The Recovery Letters is a website where people have written a recovery letter which is aimed at giving someone with depression some hope. You never know who will read it, so it is very hard to write. I have tried my best in the letter below. I tried to imagine a letter that I would have liked to read at my worst time with depression. All I can say is that I tried my best, and that my main motivation was to be compassionate to someone suffering. I hope my letter will make a small difference. I have sent it to The Recovery Letters people, and I hope it can benefit others.
I would encourage you to visit their website (http://therecoveryletters.com/) and write your own recovery letter. Stephen Fry, and some other celebrities have also written letters, however you don’t need to be famous to write a worthwhile letter that could make a huge difference to someone’s mental health.
My name is Mike. I have suffered from depression for many years, however this doesn’t mean I can imagine what you are going through at this time in your life, as everyone’s depression is different. I can only imagine that if you are reading this then you are currently experiencing high levels of suffering, and that you are struggling to get on top of your depression.
A few years ago I was so suicidal that I was calling the Samaritans 3 to 4 times a day, and everything in my life had gone wrong. However I am much better now, and I feel a sense of hope in my life. My life has improved quite a bit. People used to tell me at my worst time that my life would get better one day. I didn’t really believe them. Although there was sometimes a very small glimmer of hope, a small shard of light way back in the darkness. I am hoping today that I can create a small amount of hope for you, which when nurtured will grow over time.
I was living with my parents at the time and they were upstairs. I can genuinely say that that website saved my life. The following quote on the page “Suicide is not chosen; it happens when pain exceeds resources for coping with pain” gave me hope. It made me realise that at the current time in my life, my pain was indeed exceeding my ability to cope. I realised that if I could slowly build up my coping-strategies, and learn techniques to reduce pain, and seek more support (e.g. counselling, etc) that the ‘scales of depression’ would start moving towards me feeling better, rather than worse.
It can feel like you are incredibly alone when you have depression. It can feel like there is no hope at all. Indeed when anyone tells us that there is hope, or tries to counter our negativity we baulk at their enthusiasm. We throw their good will back at them, not because we are ungrateful souls, but rather that it seems impossibly untrue what they say. Our life is awful and there truly is no hope, or so we believe in those dark moments. Accept that there really is hope but our depression has tricked us.
I always liken depression to being like an evil trickster or elf whispering negative lies about us in to our ears. The problem is that this trickster (depression) is so good at tricking people that we start believing what it tells us. Depression is probably the best trickster in existence! So good in fact that we start believing it’s lies that we are worthless, that we are horrible, that we do not deserve happiness. We believe that there is no hope. The first step is to realise that depression is a serious illness which tricks us in to thinking so awfully about ourselves. But like any trickster we can start seeing through the evil lies, if we start seeing it for what it is.
At one stage I was tricked by a real-life con-artist, who seemed amazingly nice. He befriended me and was my best friend within a few weeks. I thought he was amazing. He was so fun and positive, and seemingly kind to me. A few of my close friends told me that they didn’t trust him, however he had tricked me so much that I didn’t believe them, and I was even angry with them for being so judgemental. However they turned out to be right. This is exactly the same as I felt with my depression. I had been totally tricked. This might seem like a ridiculous metaphor, but it’s truly what I and others have found our slow recovery from depression to be like.
I wish I could be there with you now in person, I truly do. If I was, I would sit with you and make you a cup of tea. We could sit quietly together and you could say nothing, or you could talk and talk until my ears dropped off… and if they did I would stick them back on again to listen to you some more. If you needed to hold my hand or have a hug I would gladly do so, if that was what you wanted. I would gladly walk alongside you for miles and miles until you had walked enough. I would never give up on you. As I am not there with you now, I’d like you to at least know that I am thinking of you as I write this. Even though I know nothing about you, accept that you are struggling with depression, I am thinking compassionately about you and your suffering. Over the coming years I will remember I have written this letter, and I will regularly think of you reading this now. I might have some spare minutes waiting for a train, and I might remember in that instant, and I will be thinking of you.
It took me years to learn to be more compassionate and kind to myself. I have spoken to lots of people with depression who weren’t good at being kind to themselves. To me that was an important start to my recovery.
This has been really hard for me to write, so I hope my efforts helped you even just a small amount. My intention was to try my best out of compassion for you. I hope for your sake I succeeded a little.
You are in my thoughts.
Copyright MEN HEAL 2014