If you are living with depression, this is my open letter to you, and my promise.

There is a way.

This will not defeat you.

This will not define you.

You will not be left behind.

I want you to imagine, just for a moment, that you don’t have depression.

Stay with me.

I want you to imagine there is no pain. There is no hopelessness. There is no restlessness. There is only peace and light. I want you to imagine, beyond all reason and intuition, that happiness can exist and it isn’t a myth, that it is abundant within you even if you can’t feel it.

Imagine for a moment that you have energy and you feel light on your toes, that there is a gentle warmth building inside you, starting at your chest and spreading outward, seeping in to your empty spaces, sealing them. You are whole.

Stay with me, I am with you.

In this world you have just imagined, this seemingly impossible world, is there possibility of a life worth living? If you somehow had within you, unbound strength, courage, confidence, hope, passion…could you believe there is more to come for you? That you could feel free, or even happy? What could you be, do, see… if you weren’t depressed?

Now come back.

Come back to where you were when you started reading this, to the world you hold as truth. And here is my truth to you– that if you keep breathing, if you can find the strength — even for a few seconds — to say to yourself “maybe, just maybe it’s possible that I can survive this” — you have already begun to win.

The abundant happiness within you is ready for your permission to rise. One breath at a time, you are closer to recovery. There is help, there is a way, and I promise you, you are not alone.

Stay with me, I am with you.

As of April 2016, the WHO estimated 350 million people suffer from depression around the world. None of these other 350 million, nor anyone else but you, could ever completely understand your unique experience, history and challenges. But know that you are not going through this because you are weak or somehow lacking — no matter how unbearable it feels — how unfair, how excruciatingly defeating — I promise you there are others that have walked the heavy steps and still achieved recovery. Not because they are stronger than you, but because they kept walking.

Keep walking, I am with you.

And here’s the thing- depression is a highly treatable. I know there is no magic wand. Fighting depression takes courage and tenacity, neither of which you may feel you have left. But I promise you that they are innately a part of you, the cornerstones of human spirit. If you keep breathing, keep going, and reach for help, you will not lose.

Believe in the impossible. You are a part of something bigger in this universe and if you reach out, it will not let you fall away. If you hold on long enough, joy will find you.

Reach out, we are with you.

This will not defeat you, this will not define you. There is so much more left for you.