From Kate

Dear You,

I first started feeling strange at 15. I'm told it's quite normal for depression and anxiety to set in at this age but that didn't stop me feeling isolated.

I think I got better at about 17 until I moved to university and found the pressure too much. I think that I seem like an outgoing person but my soaring highs sometimes come crashing down and I enter into really dark lows. I spent a lot of my young life feeling like a failure; my family and most of my friends didn't understand, they thought that I was just erratic or lazy. My mind was working so fast at times, and at others it wasn't working at all. I decided to get help when I turned 21.

Living in Barcelona, things were actually better than ever but for some reason I couldn't stop crying and I couldn't stop feeling tired. But deep down I knew that however hard, there was a place somewhere where I was going to be happy and I was willing to fight for it.

I'm writing to you now as a university student in my final year studying languages. I've just come back from living in France for 9 months and it was the best experience of my life. I feel a sense of balance that I have never felt before. Many people have commented that my behaviour is much more consistent and that I seem genuinely at peace. I can sleep for 8 hours and wake up feeling energised and rested. I can eat properly. If someone criticises me, I don't fall apart inside, I feel grateful for their opinion, good or bad, and I try and grow from it. Because this life is all about growth and perspective.

This is the same life I was living before but somehow now it resonates with me much better. It feels gentler and in return I feel gentler. Maybe it's a cliche to say 'it gets better' but it really does.

The strength you muster within to keep fighting shows that you are braver than you think, stronger than you know, more admirable than what you seem. You are not pathetic. You are living, you are breathing and you are beautiful.

I read this a couple of years ago and I think it's the best way to sum it all up. I hope you enjoy it:

"To love life, to love it even when you have no stomach for it and everything you've held dear crumbles like burnt paper in your hands, your throat filled with the silt of it. When grief sits with you, its tropical heat thickening the air, heavy as water, more fit for gills than lungs; when grief weights you like your own flesh only more of it, an obesity of grief, you think, How can a body withstand this? Then you hold life like a face between your palms, a plain face, no charming smile, no violet eyes, and you say, yes, I will take you, I will love you again."

Lots of love,

Kate