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A Letter To My Therapist

Updated: Mar 23, 2023

(Name removed for privacy),

I thought I would write you a letter because writing seems to be the only way I can express myself in a way that other people can comprehend. I know that I seem better than ever these days, but it’s only because I’m the most heavily medicated I ever have been in my nineteen years of living. I never feel like me, and something is always off, but I can never quite figure out what.

I want to let you know, that as I’m reading this, I am not on any of my medication. I wanted to be able to express real, and raw emotion, and when my meds are actively coursing through my veins, I find it very hard to explain how much I’m still struggling on the inside because I feel like a wired, messy, anxious excuse of a human being. I do want to get better. I do my homework. I try new coping skills. And sometimes, they work wonderfully, but only when I can remember to use them, and usually, my emotions are so intense I can almost never slow down enough to think clearly. I sincerely believe that I am running out of time, and I am truly terrified for my life.

The suicidal ideation has not gone away, even though I tell my family and friends, and even you, it has so they don’t worry about me, as there are still lots of heavy emotions I can’t cope with safely. I’m sorry I haven’t been honest, but I’m tired of pretending. The Vyvanse suppresses my appetite, which has given my eating disorder an invitation to make its way back into my brain. My eating disorder acts as a way for me to control SOMETHING because I feel so out of control in every other aspect of my life, while absolutely ruining it at the same time.

The amount of caffeine I drink gets me through the day, and the extra- strength sleeping pills knock me out so hard that I barely know where I am when I wake up. Not even sleep is an escape because every traumatic experience I’ve ever had is there waiting to meet me in my nightmares, and I wake up in such extreme panic and feel the urge to run away, but how does one escape their own thoughts? I feel like I want to rip my brain out of my head.

My body is supposed to protect me. My nervous system is supposed to keep me safe. It is my home, and it will be for the rest of my life. But as of late, it is causing me so much harm. I am hurting immensely, all the time. I pry myself out of bed every morning and put on a smile because I am tired of people putting off their lives to try and save mine. If I hardly value it, how can I ask other people to? I feel like a terrible burden that everyone else feels obligated to carry. I feel so guilty when I finally build up the courage to reach out and ask for help, even if it’s just my mom, and then she feels guilty when she can’t do anything for me, and I hate when she’s upset.

Yes, I’ve found hobbies. I am learning new things about myself every day. But I can’t do ANYTHING I used to enjoy; I haven’t baked a single thing in a month. I can’t even convince myself to go for a walk when I used to hike Signal Hill almost every day, which is so incredibly frustrating. I keep putting off buying a new cord for my piano because I know I won’t play it. I have no energy. On the days when I don’t leave the house (which is the majority of them), I sit in my bedroom with only a table lamp and the light of my laptop, so I can just barely see what I’m doing. I can’t even get up to work on my puzzles anymore, which was something I was able to get so lost in only a short time ago.

There was an initial high when I started the Vyvanse, I’ll admit. But the immense joy I felt at first has started to slowly taper off. I now just feel like a robot on autopilot. It’s so soul-crushing that people think I’m “all better” or “fixed” just because I’ve found the “right” medication. That is so far off from my reality. I just lost one of my favorite people I’ve ever known, and it’s all my fault. I never thought that I would live to see my life without him. My best friend is about to move away for a boy. My father won’t even talk to me because I couldn’t bring myself to call him back, and now he’s upset. I can’t hug my mom because she’s too far away. My own sister hates me. I can’t sleep. I can’t eat. I’m afraid I’ll be too sick to work my favorite job this summer. I can barely even cry when I feel like I need to. When I feel happy, I immediately start to think about how long I get to feel the joy before I’m sad and anxious again. I simply cannot function as a person should. I sometimes wonder if I really am crazy for feeling this way.

People are telling me how much of a “strong and powerful young woman” I’ve grown into ever since I shared my story with the world. But I don’t feel strong or powerful at all. I am too weak to stand to even make myself breakfast. Even getting a shower seems like an impossible task. Walking from my bed to the couch often leaves me out of breath. The slightest trigger sends me into a downward spiral. I need so many medications just to stay the fuck alive. I feel like a fraud. I say that I am healing when in reality I am still hurting all the same. The poems I write about healing and recovery are merely things I envision for myself, and they are not the truth.

