I know you’ve just turned 18 and didn’t complete your A Levels. You’ve recently left residential inpatient mental health care, after your world fell apart and it feels like your life is over and has no direction, but I promise you that everything you’ve been through has served a purpose and life will get way better!
The A Levels, they didn’t matter in the end, and besides you never really enjoyed maths in any event! You go on to do an NVQ course and an apprenticeship, which after grafting as an office junior, introduces you to glamorous world of TV. You find your happy place, I know you always thought it was an unachievable world and just a pipe dream, but you work in telly and go on to work for Channel 4 of all places, where you eventually end up going to university to study Law – see your lack of A Levels were not a problem!
As for the mental health challenges, you’re not a ‘nutter’ so don’t let anyone tell you otherwise. You’re someone who has a condition that needs to be managed and as you get older shapes the person you grow into. It ends up being your superpower, it makes you a better lawyer, friend, mother and wife, because you develop the emotional intelligence and empathy that you got from going through those hellish times. I know you’re terrified to disclose to future employers that you had these difficulties, but you go on to talk about your mental health challenges openly to your entire company, in front hundreds of people, and they don’t judge you, they embrace your honesty and openness.
You’re not the weak person you always believed you were, and you become aware that being emotional is not a weakness. You can be tough and stand your ground, but you do it in a way that is measured. You’ve become better at channelling those emotions and using them to your advantage, rather than allowing them to become a runaway train.
You’ll make friends you never thought you would and have conversations that will change your entire perspective. Be open to such interactions as they can take time to flourish but it’s against this backdrop where you’ll achieve the most of your learning.
You stop wearing all black and develop a love of animal print – it does come back into fashion, honest. Your family finally accept that you can be professional and an eclectic dresser at the same time and people will still take you seriously!
Your eccentricities are what makes you, so while you bury them a bit at the start of your career, they come out and you find that at Channel 4 it is almost a prerequisite of employment.
It’s not all plain sailing, you’ll have relapses, periods of massive self-doubt and setbacks, but for every step back you continue to take two steps forward and learn from these blips.
You’ll also have some amazing moments, including working on a naked dating show, go on some lovely holidays, get married and have the most incredible daughter who inspires you every day.
Above all, don’t give up! Your life isn’t over, you can achieve your dreams. When you hit rock bottom, the only way is up. It’s not easy and you sometimes have to claw your way there, but you can go on to have an amazing job and family. I promise you that success is so much sweeter, the harder you have to work to achieve it.
The Albert Camus quote you have on your bedroom door in your family home to inspire you, rings true;
‘In the midst of winter, I found there was, within me, an invincible summer’
Your 38 year old self x
Ameila Wilson is an in-house lawyer at Channel 4 Television Corporation