An open letter to mental illness

You’re so evil and manipulative that I can’t function without you some days. Other days you are pushed to the back of mind. Then 2.00 a.m rolls in and I’m awake and counting everything I’ve eaten that day with a sense of panic in my gut.

Have you ever written an open letter to your an illness? Or even to yourself?

I’ve always enjoyed letter writing. Quite often I wrote letters but never sent them, and I actually came across a few not long ago. I don’t know why I started this practice but I can only guess that it was some sort of closure or therapy in the absence of a professional. I’ve addressed letters to my parents, to my best friend, to people who have hurt me, and, now, I’m writing an open letter to anorexia nervosa.

It’s like a message in a bottle, so to speak. You write it, fold it up, and pop it away. You get all those thoughts out from your head and onto paper (or the screen in my case) so that they don’t pollute your vision anymore. Writing to the mental illness is a way of saying ‘I know what you’re doing to me, this is why I don’t want you anymore. Good Bye!’.


Dear Anorexia, this is an open letter.

We’ve known each other for well over a decade now which, no offense, is way longer than necessary. You’ve well and truly outstayed your welcome and I am writing this letter to you to formally ask that you vacate my life.

We met when I was in high school. I was thirteen years old, had just gone through a breakup with my first boyfriend, and was feeling unwanted. By no means was I a small girl having been kept well fed by my grandparents, so I’d always had issues with my body. The heartbreak was my excuse and I obviously felt it was time to migrate to a different form of self-harm. 

You fed off that lack of self-esteem and persistent self-hatred. Or didn’t feed as the case may be? No matter, you thrived under those conditions. The conditions of feeling unloved, feeling like an outsider, and the growing tensions at home. You enjoyed the negativity and developing depression. Like a dog enjoys a bone. 

You were in your element. 

I ran to you throughout those years for comfort, just like I do now. You’re my safety blanket, my fire extinguisher; My scaffolding. But I think it’s time I prepared for the fall. I think it’s time I fought the fire. 

It’s time for you to leave.

I miss muffins.

Thick slices of bread. Chocolate ice lollies and crinkle-cut crisps. In other words, I miss the ability to have a full and healthy relationship with food, life and everything in between. I miss it all far more than I could ever miss you.

You’ve nurtured a part of me that wants to dull emotions and hide away from how I feel, but that needs to change. You need to give that part of me back so I can fix it.

I haven’t felt happy in a long time because not only have you managed to block out the bad feelings, but you have also succeeded in pushing out all the good. There are so many occasions when I should have been overwhelmingly happy, but all I ever felt was a sense of apathy or urgency to get it over with. I couldn’t just live in the moment and that’s on you.

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Even in ‘quasi-recovery‘ I couldn’t look at myself and think ‘Damn girl, you look good today‘.

I always found something to pick at or hate about myself. I can’t remember what I look like anymore and I can’t see what everyone else sees. It’s just another thing on the long list of things you have taken from me.

You’ve taken my relationships, my social skills, my confidence, my self-esteem, my memory, my motivation, my body, my fertility, and the respect of others from me. This is not a definitive list by the way; you’ve pretty much ruined every aspect of my life so much so that I can’t list everything. Yes, ruined.

You’re so evil and manipulative that I can’t function without you some days. On other days you are pushed to the back of mind. Then 2.00 a.m rolls in and I’m awake and counting everything I’ve eaten that day with a sense of panic in my gut. I still do that every night and did for years although I would never admit it.

Please consider this your notice for the permanent termination of our relationship and your residency in my head.

A fanabla stronza.

Ciao

Rachel Gif - Open letter to mental illness.
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53 comments

  1. Thank you so much for reading. I had forgotten this post but I will have to circulate it again because it’s been gaining traction lately!

  2. What an awesome way to deal with your struggles when you are in recovery! That would be a good letter to revisit–so you can see how far you’ve come and so you can remember the struggle you were fighting at the time. Thanks for sharing such a personal moment.

