Hello, psychiatrized me. I think you're around 21 here, and if I recall correctly, this photo was taken during a winter holiday while we were down visiting Grandma. You're heavily medicated, trying so hard to fit in, to participate in this ritual of "smiling for the camera." Man, I can recall that state of being like it was yesterday.
I remember what you're feeling behind that smile: the self-loathing, the fear, the emptiness. The sense that nothing really matters, that the purpose of life is to "manage"... I can feel what you're carrying in those tensed-up shoulders: the weight of so-called "incurable mental illness", the brutal recognition that you'll never be a full participant in this world.
You're still seven years away from trying to kill yourself; so much has yet to happen for you. Things have begun to unravel, for sure, but you're managing to hold your shit together just enough to survive this last year of college.
I'm sharing this with you because I'm writing about you now, for this memoir I'm working on called UNSHRUNK. From where you sit, you can't possibly imagine-- not in a million years-- that you'll one day be doing this, here, in this seat at this coffee shop where I'm typing these words on a sunny August day in 2019, mapping out your mental patient past and future. You can't imagine that you'll one day be free from all the labels and all those pill bottles you're holding so tightly onto, that you'll one day be immersed fully in your pain and your joy, connected to your body and heart and to the world around you, not afraid of yourself any more.
I love you, and it feels really fucking good to be able to tell you that you'll be okay.