Before I get into the writing, I just want to start by thanking Sara for coming in and doing a Writer’s Seminar on herself in the Creative Writing class this semester. I would say that seeing another writer find their own success fuels my own pursuit, and thus I write this piece. You can find the original work by Sara here.
It’s been quite a few years now, and in that time I couldn’t help but find myself jumping at shadows, thinking that somewhere in the dark it was you creeping about. You can’t blame me for such faults; after all, it was you who instilled them in me, remember? I find it funny how the most prevalent memories I have were the ones where you were by my side. You always did rear you head at the most inconvenient of times, like in most of my photographs, glaring right at the camera, doing your best impression of what I looked like. Looking back, you couldn’t even tell us apart. God, those seem like yesterday!
Remember when we were just kids, and you hid under the covers with me while the world felt like it was screaming? You nurtured me, cultivated me, and lead me through to the other side. The side where you plugged my ears and kissed my boo-boos when it seemed like the roof would collapse. The side where you left me to sleep and heal under those covers, while you would go to school for me. I loved you so much for helping me, even if I had to pay you. That’s the way the world worked, wasn’t it: we all have to bleed a little to live a little. Everyone has an occupation, and yours was to run a Blood Bank. You taught me that, and many other things, like how if I can’t do something on the first try, I may as well give up. Or if I mess up, nobody would want to be around me. Or if I couldn’t be fit like all of the other boys, I may as well exercise until I almost pass out.
And so I did.
I would struggle with learning,
and I’d give up on myself.
Just like you told me.
I would make the smallest of mistakes,
and I’d punish myself.
Just like we told ourselves.
I would gain a couple pounds,
and I’d hurt myself.
Just like I told myself.
Definitely, in those later middle school years, we bonded. When everyone grew distant, your arms embraced me as you plucked me away from them all, like a leave from an oak. We’d go home and lay under the covers as the roof was finally gone, and little snowflakes fell onto our tongues. Have you ever just sat while it snows and felt the flakes hug you, and melt onto your face. I doubt you did, as you were less interested in gazing up at what was above, and more interested in dragging my arm down to your “business.” Even when you twisted me and forced me to pay up as I entered high school, I couldn’t help but look up. My fascination was now centered around what was beyond the snow, and if I could reach that.
I”ll be honest with you, my friend, I was in debt, and the more I bled for rent, the more I began to resent you. My funds were finite, and I needed a way out. So as I gazed up, I exposed my neck for you. I expected the dark passenger that had enveloped me would reach for my gullet and strangle me. Or maybe strangle me harder, because the lack of oxygen I got around you had obviously been stopping my mind from thinking clearly, so maybe you were strangling me this entire time, and maybe I was finally sick of paying for a life I should have been entitled to, and maybe if you’d hurry up I would… But it never came.
You vanished. And I could breathe again.
The years went by, and the roof slowly was patched. Some nights I thought I could hear you stirring under the bed, restlessly. But you didn’t come back, and I never looked for you. I became wealthy in what you drained me of, and I learned a great deal from the many people I’ve come to love in your place.
I still struggle with learning,
but I try again.
Just like they tell me to.
I still make mistakes, some large ones at that,
but I learn from them.
Just like we all tell ourselves.
I will gain weight,
but I will still love myself.
Just like I will always tell myself from now on.
Listen Depression. Recently, you came back for a visit, and it was nice to see you again, it really was. It’s been a while since we’ve been under a stable roof. Nostalgic is what I would call it. We’re older, and much more blunt with each other. But the thing is, you never changed, even when you wanted some spare change because your business wasn’t doing too well. I paid you a little, but I won’t do it again. People call me empathetic, perhaps too empathetic for my own good, and I see that now when I talk with you. I want to thank you for teaching me everything you did, because I wouldn’t be the man I am today without you. I’m sorry, but we’re done. Don’t misunderstand, I’m going to see you again, but things won’t be like they were.
I will never submit to you.
I will never allow you to hurt me again.
I will never give you the opportunity to control me.
It’s on the verge of winter now, and I’m waiting for the snowflakes to fall.
7 thoughts on “A Letter to an Old Friend”
Wow, what an incredible and moving piece! Your depiction of depression is very moving and it brings it to life brilliantly. I loved how you chose to look as depression as an “old friend” rather than a figure that is menacing and cruel. It’s interesting because I think sometimes people don’t understand why it’s so hard to walk away from the comfort depression provides, but you explained it really well in your piece. It’s something that I’ve struggled to capture in my own writing however you execute it flawlessly. I was also drawn to the way you structured your letter, breaking away from the common linear structure often seen in text. It amplifies the piece and highlights the notion of continuity and change. I love how you kept your statements in line with the format, changing them slightly to reflect what is going on in the letter. Not to mention how emotional it is. I’m not afraid to admit I got a little teary-eyed.
