One of my great loves in life has always been writing. Sure, it was always one of my strengths academically, but writing is my comfort blanket and a means of connecting to myself when I’m confused, desperate, or lacking direction. It’s also the first thing I turn to when I’m basking in contentment and want to preserve a piece of the moment to treasure later on. I truly believe that writing saved my life on more than one occasion, and it helped me to keep dragging myself along through the dark in the midst of a seemingly endless depression, allowing me to see the glimmer of light at the end of a suffocating tunnel.
The past few months have been pretty hard. I’m getting to the point now where I have loving, loyal friends who I know have my back and with whom I can be my freest self, but in the times when friends like that are painfully absent, we realize we have no one to rely on but ourselves. It can be difficult to support yourself in the times when you’re struggling, especially if part of the reason you’re struggling is due to feelings of inadequacy. You all better believe I have been there! It’s hard to admit, but I’ll be honest: the last few months I have struggled almost constantly with the feeling that I am somehow not good enough. Now, the logical, conscious Emily knows that this is categorically not true; however, the Emily that still wrestles with depressive thinking has a hard time listening to the voice of logic. The number one thought in my mind immediately following my break-up last year was, “Why am I not good enough? What’s wrong with me?”
It was exhausting. The crazy thing is that if one of my friends were to say this to me, I’d probably slap them awake and say, “Are you serious?! You are so much more than enough!” It’s great when our friends are there to tell us that same thing and shake some sense into us, but what’s amazing is when we can tell ourselves that! I have dealt with depression long enough to know that mornings can be really difficult after something hard happens; you wake up and BOOM — you remember what happened and you feel this heavy cloud of dread settle over you before you’ve even sat up in bed. So, the night of my break-up I decided to write myself a letter. I knew that the first thoughts I’d have in the morning would be, “Why wasn’t I good enough? How am I going to get through this? What’s the point now?” So, those were the things I addressed in my letter. I started it off with, “Dear Emily,” and I went on to tell myself that I knew the next morning was going to be really hard and that the coming days and weeks probably would be, too. I acknowledged the situation, and I didn’t sugar coat anything. However, I also didn’t wallow and I was strong for myself so that Morning Emily would have someone to support her when the time came. I set that letter on the night table next to my bed, and you’d better believe it was the first thing I turned to the next morning when the sadness did, as expected, hit.
You don’t have to be going through a rough time to write yourself a letter! You can do it at any moment, even when you’re feeling on top of the world; sometimes the letters we write to ourselves from a place of joy can be an amazing comfort when we need a way to re-experience that happiness. You can write a love letter to yourself (and make it as corny as you want because no one else ever has to read it), or you can write a sort of ode to yourself declaring your kick-assery and boss-ness. Go all out! List your strengths. Praise yourself for your amazing character and the secret little talents you have! Give yourself a shoulder to lean on when things aren’t going your way; use your letter to hold your own hand when things are so dark that you can’t even see where the next step is.
Whether you want to write five words, five lines, or five pages, that part is up to you. There’s no right or wrong way to do this exercise, which is the beauty of it! If you need any help getting going, shoot me a message or leave a comment and I’ll be more than happy to provide you with some encouragement. This is a practice that has helped me not only to get through some really tough times, but to come through them stronger and more deeply connected with myself. I hope that it does the same for you. Chin up, you’ve got this!