On Medication and Mental Health III

Life has a funny way of coming full circle. I suppose I needed some closure, some sort of sign that I made the right decision with my mental health, and life sorted that out for me.

Hey all. Sorry for the delay.

In the last few posts, we looked at medication for mental health – from the various kinds to reasons why some people choose to (or not to) start a treatment plan involving medication. In this post, I’ll get into why I personally decided to give medication a try.

Now for the heavy shit.

Just about a few weeks shy of four years ago, I was driving home from a night out that involved a work Christmas party, as well as a few bars in Hamilton, ON. I had had more than a few drinks at the party, but stopped drinking several hours before a friend and I left to go out to the bars. I barely drank there (maybe a Heineken or two), and after another few hours, left the area to go home after dropping my friend off at his house.

Before we get into the rest of what happened that night, let’s preface it by summarizing my last few months leading up to it.

To start, I had gone through a rough (but amicable) breakup, and while we did talk often enough I was still struggling with the fact that she had moved more than half a world away. I had just begun to really get back on my feet again emotionally, but regardless of the reasons – losing any kind of support system is a bitch.

The romantic part aside, I was having a rough time with my life in the professional sense. Unsure of what I really wanted to do (or even if I wanted to stay where I was working), coming into the office everyday was a struggle. Once I would get there, however, there was enough work to keep the mind busy – at least until the end of the work day. To top things off – I was still adjusting to a move from the city to suburban living, and had to keep adjusting in the middle of the coldest winter I could remember. It was the first year that I really started believing that seasonal affective disorder (SAD) is a real thing.

Now back to the night that would change my life, thankfully for the better.

Overnight, the weather had become incredibly colder and even icier. As I’m driving home, my thoughts are racing. What could I have done better in my failed relationship? How do I feel more fulfilled at my job? Do I even like it there, or am I only really actively going because I know it’s a distraction? These and what felt like millions of other thoughts shoot through my mind to the point where I don’t notice that the lane I am in is rapidly ending, and I need to switch over to the left-most lane to get on the highway.

I must have hit a patch of black ice, because my car just won’t slow down. I pump the brakes rapidly, but no luck – my car is sliding sideways towards the ditch between the on-ramp and the highway. A sign on the side of the road (one of those directional arrows that line the ramps) crashes into and through my driver-side window and nearly ends up in my lap after missing my face. My car careens off of the on-ramp, and ends up sideways in the ditch.

I have to escape out of my mangled vehicle through my passenger door, crawling through snow, ice, blood (from superficial cuts, thankfully), metal, and glass. I make it to the top of the on-ramp, where eventually a police officer shows up and helps me into his car and out of the cold. I admit to having a few drinks earlier, and blow and pass a breathalyzer (I still get a ticket for driving with alcohol in my system – didn’t have a full license at the time). Sitting in the back of a police car, regardless of why you’re there, is a sobering and humbling experience. Given what I had already went through though, I was just happy to be alive and warm.

I still had to get home, though. I ended up having to tow my car back – where overnight a branch from an iced-over tree fell through some power lines and cut power to my side of the neighborhood. No power meant no elevator, so that meant at least eleven flights of stairs just to get to my freezing apartment. I quickly change and jump under a blanket, still a bit shaken and absolutely done with that night.

At this point, I was already seeing a counselor every few weeks or so to try and get help with my mental illness. After these events, though, I decided I needed (scratch that, I owed it to myself) to give myself more of a fighting chance. Cue the medication, which I spoke to my family doctor about and have been on since.

Flash-forward to just over four years later, I’m driving back from Hamilton. Same sort of on-ramp (no booze this time, though – I’m still watching my intake very mindfully), same shitty weather. This time, the thoughts are different. I’m content and hopeful. I am excited to finally fly out and head back to The Bahamas for a few weeks to see my parents and friends I don’t regularly get to see. Same slippery black ice too, unfortunately.

I hit this patch at a much slower speed, but still couldn’t get my car under control enough to slow down and avoid a collision. This time, however, I don’t end up in a ditch. I hit a guard rail, break a fender and bend a rim just enough to where driving it home wouldn’t be safe. Not so bad, all things considered.

I end up having to tow my car off of the highway and back home again, but this time it’s to a house I own. There’s no power outage this time. I sort out the payment details with the tow-truck driver, step into my warm townhouse, take off my shoes, walk up one flight of stairs to my master bedroom, and fall into my comfortable bed.

