her time to go, she’ll be taken from you by a careless driver. You’ll cry more tears than you’ve ever cried at that point in your life.

You’ll wonder how you’ll ever recover from the pain, the grief of losing this beautiful creature.

You’ll never come to terms with it but you’ll adjust. People will tell you to get over it, she was “just a cat” - ignore them. They don’t understand.

You’ll find a way through the darkness and she won’t haunt your thoughts on a daily basis. You’ll be able to look back and think of the happier times.

You’ll smile; a tear may silently fall when you look at her picture, especially on her anniversary but you will be okay.

Now, I need you to listen to me.

Remember earlier when I mentioned the major bump in the road? Well, I say a bump, it’s more of a full on pile-up.

It’s going to hit you so hard that there’ll be days where you feel like you can no longer go on.

You’ll be plagued by suicidal thoughts and self-harm ideation on a daily basis.

You’ll spend a lot of time in the hospital. You’ll be left with scars. Physical scars that will be there for the world to see.

There will also be a million deep-rooted emotional scars that only the few who you choose to show will see.

You’ll feel as though your life is crumbling like everything is slipping away and you’re powerless to stop it.

You will lose your job. You will develop agoraphobia. You will spend weeks in a mental health unit.

You will spend six months at home without once stepping outside the front door. Following this, you won’t leave the house alone for three years.

You’ll be diagnosed with borderline personality disorder. You will become so fearful of public transport it will take you almost four years to get back on a bus after a huge panic attack affects you greatly.

You will watch friends who were once so close to you walk out of your life as you’re incapable of stopping them.

You will struggle to maintain relationships with your family including your significant other as well as your closest friends.

All within less than five years.

Are you scared yet?

Don’t be. Just bear with me.

You’ll discover strength in yourself that you never thought possible. You will find a way through the dark days with the help of your friends and family.

One thing I need you to realise and remember; those struggles, they will shape you into somebody with so much empathy and love for others.

Sometimes you’ll feel like your whole world is crumbling and you cannot do anything to stop it, but you will push on regardless because you are stronger than you believe.

You’ll go into therapy and it will bring you back from the edge. You will meet others who are Just. Like. You.

You won’t always feel so alone, you won’t always be wondering if you belong.

You will find your place and you will own it. This one particular therapy will save your life. You’ll go from strength to strength and you’ll use your heartache and experiences to help others.

You’ll look back and wonder how you ever made it through. You’ll smile with pride. You will realise you did good. You’ll see that you worked hard to get through it, even when it all seemed too difficult.

You will become free of self-harm and you will find the light at the end of the tunnel you thought for so long had gone out.

I promise.

Life will be nice for a while. I say nice because it will be a rollercoaster, some days will be amazing (like when you finally get to meet Noel Sullivan!) Some will be so dark (including losing one of your closest friends to suicide.)

You will adjust and you’ll learn to plod on regardless. You’ll find your own normal and you’ll accept your flaws as being a part of who you are. You’ll be settled in life.

At least until 2018.

Now, I don’t really want to write this to you, but you need to know what the future has it store.

At least until a quarter of the way through 2019, I can’t go much further than that at this moment in time. Sorry.

As I said earlier you’re going to become a mum to an amazing little boy.

Calm down, I know the excitement will be tearing through you at this moment in time because it’s all you’ve wanted since forever, but you need to hear me out.

It’s going to be so hard, harder than you ever imagined. Not because of dirty nappies or sleepless nights, you’ll learn to cope with them quite quickly.

Your baby is going to be born with complex needs. It’s going to be your biggest test to date.

It’s going to test every part of you and then some. Your physical and emotional well-being will be pushed beyond their limits. You will feel a huge range of emotions, some you will never have felt before your baby was born.

But your determination and strength will shine through as you face each day, each challenge, each fight head-on with your baby.

You’ll be his voice, his advocate, his nurse, his therapist, his teacher, but never ever forget amongst all of that, you will first and foremost, be his mum.

He will love you, even on the days when you feel so unloveable.

It’ll be hard but try to worry less and smile more. You will have what you always wanted albeit not how you would’ve hoped or imagined. But you will realise further down the line how lucky you are that he is here.

He’s going to be resilient, just like his mummy. Remember, you will be his world and he needs you.

So you will have to keep pushing through the difficult times, no matter how impossible a situation seems, I can almost guarantee things won’t turn out as bad as you imagine.

Stay strong, stand tall and proud, smile plenty, love always, never become complacent, accept change.

Forgive, listen, learn, be curious, be grateful, be patient, be kind. Don’t have regrets, never let anybody make you feel that you are not good enough, remember you’re not alone and more important than anything else;

Never give up.

From older, not-necessarily-wiser Emsky x


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