As we enter the darker and colder months, things that we have buried deep down throughout the year may decide to resurface. Or, perhaps, our anxiety and depression never go away, no matter the weather or season. Nevertheless, acknowledging our mental health is vital. And today's guest post does just that. It is truly riveting. Denisio Truitt, an artist, and writer, residing in New Orleans, wrote a heartfelt and poignant letter to her depression. Enjoy it below.
An Open Letter to my Depression
You know I’ve always found comfort and truth in written words, hence this letter. It’s easier to organize thoughts and feelings on paper (or rather screens and keypads) than to set words to breathe from my ever-anxious tongue. Speech has never been my thing as the connection between my brain and vocal cords is a faulty frayed wire, all sparks, and electric smoke. And so, when the words truly matter, I turn to poetry and prose.
We met early on, though I didn’t learn your name until high school while trudging knee-deep through the murkiness of teenage angst. A doctor with small rimless glasses and a clean-shaven head called you Major Depressive Disorder. Even now the words feel weighted and clumsy, like steel bolts in my mouth. The years following the diagnosis I tried to convince myself you didn't matter. I smiled in public, made my friends laugh, pretended to be "normal", hoping you'd eventually get the memo. You never did.
And then the other day it hit me. In our 26 year relationship, we’ve never actually spoken. How strange to think I’ve never told you how I feel despite your near-constant presence, your unwanted visits to my bed, and all the damage you’ve caused. Sure I’ve talked about you to family, friends, therapists, and doctors. I’ve even written poems and introspective pieces about your impact on my life. But I've never directed my words toward you, Depression. Not really. Perhaps because I never saw you as a thing to talk to. Until now.
So where do I begin? I could never unpack then trim down two decades of silence into a few flowery paragraphs. It would be a disservice to us both. So instead I’ll tell you where I’m at today with our relationship and the boundaries I need you to respect if we are to coexist in this vessel. It’s important you know that after years of denying your existence, after fruitless efforts to eradicate you from my body, I now wholeheartedly accept you. I acknowledge and accept your existence and your permanent space in my life. Does that shock you? It shocked me. But allow me to clarify.
Accepting you means I will no longer fight your regular visits. I've spent decades angered by your persistent presence. And you've spent decades feeding off of that anger. I hated myself. For my inability to barricade the door against you. For losing myself in the abyss of down comforters days at a time. For not texting back that friend. For putting significant others through my highs and low, low...lows. No more. It is pointless to hate you or resist you. I am no longer interested in destroying myself, ripping myself apart in an effort to reach you. I reclaim my energy and my power.
In accepting you, Depression, I accept the lifelong task of caring for you because having compassion for you is being tender with myself. Therapy, prescription medication, herbal supplements, crystals, smudges, journaling, and creative work have all been included in my arsenal of care. I understand that you are fluid and ever-changing and so I will be patient when what worked a month ago doesn't work this month. In accepting you I assume the obligation of being vigilant, checking in, and being brave enough to call on others if and when the burden becomes too much. Accepting you is accepting the work that must be done.
It is important you know my acceptance of you DOES NOT equal submission. This letter is in no way a white flag. I will never surrender my body and mind to you. I cannot allow you to drag me down into the interminable depths of you, Depression. In accepting you I will receive you, I will endure you, and I will believe in you because anything else is denying reality. I will even pour all of the love I can muster into you. But you will never have dominion over me. I have a lot of life to live and I intend to do so for quite a while.
I hope that you too can find acceptance in what I have written here. We have a long road ahead of us. I think we’ll be alright.
See you around,