  3. I spent a good chunk of my teens and early adult years being bulimic. It was on and off and i still battle with it sometimes. It is so important to write letters like this to yourself. It really helps you to reflect! Thank you for sharing this xx

  4. It takes such strength to overcome something as powerful as mental illness! Fighting with your own mind sucks! I hope you got through anorexia and are better!

  5. Ive always written to myself but not in a “dear” kind of way. Writing is such a great way to get out what you want to say! I always say its the healthiest form of therapy thats free!

  6. I love the way you have written this letter!
    Positive!

    Thank you for sharing!

  7. Wow , keep pushing this was good and heartfelt. As always thank you for sharing your story with us you are empowering many through this letter!

  8. It’s written so well I love the way it follow and how you express your anger towards something that’s blocking so much for you. I hope you can begin to heal … best regards

  9. Great post! Very brave of you to open up and share your personal struggle. It sure will help those battling with demons of depression, anxiety, anorexia and body dismorphic disorder. They can all stem from poor body image, which is the theme for this year’s mental health awareness week.
    Another taboo and undertalked mental illness related to poor body image is body dismorphic disorder and I have shared about it here: https://gurrusays.com/body-dysmorphic-disorder-the-ugly-truth/

  10. Such an amazing and powerful post! Thank you for sharing. This has definitely inspired me to write my own open letter in the future! Xx

  11. I LOVE this. I never would have thought to write a letter like this. I know this is going to inspire your readers to write letters of their own. It’s definitely inspired me.
    Thank you so much for sharing, as always.

  12. I love this post! What a fantastic way to deal with mental illness! I’m reaching for the pen and paper as we speak! Thank you for sharing something so personal xxx

  13. This is such a positive idea! A cathartic and good way to approach it. Bravo!

  14. That’s a good idea but I fear that if I were to photograph my depression/anorexia it would be, for lack of a better word, triggering for me.
    Thank you so much for stopping by 😀

  15. I can relate to this. It is so heartbreaking because I know what you’re going through. And I know that no matter how many people tells you everything’s going to be ok, it won’t feel like it until you actually want it to be ok. Until you actually ask for help. So be strong, and I wish you the best on your recovery.

  16. I’ve never had anorexia but I think it’s an empowering idea to write a letter to your mental illness. I wish you the best in your recovery. I love your blog and find your writing inspiring.

  17. I plan on addressing my depression and anxiety separately because they both have a hold over me, but not as tight as anorexia. I strongly encourage you to write an open letter, it really does help and it also holds me accountable in some way.

  18. Thank you for sharing your very personal letter, I am sure it will help many others going through the same thing!

  19. Well done for sharing, and for including this on my twitter blog link thread. Thank you!

  20. Wow Nyxie, this is empowering! Reading this literally sent shivers down my spine at the strength you have to be standing up to Anorexia and telling it “no more”,
    I used to have a notebook alongside my diary as a teen that I called “unsent letters” where I would write all the things I couldn’t say to people.

    Way to go and serve a notice of eviction love!

  21. Thank you so much. If you do happen to write to your mental illness and publish it, please feel free to share. I would love to read it.

  22. Your honesty is amazing! I’ve never battled with anorexia but your beautiful writing makes it so easy for me to empathize and feel connected with your struggle. Thank you for writing this.

  23. This is a great idea; I think I am going to try writing a letter soon too. I love your approach to looking at mental illness and destigmatizing it!

  24. Yes! And after its controlled and hurt you for so long, you have every right to…

  25. Love this, was very good letter….thank you for sharing…nothing like telling your illness to f off.

  26. Thank you so much Charlotte. Your blog is so inspiring and I really appreciate what you are doing 🙂

  27. Well done for sharing your story and being strong, by you sharing your story it has allowed to feel like I know you, very inspiring. Please keep up the good work as you will help so many people ????

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