An Open Letter to the Victims of Mental Health Disorders

Guest Post by Debbie Pholo

Photo by Andrew Dunstan on Unsplash

There is no perfect way to start a letter to you, especially because I know that you are used to the monotonous words, “It’s going to be okay.”

I know your pain and understand that sometimes it gets hard to claw through the treacherous hurricane called life. It goes without saying that the depth of your suffering cannot be sufficiently explained to anyone because many think the expression of your pain is just a ploy for attention. Believe me, I understand. This is why – instead of asking how you are, I am simply going to start this by saying ‘Dear You’ because I know that tears stream down your face every day.

Dear You,

I know the pain you are going through. Sometimes it seems like the world is a dark place and breathing is just too difficult. However, sometimes, beams of hope come and you are afraid to be carried away with the joy because you know that it won’t last long.

The unpredictability you face in your own body gets too hard to bear sometimes because it often feels like everything is a trigger for you. The pain has now become a familiar friend because it seemingly bleeds into everything you do. Trust me – I know.

People love to say, “You Only Live Once,” but you and I both know that you are not very familiar with the concept of utter happiness. This is why you have it etched to your entire being that what you are doing is not living but is Surviving.

In your opinion, yesterday, today and tomorrow are marred with a cycle of problems that will continue to beat you down hence you do not even consider living your life to the fullest. You sit alone and look at life as one rehearsed manuscript and people seem to be playing the same movie over and over again. Unfortunately, the jabs of pain come with greater intensity despite your familiarity with the pain. Trust me – I know.

Repeatedly, you have felt like your cries for help are equivalent to your silence and you have completely lost hope. The stigma around mental illnesses makes it hard to explain to people that you have disorders that are not easy to cure by a sentence as simple as, “It is going to be okay.”

The worst part is that people are hell bent on destroying one another and stop at nothing to get their way. When you try to navigate your own feelings, you are faced with the harsh reality that people consistently invalidate your feelings.

It is always about how Jane had it worse than you and is fine. It is always about how you have ‘rich people problems’. It is always about how your pain is nothing compared to someone else’s pain and you end up hiding your fragility so that no one sees your bleeding heart.

Take a deep breath, close your eyes and imagine who you would be if all these problems did not exist. By now, you have probably figured out that I did not write this letter to invalidate your feelings. I wrote it to show you that there are people who actually understand your pain.

In my own tale, I had to come to terms with the idea that I was responsible for my future and had to fix myself before I tried to fix the world. A lot of times, our focus is on who did wrong to us but I want to tell you a secret – ALL THOSE PEOPLE HAVE THEIR OWN LIVES TO LIVE AND YOU HAVE YOURS. It is that simple.

At the end of the day, the only person who is responsible for your life is you. People can do whatever they want but it is up to you to watch how you receive it. You and I can agree on one thing; Life may not get better as quickly as we want it to but we have to get better as consistently as possible.

From here on, I dare you to start taking care of yourself. Talk to your family, talk to your friends and most importantly, talk to yourself. Be honest about what you are going through and seek advice because people who love you actually exist.

In my tale, I learnt that I had to trust my loved ones to love me even when I did not understand love. I decided to take steps to heal and stop focusing on the triggers of sadness.

My family and friends appreciate my honesty and I know that I am very brave for having been honest with them, I thank them to this day. The best advice I can give to you is that you should be brave enough to speak up. Take time to take care of yourself and trust me, you will be okay.

I am sending you love and light.

With Love,

Debbie Pholo


Grace is an uprising youth activist who uses her voice to inspire and inform. She has worked internationally as the Deputy Secretary General with Model UN Impact. This is where she advocated for youth inclusivity in the implementation of the SDGs and further launched projects such as PHAHAMA MOSALI. She is currently the youngest SDGs Ambassador for the internationally renowned Global Citizens Innovative Solutions SDGs Challenge.