Dear Me: A Letter to Myself on My Dark Days
Remember your favorite quote? “The greater your storm, the brighter your rainbow.”
Right now you’re in the middle of another storm, another depressive episode that’s part of your bipolar disorder. You’ve been through a lot of these — so many that it’s become a routine. Part of that routine is forgetting how to pull yourself out of the dark, so I’m going to remind you.
It’s OK to be sad. Keeping your feelings bottled up will only make you feel worse. Cry if you need to, stay in bed a little longer and skip your shower for a day. You can sit in the dark for a little while, but remember not to let the darkness sit on you for too long. At some point during this storm, you have to pull out your umbrella and your galoshes and walk through it.
You need encouragement right now, and I’m sorry those close to you don’t always realize that. I wish you could ask them for what you need: comfort, conversation and kindness. But asking for help has always been hard for you. You try to weather the storm alone even when the wind is strong and you need something to hold onto. I encourage you to reach out this time, and grab hold of whoever is there.
Don’t forget what you’ve learned in counseling. You have coping skills to use to help you get through this: journaling, coloring and playing with your cats. Don’t forget to eat. I know you don’t feel hungry, but if you want to feel better, your body needs nourishment. I know it’s hard, but don’t sleep too much. I know your bad thoughts go away when you’re sleeping, but you know how important it is to be awake and face those thoughts and do what you can to replace them with positive, more realistic thoughts. You know cognitive behavioral therapy (CBT) and even have an automatic thought chart. Use it! You keep it for times just like this.
You’re getting better at staying safe during the storm. You take your medication, you don’t miss any appointments with your counselor and you try to remember your coping skills. You still have a lot to work on, so you feel better sooner and don’t sit in the dark for so long. You are learning to put on your raincoat and step outside, but you haven’t begun to walk in the rain yet. You will get there. You can do it. You may get a little wet, but that’s what your raincoat, your coping mechanisms, are for.
This storm will pass, like the others do, and you will feel better. You’ll pull yourself out of the darkness and into the light and get better and faster at doing so every time. You are stronger than you think, smarter than you let yourself show and more beautiful than you realize. You have four kitty cats who love to snuggle, a daughter who consistently makes you smile and hobbies you enjoy. When the storm is over, you will return to those things a happy and bright young woman, stronger now than you were before this particular depressive episode.
I want you to reread this letter the next time depression hits, and the time after that, and the time after that. There’s no shame in needing reminding of these things because one day you won’t need the reminder. You’ll keep getting stronger, grow better at identifying your triggers and you’ll stop the darkness before it stops you. I have faith you can do this. I know you can. Just don’t give up, and remember you are not alone. You are fully equipped to weather the storm now, galoshes, raincoat, umbrella and all. Just don’t forget them the next time there’s a storm.
If you or someone you know needs help, please visit the National Suicide Prevention Lifeline. You can also reach the Crisis Text Line by texting “START” to 741-741. Head here for a list of crisis centers around the world.
The Crisis Text Line is looking for volunteers! If you’re interesting in becoming a Crisis Counselor, you can learn more information here.