I owe this piece to you, so thank you so much for inspiring me. Your compliments humble me coming from a writer like you, so honestly, thank you. Be sure to keep up your writing, cause I have a feeling you’re gonna be inspiring others, too.
My oh my, what do we have here? An absoloutley fantastic piece of writing? I think so! (I apologize for how corny that was, I hope you can appreciate the ~attempt~ at humour.) This was such an impressive letter I don’t even know what to say. You’re such a fantastic writer, as I had no doubt of before, and this just really made what I knew to be true even more of a reality. It was really interesting getting to experience depression through your perspective, as disturbed as that sounds. You gave me a lot of insight into something I have very limited experience with and I am so grateful for that. Pieces like this, I feel, are so significant for two reasons: people like myself are able to be more empathetic and people who are experiencing it feel as if you, with your brilliance, were able to assign words to how they’re feeling. All-in-all ’twas great and I really enjoyed every second of it, I don’t know what else I can say about that.
As far as improvements go I would recommend going through and cleaning up the GUMPS. They didn’t really detract from the piece as a whole too badly but I think that if the piece were made cleaner there would be no distractions from the message you were delivering.
Once again, wonderful piece. Thank you so much for sharing and enlightening.
Thank you so much reading my work. I hope that by writing this, others may find a voice and text that can describe what they go through as well. I’ll aslo be sure to read through and fix any GUMPS I see.
Once again, I am left speechless by your work. As intimidating as you may seem to me at times, I find you to be very inspiring. How you established depression as more of a character which comes and goes as it pleases really spoke to me. You had so much reality and truth in your blog. I agree with Sara that you explained the difficulties of walking away from the comfort depression provides very thoroughly. I am shocked as well as to how much I can relate to this! And the structure – I love it. It’s something I, personally, would never have thought of or used, but it was so effective in conveying the effects of depression and the mindset of those who are suffering from it. Now that is something I’m definitely going to try and incorporate into my writing! Thank you so much for that!
Now, as you may already know, I’m not exactly the best at finding weaknesses or areas of growth. Something which mildly detracted me from your content and meaning were small GUMPS. Not large enough to make anyone want to stop reading or lose interest, I believe that checking your work over for these small errors will definitely make your writing even more appealing than it already is!
Your blog was very inspiring and and informative overall, and I am glad to have come into this class with so many people to be inspired from. Thank you once again for writing this, I look forward to see your writing in the future!
AHHHH BEST FRIEND!!!!!
This was one hell of a piece–relatable, intelligent, and heart-breakingly poignant. I wouldn’t say that this piece concluded with a happing ending–there’s no such thing as a happy ending, after all. But it concluded with a hopeful-ending. This is something I admire in particular about this gem of a post that you have created. It is something I aspire to integrate into my own writing. By nature, humans are much better at being negative than they are at being positive. I know with my own writing, it has always been easier for me to write about sadness and sadness solely opposed to anything that remotely correlates with hope or happiness. But I found this piece possessed a unified balance of both.
I specifically love the way you characterized one’s relationship with depression at the beginning of this piece. The specific images you created in relation to winter reminded me of the phrase “a blanket of snow.” Because in a way depression, to a certain extent, is a “blanket of snow”; while it makes us feel cold, and while it definitely hurts, it can also provide us with a sense of comfort. This is especially true for those who are chronically depressed, for those who have been sad for as long as they can remember. For these people, depression provides them with a sense of familiarity and consistency, and therefore a sense of comfort. This in itself is a paradox. However, it is a paradox I feel you have articulated incredibly well in this piece.
Also LOVE the combination of both poetry and prose–it gave this piece variety. This is what made this post so engaging. Your writing has a way of sucking people in; it is is so immersing I can confidently say that a lot of us often forget that we are even reading in the first place–the outside world seems to dissipate and scatter right under the tips of our noses.
I do not have anything notable to say in terms of improvements. I would just say, like Ibukun had mentioned, maybe go back and skim over the piece for any grammar errors. For example instead of “You always did rear YOUR head” you said, “You always did rear YOU head.” Just stuff like that!
You are a bloody brilliant writer, Best Fren–don’t you ever forget that.
Thank you all so much for actually enjoying my emotional dribble. I find it difficult writing about my feelings, but I believe that it’s necessary every once in a while as a kind of cathartic release. Perhaps others feel this way while they read it as well. What better way then to write about something that’s been haunting you for most of your life! Anyway, I’m glad I was able to appeal with this piece, as I incorporated stylistic, poetic, and prose components. However, if you really want, I suggest you direct your praise to Sara’s blog, as she is the real inspiration for this. I’ll be sure to double-check for GUMPS once again.