A letter to myself in depression

*Depression is a horrible situation to be in. The writing below is what I said to myself. It is no way meant to undermine anyone’s struggle with mental health. It was just what I needed to hear to get me over the last hurdle towards recovering. I sought out help, talked to people about it and got meds. That was enough to get me moving. If reaching out hasn’t helped you, then you have my sympathy. Depression is a terrible place to be stuck. I wish you well on your journey and hope you find what you need.*

Charlie,

The past has been washed in darkness. Any moments of joy have been pushed out of sight. Any moments of love have been shaded from the light. The moments of connection have evaporated into the ether from which they came. But that doesn’t mean they didn’t happen. It doesn’t mean that the past was all bad. The thought that it was is a fabrication. It isn’t a mirror. It is a product of the illness. It is a false reality it wants you to believe is true. To make you think the future will be just as bleak. That to keep walking is pointless. That what you are fighting is a losing battle. That suicide is not an easy option but the only option. But you know it is a lie.

You didn’t walk through the hell of addiction to give up on yourself. You didn’t face your demons to gain freedom only to throw it away. You didn’t reach out to friends, relatives, therapists and a god you don’t believe in just to say “Fuck it!” You didn’t attend the counselling and try the meds, just to give up. Get the thought out of your head. Life is fucking tough. It is a lot tougher for a lot of people. I know saying that doesn’t help but it is the truth. I know that you have gratitude for your life but still, the shadow haunts you. The fact that you got this far carrying the darkness is incredible. Living in your head for a day is tiring. You are doing impeccably. I know you won’t believe me. You never do. But it is true. I also know that the fluffy approach won’t work on its own. You appreciate the help but you need an old fashion boot up the arse. You have to take action. You are going to have to stand up and stop wallowing. Life is short as fuck. Do you want to spend it lying in bed trying to cure your thinking with thinking? Or do you want to try and change it? If you think there is no point then you are free. If there is no point then make a point. If you think it’s bad then talk to people who do have it bad. Help out. Altruism saved you last time. There are people out there who could use your help. They need your help. And you need theirs. You are not lost. You can pick any road you want.

You are in hell. But now’s the time to start walking back. You have so much to offer. I know you don’t believe it but it is needed. Don’t waste it.

Tomorrow, you make a change. You change a bit of your diet or your routine. You do something to break the cycle. To disrupt the rut you’re cutting by plodding around waiting to be saved. No saviour is coming. There are people to help but they can’t fix it. They can’t chase the clouds away. You have to keep pushing forward. You always will. This motherfucker ain’t going anywhere. It’s with you. It’s always been with you. BUT IT DOESN’T HAVE TO DEFINE YOU. Shit man, you thought you were going to die on a barstool. LOOK WHAT YOU DID. You had the strength to change it. Yes, it’s hard. Yes, lying in bed, feeling like your being hollowed out, is agony. In emotional and physical pain. Crying in the fetal position wishing for anything to take the feeling away. I know it isn’t pleasant. I know talking about it takes the power out of it but doesn’t clear it completely away. Escapism works. But it is only temporary. You have a constant black cloud in every blue sky. So what. Stop running. FIGHT. You may fall. You may fail. But that’s what it’s all about. Fall down seven times get up eight. I can hear it already “but what if I can’t get up anymore?” Fuck that voice. That isn’t you. You will get up. You do each time. It’s time to help others up. That’s what these hardships are for. To understand. To say “I understand.” Good job you always liked learning the hard way. Acceptance is key here. You suffer or help the suffering. The lesson is to share your experience. It is imperative.

There is no magic here. Acceptance. Coping mechanisms. Doing the things that keep you well. Some days will be better than others. Some days will be bliss some will be tough. Take the rough with the smooth. Stop expecting perfection. That way, you won’t be disappointed when you don’t reach the unreachable. It just is what it is. It isn’t bad. It isn’t great. It just is.

Remember, YOU ARE ENOUGH. There is no missing piece. There is no one to complete you. No product that will give fulfilment. They are complements to your life. But they can’t complete you. You have the answer. Repeat, I am enough. Repeat it until you believe it. Stop comparing yourself to illusions. Pegging perfection as the norm and then measuring your life against it is the death of contentment. It is the quicksand that pulls you back into the darkness. It is a dungeon of your own making. It might feel like you keep getting knocked down but it doesn’t mean you’re out! “Fall down seven. Get up eight.” Getting up each time gets harder. Each time you say “I can’t do this anymore.” Then, there is a fleeting moment of positivity. A flash of colour back in the world. A moment where it is okay for a minute. Before the darkness consumes the light again. That’s why you keep doing it. That’s why you keep going. It’s hard to see beyond the grey veil during depression. But you know it can get better. You know because you have felt it. Yeah, depression comes back and sweeps your feet. But you get up and go again. You know you can because you have. Don’t worry about the future.

Stop fighting yourself mentally. Accept your position. And Fight your way back as one whole. With the darkness and the light. One day at a time. Keep it within the moment. Get through each second as it arises. When the future begins to torture you with events that may never happen, pause and take a breath. Remember that thoughts are not reality. If you could predict the future you wouldn’t be typing this. You would have predicted the EuroMillions numbers and now living life as a millionaire. Or maybe it is the ability to only predict negative outcomes. And then when the negative doesn’t happen you destroy happiness to justify the delusion. WHY? Why are you punishing yourself? You’re alright you know. You are enough. You are good enough. You have done incredibly well to get here. Pat yourself with positivity. Don’t beat yourself with negativity. It isn’t helpful.

Meditate. Watch your thoughts. Acknowledge the spiteful inner monologue. It doesn’t have your best interests. Depression isn’t your friend. It is making an enemy of yourself. It doesn’t have to be accepted. You are not perfect. Or ever will be. But that is okay. You are enough just as you are. You might not believe it today. But you will repeat it until you do. It is the least you deserve.

“If you’re going through hell, keep going,” to move forward you have to stand up and push on. It is hard. It is heavy. But that is how you get stronger. Remember depression is part of the hero’s journey. It doesn’t have to determine the journey. The walk through hell burns the lessons into your psyche. This is time to grow again. It is a metamorphosis. Now is time to fight your way out of the cocoon.

Accept. Keep going. Keep talking. Keep fighting forward.

Charlie.

Mental health helplines

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