Young man pens powerful letter to his mental health: 'I was pretty intimidated by you at first... but not anymore'
Published 05/02/2016 | 15:25
An Irish man has written a powerful letter addressing his own mental health, saying he will fight to his last before he lets it sap his confidence again.
After more than a decade of struggling with depression and anxiety, Limerick native Peter Guckian (26) wrote to his own mental well-being and swore “until my last gasp of air” that he would never let it hold him back again.
“Although deep down I knew college or academia was not for me, I still, however, spent four years of my life trying to avoid that feeling as I was preoccupied with you,” he writes.
“In fact, I didn't even know what or who you were for a very long time. I will be honest and say I was pretty intimidated by you at first and that feeling hadn't left my life for many years, but not anymore.
“I realise your game plan… You have had a heavy influence on my life for over a decade now, but after two years I am beginning to believe that I am nearly rid of you, for good.”
The incredibly honest letter goes on, saying that: “I count myself very lucky… As I write this letter I can once again hear that ever present helicopter which appears to be permanently hovering above the strong and vicious currents River Shannon these days.
“May this poor soul you have burdened with your everyday appearance within their mind, rest in peace.”
Speaking to Independent.ie, Mr Guckian said he wrote his letter because he wants to open up a conversation about mental health.
“A lot people who know me wouldn’t believe that this happened to me… [but] there were many days when I couldn’t even leave my house.
“I couldn’t bear my own thoughts, so the idea of other people’s were crippling.
“I would have been very confident as a kid and came across like that world was my oyster but I would have gone through a stage where I couldn’t seen a future for myself.”
He continued: “I think there are still many people who were like me, suffering from depression, anxiety, and other mental health issues that aren’t aware of what is happening to them.
“I’m hoping this letter can help in raising awareness of mental health issues and encouraging people to speak out, particularly my generation who are not accustomed to sharing.”
Crediting his girlfriend Kate Corneille with helping him to open up and talk about his mental health issues, Mr Guckian says that every political party in the country should be speaking up on the issue.
The restaurant manager said he had been pushed to put pen to paper following the latest helicopter sweep of the River Shannon.
“Living in Limerick City now, I work just beside the [River] and we’ve seen awful things in recent years… that’s what frightens me the most, is that these helicopters at night aren’t talked about – it’s not an issue that’s raised.
“We’ve heard the helicopter here… at least ten times in the last year, which means that someone has definitely gone in.
“Myself and my friends even stopped some poor girl from jumping in a few months… she was willing to jump, saying she wanted to be with her mother.
“We held her arms and legs until the Gardaí arrived."
Peter Guckian's letter to his mental health:
Dear Mental Health,
I would like to begin this open letter by telling you how much I sincerely mean it when I say – f**k you! You have had a heavy influence on my life for over a decade now, but after two years I am beginning to believe that I am nearly rid of you, for good. I was never taught about you while I was growing up, thus I never expected you. In fact, I didn't even know what or who you were for a very long time. I will be honest and say I was pretty intimidated by you at first and that feeling hadn't left my life for many years, but not anymore. When someone is backed into a corner they only have two options:, they could stand still, motionless, and have you domineering their every choice or move in life. Or the second ideal that is the road less travelled by many (unfortunately) – push back as much as you could and get yourself out of that corner. You affected me to the point where you meddled with my life and my everyday choices. Although deep down I knew college or academia was not for me I still, however, spent four years of my life trying to avoid that feeling as I was preoccupied with you.
Before I am forever done with you, following me around like an unwanted shadow, I just want to tell you a few reasons as to why I would never like to be within your company for the foreseeable future. Prior to your unwanted entry into my life, I had been very confident in all aspects possible of the term. Throughout my life, even when faced with the hardships of growing up and even being bullied at a young age, I still took them on and in my mind no matter what, I was victorious! But since I had no choice but to spend most of my free time with you that confidence was shattered into two with you taking a part of my confidence I never thought was even possible to be taken. It is difficult to explain. Long story short, you introduced only what I could describe as whole self doubt into MY life, without my permission. With the introduction of this unwanted trait, I was able to appear confident in myself and all my decisions without actually feeling it. If that makes sense. I had absolutely no control over a lot of things and situations faced in my life, but more importantly I wasn't able to be the old me who I fondly remembered.. I could appear completely content and happy without a worry too many, while on the inside I was very sad and worried about basically everything in the world.
The complexity of the situation meant that it was very hard to share what I really thought about myself to anyone from my family, who could be nothing but caring and looking out for me, or close friends who would only be worried if they only knew. In addition to my own fears or anxiety I grew fearful of worrying anybody who was close to me and extremely anxious when it came to discussing the topic of my everyday struggle when it all came to light. I knew from day one that you wouldn't be of the end of my existence. For many, you seem to go harder on - to the point where they don't want to breathe anymore - but not me. This didn't, however, necessarily mean that dark ideas did not cross my head. It's a little tricky to explain – on my lowest hour and during my ever grey and negative thoughts or doubts about myself, I would occasionally wonder was I just a nuisance to the world and those who loved me. I know and always have known that I wouldn't be able to do such a thing, not just to myself but because of all my loved ones more so. However, I am both extremely angry and worried about the people who may feel so low that they think after a long time there is no end to the dark thoughts and the problems you bring upon them and convince them to take their own lives. Lives which appeared unfixable but could very well be fixed to everyone on the outside of these thoughts.
Its beginning to seem that you haven't just invaded my life as a lot of other people are beginning to speak out about all the terrible things you are capable of and rightly so. You deserve it! Your complex being has intimidated almost every person in this country to the point where it is not discussed and where ignoring it seems to be the only promoted mechanism to try to defeat it. Also, you have shattered and taken away many peoples hope, which is uncalled for. Sadly, today, we live in a world where our own politicians never think of invading and combating everything you stand for as their prime policy when preparing for an election. Funnily, if it was used it would probably be the secret ingredient to actually winning. But in fairness knowing your horrific entity, you probably have invaded and affected their lives to the point of ignoring you also that is what we are taught after all. It is a world built to have many other problems that don't concern you let alone have the time to spend worrying about you and when you may attack again.
I count myself very lucky. Like myself, there are others who are able to take you on against all odds and although you currently have a great winning streak against your prey, we end up victorious. There is another reason as to why you will not affect me anymore and that is your sickening predator-like attack on those less fortunate and those who have issues burdening already on their poorly minds which they simply cannot handle. As I write this letter I can once again hear that ever present helicopter which appears to be permanently hovering above the strong and vicious currents River Shannon these days. May this poor soul you have burdened with your everyday appearance within their mind, rest in peace.
I swear from this moment until I take my last gasp of air in this world I will do anything I can help tackle your presence in society and uncover what is constantly being ignored and never addressed.. That's a promise! You see there was a time where you had me thinking that I had no future that I was destined for nothing. But now, I have a great job which I succeed in daily as well as a loving family family and girlfriend who like and respect me for whom I truly am. No matter how many times you have taken away my confidence and self belief or how many times you will try, you won't be able anymore. I would like to thank you on the other hand for helping me realise who I was and how strong I really am. Here is to knowing I will never let you invade my life, to the point of thoughts of defeat, for the rest of my time on this planet.
There will always be negative thoughts that try to take over you're every move in this life, that's impossible. I have realized that by hitting back with positive thoughts as hard as they may be to do, it succeeds. Thanks to you, some people find that hard to do (compute positive thoughts as quick and easy as they can negative). But I realize your game plan now.