Those that know me well know that I am not a particularly private person, but what follows is probably one of the most deeply personal things I have ever written and definitely that I have ever published.

In a little under an hour I will turn 29 years-old. While 28 was a year full of adventures, laughs, new lives and new friendships, it was also the year I hit my absolute lowest.

At several points this year I grappled with severe anxiety and depression. While I have always, to an extent, been an anxious person, it was never extreme enough to get lost in before. It got so bad that I genuinely stopped recognizing myself. As someone that takes a lot of pride in being a generally positive person, the fact that there were days when I genuinely could not smile was a major problem. Then things got worse. And then better. And then worse again. And then better again. Ebbing and flowing.

I’d be lying if I said I was out of the woods but I do feel like I’m at a place where I can at the very least manage things. I feel like myself again, but every day I need to talk myself through the fear that I will revert. That something will shift the wrong way and I’ll be right back at the bottom.

I do have a few safeguards in place, one of which has been Cognitive Behavioral Therapy. While CBT takes a lot of forms for a lot of different people, the most frequent form it has taken with me is writing. In vivid detail, every bit of my thought process and then the polar opposites of every thought. In recording my thoughts in this way, I’ve begun to navigate myself out of some pretty messy mental blocks. So tonight, before this year of my life turns over, I wanted to publish some of that writing and I wanted to do it for one very particular reason.

As I began my recovery process a few months ago, the first thing that became abundantly clear to me was that I was not alone. The more I connected with people that were going through similar struggles, the more I realized how pervasive this type of anxiety is. As my therapist very aptly put it, “you probably know more people on antidepressants than you do that aren’t on them.” What this made me realize (or at least suspect) was that as many people that have accepted their struggle and were working towards righting the ship like I was, there were probably many more trying desperately to keep things inside. So while I wrote this piece for me, I am publishing it for them.

You are not alone. And you do not need to suffer in silence.

Dear Sir,

I hate you.

I hate you more than I have ever hated anything in my entire life.

I’ll own my part in your birth. I have to, there’s no one else who can.

You exist because we as a species have built a world that is too big for us. Too complex for our minds to make sense of.

Too complicated, too dangerous. Too full of pure bullshit and manufactured importance.

A world where running away is the only option that makes sense, even if the direction we run is straight down.

You are born of that world. A world where being happy stopped being the point a long time ago.

And you may look just like me, but you are not me.

Even if you wear my skin. Even if I can see you when I look in the mirror.

You are a parasite. You consume my mind, my mouth and my body. You make me do, say and think awful things to feed on my self doubt, my fear, my paranoia and my uncertainty.

You are every bit of my weakness given form.

You are a cancer. And you will be removed.

Because you owe me.

You owe me two months of my life back.

You owe me for the $100 dollar emergency room visit.

You owe me for all of the sleepless nights.

Did you think I couldn’t hear you laughing after every 3AM wake-up call?

You owe me for all of the alcohol it took to shut you up.

And the consequences of drinking it.

You owe my parents, siblings and friends for the hours and days you made them worry.

Oh God the things you owe my wife.

You owe me for the side effects of what I’ve needed to do to put you back in your cage.

And you are going to pay.

I will make you.

I’ll do it by choosing to live. To focus on the positives and, when their are none to be found, to throw my hands up, put on a record, have a beer and try again tomorrow.

I’ll do it by holding my loved ones close to me. To tell them why I love them each and every day and to accept their love willingly.

I’ll do it by not taking no for an answer. I’ll do it by being brash, by being bold and creative. I’ll do it by pissing people off. I’ll do it by taking chances. By trying new things.

By proving people wrong.

I’ll do it by laughing. Early and often. Every. Single. Day.

And I’ll do it by crying too. Deeply. The kind of crying that makes my chest heave and my eyes burn. Because you can’t have highs without lows.

But then back to laughing. Always back to laughing.

I will do it by living the hell out of every minute of my life.

You don’t get any more of them, you’re cut off.

I’ll enjoy watching you starve.

In one hour, I’ll be 29.

When I’m 30, you will be gone.

And not a single soul will miss you.

Sincerely Yours,

Joshua

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