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In honor of Mental Health Awareness Month, I’ve decided to write more personal about my struggles with anxiety and depression in my late teens and more recently as I was going through college. This open letter is based on my personal experiences and has no bearing on what others may experience. As you’re reading this, please do not use it as a way to invalidate or validate someone else’s mental health journey.
Dear My Not-So-Good Friend Depression,
I’m not sure where you went or why you left, but you’ve left me long enough for me to be able to sit down and write to you. I have the strangest feeling that you didn’t go too far. Every time I look over my shoulder, I feel like I can see you lurking around the corner. I wanted to write out how I honestly think feel you and your best friend, anxiety, who appears from nowhere daily. The worst part is that I know it misses you, anxiety, I mean. When you guys are together, nothing can stop you. You function well together to drain and exhaust my energy, spirit, and sanity. But, I say, NO MORE!.
I’m tired. I’m so tired, tired of fighting, clawing, and escaping from the both of you. I’m tired of feeling like I have something to prove, even though I know that I don’t. I spend most of my day finding the strength and energy to complete the day without having a full-blown meltdown. If I left the decision-making to you, I would’ve dropped out of college, and I would’ve drunk or smoked my life away. I would’ve chosen to give up on myself and everyone around me, and I would be eternally dead.
Remember when you forced me to call out of work for a week because you made me believe that going to work was too complicated and that I have no business going? You said, “at least you won’t have to deal with difficult customers.” Little did you know what, I enjoyed my job, and I loved helping the customers—even the simplest tasks such as making my bed feel like a drag when you’re around.
What about that time when you made me late to my law class for an entire year because I spent nights crying about nothing? But, I look forward to these small moments because it gives me hope to cling on. Except, when you’re around, it’s more challenging to do so.
I’ve spent most of my high school and college years denying, hiding, and numbing, and filling my timeslot with work and fun things for me to do as a way to distract myself from the inevitable. However, it’s hard to go about my daily routine without thinking or asking myself why this is happening to me. It’s still difficult to openly talk to my family, friends, boyfriend, or anyone about you. I know you hate it when I speak up against all the horrible things you did. You prefer to hide in the darkness and be sneaky, like a silent mouse.
That’s why you tried so hard to convince me that therapy and crying were a sign of weakness. I remember the first time I heard the phrase Major Depression, and it made me laugh. I didn’t laugh because I thought it was funny. This laugh was more of an “AHA” moment for me. I knew that all of these problems were because of you, but I didn’t want to admit it. Since then, I’ve slowly learned how to deal with your unnecessary shenanigans.
Although, I do wish you would take credit for some of the damage you’ve caused. Such as the friendships I’ve lost, the bad grades, my diminished lifeline, you know, things like that. I know I cannot put the complete blame on you because anxiety was there, but you were the most significant contributor to most of my problems. Depression, I’ve already accepted the fact that you’re here to stay and that this is just a short vacation, but would it kill you to give me a break too. I mean, why is it every time you’re around I want to die.
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What’s up with that?
Depression I know that if I tried to kill you that I would die too. So, why do you always make that an option? What twisted game are you trying to play with my life? Whatever it is, I won’t ever let you win. Due to my new ability to wake up, eat a healthy breakfast, go to therapy, and find a passion in life, you’ve given up on dragging me down 24/7. This has allowed me to put on a decent mask and show the world that I am okay (at least that is what I want them to think).
I know that I am stronger than you know, which means I can make you go away for long periods. When you’re gone, it feels like a 2000lb weight has lifted off my shoulders. It’s a fantastic feeling to have. There are times when you come in the forms of perfectionism, self-doubt, and laziness, but it’s becoming much easier to deal with those traits too.
I hope his letter has impacted you in some way. Do you think we can just pretend to be okay? I’ve already accepted you for who you are, so will you give me that same courtesy? Please, depression, I am begging you. I’m not asking you for a lot. All I want to do is live my life to the fullest and to die smiling. I want to have more days where I am not simply surviving, but I am living.
Please f**k off,