Open Letter

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Community Voices

When men make you feel unsafe

<p>When men make you feel unsafe</p>
Community Voices

An Open Letter: To my Mom

Dear mom,

I’m forgiving you for an apology that I’ll never get from you and that hurts the most.

I keep trying to forgive you for blaming me, and neglecting my needs. I’m forgiving you for not being there for me and for all the times I cried myself to sleep because of you. I’m forgiving you for making me parent your kids and myself, and take care of you as well.
But it’s so hard when you will never admit that you did those things, or that you were wrong.

Even if you did admit that you were wrong, it wouldn’t do me any good, because I can’t take back all the hurt you’ve caused or the bridges you’ve burned.

I know that you loved me, and that you did the best you could, but it wasn’t good enough. I deserved better, and I still do. But you won’t listen to that, and I know that you will never be able to do better than what you have done.

I’m forgiving you for an apology I will never get. I’m making amends for you, and trying to heal my own heart. I guess it makes sense, since I was my own parent anyways, that I would have to parent myself through adulthood, a time when we should be closer than ever, yet I still find myself walking on eggshells around you.

I’m forgiving you so hard that it hurts. It hurts because you went there. It hurts because of your judgment and rejection. It hurts because I needed you, and you didn’t care. It hurts because you should have been my mom.

I’m forgiving you, and forgiving you, and now im crying through a damn Lumineers song.

But I forgive you, mom.

Because you are my mom. ❤️

#ReactiveAttachmentDisorder #BorderlinePersonalityDisorder #Depression #Anxiety #OpenLetter

Community Voices

The Other Gender.

Young men or men in general are just as important as women. They are valid. Their stories should not be seen as a lie or attention seeking. They have struggles. They need love. To all the men out there who think they can’t be vulnerable: You can. I hope you will, because you’re worthy of being listened to. You are worthy of getting help and becoming better. You’re worthy of feeling handsome again. You’re enough. You’re loved. Please don’t give up. We may not know each other, but I haven’t given up on you. I won’t. I never will. #ItsOKMan #MensMentalHealth #OpenLetter #Disability #ChronicIllness

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Hi There, Newly Diagnosed Chronic Illness Warrior

