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What would you tell your younger self?

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Wouldn't it be nice to turn back the clock, travel back in time and give some frank advice to your younger self?

We asked 11 SANE Peer Ambassadors what they'd tell their younger self to help them through their mental health journey. They said...

You will be loved

You are not only going to be an award winning artist but you will also publish academic work, attain a university scholarship and head towards thesis stardom.

The kids will love you as you are, warts and all and will most likely complain about the veggies, rather than you spending the day in your pyjamas.

Love is unconditional from many people but you will also lose friends and family who cannot cope with your diagnosis and that's okay. People will react differently to mental health challenges and what it means, and it has nothing to do with you.

– Maree

You are strong

Don't panic! This is not the end… it's the beginning. You're going to learn a lot about yourself and others, in fact you'll never stop learning. You're a stronger person than you think… don't be afraid to grow stronger.


You will recover if you want to

You can recover and change if you want it more than anything else and work harder than ever for it.


Learn about your symptoms

Go and see doctors and therapists. Educate yourself properly, don't rely on Dr Google, and make active decisions. It's your life and you can help you. It's scary and it's hard but pretending it's not happening is a whole lot worse.

But, I fear that in the headspace I was in, I had to hit rock bottom to get through. I don't know if I would have listened to my older-self apparition.


Focus on your dreams not your illness

Take a deep breath. You are going to be alright. Life will go on with a few minor adjustments that will need to be made to manage your illness.

You can lead a full and meaningful life just like other people. Focus on what you want to do with your life and your dreams or goals and don't focus on the illness.

Know that the illness is only one small part of who you are. You are not the illness. There are other illnesses that could impact on your life more. The illness is manageable by looking after yourself and with the support of other important people.

People do recover from mental illness. It is not a life sentence.


Don't forget about your physical health

Learn as much as you can about the illness and how to manage it. Don't rely on medication as your sole strategy. Question your doctors and ensure they pay attention to your physical health along the journey.


It will be a long journey

This is the first step on a very long journey, and it will take a lot of work to learn how to deal with life's weirdness. The sooner you get started, the better.


It is going to be alright

At times the journey toward recovery will be hard, challenging, frightening and frustrating. But it will be alright.


You can do it all

Don't worry - you will finish that university degree, have friends, travel, a great career, three children and some really significant relationships. Yes, you will be able to do it all and manage a mental illness.


You're stronger than you realise

You will survive, you will triumph and you will be a more well-round, empathetic and wise person and doctor as a result of your experiences. Hang in there - you're stronger than you realise!


For more information about complex mental illness, call the SANE Help Centre on 1800 187 263, or you can view SANE's Facts + Guides for concise information on the symptoms, diagnosis and treatments available.

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