Dear Survivor of the Hell of Depression – a response

response to depression letter

Don’t say sorry. As part of the society that made you a victim and made you despise life, it’s I who must apologise for not doing anything to change things.

EDITORS NOTE: This was written in response to the article titled “A Letter from the Hell of Depression” published earlier this week.

Dear Survivor,

As I read your beautiful piece of writing, I was devastated. And I’m not saying this for you to have any self-pity, or any more polite sympathy, (I’m sure you’re fed up of people looking at you as a victim, a patient, as opposed to the true warrior you really are), but I was devastated by your apologies.

It shouldn’t be you, it should be me.

As you so appropriately said, ‘depression’ is a taboo. And it has so tragically pushed fighters like yourself, to a point of believing that its your fault, that you’re the one meant to take the blame, that you’re the one responsible, that you’re the one guilty – that you’re the one who should be apologising. And you’re not.

I’m sorry, for making you feel that way.

And as a member of Sri Lankan society, a part of the youth that’s meant to be shaping our society for the better and not worse, I believe it’s my responsibility, not yours.

I’m sorry that you felt like the embodiment of a 5 letter word because you aren’t. You are so much more. You are a victim of some thing unfortunate, but you chose to be some one that comes out of it a better person every day; and although I may not be able to empathise with you fully, I know it takes more than a few deep breaths and counting from one to ten. I know that the possibility of seeing light in such a bottomless crevasse of darkness seems used to be nil to you, so the slightest time you do see a beam, subtly shining through a crevice, I hope you know, you are winning. You are winning the fight against this disheartening dejection and you truly are, showing Him who’s boss. So, I apologise, for making you feel like you are in debt to this world, when you owe no one but yourself, pure happiness. So I have a symbolic gesture for you, it may not impact you at all, you may even call it silly, but if we do ever meet, and even if we don’t, I’d like to call you ‘Happy.’ We often address those with formalities and pronouns we believe they deserve, and I believe you deserve this extra-ordinarily simple adjective – just to be a rebel you know, Happy.

I’m sorry for changing you. You said you used to appreciate the little things in life, and I’m sorry for making you lose sight of that. Its understandable that when you’re shunned, mocked, scorned at by a society that is more ignorant than sensitive, you tend to focus on the bigger things, the more scientific things, the things they want you to do. In order to escape this rut of despair I realise the pressure you perhaps had to “get over it” as opposed to overcome it. But I hope you know that the little things, are still what really matter. Forget about them – I know its easier said than done, but try and remember, try really hard. Remember the time you came home from school and Ammi had made the best chicken curry and yellow rice you will ever have. Remember your first crush and doodling their name on the back of your math book, how you felt when you saw them, how you bullied them because – hey, we all have our moments of pride. Remember that test you didn’t even have to cheat for, and the one that Thaththi gave you a big hug and kiss for, and also the one that you might have gotten a blasting for. Remember the cricket match, when we finally won and its been awhile, or the polite stranger on the beach that complimented your hair, or the Malli at school that loved to play with you. Remember the time, you were truly, genuinely happy, and smile, and please, don’t stop.

I’m sorry for making you lose faith in this world, for making you despise dreaming, learning, loving. I’m sorry that humanity has disappointed you, that we have ruined the best things that life has to offer- hopes, knowledge, heart. But you can revive it. With each day comes a new beginning, with each drop of morning dew comes new opportunity and you have an abundance of time. Each day I promise you I will learn some thing new, for you, for me. And nothing says it better than the French proverb: Qui vivra verra. (He who lives, shall see.) You can still learn beyond “Je m’appelle,” and “Konichiwa,” you can still learn how to Tango, Salsa, Jive, break-dance, because nothing is beyond your reach. The world is at your finger-tips.There is no such thing as “too late,” only “too little,” so live, learn, love. Feel again. 

I’m sorry for making you feel like your anger was offensive, that you pushing me away was not okay, that its your fault, your weakness. I’m sorry. I can’t even begin to imagine the frustration of persistent insecurity, relentless despair, etched detachment from the rest of the world, feeling like you have lost touch with humanity and your old self. I can’t even begin to imagine the pain of internally yelling at yourself, and when you finally do vocalise your emotions – you yell – unwillingly, unconsciously, you just yell. And you’re scared. You’re scared that you’ve lost him, you’re scared that she won’t handle it anymore, you’re scared that you let your illness get the best of you. And that’s alright. I do not know you, but I owe you, the reprieve of saying, I forgive you. On behalf of every person that you have lashed out on and felt painfully guilt towards, it’s okay. You deserve to vent out your frustration and we understand. We understand that you love us, its just this demon within you that’s caused a festering wound of despair, that you just need to sometimes, yell. Again, I forgive you: for pushing me away, for screaming at me, for not replying, for ignoring my calls, for avoiding me, I forgive you, and I still love you too. But I just want you to know, you didn’t have to. All those, “whys, ifs, maybes,” I would have stayed, I would have answered, I would have understood. I would have endured your yelling because I know you don’t mean it, I would have waited for those replies, I would have cried with you, celebrated your steps to recovery with you, I would have fought, with, you. Its no weakness nor fault of yours, but hard times, tests and trials, only expose those that you really need in your life – the ones with the wings, the horns, and neither.

You are not weak, and you are not alone. Open up to me, I beg of you. Take a risk, I plead. Because when this shell of yours has shed, and you can fly the worlds again my Friend, I will watch you. I will thank you. For being so incredibly strong, for being an inspiration to broken hearts on battlefields around the world, for being the reason I smile, because you smile, for being more warrior than victim.

“Take heart you are not alone, you will never be alone. You will fly again.”

You most definitely will.

With love, hoping this reaches you in the Heaven of Happiness,

your Friend.

Depression in its entirety isn’t the social problem, it is the response to it. It is a matter worth much more attention that it receives for the pure basis of cultural and social taboos. We need to begin a movement, we need to start telling people that its okay to talk about it, that its best for them if they do. We need to develop a community of understanding, respect, compassion, support and nothing but love to these fighters. We need to show them that anonymity is unnecessary, because we’re only here to show them kindness and support. So start talking about, urge your friend, your sister, your brother, your distant relative, even yourself, talk about it.

Don’t forget to read the original Letter that inspired this response, if you haven’t already; http://intca.org/depression-sri-lanka-letter/  

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