Letters 2014

INSPIRATIONAL LETTERS FROM OUR BURSARY APPLICANTS

As part of our Janice Lee Blue Wave bursary, applicants are asked to write a letter to a teenager struggling with a mental health or substance use problem, as they were at the beginning of their journey. They are asked to share what they have learned about their experience, including what has helped them the most to have hope for the future.

We were so impressed with the letters we have been receiving that we wanted to share them with you here. We are publishing them anonymously but each letter is from a different BC youth. As you can see the letters are heartfelt and inspiring, showing us that young people can and do get better, even when they have hit ‘rock bottom’.

Writing a letter can be a great way to get thoughts and feelings into perspective, whether you are in the grip of a mental health or substance use problem, recovering from one, or looking back on the experience. If you want to write your own letter to share with other young people, please send it into us and we would be happy to publish it on our website.

Please note that the content below discusses the following topics: anxiety, depression, eating disorders, self-harm, substance use and suicide.

 

Dear You,

Today you have opened your eyes only to be flooded with an overriding sense of hopelessness. Today you have cancelled plans, put aside schoolwork, ignored your family. Today you have starved yourself, cut, contemplated suicide. Mental illness is not always avoidable. But as you woke, the sun still rose, the birds still chirped, and the day still came. But as you cancelled plans, your friends still waited, anxiously peering around the corner hoping to see your familiar silhouette. But as you put aside schoolwork, your teachers still taught, putting aside the day’s work in the hope that you will still scrape by in time for graduation. But as your ignored your family, they continued to see you. Life is never avoidable. So when you starve yourself, cut, contemplate suicide…think of the pain, the suffering, and the further hardships that are caused. And then think of the sun, the birds, your friends, your family, and yourself. Think of life; of that which is not defined as anything other than the period of time when a person is alive. Which means you can be anything in life, even with a mental illness. Because mental illness is not always avoidable, but its devastating effects can be. I send you hope, strength, and courage.

Sincerely,
 
Me

 

Dear You,

I know you might be scared but it’s normal. Seeking help will not be scary for long. No one will judge you along the way. The worst part is boring wait rooms and that still isn’t that bad. All the people you will meet or talk to on your path to stability will be nothing but helpful. They may not play a huge part or they might not seem helpful, but they are doing their best and they truly care for you and your success. The first step though is just asking for help and being patient. Waiting may be the worst part, whether it be for an appointment or for your medication to take effect. The trick is to just focus on what you need to do and realize that you could still be miles back if you had not asked for help when you did. The main thing that will help you through this is talking. Talk to your psychiatrist, talk to your counselor, talk to your mom, your friends, your teammates, whoever. No one will cut themselves away from you. Even if they did, then now you can just be counting your lucky stars you didn’t put any more reliance on them than you did. When you get through your first two weeks of medication (which will suck, that’s just the truth) it may not be all sunshine and rainbows but it will be better. Even if it isn’t, now you’ve set up your care team and it’s easy to get more help, or they will call you and ask if you need it. You are not broken and you are not worthless. You may judge yourself against other people like you are houses, but realize you are still under construction. You wouldn’t say a house doesn’t have value when it’s in the midst of being built. So don’t do it to yourself. You are going to meet so many amazing people along this bumpy trail of mental illness that you’ll probably never wish for it any another way.

Sincerely,
 
Me

 

Dear You,

One night I was lying in my bed crying, and in my state of temporary insanity, I decided to slit my wrists and swallow my entire bottle of prescribed sleeping pills and went to sleep, not expecting to wake up ever again. Thankfully the pills did not work and I woke up with a massive headache instead the next morning, but when my mom came in my room and saw the blood on my arms, she instantly broke down in tears, as did my friends later on when they found out what I’d done. They all screamed at me and questioned why I would do such a thing and I was speechless, because I didn’t know why I did what I did either. I’m glad the pills failed, but life is not always this forgiving, you don’t always get a second chance like I did. So stop thinking you are worthless or ugly or stupid, you are a work in progress and I’m sure you will turn out to be someone that is absolutely amazing and beautiful if you could just try and get through this low point in your life now. Stop thinking that no one will miss you when you are gone, because you will be missed trust me, someone is going to die inside with you the day you let yourself go. So put away the razor, flush down the pills, dry your tears and talk to a friend. And if friends are out of the question then seek professional help. Whatever is happening to you right now is NOT your fault. There are chemical imbalances in your brain prompting you to feel the way you do and you need help so please allow others in to do so because I promise with everything I know that things do get better. Keep fighting friend, I wish the best of luck to you.