Life has a funny way of coming full circle. I suppose I needed some closure, some sort of sign that I made the right decision with my mental health, and life sorted that out for me.

I hope if you’re reading this and are struggling, that you’ll make my advice and try and take care of your mental health. It’s always worth it.

Advertisements

On Medication and Mental Health II

There are many other forms of mental illness out there, which I’ll eventually delve into, but for this post we will focus on depression treatment via medications known as antidepressants.

Well, it’s been a loaded few weeks for me, and I’m finally getting back into writingº. If you’ve been following the blog so far, last post we looked at a few reasons why people choose to go on medication to treat their mental illness, as well as a few reasons why people avoid the topic altogether. If you haven’t had a chance to read that post (On Medication and Mental Health I), feel free to check it out before or after this one.

In this post, we will look at a general, layman’s overview of medication for depression only.  If you’re a biology/chemistry buff or are otherwise educated in the specifics, I hope I don’t make you cringe from my over-simplifications.

There are many other forms of mental illness out there, which I’ll eventually delve into, but for this post we will focus on depression treatment via medications known as antidepressants. Some of this may be information you have seen before, and some of it may be new. In any case, I hope this post is informative and helpful.

How do antidepressants work?

If you’ve ever sat down and Googled “depression”, you’ve more than likely come across depression being described as a condition stemming from chemical imbalances, deficiencies, or both. The truth is, no one really knows for sure what causes depression, however many researchers tend to agree that treating depression should involve addressing the levels of certain chemicals (called “neurotransmitters”) in the brain. Neurotransmitters, in short, are chemicals that allow the passing of electrical signals between neurons (nerve cells) in the brain, and include dopamine, serotonin, and norepinephrine.  Different types of antidepressants affect the levels of different neurotransmitters in different ways.

What are some of the different types of antidepressants?

For this section, we’ll take a look at some of the main types of antidepressants, including reuptake inhibitors, Tri/tetracyclics, and MAOIs.

The first step in understanding reuptake inhibitors is to understand reuptake. This process occurs in the brain, whereby neurotransmitters are reabsorbed back into neurons after being used. A reuptake inhibitor prevents this re-absorption from happening for a period of time. The theory with these medications is that the more neurotransmitters working outside of nerve cells, the more communication happens within the brain, thus regulating mood. Reuptake inhibitors include SSRIs (selective serotonin reuptake inhibitors) such as Lexapro and Zoloft, which as the name suggests help prevent serotonin reuptake. Other examples include SNRIs (which help inhibit serotonin as well as norepinephrine reuptake) such as Effexor and Cymbalta and NDRIs (norepinephrine and domapine reuptake inhibitors) such as Wellbutrin.

Tetracyclics (such as Asendin and Remeron) help prevent reuptake in a different way. They are thought to stop neurotransmitters from binding with the nerves, causing them the neurotransmitters to build up outside of the nerve cells and effectively raising their levels.

Tricyclics (such as Elavil and Tofranil) block the reabsorption of serotonin and epinephrine. These medications can have more serious side effects, as elevated epinephrine (also known as adrenaline) levels have been known to affect people with certain heart conditions.

MAOIs (monoamine oxidase inhibitors such as Marplan and Nardil) work slightly differently, in that they block monoamine oxidase, a chemical in the body that breaks down neurotransmitters. Basically, the less chemicals that are around to break down neurotransmitters, the more neurotransmitters exist. A possible side effect of these medications however, is that MAOIs can also prevent the body from breaking down other medications and chemicals – raising risks for other complications.

How effective are they?

In doing my research, it seems the benefits of medication tend to depend on the severity of the illness. Medication seems to help more as depression becomes more serious. One of the drawbacks of depression medication, however, is that antidepressants can take a while to work (often several weeks) and initially can even make depression symptoms worse while introducing side effects.

Are there side effects/risks?

As mentioned in previous sections, there are side effects to consider when starting antidepressants. Some are mild such as dry mouth, headaches, low sex drive, etc. Some can be more serious including increased risk of suicide and organ issues such as heart and liver problems.

How long should I take one?

Some people see benefits from antidepressants after several weeks, some several months, and some may never see benefits from a certain medication and may try another form. For people that do see benefits, the time frame in which they take medication could range from several months to several years.

As with any and all medications, do your research, talk to your health care provider(s), and learn as much as you can. Ultimately, the decision to begin any kind of medication should not be taken lightly, and antidepressants should be no different.

xo,

Phil.

