As part of cognitive behavioral therapy you are often sent to fill out tables, first to identify your irrational, exaggeratedly negative thoughts, and then to respond with rational, more accurate ones. Because I often feel attacked by my negative thinking about myself, it can feel daunting to respond to each ridiculous thought as it arises. I know, even as it is happening, that my negative thoughts are irrational, but I still feel defeated and trapped. Because of this, I thought it would be useful to come up with a letter to myself, to read to myself, in midst of one of my negativity ambushes, that responds rationally and empathetically, to the irrational beliefs that ultimately fuel my depression. It is an open letter, because I consider it a work in progress, and because I would love to receive advice, suggestions, input, edits, etc. etc., especially from those who have experienced the challenges that depression brings. Thanks for your time and honesty! ❤
Here’s what I have so far:
An Open Letter to My Depressed Self
The way you are seeing the world is distorted, even though its ugliness seems so real. I know that you are struggling and that your emotions feel out of control. You need to know that you are much better a person, than you deem yourself to be at this moment. The people who love you are better equipped to confirm this. You should ask them about your doubts, listen to their answers and believe them, even if it hurts more to receive their love, than it does to continue hating yourself. Sometimes pain is necessary in the healing process.
Yes, it is true that you have made mistakes and survived hardships; it is part of being human. But remember that you have always had good intentions in your heart. It can be a tough course to learn that true love, is as much about loving as it is about being loved, that love is about balance, and boundaries.
Hard times have the potential to teach us about ourselves and help build resilience. But their worth can only be measured afterwards, in lessons learned. And sometimes a hard time is just a hard time. We have little control over this.
In the end, what will matter most is how we used the love we were given, across a lifetime. I know you deeply believe in the intrinsic worth of every being on this earth. This includes yourself. Just as you believe others to be worthy of love and understanding, so must you believe this of yourself, for yourself.
This makes it not only ok to lean on people, when you need them, but necessary. When you choose to lean, others also learn that it’s ok to lean back, when they need you. This is the way we, humans, have nurtured our love for one another, for all of our history. Do it even though you don’t want to, even though it goes against the very aching in your bones: do it anyway.
Finally, time is a curse – too much when we are suffering, too little when we are saying goodbye. But it also has healing powers, because, this too will pass! Let these words seep into your hurting heart. They may not feel good but you know, in your soul, there is wisdom here. Heed it.
Please remember that my love for you will always be greater than your disdain, even if it doesn’t feel that way right now. Love has always, and will always, win.