Hi there, newly diagnosed chronic illness warrior. Welcome to the club that you never wanted to be in. This world can feel scary and overwhelming, and you may feel like you’re navigating through an absolute nightmare. You need to know some things, starting with the fact that you’re not alone. First of all, many of us call ourselves “chronic illness warriors,” instead of “chronically ill.” Why you ask? Because we are a community full of badasses, that’s why. We overcome what seems like endless obstacles in our daily lives, and the obstacles that everyone faces are different. Someone may struggle with the lack of accessibility for mobility aids in many places, while another person may struggle to gain weight, as their bodies don’t take in nutrition easily. While those are not obstacles that I need to overcome at this time, I definitely have my own daily obstacles. As a person with hypermobility type Ehlers-Danlos syndrome, fibromyalgia, and myofacial pain syndrome, the majority of my struggles are related to joint instability, pain, and crushing fatigue. I struggle to walk down the street without dislocating something, and I definitely struggle with painsomnia. I’m not saying that life as a chronic pain warrior is completely awful, because it’s not. I’m also not saying that it’ll be easy, because trust me, many of our lives are anything but. Though all of our struggles may be unique, they are all valid and equally important. In the days and weeks after your diagnosis, you may not know what to feel – you may be so full of emotions that you feel like you just can’t cope, or you may feel numb. You may feel relieved that you have some answers, or be absolutely terrified. You may be angry at the universe for putting you in this position. You may be incredibly sad, and grieving the loss of your plans for the future. You may feel all of that (and more) multiple times a day. I’m going to tell you a big secret to help process your emotions. Let it out. If you’re angry, be pissed off. Scream and yell, throw something, do whatever is cathartic for you – so long as it’s safe. It you’re feeling overwhelmed, cry if you need to. Talk to someone, write things down, talk to a social worker…do what you have to do to get those feelings out there. It’s OK to feel like you’re in a very dark time, just don’t unpack and live there – absolutely seek mental health guidance if you need it. Anxiety and depression are often chronic illness’ handmaidens. It doesn’t make you weak, “crazy,” or anything else society can associate with mental health issues. It makes you a real person with real, valid issues. I myself struggle with general anxiety disorder and panic disorder, and I can tell you from experience, people can and do thrive with both physical and mental illness. Just keep in mind, if we repress our feelings, not only can our physical and mental health symptoms get worse, the path to acceptance is that much longer. If you’re going to research, please look up reliable medical sources. Research is my jam, because I like to know everything I can about my conditions. It makes self-advocacy that much easier. I have personally found that looking through message boards to be a great way of finding out what people’s experiences are regarding a particular condition, but that is it. I try to find information on professionally vetted sites, like the Ehlers-Danlos society (or whatever organization that deals with your illness or disability), or the National Institute of Health (NIH), because I know that the information presented is complete and correct, where as message board information is not always correct. I have seen information in user posts that could quite frankly be considered dangerous, such as mixing medications that are both known to decrease respiration rates, which depending on an individual’s medical condition can cause serious injury. Mixing medications is a serious business, and should only be done under the supervision of a trained medical professional. If you have a question regarding medications, always ask your pharmacist. They’ve gone through years of education to become experts in pharmaceuticals. My doctor readily admits that my pharmacist knows medications better than he does. If you’re in a pinch, the Medscape app is really helpful. There are both free and paid versions, and it has a drug interaction checker that is available in the free app. I find it very helpful for the times that I have questions, and am unable to speak with my pharmacist for whatever reason. Research is a great way to compliment doctor’s advice, but never replaces it. Please don’t use the internet as a substitute for a medical professional. If you have questions or concerns, always address them with a member of your healthcare team. You will need to advocate for yourself, likely often and aggressively. I understand that doctor’s appointments are often frustrating, with a lot of information being thrown at you. If you have a close friend or family member to bring with you, that’s ideal. Another person in the room means another set of ears that can pick up any information that you missed. No matter what, keep in mind that you are not just dealing with a doctor, you are dealing with a person. A highly educated human being who can make mistakes, someone who may be burned out from seeing so many people a day, or someone who is genuinely not familiar with your condition. Don’t be afraid to tell your doctor what you need. This can be illustrated with a quote from a very famous pop culture doctor, Doctor Leonard “Bones” McCoy from the “Starship Enterprise,” “Dammit Jim, I’m a doctor, not a mind reader!” Finally, you will meet some amazing people, and some not so amazing people. Some people can’t understand that I am sick. I look fine. My hair is done, my lipstick and nails are done – I can understand some people thinking that I’m faking being sick. Some people don’t understand that I’m not faking being sick, I’m faking being well, and things like coloring my hair fun colors and doing my nails are sometimes very difficult, but I do it because it makes me feel more confident and unique. If you have those kinds of people in your life, it is perfectly OK to limit or sever contact with them. You should never have to feel invalidated by the people in your life. Those of us chronic illness veterans know that this is an amazing, diverse community. There is nothing like hearing, “Oh my God, me too!” when discussing my illness or challenges, because there is a immediate sense of comradary and validation. We post hacks, tips and tricks, in the hopes that it will help someone else. And, if you’re unclear about something that your doctor told you, there is likely a fellow warrior with a good understanding of that particular issue that is only too happy to help. We lift each other up, validate each others experiences, and best of all, we know that when we are going through a terrible time, we are not alone. We may never have wanted to be in this club, but here we all are. Yes, life with chronic illnesses can be exhausting and frightening, but there are moments that life is utterly breathtaking. We live with so many challenges, when those magical moments come along, they seem all the sweeter. I’ll leave you with this quote: “The strongest people I’ve met have not been given an easy life. They’ve learned to create strength and happiness from dark places.” – Kristen Butler With much love, Darcy We want to hear your story. Become a Mighty contributor here . Gettyimage by: Nastco

