When you are hurt by a friend or boyfriend, sometimes you write her or him a letter telling the person how you feel. It helps you get pent up feelings out. When you go through a traumatic event like abuse or rape, your therapist might suggest you write a letter to the person who hurt you to let go of the anger, pain, and anguish buried deep in you. After you write the letter, you bury it in a file or burn it. The letter may never be seen by the person, but the purpose is to help you find peace with what happened to you.
Have you ever thought of writing a letter to your illness? It will help you separate your illness from who you are, it will help you release your feelings toward it, and it will help encourage you to fight it. Your illness hurts you and pulls your feelings inside out, so why not tell it how you feel and what you think of it? Give it a try.
I’m in recovery, but I still have feelings about my illness so my letter is below.
Dear Mental Illness,
Most of my childhood I didn’t know what you were; I just knew something was tearing me apart bit by bit. You took a lot of my childhood away from me. I hurt my parents and siblings because of you. I felt so alone and sad because you drained everything bright and beautiful out of me. You sent me into fits of anger and I did stuff and said stuff I didn’t want to do or say. I hate you for that. You were so cruel and heartless. Did you even care what you were doing to me or how you were destroying me?
You tortured me and I was so scared of you that I kept my pain to myself. I tried to fight you on my own, but when my uncle was killed, you nearly broke my will to go on. Then when my cousin died in a car accident you pushed me so far down the hole of darkness I thought I’d never be able to climb out. You took away my will to live and made me try to take my life. Oh how I wanted to wrap my hands around your neck and squeeze the life out of you, just as you were doing to me. You made me sick to my stomach, you kept me up at night, and you caused my thoughts to race endlessly and my soul to linger in deep despair.
I just wanted to yell at you and tell you to leave me alone. You hurt me so badly and you were relentless. Oh how I despised you. All those years of my life you took from me and shoved me in misery. For a while I was free from you and during that time I made friends, I dated, and I had fun, but you came back. How could you do that to me? How could you come back and hurt me again? How could you send me back into the hole?
You took away my ability to make good decisions. I got into another abusive relationship and friends left me all because you had no mercy on me. I was even hospitalized, but in the hospital I decided you would no longer allow you to beat me down. I also decided I no longer wanted to live in your dark hole. I refused to allow you to rip me apart any longer. I fought you with all my strength over a period of several years. I punched you, I wrestled with you, I stood up to you, and I won. Years of battling you and I finally found strength to stand above you. You thought you could continue to destroy me, but this time I was stronger.
Sure, sometimes you send me into sadness and make me sick, but I am tough. You will never control me again. You are now just an obstacle in my life. I still get angry at you from time to time. You play games with me. No matter how hard you try, you will never push me down that hole again.
I won my battle with you and you lost.
Try writing a letter to your illness. Maybe it will help you feel better about it and give you the strength to fight it. It’ll help you look at your mental illness as an illness, not as a part of who you are. Let your feelings out in your letter, free your soul of the anger you have toward it and tell it what you think of it. You can keep the letter to remind you to keep fighting or you can burn it. Watching it burn can symbolize letting your illness float away while you put on your boxing gloves and fight it.
Writing my letter reminded me how far I have come, the journey I took, and the battle I won. It gave me closure to the anger I feel at having mental illness. Writing the letter and keeping it will help me stay within the light.