Sincerely,
 
Me
Dear You,

Words can’t change people, fancy speeches and supportive individuals can’t change a person. The only thing that can change a person is themselves. The worst thing to hear is “I know how you feel”, when no one can ever understand what another person is going through, experiences are different for everyone. What I do know, and can say with confidence, is that if you want something bad enough, you can have it, and that includes happiness, peace, love, and success. I believe that deep down, we all want these things. No matter how hardened a person may seem on the outside, we all just want to be loved on the inside, we don’t want hate and anger in our lives. Right now it may seem like negativity and strings of bad luck are coming your way, it may seem like the only thing in your life. My advice to you is to stop fighting it, stop trying to forget it, stop trying to hide it, stop hurting yourself in order to kill it, because none of that will work. What you have to do is face it, learn from it, use it to your advantage. Some of the greatest minds on earth have struggled through mental illness, don’t think of it as a curse, don’t give it power over you, it’s something that builds you up over time. Fighting the monster of depression only makes us stronger, that sounds cliché, I know, but just hear me out. Being depressed and feeling hopeless may make you feel detached from the world, but you know what, too many people get caught up in the business of everyday life and forget to take a step back. Think of your depression as a malleable gift, use it to your advantage, learn to live peacefully with it until the time comes where you say, “Enough, I want to be happy”. I promise you, that day will come, it just takes time. And I promise, you will come out stronger. Just keep fighting.

Sincerely,
 
Me
 
 
Dear You,

I will not assume that I understand your life or your individual struggles. What I am here to do is offer my experiences and what gives me hope for the future. Challenges to one’s mental health become all-encompassing problems. Some become sleep deprived with aching backs, headaches, and blurry sight. The entire journey will not be painful. The entire journey is life. These challenges may become anecdotes to share in passing, but the journey is life and life is unsympathetic. Unsympathetic in that life is unpredictable, no sorrowful speech or funny story will salvage the years you may lose to this challenge. The important thing is that you maintain motion. Whether you are moving forward, backward, up, down, sideways, you must move. In my experiences with suicidal ideation, the tragedy I discovered was my disinterest in motion. I wanted change so badly that I sought out the escape of life itself. Forgoing the motions towards the future. You need the future. The future needs you. The only links one can make in our existence is hope for a better future. Move, in any direction. Move, and do not hurt the ones around you. Move, and do not hurt yourself.

Sincerely,
 
Me

 

Dear You,

My journey has been a long and tough road to walk, but I never gave up. I have learned a lot about my experience with mental illness. If you keep all of your problems locked up inside of you, they will never leave you. They will eat you alive and it will make everything in your life ten times worse. The deeper you bury things inside of you, the more they will haunt you. The biggest thing that I learned is that in order to move forward, even it’s just a tiny little step, telling someone you trust about your problems is the best choice to make. Talking to someone about the issues you are dealing with can be extremely difficult and you may feel embarrassed, nervous, or scared to talk about it, but talking makes you feel relieved, you feel as if the weight on your shoulders has been removed, and you feel less stressed out. I have also learned that even if you feel that you’re not going to make it and that it’s over, there’s always a way for you to crawl out of that hole you have been stuck in. It may take days, weeks, months, or even years, but one day you will crawl out and tell the world that you made it. Something that has helped me the most to have hope for the future is the encouragement I received from people. My counselor had kept on encouraging me and telling me that I was doing really well and that I should keep it up because I will be successful one day and that I will make it. My therapist told me the same things as my counselor. That I will make it and I will be successful. All this encouragement that I received from everyone helped me a lot. If I never talked to people about my problems, then I would still be stuck in that deep dark hole, I would have no hope for the future at all but, I became strong even though I didn’t want to, and took a chance.

