If only you knew then

I have been working with Trimbos Moldova since 5 years. With a bunch of inspiring people, from Moldova and all over the world, we transform Mental Health Programs in Moldova into effective teams/projects/institutes/community mental health centers.

Yesterday, Constanta Popa, asked me to write a letter to my younger self. Because today is World Mental Health Day. I must admit, I hesitated posting this letter. But, I hope it helps people to maybe understand what has happened to them, like I realized what happened to me, when I was young and how I became the person I am now.

If only you knew then

If only you knew then what you know now. Life would have been a lot easier. And quicker.

You would not have been in the dark, thinking about your destination in life, until your late 30’s. You would have known that it’s very worthwhile, for your own personal mental health, to leave a problem where it is at. With the owner of it.

Anyway, I know it’s easy talking for a man that has reached 60. I know it’s not easy to grow up with family members who have mental health issues and a tendency towards addiction. But, I ask you this: would you have done the same, knowing at that age what you know now, what you did not know then?!

I sometimes wish that I had your young body again. I could run the 10K in less then an hour again. I could play football and tennis again. I could show off to impress the girls. To be honest, I will never trade my gained wisdom for any of that anymore. I do not envy you.

Because I know what you have to go through, not having a sense of how to give direction to your life. How you kill the pain inside by drinking, by smoking tobacco and marijuana. How you just can’t cope with the love that people have for you. How you scare them away, because you feel helpless being vulnerable. How you lay awake in the night, out of the fear that you inherited your mothers vulnerability for depression. How you keep on your coat in the class room, because you do not feel in place.

How you break up relationships because of the fear that others will do that to you. How you decorate your room with nothing, because you are ready to move out the next day.

I do not envy you. But I understand. And it’s OK.

I want you to know that there is a reason for feeling what you feel right now. That these feelings are OK, but they don’t have anything outstanding with the promise, the gift of life that was given to you the day you were born. Along the way you just forgot how it all started. You have become overwhelmed by circumstances. Events that should not be part of a young boys life. They don’t belong to you. They belong to other people. So, stop finger pointing.

I want to let you know that you are good as you are. Some people just need more time to become the person they want to be. One out of four people know somebody within their environment who is not doing well. You are not alone.
Get into the world. To unknown places. Alone. Away from your so- called routines. You know all about being alone. Cherish it. You are responsible, nobody else. Stop watching TV. It’s fake news. Talk to people. Have meaningful conversations. Read books. Practice what you learned. Rehears the gained skills. Read again. Rehears again. Make mistakes.

If I make more mistakes than you, I win.

You are good enough for this world, despite the fact that you doubt this. You can take of your glasses and your coat. Wherever you are is called Here.

There is a crack in everything. That’s how the light gets in. (Leonard Cohen). Like in your picture.

Take Care, Rokus 🍀


  1. Hello Rokus,
    Net je mooi geschreven bovenstaande text met tranen gelezen.. zo herkenbaar. Misschien zal ik ook ooit een brief naar mezelf / younger self schrijven.

  2. Dank je wel Alice. Dat is een prachtig compliment. En ja, ik kan het je aanraden: eens in de zoveel tijd een brief aan jezelf schrijven. Het gaat je helpen. 🕊❤️


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