Writing to your loved ones about what you’re feeling is a great first step to having the conversations you need.
You don’t have to face depression alone. Being honest and open with your loved ones about your experience can help you begin to manage your condition.
Writing a letter can be therapeutic for not only you, the writer, but also the recipient. It might help you release the stress and pain you’re experiencing and say what is necessary so you can feel better.
Also, you may find it easier to write about your feelings to someone instead of telling them in person. You may want to avoid difficult conversations due to fear of confrontation, judgment, and anger.
Writing a letter removes the awkwardness and worry while still allowing you to share your thoughts and feelings with your loved one.
When preparing to write your letter, you’ll first want to plan what to say. You’ll want to leave no stone unturned and express yourself openly and freely. Here are some steps to consider:
Whom are you writing to?
Experiencing depression can be difficult, but you aren’t alone. Consider thinking about loved ones you want cheering you on and how their support could help you.
Everyone has a different support system, so each letter will be unique to the writer. For example, the letter could be to a specific person or a group of loved ones. There’s no right or wrong audience for this exercise.
What are you experiencing?
Consider noticing the emotions that come up and focus on how your environment may be affecting you at this moment. If you aren’t sure why you feel a certain way, it’s OK to say things like, “I don’t know why I feel pain.”
On a separate piece of paper, you’ll want to write down what you’re experiencing. For example, some common emotions may include:
Your symptoms of depression may include some or none of the above. The list simply gives you ideas of what to write down.
Depression can result from several factors, including social, psychological, and biological causes. Biological triggers can often cause confusing emotions when depression shows up, even when nothing seems to be going wrong in your life.
Where do you see yourself in the future?
You’ll want to consider the tone of the letter. In terms of your depression, where do you see yourself in the future? Observe your thoughts and consider sharing your optimism or doubt about how you feel.
Allow friends and family to see where you are so they know how best to support you. The key is to be open and honest.
A letter example
Dear Loved One,
I know I haven’t been in touch lately. I’ve been experiencing depression and felt too sad and tired to make an effort to see anyone. So I’m writing because I’ve been scared to speak to you about my depression in person.
No matter how hard I try, I cannot seem to come out of my depression. I’ve been feeling so alone and empty inside. All I want to do is isolate myself from everyone, but the more I isolate myself, the lonelier I feel.
I’ve tried to manage my symptoms on my own, but I can’t. So I’ve started to see a therapist twice a week, and it’s helping. I may also need medication, but it is still early in my diagnosis to be sure.
All I ask of you is to understand. I’m sorry for pushing you away and for canceling our plans. Please keep supporting me and loving me as I work to get better. Thank you for always being there for me.
Just like with any letter, you could begin with an introduction. This sets the stage so your loved one knows the letter’s intent while also grabbing their attention.
Some ideas on how best to begin a letter include:
- I’m writing to tell you about my depression.
- As some of you may know, I have been experiencing depression.
- You may have noticed that I haven’t been around as much in recent days. The reason why is…
- I want to talk to you about my depression because…
Listen to your heart and think about how you want first to address your loved ones. There’s no right or wrong way to start your letter when speaking from your heart.
The main section of the letter
After your introduction, here is where you let it all out. You can discuss the symptoms of your depression and the triggers that cause them if known.
This release will help your loved ones identify situations that could worsen your symptoms, and they could offer extra support during those times.
For example, if you feel anxious and discomfort at big parties with friends, let them know. That way, they can plan smaller gatherings at home instead.
They’d much rather spend time with you in a comfortable environment than not see you at all. Also, talk about your journey thus far.
Addressing your needs in the closing
Finally, consider what you need:
- What do you need from your family and friends?
- Would you like them to attend therapy with you?
- Do you need help and are not sure where to go?
- Do you just need them to be there for you?
Being clear about your needs at the end of the letter will help others know how they can help you. Then, sign your letter.
Writing a letter is a very powerful tool. If you become fearful about what the other person may think, consider how you would feel if the shoe were on the other foot. Chances are, your love for them would lead to only support and understanding. You could expect the same from them.
Once the letter is written, you don’t have to send it right away. This is an exercise for your mental health.
After completing the letter, consider taking a few days to think about it. When you’re ready, you can go back and look at your letter and decide whether to send it.
If you don’t want to share your letter, that’s OK. Writing about your feelings can be beneficial in helping you understand your emotions and may help you discover other ways to express yourself to those you love.
No matter what you decide, writing a letter may help you cope with depression and provide the support system you desire.