“DEAR DEPRESSION” . . .


     I am writing this letter to inform you that I won. Your efforts to keep me mired in darkness were admirable, but the truth is, you never had a chance in hell. Sure, it may have seemed like you were victorious at times. There were many days you even had me standing with one foot in the grave. But I don't think you considered who you were up against. My heart is stronger than the noxious seeds you placed in my head. My spirit is far more powerful than the lies you spewed in my brain. Your deception is now easy to see. All the times you told me I was not good enough; the mornings you said, “life isn't worth living,” or even the days you made me believe that no one loved me: Absolute lies. You, my friend, are the ultimate bullshit artist.


     Still, I'm not mad at you. Although you stole precious time from me, executed my dad, wounded my friends, played a significant role in my divorce, caused financial struggles, and even had me living in a camper for nearly a year, I do not have one ounce of regret. Zero. Because I know that all of this has provided me with insights and opportunities that will keep you at bay. Not just in my life but also with those who have yet to meet you. So as you can see, it was a big mistake to choose a guy who would ultimately reveal your tricks to the world. In other words, my primary mission is to spend my waking hours studying you, showing people your weaknesses, and proving that you can be conquered. (So, yes, you're fucked.)


     Also, despite your best efforts, it's clear that when you convinced me to say, “I am depressed,” it was just another one of your attempts to formulate an identity crisis. I now understand that I'm not you, but rather, I experienced you. I will not be labeled. Nor will I allow you to scam others into believing that they are broken and need to be categorized. I will especially reveal this to our youth. So the next time you attempt to make a middle school kid feel hopeless, I will spring into action. And when you tell a young girl to cut jagged lines across her wrists, I will teach her about self-love. Most of all, when I hear of you slithering into an individual's mind, convincing them to leave this world . . . . I will take you down. Not with anger or hatred or unkind words though. I refuse to stoop to your level. Instead, I will choose everything that you are terrified of—hope, optimism, compassion, kindness, and love.


     But there's more. I'm coming for your friends, too. Because I now see that you have vile acquaintances—gremlins that steal into human consciousness when least expected. It's obvious that you are collaborating with other forces, which in essence are a direct pathway to you. Resentment, hatred, hopelessness, fear, self-judgment, low self-esteem, and others associated with your wicked ways will experience the same fate as you. Each time they rear their ugly head, they will be obliterated by massive amounts of kindness and love. (So they're fucked, too.)


     Those who know me will confirm that I'm an easygoing guy. I prefer cooperation to confrontation. And like the billions of other people who reside on earth, I, too, simply want to be happy, healthy, and free from suffering. So if you were willing to move on and find another planet or galaxy to inhabit, that would be best. But, if you don't, I'm going to become one of your most notorious antagonists. The choice is yours. If you stay, I will be watching your every move, showing the world how to stop you and your cerebral pollution.


     However, I'm not naive. I acknowledge the fact that you have made great progress, creating disgrace and stigma around mental illness. Working with kids, I see this in our educational system each day. I'll give you credit; you've also done an exceptional job of instilling fear in the minds of well-meaning adults. As a result, many continue to ignore the truth about teen anxiety, depression, and most of all, the vast increase in suicide. But that's about to change. Along with an incredible band of supporters, I am prepared to do whatever it takes to eliminate your destructive ways. Together we will teach children to wholeheartedly accept themselves. Self-love is to you what chemotherapy is to cancer. And once kids learn to fully honor who they are, you cannot survive.


     No surprise, while in the midst of composing this letter you came back for me with a vengeance. And I must say, your cruel efforts to call my bluff and pull me back into an abyss were low, even by your standards. To prey on me after my beloved dog Mollie had seven violent seizures in a day, lost her ability to stand, and went through 72 hours of mental and physical hell was pure evil on your part. But Mollie's teachings on resiliency crushed you. Did you notice? Despite the tumor gnawing at her brain, even she refused to fall victim to you. For three days, she'd crash to the floor again and again yet still get back up. Not only did she get up, but also rose to her feet with dignity, a smile, even wagging her tail. There was no way you were going to steal her joy, her tender kisses, or her desire to snuggle with me during her final nights. Her message to you was crystal clear: Love wins.

     

     Saying goodbye to my beloved, four-legged friend will likely remain the most difficult decision of my life. To watch the light leave her soft brown eyes while they looked into mine left a scar carved deep into my heart. And yes, Depression, there have been moments I've felt your hot breath on the back of my neck. But unlike before, I can see your hateful notions before they take root in my mind. Especially the “What Ifs.” What if the vet was wrong? What if I had waited—I could have had a few more days with her. What if we could have spent one more summer together? I'll admit; these thoughts have punched me in the gut for days. But like Mollie, when I fall, I will practice the adage: “Fall seven times, stand up eight.” So once again, you lose . . . and love wins.

     

     Depression, it's been a wild ride. One I'll never forget. And though my words toward you may seem combative, please know that I am genuinely grateful. It's true that our time together was the most painful chapter of my life. But I am hopeful it now becomes a gift to those who feel alone; who seek a way to defeat you, or need proof that authentic happiness still exists after meeting you. So I am thankful. The lessons learned throughout this ordeal have been spiritual and psychological gold. But if by chance we do meet again, know this: I'll be ready for you. (And, yes, you are totally fucked.)


Love,

Michael


WARNING: the following excerpt from "Truth Over Shame" contains graphic language.

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