My sitting here, at nearly 32, being who I am, and content with that -- happy, even -- is not the dramatic grand finale I would have envisioned when I was writing these pieces so many years ago.

The girl that wrote this work didn't imagine she'd live to see 20, let alone 30 and beyond, nor that she would do a million things in between, love many and most of all, learn to love and accept herself.

At 14, 15, 16, 17...even if you don't go through the things I did, time can feel like it slogs on. Days can feel like eternities, and when everything is going terribly wrong, when you're ill or depressed, when you're in crisis, it feels very much that you will never work your way out of it whole.

But most of us do. Not all of us. Some of us, like my boyfriend from that time, and like a few other friends and lovers I would have in my life, don't pull through. It's hard to say whether that is tragic or whether that is a simple fact of life: nothing is guaranteed and life can have some truly horrendous moments, which are even harder if you're young and don't know how to deal with them. But if you want to, you can. And most people can pull through.

But I know that for me, the best thing I ever did for myself was to learn to ask for help, and to accept it when it was given to me. It was also really helpful to stop bottling things and hiding them and let myself really feel my own pain. The next time someone tells you something "isn't so bad," you set them aside and decide that for yourself, and feel what you need to. Putting it aside only means you'll have to come back to it later, and it doesn't get easier.

And though it's taken a very long time, I've mended a lot of bridges -- namely with my family -- that I was certain could not be rebuilt. But they have been, though it's surely a long, slow process.

So, if you need help, reach out and ask for it. If you wait for someone to notice you're hurting silently, you're going to be in for a long wait. Just ask, and accept what others can give, and make good use of that help by doing the work YOU need to do for yourself as well. And while it may not feel that way, do look at something like this and try and see that even when it's at it's worst, things really can get better, and one day -- as sometimes I feel I have -- you might wake up and just be amazed at where you've come, and at how much easier it really was than you thought it'd be.

- Heather