 

Continue reading “On Medication and Mental Health II”

On Medication and Mental Health I

In this and following series of posts, I’ll try to tackle why many people decide to or not to go on medication, as well as a few things one should know should they decide to make medication a part of their treatment regime. 

As some of you know, a few years ago I decided to begin taking an antidepressant in efforts to treat my depression and anxiety after years of exploring other methods.  It was not an easy decision, nor did I arrive at it overnight. Deciding to start taking an antidepressant took weeks of research, talks with my counselor and family doctor, and a long battle within myself to finally say “OK, I’ll try it.”

I’ll save my personal experiences with making the decision for another time, but in this and the following series of posts, I’ll try to tackle why many people decide to or not to go on medication. Also, I’ll attempt to discuss a few things one should know should they decide to make medication a part of their treatment regime, as well as medication for mental health as a whole.

So, why do we avoid medication? Here are a few reasons.

  • We want to do it all by ourselves. Regardless of what type of medication and what it is treating, some people will ultimately always avoid the doctor’s office. This mindset tends to be especially harmful for mental illness, as doing it “on your own” tends to lead to isolation, ineffective coping mechanisms, and other decisions that can ultimately lead to worsening symptoms. Regardless of a person’s view on medication itself, I will always suggest seeking medical advice to someone going through bouts of mental illness.
  • We don’t want to rely on something “unnatural”.  There are some people who will always believe that medications are unnatural and/or will introduce undesired changes in the mind and body. While this is understandable, more often than not, various forms of mental illness can be worsened by less-than-ideal chemical levels and imbalances in the body. These are conditions traditionally treated by medication (diabetic, anyone?).
  • We want to try more external options first.  Most people tend to believe that making external changes to lifestyle will help. While it is true that getting enough sleep, staying active, improving work-life balance, etc. can and will help with mental illnesses, it is often very difficult to overhaul your lifestyle during bouts of depression, anxiety, and other mood disorders. Medication can and may help with that little boost we need to get going.
  • Taking medication means acknowledging the problem. There is still a lot of stigma around mental health and mental illness, and unfortunately seeking help and turning to medication can (but shouldn’t) be a shameful and embarrassing experience. To this point, I always like to say that the first step to implementing a long-term solution for anything (mental health included) is to admit that you have an obstacle in your life that you can overcome, and to do so things need to change. These changes may or may not involve medication, but admitting the need for change is the best start.

Alright, got it. So why do we ultimately make the decision to try medication? Some reasons include:

  • We’ve been affected by mental illness for way too long. At some point, many people will say enough is enough and will want to make the decision to begin structured treatment which may involve starting a prescription med. Medication may be the first avenue pursued, or (see below) one of the latest.
  • We’ve exhausted other options. Often, people deciding to start medication have tried nearly everything else out there, and what they have tried has either not helped or only helped minimally (or for a time). It’s important to note that medication is not a panacea or fix-all solution, but it can help when combined with other treatment methods.
  • It’s worked for someone we know. There’s a good chance we know someone that has tried or is currently on some form of medication for mental illness. While it is always a good thing to know someone who has first-hand experience, it is also worth noting that medication affects everyone differently, so what works for one person may not necessarily work for someone else.

In conclusion, while the tone of this post may suggest that I am entirely pro-medication (I’m not, I just know what works for me), I must stress and reiterate that at the end of the day going on any form of medication is a decision that is not to be taken lightly. If you are considering starting a prescription medication for mental illness, I urge you to do your research and reach out to as many sources as possible. Learn what you can and cannot expect from the med, and be prepared for change.

I hope this post has been informative. Next time, I’ll attempt to delve into (from the layman’s perspective) the various types of medication out there, what they do chemically, and what you can expect from them.

Any questions, comments, concerns? Feel free to reach out!

10 Things I (Sometimes) Hate About Me

I couldn’t stick to just ten, so here’s a bunch of random things about me. Maybe you can relate.

I initially had a longer and more emotional post lined up for this week, but I’ve been having a rougher-than-usual last few days (even by my standards). That being said, I decided to post something with a bit of a lighter mood.

I couldn’t stick to just ten, so here’s a bunch of random things about me. Maybe you can relate. I may make a “Part 2” sometime. Maybe.

