An Open Letter to My Depression

My depression, you’ve been with me for so long I can’t remember how it felt when you first started weighing me down. I don’t know if you first crept on me gradually or came down on me like a ton of bricks, but I do remember how much you hurt me. I also remember how it felt when your weight was slowly lifted, when you faded into the background and let me breathe. I recall a sunny day 7 or maybe 8 years ago, when I was watching leaves fly in the wind, with a smile on my face and feeling light again, thinking I never wanted to feel the way you had made me feel. At times I felt a twinge of sorrow thinking about what had been, and I told myself it would never happen again. I comforted a depressed loved one; I told her there had been a time I had felt just as hopeless, like it was all behind me.

But then you came back, and you were just as cruel as you’d been in my past. It wasn't the last time you returned to me, for during the years that followed you loosened and again tightened your grip on me several times – perhaps you never truly left. Sometimes something in my life provoked you to hurt me, but sometimes you seemed to hurt me for no particular reason. You were my secret companion, one most people in my life didn't know existed, and your invisibility made me feel very, very lonely. You would let me fake a smile, and the way it made me ache just gave you more strength.

Sometimes the pain you inflicted on me grew so bad it made me hurt my body. The pain on my skin soothed me and alleviated the pain inside me, the pain I couldn't control. You would back away a little, but just for a little while – you didn't turn any kinder, and you still had an iron hold on me. Sometimes you hurt me so badly that I didn't know how much longer I could hold on. You raised a storm inside me; you made me cry on the bus, walking down the street, even at my Uni. You hurt people I loved by spreading your misery and making them scared for me. You would steal away all my energy and then whisper in my ear that I was lazy.

You made me reach a breaking point, a point where I knew I needed to reach out for help if I wanted to pull through. I had grown so used to your existence that I hadn't realized your being there really wasn't okay, that I didn't have to fight you without outside help. The process wasn't simple, and my heart went out to the likes of me – ones who are also being crushed by the likes of you, but even harder, so hard that the process of reaching out slips through their fingers. Still, I was grateful that I was finally getting the support I really needed, because slowly and unevenly, you started to fade away.

Now you are on the fringes of my mind. You are neither gone nor controlling my life, and sometimes when I see leaves fly in the wind I smile and feel light again. I know you might return, perhaps stronger than ever, but I also know that you are not invincible. I know that I’m better equipped to take you on than ever before, and even if you do bring me down, for a while or for ages, you will never define me. You may dominate some periods of my life, and control my thoughts, but you can’t define who I am. My personality will never equal you. Whether at my worst moments I can remember it or not, there is always more to me than you.