Dear 24-year old me,

I know that you are having a hard time with life right now. You are battling depression and anxiety and sometimes you literally don’t know how you are going to make it through the day. Your mind is full of doubt and racing with worry to the point of having panic attacks.

So you self-medicate and drink. And drink. And drink. You still make it to your 8-5 job with a smile on your face and manage to somehow make it through each day. But you are hiding the fact that you are so hungover from last night’s bar crawl that you have to run to the bathroom to vomit a few times. Your head was spinning during the morning meeting, but you played it off. Because that is what your life has turned into. One very large secret. Because you are so ashamed of the fact that you are facing this sickness. So you don’t tell anyone. You bottle it all up inside.

Now that I am a mom myself, I want to fill this letter with ALL the don’ts. With all the things that you shouldn’t do. With all the mistakes you will make and bad decisions you will think sound good at the moment. Because I wish I could have stopped you from making them.

But my children have taught me to have so much more compassion. And that talking out your issues is so much better than bottling them up and letting them boil over. If you were one of my sweet boys, I would tell you this.

Don’t drink EVERY. SINGLE. NIGHT. A drink now and then and a night out with friends is fine. But drinking until you pass out is not okay.

Don’t spend so much time at the bar looking for an answer to your loneliness in the bottom of an overpriced martini.

Don’t hide your feelings from your friends or family. There is no reason to be embarrassed. Depression is a sickness and they would have helped you through. Your mom will ALWAYS be by your side, no matter how bad you think you screwed up. So don’t think you let her down. All she wants is for you to be better. And she will look past the vomiting and drunken nights and bad decisions because she loves you more than life itself.

But the past is the past. And I can’t go back and change your bad decisions. What I can offer are some do’s. Because another thing I have learned as mom to my children is that asking your child to do something is so much easier than asking them to stop doing something else.

So listen to me now. And pay attention.

Do learn to love yourself. You are so young. You have so much offer. Yes, you are single twenty-something living in the city trying to navigate the corporate world and that is hard and stressful. But masking all your emotions with alcohol isn’t the answer.

Do reach out for help. Call your mom. Talk to your friends. Let yourself cry. Call your doctor. Find a therapist. DO SOMETHING.

Do realize that you are worthy of love. One day you will have an amazing husband and two adorable little boys. You aren’t supposed to have it all figured out right now. God has put you on this path for a reason. So that maybe in the future you can use your words and past experiences to help others.

Do learn that everything that happens in your life is a lesson. It might be a really shitty lesson learned the hard way, but it is a lesson. And that lesson will help you raise your little boys into strong men that aren’t afraid to talk about their feelings. As a mom now, the thought of one of my babies going through what you are going through absolutely breaks my heart into a million tiny pieces. And I don’t ever want my children to experience that. So I will teach them that even though they are boys (and one day men), they can talk about their feelings. They can cry. They can feel. And that is NOTHING to be ashamed of.

Lastly, do realize that this won’t last forever. There is a light at the end of the tunnel. Your mind will go to the darkest places. And I know it’s scary. I know you feel so lonely. I know that you doubt you will ever be happy again. But one day, your life will be filled with so much joy. Things take time. You will get the help you need just in time. And when you do, your life will change in the most beautiful way.

I wish that I could take 24-year old me and wrap her in the biggest Mama bear hug and kiss her on the forehead and reassure her that life is worth living. Because I know that is what you needed. The chance to sob and be held by someone who truly understands.

But I can’t do that. All I can do is write you this letter ten years later. I wish you could have read it then.

Until Next Time,