Sincerely,
 
Me
 
 
Dear You,

You are not at the end of your life but the beginning. No matter what you are feeling now, things will always change and you have the power to change them. Whether you struggle with depression, anxiety, suicidal thoughts, family conflict, bullies, school, etc. there is hope. The future is a much brighter place. There are so many people out there that are more than willing to talk to you and help you to become successful. My advice to you is to access all the resources there to help. I too was once in your position. I was depressed to the point where I thought suicide was the only option. I was so unhappy with my life but I couldn’t go through with it because I never wanted my family to feel loss. I was a walking tornado; yelling, crying, hurting everyone in my path including myself. My life was spiraling out of control; I had definitely hit rock bottom and I believed there was no getting out. Growing up I had to deal with so much and I was tired. Finally I realized that the problem was me. I went to the doctor and was put onto medication followed by attending trauma counseling. From there my life began to change rapidly for the better. I accessed all the resources given to me and began to gain hope. I am now 18 years old graduating high school, while working two jobs and living on my own. My mind is mentally stable and I think positively about my future. If life gets me down I now believe that it is only a bump in my road and I have the control to not let it phase me. I am happy, healthy, and successful. If I can change my life I know for a fact you can too. Have hope, be positive. This is only the beginning.

Sincerely,
 
Me
 
 
Dear You,

Struggling with anxiety? It gets hard. People always say that things will get easier and so on, but let’s be real. You’re gonna have good days and bad days. Days where you feel like there is no point in fighting anymore, and days when you feel on top of the world. Hold on to those times when you feel strong. Cling to those and strive to make those days more common. You don’t even realize how much strength you have. Don’t underestimate yourself. I know it doesn’t feel like you’re ever going to get any better. Like anxiety is never going to go away. And it may not! But keep working because developing coping skills will help you to live a normal life. Your good days will turn to great, and you will have fewer bad days. With work you will manage your anxiety like a pro. Keep it up. And don’t forget that there are positives to these hurdles you’ve had to jump over. You are learning empathy, compassion, and thankfulness. Because you know how it feels to be completely terrified, upset, and alone, you can help others to not have to deal what you dealt with. You are blessed by this struggle. It may not seem like it, but it really gives you a different perspective on life. Instead of complaining, use this to your advantage. This makes you unique and set apart. Embrace it. Don’t forget to say thank you. Remember that you couldn’t be where you are without the help of your friends and family. All the late nights your parents stayed up with you, or the days when your sisters missed hanging out with their friends to make sure you were ok. Remember that although you are having such a hard time, so are the ones who love you the most. And make sure they know you appreciate that.

Sincerely,
 
Me
 
 
Dear You,

My mother was the one who exemplified to me, an anorexic female. Undoubtedly, this had an impact on my psychological processing – leading me to believe I had to be thin to be beautiful. It wasn’t until I stopped dancing that I realized that my body while I was dancing was wonderful. I exercised, doing something I loved, and had the freedom to eat whatever I wanted whenever I wanted. Therefore, once I kept up with my old habits of eating and stopped working out, I gained weight I’d never had before. What I didn’t realize was I was also still growing. An elementary kid’s body is different than one undergoing puberty. Seeing as I wanted my old body, I began working out a lot and cutting back my caloric intake. Seeing as I was young and didn’t know much about the biology and chemistry of my body, I thought this was the healthy way to lose weight. I was wrong. I lost muscle mass and my personality; I was in a permanent bad mood. Success in my school and work life went south, and it took very little for me to break down in tears. Let alone my hair loss and lack of energy. Now, I wish I could have my old care-free self back. My body went into starvation mode, holding onto any food I ate afterwards. Regaining weight fast, meant life long stretch marks. Most people take their bodies for granted, and my experience has taught me that my mental health is the most important. I’ve changed the course of my future by altering my mindset. If anything, eating is what keeps your metabolism high and helps you stay thin and healthy. My earlier mistake will take years to reverse. I hope to eventually eat a meal without thinking how many calories it is, and workout for fun and not for a caloric deficit. I also hope to become a Dietitian, to revert people to think healthy, not thin.

Sincerely,
 
Me
 
 
Dear You,

Firstly, I want you to know that whatever problems with mental illness or addiction you have do not make you any less of a person. At the time you may feel powerless, but if you continue on and believe you can break the barriers you are currently facing, you will feel like one of the strongest people to walk the earth – because you will be. When I was first dealing with depression and anxiety I completely isolated myself. I wanted to die and shut out the world and not feel like a part of it. I felt like my problems were like an infectious disease and no one wanted to be near me or even cared about me. It may be hard to believe it, but it is not true. I felt like I had hit rock bottom and that there was absolutely no hope for me to get better. I hated myself so much for being so lonely and I thought that was how I was going to spend the rest of my life, unless I ended it for myself. Many times I thought that killing myself was the only way to escape the stress and pain I was in. You need to be very strong to overcome these feelings. I was so tired of feeling this way that after I had a very bad breakdown I finally opened up to my mom. The thing is that you do need to take initiative. If you aren’t going to stand up for yourself, who is? That is the vital first step. If you can’t get your circumstances to get better, please tell someone you can trust. My current counselor is not the first one I saw. Keep trying and do not give up on yourself because you are worth it. My counselor and doctor both recommended that I exercise daily as before I did zero. I joined a running group with my mom (cool right?) and now I love it. It’s a sport that is entirely reliant on you, especially your mind. Running has proved to me that I am strong and I can get over obstacles…and so can you.

