An open letter about depression and illness
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Trigger Warning: This story contains suicidal ideations, depression, and PTSD references.
An open letter about depression and illness
This an honest open letter about depression and illness from Anna Tsagkari on her journey to try and overcome her illness.
To all my fellow chronically ill journeyers out there,
If you expect to read a humorous or witty story about recovery from chronic illness, you will not find this story to your liking. In this open letter about depression and illness I will attempt to talk about my journey with chronic pain and how we have evolved together.
This open letter is the first part, so it is raw, honest, and blue. If you feel it might trigger unpleasant memories, please skip it. If you are not at this stage of the journey where life stories about chronic health issues bring you comfort and soothe your ailment, then this story is not your cup of tea.
I wanted to talk about my story, but I’m afraid I am not emotionally ready to do that yet. I started writing, but I found myself unable to do that. Instead, I started crying. Oh, I could keep crying and crying. I could write a novel with my tears. I feel as though the pain has reached so deep in my brain that my brain cells transformed into pain cells. All my memories came back, crashing like waves. I find it ambitious that I wanted to write about my painful journey and speed up the healing process. I am not there yet. A little bit more patience. I do envy others who can do it. Those who can joke about their condition or have nonchalant conversations about it (I only have uncomfortable and awkward conversations).
Read more: Why I hide my chronic pain from people
One thing I have learned though is not to compare my pain and my journey with others. Everyone’s path is different, and it is important to acknowledge that. It is not a race or competition. I have to keep reminding myself of this beautiful quote of Claire Stancliffe: “Celebrate every small bit of progress and never compare yourself to anyone else. Everyone’s recovery is different and unique” (Curtis: 2019).
Where should I begin? I cannot find something humorous or witty to write. I guess I am not in that stage of recovery. I have accepted my reality, but it is a tough one, and the wounds from the trauma are fresh and bleeding.
It has been five years that I have been in daily, persistent, unbearable pain. It has been five years of endless doctor appointments, medications, incorrect diagnosis. Five years full of insomnia, stress, loneliness, exhaustion, physical pain, eating disorders, depression, anxiety. It has been five months now that I have been going to therapy and four that I have been taking antidepressants. The pain is still with me. A gentler version of him but it is here.
Read more: Why depression is like drowning
What I have learned from this time is that life does not stop and wait for you. Time does not stop because you are in pain. You suffer, and life goes on. It is that simple.
You either keep up the illusion of living for the sake of others, or you end everything. You stop the time. Then, life has no power over you. Nobody can blame you for not living your life to the fullest. It is because you want to live that you cannot continue living this way.
See? I am aware of how depressing it sounds.
'This open letter about depression and illness is raw, honest, and blue. If you feel it might trigger unpleasant memories, please skip it.' Click To Tweet
I want to end my open letter about depression and illness on a positive note. I am thankful for my pain, even if my trauma is deep. It has made me wiser and a more complete version of myself. It forced me to re-evaluate my priorities, my whole life. I am in the middle of my journey, and I have made significant progress. There is always hope. The road will not always be that bumpy.
Remember that your suffering does not define you. You are not your pain. You are an exceptional, resilient, beautiful soul. Do not ever forget this and do not let anyone tell you otherwise.
We are in this together.
You are not alone.
What you are going through is not your fault. Ask for help.
Many people care for you.
Ask for professional help.
Do not give up. I see you, and I love you.
I will get back to you with my progress. Hopefully, it will be more uplifting and motivating!
A few inspiring resources from Anna
- Instagram accounts @selfcareisapriority, @themindgeek, @i_weigh, @jameelajamilofficial @scarlet
- Book: It’s not ok to feel blue and other lies. Inspirational people open up about their mental health. Curated by Scarlett Curtis. Penguin Books
- Podcasts: I Weigh with Jameela Jamil
Anna Tsagkari is a French and English teacher who is passionate about integrating the visual arts into language teaching, social justice, women's rights, reading, traveling, scuba diving, and swimming.