Dear Anxiety and Depression,
It’s hard to know what to say. After all we’re so different now than when we first met. If I were writing this at the beginning of our journey I think my message would be filled with fear, anger and hate. As a young girl id never heard either of your names, mental illness wasn’t a concept I was aware of and you were both strangers to me – or so I thought.
Anxiety – you’re the sneaky one. The one I thought I didn’t know when in reality you’d been there all along. All my memories are tarnished with the unwanted gifts you gave me. The ‘tummy’ aches, the ever racing heartbeat, the sweaty palms and the constant intrusive thoughts. Your greatest burden to me was the constant feeling of fear along with so much confusion. Why were you there with me and not my friends? I could tell their carefree laughter was genuine so why did you choose me? And why was I constantly waiting for the worst to happen?
Depression – you’re the nasty one. You can’t let anxiety take all the blame when you’re just as bad. You’re simply a bully, who sensed when I was at my lowest and most vulnerable and you took your chance. You whispered awful thoughts into my head and allowed me to believe I was worthless, that life was worthless. I tried so many medications, appointments and therapies to get you to leave and my family and friends were terrified of you. I wasn’t, I just didn’t care anymore and that’s your greatest trick.
Not anymore. I’m strong and this letter isn’t full of hate, its full of acceptance and pride in myself. You both took over last year and I know your not my friends but my enemies and unlucky for you I’m not fighting a battle blind anymore as I’m now educated. I thank you for making my life unbearable because you’ve lit a fire in my belly. You both stole my childhood but I’m not angry, I’m motivated. I will talk about you both and expose you for what you are. If somebody had uttered your names when I was younger maybe I would have realised you were there with me.
Mental illness should not be a taboo as I’m living proof you can both affect anyone regardless of age, gender or class. I’m older now and have learnt how to recognise the warning signs for when either of you become stronger. I’ll live with both of you for the rest of my life and for the majority of that I will be in control and so here my final message to you both.
I will ensure people know about you and what you are capable of. I will ensure that people are not afraid to discuss mental illness and that it is a normal part of life. I will ensure my future is not negatively based upon your existence. I’m no longer angry, I’m accepting and I will fight you both no matter how many times you attack because I’ve realised I’m strong, I realise it’s okay to talk.