  • Sometimes I’m uncomfortable with small talk. Like…do you actually want to know about my day? Because I accidentally spread a mask on my toothbrush this morning instead of toothpaste…Clarins tastes like shit.
  • Are we still talking or can I, you know, just walk away now. No? OK cool I’ll just stand here. Wait, was I supposed to say “You too!” or just “Thank you.”? Fuck!
  • I really love dogs and every one I ever dog-sit becomes my child. Sorry my son peed on your hydrangeas Kathy.giphy[1]
  • Being a neat freak and caring for animals is an interesting mix. I love dog sitting but do not love cleaning enough hair out of my vacuum to stuff a decorative pillow. Wait, do people do that? *Googles ‘can I stuff a pillow with my dog’s hair’*
  • I used to be a morning person. Then I became a night person. Some days it’s debatable if I’m even a person at all and I need a coffee IV to function like a human being.
  • One of my fears in life is not having a future or making a terrible decision and ending up alone and homeless and never being able to make beautiful, emotionally-and-financially-supported mixed babies.
  • Sometimes the most anxious moment of my week doesn’t have anything to do with my future, but ma’am you are ringing in that guy’s groceries way too fast and I can’t pack mine fast enough aaaahhhhh…
  • Ma’am I really do have two dimes just give me a second *shuffles in pocket* – NO it’s not OK I have it I really do just give a second *awkwardly places condoms on counter* – What? Yes I have an optimum card.
  • I’m usually very good at eating healthy, but sometimes I have a setback emotionally, can’t be bothered, binge eat, and immediately hate myself. #OxfordComma
  • I quit drinking for 4 months earlier this year. I lost a bunch of weight and it really helped the pockets. Since then, I don’t drink heavily or regularly…but will have a beer or a rum here and there.
  • After an eight-month layoff due to various personal ills, I finally made it back to the gym last week. Now I just have to make it back.
  • As of late, most of my depressive days have been manageable. Some days though, I just want to go home and hop into bed for an eternity. Sometimes, instead of bed, I make a blanket fort in my kitchen by draping a duvet over the bar and hiding under it.
  • Managing my medication and activity have been pretty good as well. Some days though, I forget and I’m just a mess the next day…which is a struggle. The recently-increased dosage isn’t helping the cause either, I’m sure.
  • Sometimes I leave my mom’s voicemail messages on my phone longer than usual…just in case I ever need someone to tell me I’m handsome.
  • Sometimes I use my sister’s Instagram account to check up on people I no longer am in contact with. Not because I’m stuck in the past or am holding onto something I shouldn’t…sometimes I care more than I probably should and am always back and forth on how I feel about that.
  • Most of my closer friends are a significant distance (e.g. a plane ride) away and sometimes it sucks (Hi Hanna). 
  • I think it’s cool that more and more people are opening up about mental illness, especially men. I hope this trend continues.

I hope you’ve enjoyed this insight into my life, and the blog as a whole so far if you’ve been following.

Until next time,

xoxo (my love is very special),

Phil

 

How I Talk About Mental Illness

I’ve made it a mission to make talking about depression, anxiety, and other personal struggles the norm, so I make no apologies for being open and honest about my mental illness.

“Yeah…what did you get up to last night?”

“Oh, nothing too crazy. Cleaned up the house a bit, did some laundry, popped a pill, had my depression nap…you know, the usual shit.”

The last parts of my statement usually get a chuckle or a weird look, depending on who’s on the receiving end. It’s the transparency, the openness, the vulnerability of the statement that either puts people off or piques their interest. The words make some people uncomfortable, and others find it refreshing. Some people shy away from the topic, while others embrace it.

I never used to talk about my mental illness. Hell, I wasn’t even sure what I was feeling was even “real”. I was afraid, ashamed, and confused that I was going through something I didn’t understand. I’m not a big talker, but it wasn’t often that I had trouble putting anything into words. However, on my worst days, I could barely string enough words together to describe how I was feeling. The worst experiences, though, weren’t always what was going on inside of me…but what was going on when I tried to reach out.

Let’s not sugarcoat anything. Talking about mental illness is exhausting. It’s extremely difficult, and it’s even harder when the person you’re talking to doesn’t understand or suggests various ways to cope that just don’t make sense (FYI: “Cheer up”, “Suck it up”, “Get over it”, and “Have you tried praying about it?” are usually bad things to say). So often as people, we listen to reply instead of listening to understand. Sometimes, the person reaching out doesn’t even want to hear your “solutions” or your opinions, they just want you to hear them out. Your job is to make it easy for them to talk to you, not force them away.