Sincerely,
 
Me
 
 
Dear You,

I know that there aren’t any words that could possibly explain the pain and confusion you are experiencing right now, and there’s nothing anyone can say to fix it. Your usual positive thinking only helps for so long before you are dragged back into the darkness. Into the terrifying memories that haunt you day and night. Everything used to come so easily to you. You could flow through life’s highs and lows like an experienced surfer rides the ocean’s waves. If you wanted to do something, you could accomplish it without much thought. But after everything that has happened, you’ve slowly lost that flowing feeling. Now you feel more like someone that has never surfed in their life and is being tossed around by the crashing water. Exhaustion sets in quickly as you cling onto the surfboard, wishing for the waters to calm but feeling fear every time they do. Fearing the return of the waves, fearing what lies below the water, and fearing what might happen to you. But I am writing this to tell you that it’s okay, and you will be okay. I am living, breathing, laughing, crying, smiling proof that it is possible. Please be gentle with yourself, and although it doesn’t feel like it now, I want you to know that there will be brighter days. So, when the only solution seems to be ending it all, hold on. Hold onto anything you still love about life and don’t let that go. Let these things, and the stories of others give you hope and inspiration. Remember to meet yourself where you’re at and work from there. And try to find someone that can walk this journey with you. Someone to remind you that it’s okay, and help you get on the path to feeling better. Change doesn’t happen instantly, it’s gradual. Just keep moving. Your life, and happiness, is absolutely worth fighting for.

Sincerely,
 
Me
 
 
Dear You,

I know how it feels, the sense of being alone, to look over your shoulder every time you hear a snide whisper. The fact that I struggled to accept was that I was not alone. I felt like I was drowning, all alone, struggling with the voice whispering that it couldn’t hurt me to skip one more meal, or cause myself harm, because feeling something, anything, would be better than the lonely emptiness I held inside me. I put on a smile, a brave face for friends and family. You feel like a burden to everyone around you, your pride won’t allow you to reveal how emotionally and mentally damaged you are. And yet, you want to reach out for that help. Someone extends an olive branch, and you want so badly to grasp it tight, spill your deepest secrets until they are pouring from your lips like an unstoppable freight train. But you don’t. I’m here to tell you, I took the olive branch on a quiet night, it had been extended from my mom, and purged my mind of all the thoughts I had struggled with alone. I got help. Family, friends, pets, and a patient doctor and counselor allowed me to be freed of all the secrets I kept bottled up, allowed me to spread wings I never even knew were strapped down to my back. I had hope, that olive branch, a simple “are you feeling okay lately?” answered honestly for the first time in four years relieved me of so much pain. I’m happy to say I am on the road to recovery. While I may never be a social butterfly, I can go to the mall with friends without feeling as if I’m about to be struck by a panic attack when looked at the wrong way. I can get myself up out of bed and go to school and do my work. You can heal too, everyone can, you just need to start, gather your courage and take the opportunity when it’s given to you.

Sincerely,
 
Me
 
 
Dear You,

I know life may seem like a burden right now, trust me I’ve been there. It could take years for that feeling to change, but believe me when I say it will pass in due time, you just need to be extremely patient. My struggle with depression felt like a David and Goliath type battle, it looked like something I could never possibly overcome, and I was ready to give up and end it all dozens of times. Luckily I did find the strength to conquer that giant that was depression and I’ve honestly never been a better and happier person. Sure there are still are those off days, but far fewer and not nearly as horrible as before. Remember that you do only have this one life, why waste it by being selfish, instead make the best of it, you’re a teenager you still have 70+ years to go, so live those years to the fullest. What’s helped me the most in order to have hope for the future is to accept that this is life, crappy things happen for all of us, some worse than others yes, but we all must find ways of dealing with them. Give yourself some goals, do whatever it takes to reach those goals, and don’t let any obstacle stop you. Slow you down, sure, but never stop you.

