Dear Andrew,

I wish there was something I could say that would make everything better. I wish I could tell you there’s a light at the end of the tunnel, and to just hang on a bit longer. That it will all feel better in a moment. But I know it won’t. And I know you know it won’t. It’s been over 15 years for you, struggling with endogenous depression and bipolar disorder. Medication is the predominant, if not only, answer. But for people like us, and others in a line of work that doesn’t provide medical insurance or a drug plan, it can be next to impossible to get the help we need. I don’t know if you’re on any medication right now. I’d wager to guess you’re not, and that you haven’t been for some time.

Please call 911 for yourself. Please seek the help of CAMH, or another health care provider. Check yourself into an in-patient psychiatric ward at your nearest hospital, where such resources will be at your fingertips. I beg of you.

When I was 16 years old, my first boyfriend killed himself. He struggled for several years with endogenous clinical depression. His father spent the better part of his own life struggling with severe clinical depression, and is still medicated to this day. My boyfriend at the time was simply genetically predisposed to depression, and couldn’t handle his inability to control his emotions. He attempted suicide a couple of times, and lied about what had actually happened. I was too young, and too inexperienced at the time to really understand what was happening. He’d been rushed to the hospital after having taken a few too many pain killers after a night of drinking. At 15 (when this incident happened), I trusted him. He said it was just an accident. I knew nothing about depression, so I didn’t question it. It wasn’t until he succeeded that I really understood what happened. It was, and still is, the most painful experience of my young life.

What he’d done that really made things worse was going off his medication unsupervised. He thought he could handle it on his own. He felt he should be able to, and if he couldn’t that he was somehow a failure. By going on and off his medication, he sent himself into a darker hole, a place of no return.

You cannot do this alone, and unaided. I know you know this, but I need to tell you this. To tell you that I know you’re trying to be strong. I know you’re pushing as hard as you can to fix yourself. But you need help. It isn’t a sign of weakness. It isn’t a sign of anything short of bravery to ask for help. I’ve been in and out of therapy for a number of years since I was 16, and dealt with depression in various different forms. I’ve never suffered as you have. As you do, on a daily basis. But I know that you cannot hesitate to ask for help. You must.

I don’t know where the light is at the end of the tunnel. But I know it exists. The problem is that the road to a full recovery is long, arduous, and incredibly painful. You’ve been walking that road for over 15 years, on a constant uphill slope. It takes a minimum of 6 months for any behavioural medication to start showing even the slightest of effects. In that time, you still have to deal with your bipolar disorder, and your depression, along with the normal stresses of everyday life we all face. The struggle will get worse before it gets better, and it will be a long road.

But it will get better. It will improve. And you will not be alone.

You are not alone. I know you know that, but sometimes it helps to be told that. Your pain is real. But it can be treated.

I have been thinking of you all morning. I am heartsick that I didn’t know about your cry for help until this morning, and I am sorry that I didn’t reach out to you sooner. I am overjoyed at how many people have been reaching out to you, and so thankful that people have been so supportive. I wish I could take all your pain away, and bring you straight to that light at the end of the tunnel. But I can’t. No one can but yourself. But we will be here, all of us, supporting you along the way.

Please use one of these resources today. They are all wonderful institutions. Please go to one of these emergency departments today. I can’t beg you enough.

Please.

Designated Psychiatric Facilities Under the Mental Health Act – http://www.health.gov.on.ca/en/common/system/services/psych/designated.aspx

St. Michael’s Inpatient Psychiatry – http://www.stmichaelshospital.com/programs/mentalhealth/inpatient.php

Centre for Addiction and Mental Health – http://www.camh.ca/en/hospital/care_program_and_services/Emergency_Department/Pages/guide_emergency_service.aspx

St Joseph’s Mental Health Toronto – http://www.stjoe.on.ca/programs/emerg/

Sunnybrook Health Sciences Centre Mental Health – http://sunnybrook.ca/content/?page=psychiatry-patient-programs-services-clinics

All of my love, encouragement, and endless support,

Ariel