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Dear Kind Friend

I struggle with depression.  To the point that two years ago I was hospitalized three times in the span of six months, each admission lasting 10-14 days.  That was when my depression was untreated and at its worst.  It was so debilitating that I had to take a year off of work just to get my feet grounded and start functioning again.

Two years later, I have come so far, but I'm still learning how to live with this.  At this time in my journey I have to be intentional about staying present in the moment, disciplining my thoughts, and making healthy mental and spiritual choices - each and every day.

One of the hardest things about depression is trying to reach through that thick cloud of despair to find my strongest self and summon her forth.  If even a tiny piece of her had a voice, this is what she would've said to you.  This is how she would have asked for help.  To my tribe that has endlessly stood by my side through it all, thank you for listening to her when I had no words.

Dear Kind Friend,

Please don't believe me when I say, "I'm fine."  I'm drowning.  I can't see, I can't feel, I just can't.  It's like I've fallen into a black sea of nothingness and I don't even know which direction to swim to break through the surface.  For me, there is no surface.

I know how hard it is to see me like this.  I know you want to help, to make it better, to fix it.  Me too.  But can you please just sit with me here in the darkness?  Can you meet where I am, without judgement, without motive, without expectation?  Just come and be with me so I know I am not alone in this dark and hopeless place.

Please don't judge the chaos and mess I'm living in right now.  Everything is an effort.  Even the very act of waking up is an effort.  And every step afterwards requires so much effort and energy that I don't have.  Getting up out of bed is an effort.  Brushing my teeth is an effort.  Getting dressed is an effort.  Showering is an effort.  And there are times I just don't have the energy reserve required for those acts.  Depression has stolen all of that away.

Please don't mistake my lack of energy for laziness or apathy.  I care so very much, but all of my energy goes to battling the ever-present thoughts of worthlessness, despair, and hopelessness.  Depression is relentless and it will keep reinforcing these thoughts until they become my beliefs.  And fighting off these thoughts is exhausting, and some days impossible.  They are on constant replay and the effort it takes to fight them is immense.  It is so inexplicably draining.  Sometimes, surviving the day means surrendering to those thoughts just to get some peace from the struggle.

Those are the days I escape to sleep.  It is not rejuvenating, I do not wake up refreshed and replenished.  It is just a state of nothingness, no struggle, no guilt over what I should be doing but am not.  Just an escape, nothing more.  When I wake I have so much guilt and disgust over my lack of productivity, it just makes me want to escape again.  I judge myself harshly enough, please don't point it out and add to my guilt and shame.  I know I need to take better care of myself, it's not that I don't want to, it's that I can't.  Physically cannot.

I'm sorry if I ignore your calls and rebuff your attempts at connection.  Please, please be patient and gently persistent.  Sometimes I am lost in my solitude, and other times I feel like such a burden to you that I'm trying to relieve you of that burden.  But connection is so important to me now, even if I can't see it or participate in it.  No matter how isolating I may be, please, please, please do not leave me alone in this desolate place.  I need to know that I am not alone in this struggle.  I need to know you are here with me.

Depression tells me I am worthless, I am hopeless, that I am a burden to others.  Depression tells me I can't.  And I know how hard it is for you to hear those thoughts, I know how hard it is for you to understand how I could even think those things.  But depression has clouded my vision and skewed my perception.  I can't reach that logical place in my mind that knows that these are only lies that depression is telling me.  In this moment, this is my reality.

Please don't invalidate my feelings by being dismissive of my reality, no matter how incomprehensible it may seem to you.  This only adds to my confusion and isolates me.  I feel misunderstood and start to question my own reality and sanity.  Please, please don't deny my reality.  Instead, can you please acknowledge my pain and my hurts?  Reach for empathy and understanding and tell me you can only imagine how terrible it must be to carry these burdens.  Because it is awful, beyond awful.  My confidence is shaken, my belief in myself is nonexistent and I need to know that I'm not "crazy".  I need to know that this pain I feel is not just a figment of my imagination, but that it is real.  As real as I feel it is.

Then softly, tenderly, please remind me that there other realities that exist outside of my depression.
Tell me you love me.  Remind me of the beauty you see, remind of the strength that is inside me.  Remind me of my purpose.  Remind me that there is hope.  And if I can't hear it at that moment, please don't push me to understand.  Just acknowledge that this alternate reality to depression exists, and tell me that you will be here to remind me of that until my heart is ready to hear it and believe.

Please don't bombard me with quick fixes and solutions.  If it were that easy, I promise you I would have done it long ago.  I hate being in this place.  It is suffocating.  It is devoid of light and love.  I despise this darkness and would do anything to escape it.  I have tried.  Every day, I try.  Even if all I do is wake up and make it through the day and nothing else.  That is me trying.  That is me surviving.  And please, please don't mistake my medication for magic pills.  They are just one part of managing my depression. They are not an instant fix.  At their highest level of efficacy, they will just lift my head above water so that I am not drowning.  They are not a cure for my depression, they are just one part of the many resources I will need to manage my depression.

Just know that each time you reach out to me, each time you tell me you love me, each time you send out a prayer for me, I may not react to it, I may not even be able to hear it.  But my soul hears you.  My soul feels you. And each time you send out these messages of love and support, you are helping my soul build golden threads of hope that help anchor me to a new reality.  The reality that I am so loved, I am so worthy and the reality where hope is found in abundance.  And all of these little threads, over time, are woven into thick, strong chords binding my lost soul to a place of light.  And one day my soul will be lifted out of the darkened world that my depression has created.

And I will have God, myself, and you my kind friend, to thank for that.

With gratitude beyond measure… Leilani


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