First, thank you for taking the time to read this. I know that right now, despite how many loved ones surround you, you feel entirely alone. So, thank you for being with me for the course of this letter. I get that the most frustrating part of this is that it feels like nobody understands what you’re going through. It is impossible to understand unless you have lived with it yourself. Depression is not synonymous with sadness, nor is it possible to understand unless you’ve been diagnosed as well. You do not have depression, you are depressed. It is not like having a cold or having a bad day. It defines you, just as you are right handed and had Cheerios for breakfast. I am here because I do understand; I have lived with it. Hell, by my twentieth birthday, my diagnosis count was higher than my GPA.
I am telling this to you on the least personal platform possible to reiterate that I’ve been in your shoes. I used to envy cancer patients – people tend to pity and sympathize with kids who have leukemia, or neuroplastoma, or a brain tumor. Nobody blames a cancer patient for getting cancer, nobody thinks it’s a lifestyle choice. Best of all? Cancer implies an expiration date. Sometimes patients and their families know how long they have, sometimes every tomorrow is a question rather than a guarantee. But cancer is painful; it requires weeks, months, years of treatment; it rips apart families and seems to have come out of nowhere. In reality, the body has been infected and attacked for months before what began as a little virus became a full-blown life-threatening disease. It is not a lifestyle choice – it completely ruins the lives of the patient and their loved ones. Sound familiar?
Would you judge and condemn a cancer patient for having cancer? No. So why are you judging yourself? This is not your fault. This is a disease, a chemical imbalance in the most important organ in your body. You did not choose to be depressed, and it did not come on because of something traumatic. It is a chemical imbalance, a biological condition. The brilliant part? A disease can be cured. You are not the first person who has felt this way, nor will you be the last. Psychiatrists have devoted their lives to creating techniques and drugs to help people suffering the same way you are right now. They attend the same med schools as doctors treating cancer patients or performing open heart surgery because depression is a medical condition. You are not alone in this battle. That feeling is all types of wrong. You are not alone in your suffering, you are not alone in this world. You are not alone in this healing process.
I know that beneath the suffocating sadness, there is anger. Anger at people not understanding, anger at your family for pushing you to get better when they do not understand. Before you get angry at others for not understanding you, take a step back to understand them. You’ve been told over and over again how much people love you but it means nothing unless you truly understand the extent. You have touched every individual’s life that you have been a part of. Do you have any idea how many people that is? You are someone’s best friend, someone’s child, someone’s role model, someone’s student, someone’s lover, someone’s brother or sister. If you are contemplating suicide, you do not understand. You do not understand that this will destroy them. This will push them closer to the edge that you have spent the last few months looking down. I know that this is bigger than you and that it breaks your heart knowing that you will hurt them. But do you understand that they will never heal? I cannot emphasize enough that this is not your fault, that suicide is your depression’s choice and not your own. But you need to tell that depressed voice to shut the hell up. You are loved more than you could possibly imagine. I know you feel like you’ve hurt people by pushing them away, or that you aren’t good enough to be around them even if you haven’t. You are. When you are ready, they will welcome you with open arms. You are loved more than you could possibly imagine.
This is the hardest battle to triumph over, but you will triumph. Every day is a minor victory, and you are victorious. Every time you roll out of bed and put on a smile (regardless of its genuity), you have kicked depression in the ass. Your depression does not own you. I wish that you could see the view from here across the finish line. Sometimes the race is two steps forward, one step back. More often than not, it gets harder before it gets easier. But it does get easier and those two steps forward eventually get you through the tape. There are things that make you truly feel alive, that give you a reason to roll out of bed in the morning. Hanging out the window of your friends car like a dog feeling the wind whip your face at 60 miles an hour; standing in the middle of nowhere screaming at the top of your lungs; the tingly anticipation of a first kiss. When you have the energy to get out of bed, find these moments. They will remind you what it means to live.
The best way to beat this is to talk to someone and I know that seems terrifying. But no perscription or amount of therapy will even come close to the support and love you will find from your friends and families when you finally do. Most of this race is yours to run, but it’s a hell of a lot better to have people cheering you on as you do. Thank you for taking the time to read this letter. Thank you for taking care of yourself enough to do so. Know that there is support out there. At any time, you can text BAY to 741741 for any sort of crisi to receive help and support from a live, trained professional. For over the phone support, please call the Suicide Hotline at 800-273-8255. To just talk to someone, feel free to check out the Online Therapy link on our website. You are not alone, and you are a hell of a lot stronger than you could ever imagine.