Sincerely,
 
Me
 
 
Dear You,

When life puts you in a rut, and you feel like there is no turning back, always know that you can make your own path. Know that there will be good days and also bad days, because it needs to rain for the flowers to grow. When it comes to dealing with mental illness don’t let it become who you are, don’t make the label your name. You may be diagnosed with something but that doesn’t make you who you are, the choices and decisions you make help build who you are. When it comes to addiction know that it’s up to you, it will always be only up to you. It is when you are ready to start living your life in the best way you can. It takes courage and strength to stop, and it will be hard, believe me. But once you are there you will be able to follow your dream, no matter how impossible it may seem, you will be one step closer. I myself have dealt with both, and what helped me was teaching myself to notice the little things in life that are beautiful, watching a child hold their parent’s hand, and me knowing that’s what I want in my life. My culture also brought me to where I am today, leaving me with courage and strength to do anything because I know the hardest thing I have already overcome, and whatever else comes my way it will just be a little bump in the road. Just remember to breathe, you have the strength today to wake up, to have a chance to change your life. Now it’s your choice to take the step.

Sincerely,
 
Me
 
 
Dear You,

Right now I am happy to say I am doing well. I used to be the same as you, believe it or not. Depressed, alone with no energy or will to do anything. Thankfully, I am much better now due to the support of my family, friends, and school staff. At the beginning of this year, I had a lot of things go wrong in my life and I fell into a deep depression. I lost a good friend to cancer, I was no longer able to play the sport I love due to injury, and I didn’t have my best friend to help me through it because we were no longer talking. During this period of my life I felt very alone, and my outlet (which was basketball) I was no longer capable of doing. I felt incredibly helpless and lost all will to do anything. I gained approximately 30 pounds because all I did was sleep, eat, and hang out in my bedroom. I rarely went to school because frankly, I really did not care about anything going on in my life. Going through this experience I have definitely become a stronger, happier person. I have learned that the relationships in your life are very important and even though you are feeling incredibly alone right now, you have a lot of people who are willing to help you get through this illness. I was very surprised to see how considerate my teachers and counselor were when it came to my schooling. I was very fortunate to have such a great support system. I want you to know that even though this feels as though life is not worth living and you cannot see yourself ever getting any better, this is not the end for you and there is still so much in store for you. Believe in yourself and your ability to get better. You are a strong person and this illness will not break you. I hope everything goes well for you in the future.

Sincerely,
 
Me
 
 
Dear You,

You! Not the person behind you, but yourself. I know you are amazingly strong and awesome because you have made it this far to face your fear of the unimaginable. This life may seem like it is never going to get better, it’s hopeless, and just going in circles – but you are not alone. You did not deserve this illness just like someone who is diagnosed with cancer. If you are dealing with an addiction, that is alright too. No one can condemn you for not being the perfect child, and so there is no means that you need to blame yourself for the miserable life you are trapped living in now. First off I want to congratulate you for reading this letter. You have taken the first step of recovery – wanting to receive help! It is not easy to speak up to others admitting you have a problem, but trust me they help you so much and lift a lot of weight off your sunken heart when you start accepting the help you need. Growing up, I was always considered the good girl with the big talents and loud voice. I have a bold appearance, but the stuff deep down was shattering my life piece by piece. Covering up my imperfections, I would hide away all my flaws of self-negativity by being the clown of my group. My social life was very unstable because I always changed the way I believe to be by the people who were with me. Being a person to be liked by everyone was ultimately controlling my life. Living as a person I did not want to be I shattered so hard I could not feel emotions anymore and went to talk to my school counselor. I knew suicide was wrong but it was the only thing on my mind for two years. Seeking professional help has enabled me to talk about my battles with depressing thoughts, anxieties about going to school, and evil panic attacks. Now take a leap of faith to rewarding help.

