“A letter to myself: It’s okay to break down.”

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It gets better. We know it does. We’ve seen it. We’ve experienced it. No matter how hard it gets, please hold onto that, and the knowledge that you have been strong, and you have overcome so much. Please hold onto that, and know you can—and will—do it again.

For the last eight years or so, I’ve been struggling—and I mean really struggling. I’m not sure anyone really knows that; even those who are closest to me. I’ve had eating disorders, issues with self-harm, crippling anxiety and exponentially destructive depression. It’s taken me a long time to admit this, and to not be afraid.

In high school, I was always afraid of being judged for my emotions. I was afraid I would be told don’t be a sook, like my family had told me so many times. I was afraid I would be told ‘you’re just attention seeking’. I was afraid of being told cheer up, as if it were that simple.

I was afraid of being told other people have it a lot worse than you. We know that other people have it worse—but having that knowledge shoved in our faces only makes us feel more guilty. It’s relentless, and on top of an already dark abyss that is depression, it’s hell. It’s a shadow that never really leaves your side, permeating everything you do.

Mia Freedman tells us how she manages her anxiety. (Post continues after video.)

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Yes, I have experienced these emotions.  Frequently. And that’s perfectly okay.

Please, if you have depression, or love someone with depression, know this: we can make it through this together.

Emotions are fleeting. So, validate them. Process them. Let yourself feel how you’re feeling, even if there’s not an exact reason. There doesn’t have to be. Sometimes, you just need to do nothing at all, and heal. Stay at home. Watch a movie. Play video games. Read a book. Eat that delicious food. Cry as much as you need, and do not feel ashamed. Accept it, and slowly release your demons. Release them; don’t battle them.

It’s okay to feel sad.  It’s okay to break down. It’s okay to mope. You’re allowed to feel down—and don’t let anyone tell you anything different. It’s natural, and it’s healing. Haven’t you seen how important sadness is from Inside Out?

All the emotions are valuable. (Image via Inside/Out Disney) 

As I’m writing this letter to myself, I am feeling very depressed. I’ve been cheated on. I’ve been dumped. I’ve had someone I love tell me they don’t love me back. I’m overworked. I don’t even know what I want in life anymore. I’ve lost my direction, and I’ve lost that spark. I need to re-evaluate my life—what I want, what I feel, and what I’m going to do.

And it’s not always just sadness. It’s anger. It’s guilt. It’s heartache. It’s loneliness. It’s hopelessness. It’s worthlessness. It’s feeling like getting out of bed each day is a massive achievement, and if I happen to feed myself, that’s amazing.

If I brush my hair, take a shower or wash my face, I’m going fantastic. But it’s draining—and I’m realising you need that time do to nothing and feel down. You have to give yourself time to feel, and to process.

Every day, my anxiety cripples me. The world becomes a little smaller, and breathing becomes a little harder. My head is foggy. I can’t think. But I’m a writer—I’m supposed to be able to think. How I’m even capable of writing right now is phenomenal.

It's okay to break down. You'll get through this. Image via iStock.

Dearest reader, if you have felt as I have, please know it does not define us.

Every day, I am stronger. Every day, I get a little bit more of a resolve.  I discover myself a little more. I decide where it is I want to be, and I work out how to get there. I set goals—and slowly, I achieve them. I become more and more of the person I need to be.  Small steps, that’s all you need. (Post continues after gallery.)

There’s still bad days—and that’s okay. You just have to hold on. Cut yourself some slack. Heal. You’ve got this. Breathe. I’m not going to lie to you—whoever you may be. It will be one of the hardest things you will do. But will it be worth it? Oh yes. We know that’s true.

Take my hand, dear reader. You can do this. You are strong. You are beautiful. You are intelligent. You are hilarious. You are passionate. You can do this. You will survive. You will not let this beat you. This is not the end. It’s okay to break down sometimes, and everything will be okay.

Dearest self—you can do this. Just hold on, and breathe.

If you need help or assistance, please contact Lifeline here or call them on 13 11 14.

Zoe is a third-year journalism student at the University of Wollongong with a passion for all things wacky and strange. Follow her on Facebook and Twitter.

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