I think we all need to do a better job of providing an outlet for other people in our lives, especially loved ones. So often, people struggle with various ailments for so long without reaching out and getting help simply because the few times they’ve tried, they were met with resistance or negativity.

So, how exactly do I talk about mental illness? The answer is “In any way I can.” I may post to this blog, share a video or status on Facebook, talk to someone face-to-face, or simply send a “How are you doing emotionally?” text to a friend. The more I talk about it and bring it up, the more I hope others will. It is my dream that one day there will be no stigma attached to mental illness, and that everyone is able to talk about these topics as easily as others.

That being said, the next time you ask someone “How are you?”, I implore you to really mean it. I’ve made it a mission to make talking about depression, anxiety, and other personal struggles the norm, so I make no apologies for being open and honest about my mental illness. If you have any questions or comments, or just want to talk, feel free to reach out. I’m here for you.

 

Why I Took a Break from Social Media (Or Blocked You, Or Whatever…Sorry)

I’m not suggesting everyone should boycott social media. I am, however, suggesting that everyone could benefit from some time away. I know I did.

On or around March 30, 2017 I took an extended break from Facebook and various other social media outlets. After a short-winded post about me needing a leave of absence, I deleted my Facebook, Instagram, and Twitter apps, and stopped posting to Snapchat. I had always toyed with the idea of taking a break, going offline for a while, and reconnecting with people, places, and activities that were important to me and my goals…but the circumstances I found myself in leading up to that day forced me over the edge (no pun intended).

Let’s be frank. I wasn’t in a good place. I was anxious and moody on good days, broken on the not-so-good days…and on the worse days, forgetting my medication (or taking too much) and drinking way more than I should have been. If depression, anxiety, and other darker things were all wrapped up in some sort of explosive package…the bomb had dropped, and I was at ground zero. It was my deepest, darkest depressive episode yet (I’ll save more on this for another time), and social media wasn’t helping.

20170330_100520000_iOS
My Facebook post.

You see the thing about social media that hits home the most, especially for someone that’s struggling, is that no one ever really posts the bad stuff. The poster’s world – from someone looking in – is perfect, happy, and free from whatever might be ailing the other person in front of the screen. This “grass is greener” concept is especially harmful for users already experiencing depression and other forms of mental illness, and I was no different. I became tired of the happy couples posting engagement photos (congrats, though), expectant mothers posting pregnancy announcements (congrats again), and posts from friends and others at events I either wasn’t invited to or couldn’t gather enough energy and motivation to attend.  I ended up stuck in a debilitating cycle of comparing myself to others, beating myself down for not being in places I wanted to be, and struggling with a near-constant fear of missing out (FOMO). These things, combined with the daily battle with depression, were just too much for me to handle…and I opted outº.

20170814_211246000_iOS
Bye social media!

Leaving social media – albeit difficult to do – was almost immediately relieving. With every press of those little X’s as I deleted apps, I felt more and more pressure lifted off of me. I didn’t have to check in anywhere, keep up-to-date on any news feeds, or browse any timelines. Better yet, I wasn’t bombarded by images of friends that never ever seemed to have problems, wasn’t tempted to lurk around other people’s pages (especially exes or mutual friends of exes), and was free to continue to focus on issues that were present in my actual, offline life. Not only that, but as time went on (I spent just over two months away), I began to experience other benefits that helped me deal with these issues. My sleep was better (probably because I wasn’t up at odd hours scrolling through my phone). My relationships with friends and family got better, as I had more time to spend working on communication and spent less time on the phone or tablet glued to an app. I had effectively put all my “online-only”, half-assed, and superficial relationships on hold and invested more time and energy into real, meaningful ones. I became way more productive at work. Better still, I put myself on a path for having a better quality of life by giving myself time to spend working on myself.

Eventually, I returned to social media – but with a different mindset. Now I try to remember that not everyone is perfect, and while the images and content people post may suggest otherwise, everyone has their ups and downs. While I still struggle with issues I’ve already mentioned, it’s getting easier and easier to pull back and focus on myself. I know I may have to leave again or make some other changes (sorry for blocking or unfollowing you), and I hope this post helps myself and others understand why it’s needed.

Now, I’m not suggesting everyone should boycott social media and go on a deleting spree. I am, however, suggesting that everyone could benefit from some time away. I know I did.

