Letters to Friends and the Motherfucking Sad

Isolation isn’t a choice. It’s a symptom.

erika sauter
May 18 · 4 min read

Depression is melancholy minus its charms- Susan Sontag

A mountain of clean laundry sits on the folding table in the basement. It’s been there for more than a week. It’s a simple process. Wash, dry, fold, repeat but I can’t find a groove. I’m lacking rhythm.

Instead, I stand there staring at it. I should fold it and put it away. I don’t because I don’t have it in me today, the same as the day before and maybe not tomorrow, either. I turn around, walk back up the stairs and plop myself on the couch. I combat the feeling of guilt by bullshitting myself. “I’ll get it done after I take this break.”

Laundry itself isn’t a difficult task. It’s the energy it requires that’s wearing on me. For a depressed person, life can be a difficult task. Moments that should ebb and flow hit a rock wall and I let them. I make no effort to stop it from happening.


I want to send you a text message. “Hi, I miss you!” I’d say. I think about sending it several times a day, but I don’t. If you were to respond I wouldn’t know what to say.

“Where have you been?” You’d ask.

“Struggling with the motherfucking sad,” I’d say, but I don’t want to say it. I don’t want to burden you with the immense pain I’m experiencing so I say nothing at all.

I do miss you.

Please forgive me.

I consider reaching out to friends on Facebook. I haven’t in several weeks. They’re right there, inside of my monitor, but the motherfucking sad stops me from doing it. I’m incapable of posting a Facebook status. I strain from something witty to write but nothing comes to me.

What would I say, anyway? “THE MOTHERFUCKING SAD IS TOO MUCH FOR ME TODAY.” No one wants to hear that. They want to acknowledge it even less than I do.

I scroll through my OneDrive but can’t find that perfect photo of my perfect life and I don’t care enough to fake one. I can’t bring myself to post on Instagram, either. I don’t have the motivation for make believe.

What I have is awareness. No one wishes they were me and no one wants to see a photo of me with unkempt hair, Sponge Bob pajama pants, flannel shirt and the lethargic expression of motherfucking sad on my face. I’ve looked the same for days. I’m not going to change my ways, nor am I going to submit anyone else to my misery.

They’ll ask, “Are you okay?” And leave comments that say, “I’m here if you need me,” and “I’m so sorry,” but I won’t respond. I’m glum.


“Uh, hello?”

“Why do you always sound unhappy when I call?”

“It’s not you, I swear. It’s the motherfucking sad. It’s draining me,” I say.

I want him to come home and hug me, hold me, smile at me, sweep his fingertips through my hair. We’ll both lay in bed on our tummies with our books touching in the most romantic way and I’ll ask, “how is your spy novel?”

We’ll be happy people. I’ll be a happy person.


The truth is I need to cry. The motherfucking sad hurts badly and I know if I could just cry it would release it. The tears well but never stream. I try but can’t force it. My tears were beaten from me as a child. It’s a psychological burden and now in adulthood I struggle to cry on my own.

My family believes I handle trials and tribulations with grace. “Look at you conquering life’s full plate!” But it’s not the case. The motherfucking sad protects me like a shield so nothing else fazes me.

I envision money slipping through my fingers. I should be writing, drawing, making music or photographing. I should be hustling but the motherfucking sad doesn’t care whether or not I can afford to eat.

A friend sent an email asking if I’m okay. I didn’t have it in me to answer. I couldn’t bring myself to lie and say, “Yes, I’m doing fine.” I could have at least responded with “I’m okay.” I am. I’m alive.


Dear Friend,

My mind suffers from agoraphobia and my body from depression. I’m uncertain the difference at times. There’s an unspoken beauty where the calmness meets the chest crushing pain. Sometimes people feel sad because I’m sad, but there’s strength in sadness. The reality is, today is all we have.

Depression does rob me of self worth and life experiences, and the belief that some day I’ll prevail but it also provides the ability to live in the moment. Mindfulness. Depression is the gift of mindfulness. It’s not so bad for me, you know?

I feel both safe and vulnerable, love and hurt, peaceful and chaotic. It’s judgement and acceptance. It’s prison and freedom. I don’t take things for granted. The moments I feel good are too valuable.

They say depression is the feeling of hopelessness but it’s not. There is hope. There’s hope that tomorrow will be better, I’ll get out of bed, I’ll leave the house, I’ll create, I’ll reach out to you. I truly do hope these things happen. They say depression is lonely but it’s not. I have myself. Some days I’m all I want or need. Those are the days I shut you out.

There’s this novelty in depression the same as drinking coffee, smoking cigarettes and suffering from writer’s block. It’s an enchanting story, a tale of tides clanking away at the keyboard but then I get stumped and the story is left without an ending.

I wanted to send this letter days ago but the motherfucking sad didn’t let me.

With love,

Erika

Real Life Stories

“I want life. I want to read it and write it and feel it and live it. I want, for as much of the time as possible in this blink-of-an-eye existence we have, to feel all that can be felt.”

erika sauter

Written by

USA Today Network. Iowa County. Journal Tribune. Pioneer-Republican. I write stories, snap photographs and farm. → https://mailchi.mp/b904151ba863/erika_sauter

Real Life Stories

“I want life. I want to read it and write it and feel it and live it. I want, for as much of the time as possible in this blink-of-an-eye existence we have, to feel all that can be felt.”