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An Open Letter to My Daughter’s Mental Illness

How I used a letter to transform hopelessness into a battle cry


Dear Mental Illness ~

I have to admit, you’re good. You insidiously entered our lives over the years, lurking in the shadows watching, waiting, teasing and taunting. I didn’t see it coming until you were entrenched in my daughter’s mind and the stakes were already too high. 

You’ve sent this family spinning out of control, in and out of crisis, never taking your foot off the gas. We were unsuspecting victims of your evil and the damage has been catastrophic. 

But I want you to know… the gig is up. 

It took a while, maybe too long, but I can see you now. I see how you slowly started your ruthless campaign of taking over her mind. I see that it was you who would poke her in the back out of blue, randomly flooding her head with confusing thoughts, feelings and fear.

I know it was you who pushed her down when she was younger, causing irrational outbursts and verbal assaults.

I know it was you continually telling her she wasn’t good enough, that the other girls didn’t like her, and that she was destined to feel empty and alone.  I know it was you who twisted my words so she’d only hear invalidation. 

I know it was you who tormented her sleep because you knew that made her an easier target. I know it was you who has been attacking her self-perception, making her think she needs to be thinner and thinner in order to be valued.

I know it’s still you flooding her brain at opportune moments to get her to swipe and use any instrument of harm she can find. I know it’s you telling her she won’t get better, that there’s no hope, only shame and nothingness. 

I know it’s you telling her not to let anyone too close and push away those who love her because she’ll ultimately be abandoned anyway. 

And, I know it was you who screamed at her to take all those pills on Sunday. You bastard, I see you sitting there smugly, thinking you’ve won.

But let me tell you this – only a coward hides in the shadows to relentlessly terrorize a young girl. Now that our enemy is known, make no mistake – we will do everyone thing in our power to annihilate you. I will be as ruthless in my fight to win back my child as you are to destroy her. 

She has the advantage of an army of people who love and support her. Who do you have?

I will turn over every possible stone, research every possible angle to understand and take advantage of your weakness, and defend against your strengths. I will fight with every last breath to keep her safe while your brainwashing is destroyed. 

Unlike you, we also have the power of our faith behind us. Most of all, I have hope. I know my girl is still in there, happy, hopeful, bright, creative and absolutely awesome. I know she wants to live. 

You haven’t won. I will not stop until I get her back. You think you’re relentless? Take me on and see who’s relentless. You should be scared. I’m coming after you.

By the way, have you noticed my semi-colon tattoo? Its permanence is symbolic of the never-ending hope I have for my daughter. But’s it’s bigger than me. There’s a movement underway to shine a spotlight on you, your friends and your family so that you cannot continue to prosper in the shadows of shame and isolation. 

United we proudly stand in support of those you attack and in our fight against all of you.

My army’s growing, my friend, and you don’t stand a chance.

Originally published at gretakjos.com

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People look for retreats for themselves, in the country, by the coast, or in the hills . . . There is nowhere that a person can find a more peaceful and trouble-free retreat than in his own mind. . . . So constantly give yourself this retreat, and renew yourself.

- MARCUS AURELIUS

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