Sam Grittner

To My Unknown, Unseen Friends: You Matter

Friend, I know you’re struggling. I know, because I’m in the same place as you.

 

Dear Friend,

I know you are going through a hard time right now; actually, for quite some time.

I’m sorry that I haven’t checked in sooner. You deserve better and I PROMISE you I WILL DO better going forward. But did you know that I’ve been where you are? That I still go there more often than I tell anyone? Flirting with death when no one is looking. Tinkering with plans. I thought about it this week. Three times in fact.

I’m all too familiar with the absolute rock bottom of depression where eating, showering, answering the phone have all fell to the wayside because, what’s the point? Sounds, colors, what’s left of your feelings, feel like they’ve been bleached, drilled away, or fully uprooted. Everything you encounter is dull and muted. Food has no taste. Sex brings no joy. Nothing. That’s all you want right now because it’s the only thing that’s comfortable.

Your brain is telling you the same things over and over again: “You are worthless. You should be ashamed of yourself for the horrendous things you’ve done during your life. You are beyond redemption. No one is as bad a person as you. This world would be better without you. This world would be better without you. This world would be better without you.”

This voice sounds like exactly you, if a stranger were to hear it they wouldn’t think twice. But this is not your voice. This is a disease that has taken up permanent residence in parts of your brain. It mimics you perfectly. It knows every mistake you’ve ever made, every word you wish you could take back, and it knows how and when to replay those memories over and over and over again to maximize the hurt and sorrow you feel; to cut you into absolute pieces.

This is not your voice. It is a disease.

You don’t have to fix everything today. You don’t need to make a plan of action. You don’t need to be cured.

All you need to do today is make it through today. And if you are capable, go one step further, and simply recognize that the voice inside your head is just that. Depression is the world’s greatest ventriloquist, doing karaoke covers of your greatest Fuck-Ups. Its only purpose is to filter out the good things you’ve done in your life, the happy memories you have (though they may be buried under forty feet of rock), and replace them with a loop of self-destructive actions you’ve done over your entire life.

“I have stolen and lied and cheated and blown up the best relationships I’ve ever had because I was afraid of myself. I have done things that I know for a fact have made me irredeemable. Truly unworthy of ever being loved. My family deserved better. She deserved better. If you knew what I knew about myself you would be so horrified that you would help me end it.”

That is the voice inside MY brain. It still lives there, years after I tried to take my own life by overdosing on pills. I hear the voice. I let it say what it needs to. And then I remind myself, that’s not who I am.

Am I a person who has made terrible mistakes? Yes.

Have I lied, cheated, and stolen? Absolutely.

Have I done things that no one else has? Well, no. Not really.

If I can impart anything upon you it’s this: you are a human being and you are going to fuck up over and over and over again. But, here’s the good news: that is a universal experience. That is part of what makes us human. Not only are you going to fuck up, YOU ARE SUPPOSED TO FUCK UP. Again and again, until you learn from it.

And I promise you, eventually you will.

 

If I can impart anything upon you it’s this: you are a human being and you are going to fuck up over and over and over again. But, here’s the good news: that is a universal experience. That is part of what makes us human.

 

I banged my head for over two decades against a wall because of my alcoholism and addiction to drugs. I’ve spent the majority of my life high and acting selfishly. I’ve tried to get sober and I’ve failed again and again. But today, I am sober. I can’t say anything about tomorrow. I cannot forecast the future, but today I remembered my mistakes and allowed them to teach me and become a little bit better of a person. You are not the lies your brain tells you.

You are not the mistakes you have made.
You are not the promises you have broken.
You are what you are today.

You are imperfect. You are flawed. You hurt, you hurt so much it feels like your bones are trying to rip out from underneath your skin. Your brain is on fire. But, as someone who has been there and will be there again, that doesn’t always have to be the case.

All I ask is that, today, you let me love you. And tomorrow. And as long as it takes until you start to love yourself again. I have seen your beauty. I still see it in you. It is a spark that will never go out.

I’m sorry I haven’t been there for you more. I was stuck in my own head. But I am here now. And I love you, not in spite of the mistakes you’ve made, I love you because you are my friend. And you would do the same for me. And someday soon, you will do the same for someone you love.

All you have to do is get through today.

I love you.

You matter.

 

If you are in crisis, please call the National Suicide Prevention Lifeline at 1-800-273-TALK (8255) or contact the Crisis Text Line by texting TALK to 741741.

 

Sam Grittner

Sam Grittner is a writer and stand-up comedian currently residing in Brooklyn, New York. He has written for Playboy.com and the International Business Times. His monthly stand-up show, “We’re All Gonna Die Tonight,” is returning in December.

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