Sincerely,
 
Me

 

Dear You,

I know that you don’t want help, and I know that you don’t believe that anybody on this Earth is capable of understanding what you’re going through. You are stuck in your own mind, and the voices there are reassuring you that if you just listen to them, everything will be alright. You want to escape, although you want to please them; you want to starve, you want to burn calories, you want to find isolation. Deep down, you are screaming for help, but your voice is muffled by those who do not spawn from your own conscious, but from the disorder that is killing you. I understand. I was there. If it wasn’t for my family’s love and support, I would not be here right now. The disorder almost beat me, and you can’t let it beat you. Everything was foggy as my family and the medical staff at BCCH struggled to re-feed me and pull me back to the land of the living. But once my mind was repaired enough to comprehend what was happening, I was trapped in a tug-of-war between my true self, who wanted to recover, and the small part of me that wanted to listen to the voices and stay sick. Eventually, I learned that although it might be hard at the time, choose the side that wants to recover, and there will be hands reaching out to grab onto. They will hold you and support you through your time of need, but you need to reach out first. Don’t be afraid to reach out. I learned not to mistake people’s discomfort for uncaring; blame the stigma for causing the discomfort in the first place. I learned to cry, and I learned that it is okay. And when you’re feeling like you just can’t keep doing this, picture the faces of the people that you can’t live without. They can’t live without you either. Sometimes life isn’t fair, but it can be beautiful. I love you.

Sincerely,
 
Me

 

Dear You,

I don’t know who you are, or what struggles you have faced in your life. However, I do know what it’s like to live in a place called rock bottom. Sometimes it can feel as if you’re drowning and there’s no way to escape the tidal waves, or that there’s ten pounds of bricks attached to your ankles dragging you further and further downwards. It’s as if there’s no way out. Honestly, I lived in that world for quite some time without believing I was going to make it. I’m going to tell you something I never thought that I would believe: rock bottom isn’t forever – there is a way out. When you feel like you’re drowning, try floating on your back. We humans are designed to float believe it or not! How do you do this? You breathe. You don’t let the anxiety and inner demons control you. I have learnt that the only way to move forward in recovery is to accept yourself for who you are. Accept your flaws, rejoice in your strength. You have so much strength inside of you and you can use it to change the world; you can use it to FIGHT. You fight any belief that you’re not good enough – you squash it with your shoe! Right now, do it! Remember that you’re worth it. Above all, remember to love yourself – especially when you think you deserve love the least; in reality that’s when you need it the most. The thing that has helped me to have the most hope for the future is the fact that the world is rapidly changing and that nothing remains the same for too long. Things won’t be like this forever. There will always be a new morning, a new chance, a better day, laughter among friends. Don’t lose that hope. Cherish those people in your life who are close to your heart and immerse yourself in your passions – the things that cause you to light up with joy and make you alive.

Sincerely,
 
Me

 

Dear You,

Six years ago, I thought the road to recovery was impossible. There was a part of me that felt like I was meant to suffer in my depression, anxiety, and self-injury, and that was “normal”.  Today, I write this letter to tell you that I couldn’t have been more wrong.  We all deserve a chance to recover. It was never my fault that depression and anxiety took over; these things did not happen because I was weak. I was fighting a battle and became stronger because of it. Depression and anxiety have taught me the importance of self-care including getting enough sleep, eating, and giving yourself time to just be. I have discovered that saying “no” exacerbates my anxiety. This is a challenge given my extracurricular involvement. Taking on too many responsibilities limits overall contribution to a project, club or team. I have learned that people will respect you more if you admit to your limitations and ask for help. I have gone to counselling for three years and I learned that it’s okay to disclose your challenges with mental illness and seek help. I also realized recovery isn’t accomplished in a day. Waking up and getting out of bed in the morning isn’t going to be immediately easier. Everything takes time, but the way to get out of this process is through it.  Every day you can expect to be a little better and you will be.  Recognizing my daily accomplishments, using positive self-talk, and forgiving myself for small mistakes is all part and parcel of recovery. It is okay to be vulnerable, confused and frustrated. You will succeed with support and love from others and from yourself, this is so important. Change will not happen overnight, but if you continue to work hard and fight, even when you think you cannot, that road to recovery will come even if it feels far away.

Sincerely,
 
Me

 

Dear You,

If you are out there thinking that your life is pointless and it would feel better just to feel nothing at all, please read this letter. I know what it feels like to feel like there is no one on Earth that cares that you are hurting inside, and you convince yourself that you don’t care. You start to feel numb inside, you don’t know where to go, how to feel, and you eventually forget how to cry. Pain suddenly becomes not enough to keep yourself alive, and slipping into darkness starts to feel comforting. Stop blaming yourself, remember we are only human. Mental illness is just like any sickness that you may not have control over, such as cancer or the flu. There are professionals, communities, and individuals that genuinely care about your well-being and how you feel inside. Say something, don’t give up on you. Reaching out for support lifts the dark veil of clouds surrounding you and gives you an out to deal with the conflicts within you. It takes a large amount of effort to learn to live day-by-day and appreciate and be grateful that you’re still breathing. However, once you stop and practice with someone who understands how to help you with your mental illness, you can start to understand yourself. Knowing that you have support behind you and there are invisible hands pushing you up the mountain to achieve the life you want to make for yourself instills a new motivation in your life. With every challenge and pot-hole in the road, I just ride. For me, I see a world of struggling people with the opportunity to relieve pain. You define and design your recovery.

