Photo used with permission from the author.
Letter writing is a dying art due to the age of technology, but it’s a great tool for understanding your depression. I regularly write letters to people who have upset me or people I want to thank. I send the ones thanking people, because it makes me feel good, but I destroy the negative letters by burning them. It feels cleansing and somewhat ritualistic to me. I let the negative feelings go as the paper burns and the burden of those feelings is lifted.
You can write to anyone you think has wronged you. Let loose with your feelings. Get down every negative emotion. Fold it over, stick it in an envelope and seal it. You could burn them like me, throw them in the bin or keep them sealed in a cupboard. Sending the negative letters probably isn’t going to make you feel better.
You can write one-off letters, or you could make it a weekly or monthly ritual. I write to authors who have inspired me and my friends telling them how much I appreciate them. If you find it hard to articulate your feelings verbally to your loved ones, then writing them a letter may be the answer.
Write a letter to your future self. Write as though everything you want to achieve has already happened. Here’s a letter I wrote to myself recently. It will be opened when I graduate in 2021:
Congratulations on graduating. You actually did it. I bet you can’t believe it. You proved yourself wrong! You came to university to change how mental health is viewed, and get a better understanding of your own depression, and you have achieved this.
By now you have had books published and been quite successful. Your goal was a minimum of three books; one per year.
You should have control of your depression, know your triggers and be happy now. You should also be debt free if you followed your plan.
All you ever wanted was to make your kids and family happy. You stuck at this and you should be proud.
Mental health and social care are your calling. You are meant to help people and you are meant to do this through your writing. I hope you are confident in your abilities now. Stop doubting yourself.
You are strong and have worked hard to be independent. You never have to rely on ANYONE.
Write a letter to your depression and tell it exactly what you think of it. How is it affecting your life? How does it make you feel? Be open and honest.
There is a great organisation called letters against depression. You can request letters to be sent to you or you can volunteer to send letters to people who are depressed. More information can be found at www.lettersagainst.org.
An uplifting book to read is The Recovery Letters, edited by Olivia Sagan and James Withey. It is a compilation of letters written to people experiencing depression, by those who are in recovery.
Grab a pen and paper and get writing.
Natalie is an international bestselling hybrid author and freelance social care, self-help, and personal development writer. She is also the co-owner of Dragon Ghostwriters.
She signed a book deal with Jessica Kingsley Publishers in February 2015. Mouth Care: An Essential Guide for Carers is specifically aimed at professional and non-professional carers. It will be out in 2020.
Natalie's indie published books Write Through Depression and Journal Through Depression are out now, on all good online retailers.
Visit her website www.natalieroberts.net