Advice for Those Just Diagnosed With POTS

Being diagnosed with a chronic illness such as postural orthostatic tachycardia syndrome can throw you into a whirlwind of emotions. At first it feels like a huge relief to be able to put a name to all of the symptoms you have been feeling for the last few years, but as you settle into this diagnosis, you soon realize that having a name doesn’t mean there is the quick, easy or painless cure. Reflecting over the past year, since the time of my diagnosis, there are a few pieces of advice I would give to my former self – or to anyone who has recently been diagnosed with a chronic illness. Learn to accept that this is the position you are in now, but that it is not permanent. Nothing is put in your way that you can’t overcome. There are going to be days where you want to give up. Days where the pain is just too much. You will be tired of living in a fog. You’ll want to throw in the towel because you wonder how you will live the rest of your life feeling this way, but don’t. The sun will set on those days and it will rise again with another chance to fight back. This is not your forever. Don’t let the fear of your own body failing you stop you from taking risks. Book the flight to the music festival even if you think your body cant handle it. Take the job where you will have to push your body to its limits because it’s your dream job, and nothing is going to stop you from taking that. When you aren’t sure if your body can endure whatever risk you are considering taking, say yes. This will prevent you from having to sit back and watch your life go by wondering “what if.” But on the flip side, know when you need to listen to your body. When it’s screaming, “Give me a break!” take that break. And don’t feel ashamed when it feels like you are giving in. Sometimes you need to give in. You are chronically ill after all. Learn to love “me time.” Often times it will be the only way to reset and replenish those spoons. Even though being alone with your thoughts can be one of the most difficult things, you will learn in time that this time alone is crucial for your mental and physical well-being. Find yourself someone within the spoonie community to be the one person that you can text every time you feel like dirt or when you experience a new symptom that you have no idea how to deal with. This person will help you get through your darkest days and will understand you better than anyone else does, because they live through this everyday just like you. This person will become one of your best friends. Not all places that once were accessible will be accessible to you anymore. There are too many places that are not handicap accessible and some days those four flights of stairs to get to the rooftop of your favorite restaurant will be too much. That’s OK. Eat on the first floor and try again next time. Never judge a book by its cover. You never know what others are going through, so always be sensitive to people. Don’t stare when you see someone who “doesn’t look sick” being pushed around in a wheelchair. Don’t question people who take the elevator up one flight of stairs. There is no such thing as looking “too healthy” to be sick. Be your own advocate. Don’t let doctors tell you that there’s not something wrong when you know that there is. You know your body better than anyone so fight for that blood test. Insist on getting that MRI. Suggest medications that you have researched that you think might be your answer to feeling better. Don’t take no for an answer. If a doctor tells you “no,” find another one. You deserve to have your health in the best hands so don’t stop until you find that. And most importantly, lean on your friends and family. Remind yourself daily of the support system you have and never feel like a burden. They may not understand exactly how you feel but they want to be there for you so let them. If you or someone you know needs help, visit our suicide prevention resources page. If you need support right now, call the National Suicide Prevention Lifeline at 1-800-273-8255, the Trevor Project at 1-866-488-7386 o r text “HOME” to 741-741 . Head here for a list of crisis centers around the world. We want to hear your story. Become a Mighty contributor here . Thinkstock Image By: EzumeImages

Rachel Grace

To My Parents, Whose Daughter Has 'High-Functioning' Anxiety

Dear Mum and Dad, I know it is difficult for you. No parent wants to see their child in pain – whether that be emotional or physical. As parents, you taught me how to walk and to talk, you taught me the importance of love and kindness, you taught me values in life that are important to success and happiness. You didn’t know one day, your little girl would slowly corrupt all the things she had learned from you, as her anxiety enveloped her in a bubble. Too scared to wake up. Too scared to leave the house. Too scared to tell you how she really felt. I was somehow distancing myself more and more from two people who loved me. You saw my pain. I couldn’t explain why I felt the way I did, I just knew it was becoming too much. Overwhelming me with no answers. I tried to disguise it; it was a futile attempt. You knew. By facing my mental illness with me, you certified that I wasn’t alone. Countless nights of midnight panic attacks. Days, weeks, months on end of you comforting me as I cried over the hopeless thoughts I’d encompassed within myself, providing help through it all. You were always there. Your love and reassurance became my support system throughout all of the bad days in which my anxiety affected us all. You reminded me there will be an end — or at least one day it’ll diminish into something I can manage and control at ease. You reminded me I would be far stronger upon reaching the other side of my journey. You reminded me that self-care is important – something I had forgotten along the way. Because of you, I am able to achieve success, despite my illness. Without your positivity and encouragement, I’d have taken a different path. I know my “high-functioning” anxiety is difficult for you. I understand that you are often lost upon knowing what to do and what to say to me. I am aware this is very much your battle, as it is mine. Thank you for always being there for me. Thank you for accepting my mental illness. Love always, your daughter with anxiety. We want to hear your story. Become a Mighty contributor here . Thinkstock photo by moodboard —