I’m nineteen years old. I should be out experiencing life. I should be out at bars and clubs socializing and making friends. I want to see the entire world before I die, but I can’t even get on an airplane to Toronto without panicking. It breaks my heart to see other people traveling and living their lives to the fullest, while I sit here in my bedroom alone with nothing going for me. I hate that everyone else seems to have somebody to love, and I just lost the one man I’ve ever felt real love for. I feel stuck in place while the world keeps turning. There are days when I think everyone would be better off if I were locked away, and didn’t have to worry about what stupid thing I was going to do next.

I feel like on these medications, I can no longer process life events and human emotions. I have a sort of love/hate relationship with them. And when they finally wear off for the day, it all comes crashing down on me at once, and suddenly a thin line stands between me and another suicide attempt when I am all alone and all my supports have gone to sleep for the night, but it’s not as if they could help me from so far away, anyway. The one and only thing keeping me from that, is if it doesn’t work this time, is how scared I am of another admission against my will. How scared I am to ask for medical help, only to be restrained and put to sleep with the strongest sedatives to ever exist. How scared I am to be touched in any way, shape, or form by another human being. But the thought of wanting to be dead never leaves my brain, even for just a brief moment on any given day.

My days consist of waking up, taking medication, force feeding myself a rice cake with peanut butter, going back to sit in bed, and waiting for my medication alarms to go off until it’s time to go to bed and do it all over again the next day. I don’t feel like a normal person, ever. I never have. I don’t even know what “normal” feels like. I can’t be touched without being triggered. I can’t even make eye contact with another human being for more than a second. I’m a prisoner in my own body, and I’m scared I’ll never lead a successful life in this state. What if I live like this forever? What happens when my mom inevitably passes and I’m left to be all on my own?

I tell myself nothing lasts forever, but that’s so hard to believe because I feel like this cycle is neverending. I want everyone else to think I’m getting better, but I also want help at the same time. But by still needing help, am I really getting better? Am I really the brave young woman that everyone on Facebook thinks I am? I am in no way ashamed to be in therapy, but the things that brought me here never should’ve happened in the first place. I know everyone has their own shit, but why is mine specifically so fucking debilitating?

It doesn’t look like it, but I am always on edge. I cannot seem to find relief. In this state, my brain can’t stop and think about coping mechanisms I can use to help. When I am able to take a second and try a coping skill I’ve learned, it works wonders, and I have only you to thank for that.

You are most definitely one of the biggest reasons I am still here on planet earth, and I can’t tell you how much I appreciate your dedication to me, even when I’m difficult and stubborn as all hell, and I apologize for that. I sometimes convince myself that I’m the messiest person you’ve ever worked with. I want to keep trying. I want to keep getting better and not let my past take away the little power I have left, which is why I continue to show up to therapy.

One of my biggest fears is that you will eventually give up on me, because I have too many issues to be helped, by anyone, including you. I hate feeling the need for so many sessions, but I feel like I make even a tiny bit of progress after each one. I can give you my word that I will NEVER give up on trying anything and everything to get better, but going against my thoughts is the hardest thing I will ever have to do. But someday I will. Most people don’t understand what it’s like to be controlled by a voice in their head that isn’t even their own, so I don’t expect you to but just know that it is so goddamn difficult to disobey it.

I may not be ready to process my trauma just yet, but I want to get there more than ANYTHING so I can finally live the beautiful and fulfilling life I have mapped out in my messy little brain for myself, even if it’s not exactly as I imagine it. I promise you I’m trying my best, even though it’s not all that much, and I will continue to give everything I have left in me to find a place of healing until I am finally, one day, at peace with myself and my mind, because, in my right mind, I know I’m meant to LIVE. I know I’m meant to stay here. I know I’m meant for so much more than this puddle of misery I’m living in right now. I want to see everything that I can only imagine in this moment, but someday I’ll see it with my own eyes. I have been fighting for my life for far too long, and I’m ready to work with myself, instead of against myself, because I am so mentally drained, and both emotionally and physically exhausted. I’m ready for life to be exciting again. And now, more than I ever was before, I’m willing to give peace a real, genuine second try.

I really hope that in a year’s time, I can look back on this letter knowing I’m doing so much better than I was when I wrote it, and I can’t wait to make more progress.

(And I promise that I will drink more water.)

Niamh Sullivan

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