SAM NKIROTE MCKENZIE

Dear Sam
 
You have clinical depression. What a relief, right?! It explains why everything is so hard. 
 
First of all, you should know, life is going to get worse. Like A LOT worse. Yes, that is possible. 
 
You’ll go on antidepressants and then switch antidepressants, which will then get adjusted, re-adjusted, and so on.
 
Basically, managing depression is complicated, but antidepressants work for you. They are expensive and definitely not a complete solution (you need other stuff too, like to see a psychologist regularly; follow a super strict routine; eat a balanced diet; take vitamins and supplements; and get sunlight) all of which will seem impossible when you’re down. On really bad days, just focus on eating and getting a little sun.
 
So back to the timeline, once you finally accept that you need to take antidepressants (it’ll be about a year-and-a-half after your diagnosis) and start taking them, they won’t work immediately. It’ll be weeks. So for a looooong time you’ll be convinced that you’re taking some very expensive placebos. BUT slowly and I mean really slowly, you will start to feel like yourself again. 
 
But before that, being depressed will mess everything up. And I mean absolutely everything! This is what I meant when I said it’ll get worse. 
 
First, because reading and concentrating are just so hard you won't be an all-star at work and that will suck. You’ll lose jobs and consultancies. You’ll get into debt and that will REALLY, REALLY suck. You will lose friends—friends you never thought you would lose—because they said you were family. 
 
Your best friend will die. No, not that one, you haven’t met this friend yet. His death will be sudden, so sudden that it will seem surreal and make you so angry because it is so unfair. 
 
In the months after his death, you’ll miss him every single day and feel completely lost without him. Then you’ll learn that lots of other people thought of him as their best friend too, and isn’t that a pretty magical discovery? So, cry loudly and mourn absolutely but then celebrate him and his incredible life.
 
Celebrate all your friendships. Your friends are weird (in the best possible way), but man are they intelligent, inquisitive, witty, funny, kind and humane beings. And you know what, you totally deserve them, so stop questioning why they’re still around. That’s just what friendship is. I know you don’t like hugs, but do me a favour and give them all a massive hug next time you see them. 
 
You’re going to feel like giving up when things get tough, and things will get tough often. When they do, don’t keep it all inside, call a friend. Give them a chance to help you. They will come through for you. They will always show you kindness. They will feed you. And they will love you. 
 
I need to go now, part of my routine is no screen time after 8pm, but before I go, I can’t reiterate this enough, as life gets more difficult and small tasks seem impossible, try to remember that at least some of it is chemical. Be kind to yourself. One thing that won’t change is your constant and unwavering love for ‘to do’ lists, so do me a solid and put yourself at the top of each day’s list and under no circumstance can you move yourself and self-care to tomorrow’s list. 
 
I wish I could tell you everything will work out, but I can’t, because I don’t know yet, but just keep going and try to be less afraid. Your psychologist will ask you to try and be “fearlessly fearless”. It’s not easy, but it’s worth a try right?!
 
Love always
 
Sam
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