DEAR MELISSA


Dear Melissa,

How are you feeling today?

You don't have to answer that. People always ask me that question and it's never any easier to answer.

They're always looking for a simple response. A quick "I'm wonderful" before they float on by. I'm sure you can agree with me, it's often so much more complicated than wonderful.

Sometimes the inside of my head feels like the base of a waterfall, with streams of water continuously pounding at it from the rocks above. Beautiful from a distance, but painful from inside. Other times my head feels like a blue sky, punctuated with raging grey clouds. I know that blue sky is a representation of me. I know the clouds are just temporary and I will see through them eventually.

But for now, they are there. They are obstructing my view. They are clouding my judgements and making me think I'll never see a cloudless sky again. But I know I will, just as I know you will too.

Mental health is hard. It's hard to talk about an it's hard to explain to people, because unlike the scars which come with a physical injury, when my head feels broken, I have nothing to point to. We can't prove that we're sick. People have to trust that we do, and that can often be a difficult thing to do. People need proof. But they shouldn't. Don't let them invalidate you. Don't let them make you feel as though your illness isn't real, simply because they can't see it on the surface of your skin. You are valid and so is your health.

I'll keep this part short and sweet, but I'd like to offer you with some tips which I've found helpful when dealing with my own mental health. Remember that if you wake up feeling sad, it's okay to write the day off to one which will be spent watching Netflix and feasting on chocolate. Productivity can happen tomorrow. Don't underestimate a warm bath's ability to calm a racing mind. Cleaning your space will give you a cleaner head. Going for a walk is a good distraction from sadness. Listening to the soundtrack from a musical and belting out the words will put a smile on your face. Practising deep breathing when you're in an unfamiliar place and can feel yourself getting panicked can help to stop a panic attack before it starts to set in. Dance a lot. Drink copious cups of tea. Steer clear of social media on low days. Try your best to talk to people and be open about your health. See a doctor. Don't be afraid of therapy. Don't let one bad day get you down. Tomorrow is a new day.

I guess I'm writing this letter to tell you that it's okay to feel sad. If you don't feel like leaving the house some days, or feel too sad to be productive, that's okay too.

If you are a tree, depression is the leaves which you shed each winter to ready yourself for new ones. If you are the sky, depression is the grey cloud which is slowly blowing out of sight. You are a diamond. You are a unique being forged from stardust. And you are stronger than you'll ever know.

Your health is important and so are you. Some days, it may feel like the entire world is against you. It may feel like your own head is against you. But you are here. You are breathing. You are alive in this minute spec of time on our timeline.

And that's got to count for something.

Best wishes,

Lauren


Read Melissa's letter to me, here.

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