Osher Günsberg penned an emotional letter to his 18-year-old self, which he read live on air this morning to mark RUOK Day.
The Hit radio host’s heartfelt missive tapped into everything from success to addiction and his struggles with mental illness, and ends with the one message a young Andrew G desperately needed to hear:
It’s all going to be okay.
Hello. I’m an older version of you. I’m very different to the person you are now. So different I even changed my name but you’ll find out about that in 2009.”
“You’ve just finished high school. I say finished because technically you did finish but you didn’t pass or anything. Right now you’re watching all of your school friends go through the adventures of first year university, and you’re feeling ashamed and honestly quite stupid that you’re not as smart as they are.
“You’re ashamed that you’re not smarter, you’re ashamed that you’re unemployed and you’re ashamed that you’re overweight. To top it off, the people that you thought were your best friends in the world are keeping an arms length from you, because you’re starting to act out and get pretty weird.
“You’re experiencing the early but significant signs of what will one day develop into a mental illness, which you will end up taking daily medication for, and I know it’s quite scary. But you think you’ve got it under control because you’re handling those intrusive thoughts and anxiety in the same time honoured way that Australian men have been dealing with mental illness for years, by drinking enormous amounts of alcohol.”
“You’re not going to believe me when I tell you, but here goes: I’m writing this to you six-and-a-half years sober. Reading this you’ve only tried weed and alcohol but you’re gonna give pretty much everything a go and pretty much everything will make you feel horrible and induce terrifying states of mind that you will barely escape from.
“But you’ll keep ingesting drugs and alcohol because you’re thinking all you have to do is keeping drinking and using and then, as if by magic, the party’s really going to start and you’ve finally arrived. You never do and it never does.
“All you’re going to do is permanently mess up your brain and make the symptoms that you’re trying to drink away worse and worse. You’re going to start drinking more and more until one day you’ll have a moment of clarity where you decide that facing life with the brain you’ve got is actually less frightening than your rapidly approaching yet inevitable demise.
“I’d tell you to stop drinking but you won’t. You tell yourself ‘You’re fine’, you’ll tell me ‘Stop worrying’ and ‘I’ve got it under control’. So I’m afraid there’s 18 more years of pain for you.
“Why would keep going then. You’re unemployed now and that’s going to happen twice more in your career. But don’t worry. Unemployed you You’re two years away from starting a successful career in broadcasting and I’m writing this 24 years later in a busy September where I’ve just wrapped up one of the five jobs that I currently do.
“I’m not gonna lie. The next half of your life is going to be hard and you’ll experience levels of fear that you didn’t know existed. But try not to worry. One day, it will get bad enough that you’ll eventually listen to you doctors. Follow their advice, because they’re right.
“Do what they tell you, when they tell you because I promise things will get better. One day you will live a lifestyle where you actually show yourself enough self care and self worth that you don’t wake up in crippling fear every morning.
“You’ll go from never ever wanting to have kids to falling in love with a woman that came into your life with a wonderful 12 year-old daughter. In fact, you fall in love with the both of them and you’ll experience a paternal instinct kick in that will completely shift your priorities and end up surrounding you with more love than you ever thought you deserved.
“Try to be nice to people as you go along. They’re only trying to help you.
“All my love, Osher.”
For free, 24-hour crisis support counselling, please call Lifeline on 13 11 14.