Hey, sister with a heavy heart.
I’m so sorry about the things you’ve been through.
Know that I feel you, and I hold you in my heart.
I know that this sounds a bit rich. You don’t know me, and I don’t know you. I don’t even know what happened to you.
But I do know that it did happen. I’m saying – I believe you.
Some people won’t believe you when you tell them what happened to you. Some will say you should be over it by now.
Some of these people are officially Bad People, but a few are probably ill-equipped good ones. Some just won’t know how to deal with your turbulent and tumultuous history when it comes tumbling out over a casual Sunday brunch.
Perhaps they’ve never been through the kind of things you have. Perhaps they never will.
And even if they do go through something similar someday, it won’t be the same. The only person who knows how it feels to walk around in your particular skin, is you. Only you know the tiny, gigantic, niggling, staggering things that happened to you. Only you know the weight of your particular experience in this world.
Or maybe, there was no one event that happened to you that marked the beginning of the darkness. Maybe you just woke up without light one morning. And that doesn't make your feelings, your experience or your struggle any less valid.
Whatever happened or didn't happen, whatever led you to a challenging place, hold on. Our experiences may never 'unhappen' to us, but we must keep putting one foot in front of the other, still carrying our histories, but hopefully growing much stronger under the weight of them.
Depression and its siblings (anxiety, insecurity, panic) don’t arrive in morsels that you can pop under your tongue and dissolve overnight. They slap you across your brilliant shining face. They overwhelm you like an unexpected ice-bucket challenge. Like Jennifer Beals in Flashdance, beneath a vat of cold water.
Or they creep in like a chilly mist, gradually overwhelming our senses.
Depression comes in waves, anxiety doesn’t possess logic, and insecurity knows no perspective. They are real, and overwhelming, and they are yours to decide how to manage.
I implore you talk to people. Depression (and the rest) thrives in isolation. You can get counselling. You can join Facebook groups dedicated to the things you’ve been through. They are out there, your people. Try to find them.
Recently I sent out a tweet, asking if other people felt like their experience with emotional abuse was just not bad enough to count. Ditto their experience with sexual assault. Ditto their experience with depression.
The response, as I had half-expected, was all in the affirmative. Everyone felt gaslit – by the world and by themselves. What I hadn’t anticipated was that all the responses would come from women.
So, I want to tell you – fellow women of the world who might be struggling with something – what you went through was quite enough to be getting on with. It was significant. It doesn't need to be validated by others. It may not have made for a Hollywood-style breakdown (though maybe it did). You may not have cried tears over it (though maybe you did). But it was real.
I also want to tell this to myself.
If you or someone you know is struggling, consider contacting:
NZ Police: 111
Victim Support 0800 842 846
Rape Crisis 0800 88 33 00
Lifeline 0508 828 865Support Villainesse