Almost two years ago I wrote an anonymous letter to the editor entitled “I Want To Be Good At Something.” I was severely depressed, and my friends were all depressed too, and I wrote it to let them know that I knew how they felt, that they, and anyone else reading it was not alone. The story got some traction, while I’ve never come out as the author, I’ve heard it talked about since, and it seemed to do what I had hoped.
Recently I re-read it, and I was struck by how different the author was to who I am today. So I thought I would write a second letter and let you all know who I am now.
I am still depressed. I have not had an amazing turnaround, or recovery. Only, now it is a different kind of depression, and I find myself longing for who I was two years ago. Then my depression was centered on a desperate need to prove myself. I was young, talented, smart, and scared to death that those things wouldn’t matter when there were so many others just like me, only slightly better.
I saw vocation as a means to life having meaning. I didn’t mean for it to have some sort of ordained meaning, only that through it I could justify my own existence enough to continue it. Essentially I wanted some sign that my future was bright. It wasn’t bright. Or at least since then it only got darker.
I found myself discriminated against due to a disability I had all but forgotten was a part of my life. I had a health scare. I left my partner of three years and descended into three months of alcohol and poorly advised sex. I hit rock bottom and then tried to pull myself out of it. In an attempt to return to stability and sanity I ignored warning signs and got back with my ex. They abused me for the next six months, and then left me. I still have nightmares about them. The things they did and said to me keeps me up some nights.
I am in my last semester of my undergrad. I will probably do a masters. I’ve never let my grades slip enough that that would stop being a possibility. But I don’t assume that will do anything for me. I don’t assume much of anything these days. I’ve gone on a slew of Tinder dates, only to find that most people are selfish, inconsiderate, and sometimes downright cruel. I don’t think I’ll bother going on any more of them.
I don’t think I’ll become that writer I wanted to be. I don’t think I’ll be a journalist or a professor. I don’t know I’ll be anything at all. The people I keep closest to me, they’ve all advised me to go to therapy, some say for PTSD, others for depression or anxiety. I don’t think that will help though. It isn’t what I need. In this world, that I seem to only exist in because it would hurt too many others not to, that seems completely void of community or caring, what I think I need is some proof that intimacy and comfort are possible. I need some proof that when I tell my friends I have been abused they won’t reply with “who hasn’t?”
I no longer live in a world of dramatic assertions and grand desperation. Now everything, everyone, and every part of me is quietly resigned.
If you are still lucky enough to feel that desperate need to prove yourself, go read my last letter. I hope it helps. I have nothing to help anyone anymore.
If you want to help, buy the person in line behind you a coffee.
Maybe that’ll make them smile.
Editor’s note: If you are feeling anxious, depressed, or just need someone to talk to, please don’t hesitate to reach out to the University of Ottawa’s Health Services , or the Student Academic Success Service’s free counselling and coaching service.
If you want to speak with someone immediately, you can call Crisis Line Ottawa (613) 722-6914 or 1-866-996-0991, Ottawa Mental Health Crisis Line (613) 722-6914, or the Ottawa Distress Centre (613) 238-3311.