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A Letter to My Ex-Boyfriend, Depression

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Oh, hello again.

It’s been awhile, hasn’t it, since those seemingly endless days we used to share together, hidden from the world within the confines of my bedroom. A year, maybe? Something like that. It’s been so long, in fact, I had started to think you and I had parted ways for good. But how naïve that thought seems now. I should have known you were the type to prefer messy breakups.

You probably don’t even recognize me anymore. My face, once ghostly pale, now lights up with life when I’m in the presence of others. My eyes, once strikingly red from the tears that never stopped, have since taken a rest, instead choosing to shed their tears more sparingly. My body, once slowly wasting away, has regained its strength, its health and its capacity to serve me in the ways it used to. Before you took control, that is.

I’ve also long since parted with the sweater you always liked. Even months later, it still carried the scent from that week back in February, when its cozy, oversized hug was the only comfort I knew.  

I could go on. I could tell you about all of the times I’ve caught myself smiling again, singing again, dancing again and laughing again. But to do this would require days, even weeks of writing. Instead, I will assure you if you cannot recognize me, it’s only because I took back what you tried so hard to steal.

But don’t think I’ve forgotten you. How could I? After all, your presence wasn’t exactly unremarkable. Together we decided that “One Tree Hill” was my favorite TV show and spent most days in bed watching it, deciding the world was safer from under the warmth of the covers. We spent our evenings at the dinner table, maintaining a vacant stare as we avoided conversation, instead just intent upon eating for the first time that day. And then there was the night when we trekked through the snow in nothing but a t-shirt, aimless in our wandering, but needing to cry without being heard.

I also remember your voice, cruel in its tone but manipulative nonetheless. Its quiet whispers tried to tell me I was a burden, that if I didn’t hear from a friend for a few days, it was because they’d decided to abandon me. That same voice nearly convinced me there was no sense trying to graduate and receive my degree, because “did I really think I could do it anyways?” Of course not. It told me to neglect my laundry, my dishes and the mess on my floor, stealing what little motivation I’d had to do these chores to begin with. 

However, engraved most clearly in my memory is the day you tried to convince me my life was worth no more than a bottle of pills. You thought you could take my life away from me. That’s when I pinned you for the silent killer that you are. You wanted me to be yours forever. You wanted to keep my talents, my humor and my passion for yourself, so I might never have the chance to share them with the world again. But in that moment, I knew I no longer wanted to be buried under the weight of your presence and contained within the darkness that we shared. I wanted to be seen and heard and free from your restrictive hold.

So I fought back. I fought until there was nothing left in me and only then did you loosen your reigns.

That’s what I remember the most. Not that you tried to defeat me, or even that you almost did, but that I resisted your pull when it would have been all too easy to succumb to it. This is how I think of you now: You tried to defeat me, but instead gave me the chance to win the fight I didn’t know I was capable of.

That fight has not yet stopped. I still feel you lingering, waiting to take advantage of me on the days I’m not at my best. Did I choose to study instead of sleep? Stay cooped up inside all day? Somehow you’ll know, and you will have already made yourself at home, ready to catch up on lost time before I have the chance to turn you away.

Even still, your visits are less frequent these days and only once have you overstayed your welcome. Sometimes I don’t even know that you’re with me until I catch my reflection in the mirror and the face of my distant past is reflected back to me. Not that I mind these glimpses of the past. They’re a reminder of everything it took to get where I am today. They’re a flashback to yoga classes, late-night runs and lavender-scented candles; to aromatherapy, chamomile tea and the hours spent sitting across from my psychologist. They’re a reminder that even when I thought I might have exhausted every option, I found another reason to live.

So I smile at my reflection and she winks back at me. Together we find the strength to face another day.  

Until we meet again, depression. But please, take your time.

Emily C. & Anxiety Free Community

If you or someone you know needs help, visit our suicide prevention resources page.

If you need support right now, call the Suicide Prevention Lifeline at 1-800-273-8255.

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Originally published: November 18, 2016
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