Sincerely,
 
Me

 

Dear You,

I know what you’re going through. I’ve been there and I’m still there. I also have friends who have struggled even worse than I have, and I’ve lived through key members of my family demonstrating jarring, confusing and frightening displays of mental illness, sometimes in public.  Mental illness isn’t easy, but you can get through it, believe me.  It’s no different than a physical illness or ailment – it needs attention, patience and treatment. It’s definitely more confounding and confusing that a physical illness, but once you wrap your head around the fact that you have something that is originating from your brain and impacting your emotions and emotional well-being, at least there is some comfort in understanding that it’s an illness and it can be treated. I found that recognizing and acknowledging that something was wrong was the first and most important step. From that point on I reached out for help, and sought treatment in the form of counselling and later, medication. It hasn’t always been easy, and still isn’t, but it does get better, especially when you are good to yourself and do what you can to get help. Telling your family, your friends, and people you trust is so important. The first step is the toughest and after that, it’s baby steps. Just keep moving, keep learning more about what you need and what’s best to make you better. The stigma of mental illness is slowly going away. You’d be shocked to learn how many of your own friends, classmates and family members are also dealing with mental illness. You can be your own success story. Just keep getting all the help you need, be really open about your struggles and successes, be kind and patient with yourself and your illness, and keep your eyes on your goal.

Sincerely,
 
Me

 

Dear You,

To the lost, confused, and lonely, YOU ARE NOT ALONE. I know what it feels like. So many people suffer from mental health problems. I struggle with depression, anxiety and thoughts of suicide. At the time I was blinded I could not see the love. I just saw the hate; in my mind I was alone. In reality there are many people that care for me and I realize that I have my whole life to look forward to. Had I taken my own life, how could I help you and others with similar struggles? Coping with my mental health issues has made me a wiser, stronger person than I could ever imagine. I learned that I have a huge support system and seeking professional help was the first step to realizing that. I learned to overcome the fear that holds you back. As hard as it is, you have to maintain a positive outlook. You have to talk to people, get advice and support. I hated myself. I could not see my inner beauty, and that has changed with help.  Many people struggle and talking to other teens who suffer from mental illness is what inspired me to make a change. I was surprised to see how many people loved, cared, and supported me in my times of darkness. When you feel terrible in school or in public, and you just want to go home and cry, you have to be strong, believing in yourself. Be positive, and as hard as it may be because of how you feel, there may be someone else having a terrible day and just a “hello” might change their day. Today I am more confident in many aspects of my life, even to where I can help you.  Had I not sought professional help I don’t know where I would be. I’m still struggling, but I’m a lot better than I was five years ago. I have learned to love myself, and not let mental health defeat or defy me.

Sincerely,
 
Me

 

Dear You,

If I were to give any advice to someone who is struggling with mental health issues as I did, I would tell them that whatever it is that you are going through right now does not determine your future. You have so many opportunities and wonderful things to experience, and you don’t want to miss out on all of the good things that are coming to you. The most important thing I realized was that I am in control of my future. No one else, and certainly not your mental illness should be able to hold you back. Your insecurities should never stop you from doing anything. At any given moment, you can decide to turn your life around. It is not easy, and it will take a lot of work and determination, but I promise you it is worth it. It is worth it for that day that you finally feel happy and in control. The first thing you have to do is learn how to love yourself, flaws included. You have to put yourself before other people, and not worry about pleasing them all the time, because in the end, they do not matter. It is a difficult thing to learn how to love yourself like you deserve, it took me a long time to realize that I am wonderful the way I am. The constant need to be perfect was taking over my life, and it shouldn’t, because perfection isn’t real. No one has ever achieved it, and we shouldn’t want to because it does not exist. The reality is that imperfection is real, and it’s beautiful and you should embrace it. Once you are comfortable with this concept, you can take back control of your future and experience everything that you deserve.

Sincerely,
 
Me