A Love Letter For Those Struggling With Chronic Depression

If I am being honest with myself I never thought I would be back here. In this place, this feeling. Stuck. Stagnant energy anchoring down my heart and soul. Like wading through muddy water: it is exhausting and feels like it will never end.

I was diagnosed with Chronic Depression around the age of nine- a diagnosis, I have come to realize, that I ignored. I am not sure what it was. I never felt ashamed of my mental illness, it wasn’t something I could have caused and I knew it didn’t define who I was. But I think I chose to overlook the “chronic” part of my diagnosis because I wished that I would never experience that feeling ever again. I was constantly absorbing the luminous rays of glorious sunshine- I didn’t want to be catapulted back into the cold whispers of the dark. I forgot that it is like a volcano: it can stay dormant for months and maybe even years, but it will always have the potential to erupt. Just like that the sleeping dragon woke up inside of me and I didn’t even notice.

I found myself staying in bed a little longer each morning, skipping out on my morning sculpt classes at first and then yoga soon followed. I didn’t change out of my pajamas straight away, and I would do my skincare routine around lunch. I would have to convince myself to work, taking hours to talk myself into doing things I used to love. I stopped reading and binged series from the poisonous comfort of my duvet: never to emerge.

I was really angry with myself at first. I couldn’t understand why I just couldn’t bring myself to do the simplest of tasks. Things I loved, that never failed to bring a smile to my face, left me feeling numb and empty. But trust me, getting angry with myself only made it worse.

So, hear I am. Writing about it, which is comforting. But truthfully, I am not here to comfort myself. I could do that from the safety of my therapy sessions. I wanted to comfort you.

You. Whoever you are: whether you are young or wiser. Male, female, non-binary or gender-non-conforming. Depression does not discriminate the way society does. It sits in your brain, until it has turned your suppressed insecurities into your biggest nightmares. It doesn’t stop until you have, in your heart, the potential to hate yourself. Please don’t beautiful person. Yes, I called you beautiful because that is what you are. Beautiful. Why? Did your depression tell you otherwise? Of course it did. That is what it does. And it does a pretty good job of it.

But as impossible as it may feel, you do not have to listen to it. Please be gentle with yourself. Rome was not built in a day and your heart will not be liberated within one try. It will take time. You will fall sometimes, it is inevitable. But you will never fail because if you failed that means you gave up on the phenomenal life that the universe envisioned for you.

You have not failed. You will not fail. You’ve still got breath in your lungs? Then the universe isn’t done with you yet. You don’t have to remain in this hole, you can choose to give yourself a hug and tell yourself that everything will be okay. You are the only one who can decide whether you will let the depression take over or not. After that, it gets easier. The hardest part is showing up for yourself. From then on, lean on others: talk to friends, parents and therapists. Go for a walk if you can’t manage a run. Hop on a yoga mat or go for a cycle. Put on a skincare mask or cook for yourself, glass of wine in hand. Read a book that feels like comfort.

Remember what it was like before this moment. That there was sunshine before the storm and that there will be sunshine again. You have just got to decide to go chase that rainbow. Be gentle, patient and kind with yourself. The dragon will go back to sleep: whether it is for a month, a year or a couple of years- it will sleep.

This is just a thing. It is a thing that we have to manage. There is no cure and I think that is what I had hoped for in the beginning. Yes, it is hard work but we can do it. You are one of the universe’s strongest survivors.

And I believe in you. Please believe in yourself.

Andrea Sachs in training.

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