Emma Axtell

To the Friends Who Stayed Through My Eating Disorder

To the people I am lucky enough to call friends: You watched my obsession with perfection in school get worse, causing me to obsess over little details. You watched as my obsessing moved into what I ate and what I did. You watched me start to count calories and macronutrients, steps and active minutes. You watched me buy the scale and listened to me complain about how fat I was. You watched me refuse food because “I just ate” or “My stomach is a little upset right now.” You watched me become more withdrawn and begin to skip classes and obligations. You watched me drag myself to the trail to walk for hours and hours in the middle of the night to lose the “extra weight.” You watched me ignore your pleas to get help and to talk to you. You watched me shrink mentally and physically. You watched me ignore your help, go down a path that could have led to my death. I pushed you away to keep my addiction to restriction. I screamed and yelled at you to leave me alone. I made anorexia more important than you. And yet, you stayed. You didn’t run away, scared, like so many did when they found out the real reasons I left school. You stayed. You hugged me, told me it was OK, and stayed by my side. You checked in on me, making sure I was going to my psychiatry and nutrition appointments. You made sure I was sticking to my treatment plan and following my meal plan. You made sure I was taking my medications. You held my hand as I cried into plates of food I didn’t want to eat and reminded me how strong I was. You helped me be strong enough to throw away the scale. You helped me begin to live again. So, dear friend, thank you. I know I haven’t been the best friend. Anorexia made me selfish and angry and mean. I’m sorry I was not a good person to you. I know our friendship hasn’t been easy. I know it was hell watching me disappear into a monster you couldn’t even recognize. I know you probably wanted to turn the other way and leave. But you didn’t. You stayed. And for that, you are the most incredible human being alive, and I am the luckiest person in the world for having you in my life. I love you. Thank you. If you or someone you know is struggling with an eating disorder, you can call the National Eating Disorders Association Helpline at 1-800-931-2237 . We want to hear your story. Become a Mighty contributor here .

A Letter to a Friend Who Is Afraid to Talk About My Mental Illness

Dear Friend, I’m a fighter, I’ve always been a fighter. You knew that — you still know that. Yet, sometimes you look at me wondering why my life turned out to be so underwhelming. All these grand ideas I had for myself and not even a handful of them accomplished after all these years. I spent many long nights wondering why I had failed, and where I had failed. This was until I realized I’ve not failed and I’ve not given up fighting. You see, my life is very overwhelming for me – something that you would know if you were not afraid to bring up the topic of my mental health. The way I see it, I fight tooth and nail to live one more day, every day. Life is exhausting. Life beats me up black and blue. Life is a bully with nobody to pick me up or shield me. Every day, I watch as I pick myself up over and over, steady myself and get ready for another battle with the hopes of winning the war. The courage I pluck out of nothingness but sheer willpower has to come from somewhere right? All the grand plans I had for myself have to wait, wait until I’ve laid the groundwork well for myself. When you walk into a beautiful house, you wonder who decorated it and who painted it. I seldom see you wonder who laid the groundwork first — who laid the plans so meticulously to then allow for someone else to decorate it beautifully. Sometimes you forget, sometimes I have to remind you. I hope that you know I’m not lazy and that my life is not underwhelming for me. My life is an adventure every day, one that I did not sign up for, but an adventure nevertheless. And one day, I hope to navigate plans to the original plans, or at least weave them into my current plans — I haven’t forgotten about them. Love, Me We want to hear your story. Become a Mighty contributor here . Thinkstock photo via Ingram Publishing