 

º Side note. Just wanted to shout out everyone that took the time to reach out back then and now. I hope everyone could take the time out to check on people they care about, especially your friends that seem like they have everything going for them. More often than not, your “strong” friend is the one hurting the most.

Until next time,

Phil xo

A Letter to Myself

Remember in those hard times, though, no matter how far you fall or how bad it gets, you’ll always have this letter to remind yourself just how far you’ve come, and how great you are.

Dear future you,

I’ve tried not to make this letter too boastful or bombastic (your head is big enough as it is), but I wanted to shoot you a letter for you to read in times where your future self (or maybe others) may need it. I truly hope time has treated you well, and I pray the rest of your days are better than today – regardless of how today is going. This is going to sometimes be an awkward, embarrassing, and painful read…but sometimes – most times, I hope – it will give you that little push you may need to get yourself going.

First, I hope you never stop cherishing experiences – especially the first ones. Remember that time you went on your first road trip in Canada and instead of the weather being warm, it snowed? You spent your first snowfall sprinting around the cottage, outside, in a wife-beater.  You wouldn’t have known then that what followed would be a harsh, cold, and unrelenting winter…but I’m glad you took it in stride.

1923294_562873175970_2049_n
Engineering Group, 2006
You wrote all of your midterms that semester either sick with the cold or a stomach flu, and instead of giving up, you excelled. Even when the material seemed too complicated, too detailed, or too overwhelming to understand, you put your mind to it and got it done. Despite going through a huge family loss before your finals, you pulled it together and finished university with the engineering degree you told yourself you would get. Then, you interviewed for and got the job you wanted on your first try. That’s something to be proud of, and I hope you continue to take this approach in anything you endeavor to accomplish – never give up, no matter how daunting it may seem initially.

Next, I hope you continue to only see the good in others and bad situations. Sometimes, you haven’t been treated the way you deserved to be. On more than a few occasions, you weren’t shown the respect you gave to others without question. Sometimes, it will be you that offends or otherwise hurts someone. I hope that it is always unintentional, and I hope you are always the first to apologize, whether they accept it or not.

Remember that sometimes people won’t behave the way you may expect them to. They will be selfish, rude, or ignorant. I hope this never turns you off from loving, but instead pushes you to continue to be the kind, caring, and compassionate person you are…the world probably needs it.

IMG_2008
Mid-Reno, 2016

You’ve gone through your fair share of heartbreaks, but you continue to push forward. Remember when you were weeks out from signing a new lease, dejected from a recent breakup, and said “Next year, this time, I’ll be sitting on the front porch of a house I own”? What happened? You stuck to your budget and financial plan, got a realtor, and a year later wrote a check (for a shit ton of money, might I add) for your first deposit. Fresh-faced and twenty-six, you became a home owner. Now, two years later (with the help of a little sweat and YouTube videos), you’ve renovated it all on your own…and it feels like home.

Continue to remember that money isn’t everything. Remember that time you thought money would make you happy? You set another goal, started tutoring and opened your dog-sitting business, worked way too many on-call shifts, and grossed over $100,000 the year after.

Twenty-seven years old. One hundred thousand dollars.

You deserved to celebrate reaching your target, because – as you said – making “a hunnid thou'” wasn’t easy. However, even though the money was great and your bills were paid, you were exhausted, burnt-out, and hurting. That’s when you decided that you were happier seeing new places, doing new things, making new friends, and spending time with your family.

1956839_10101828566719920_981684841357345969_o
Amsterdam, 2014

That being said, I hope you continue to travel – both alone and with people you care about. Continue to make friends in different places, and continue to keep in touch with them. You’ve been to fourteen countries and counting, and I hope in the years to come you can add to that number immensely. Travel far, eat well, and take care of your physical self along the way.

Finally, and most importantly, I pray you continue to have the strength to walk away when you’ve exhausted all other options, especially if you deserve better. Even though you regularly experience bouts of depression, anxiety, and pain, do not let what you suffer from become all that you are. Always take each setback as an opportunity to bounce back even better than before. Sometimes it’ll hurt more than you think you can bear, but more often than not, the end result will be more joyous than you can imagine.

Remember in those hard times, though, no matter how far you fall or how bad it gets, you’ll always have this letter to remind yourself just how far you’ve come, and how great you are.

Yours,

sig.jpg

Phil.

P.S. Call your grandmother.