Thank you for the positive affirmations. Thank you for reminding me that I am loved, reminding me that I am beautiful, reminding me that happiness is within my grasp. You affirmed that I am deserving of happiness and that my desire for it (amidst the notion that our generation are incapable of handling hardship) was not unjustifiable. You made me believe that I am better than I was and that I will be better than I am.

“You never let me forget that I am more than my bad days, more than my depression”

Together we celebrated my minor accomplishments and in doing so, you validated my progress. Recognising that my progress wasn’t linear, and riding out the highs and navigating the lows brought me a peace that you’ll never know. I am a work in progress but you never let me forget that I am more than my bad days, more than my depression. My weaknesses don’t define me and my past is not reflective of my future.

Thank you for dispelling my irrational thoughts. You made me feel valued when I no longer valued myself. Only you could have made me realise that the trials and tribulations marring my life were not punishments due to my character – but in the same breath it was your bluntness that forced me to look at my faults, my inner conflicts and myself. You forced me to be accountable and your realism compelled me to confront the shortcomings I was trying to run from. It was you who cemented in my mind that comparison is the thief of joy.

“You told me that it was okay to be vulnerable”

Yes, I am strong like the numerous black women who face inequities day in, day out and you admired that strength; but you told me that it was okay to be vulnerable. A space was created by you where I could be exposed at ease and be at peace with my sadness. You let me embrace it but you also made me aware that this too shall pass.

Thank you for pushing me. Pushing me out of rumination and encouraging me to seek help. You helped dismantle the stigma surrounding therapy that is so prevalent in the black community, you let me know that antidepressants were not synonymous with giving up. I was internalising my feelings because it was my safest coping mechanism, but you didn’t believe my “I’m fine” and you pushed me to be open. You changed me from being a sufferer that didn’t know how to speak out because you were a listener that knew how to respond.

“You never demeaned my struggle but you saw so much more for me and that made me fight”

It wasn’t easy reopening wounds but you knew that I wouldn’t be broken forever and that facing my demons would be indicative of healing. My self-sabotage was painfully obvious to you but you took my hand and pulled me down the path to depart from stagnancy and towards growth. Ungrudgingly, you believed that this was not my choice. You never demeaned my struggle but you saw so much more for me and that made me fight.

Thank you for your patience. You dealt with my back and forth behaviour, you stood by me through my social withdrawal. You waited for the person I was fighting so hard to be and throughout the fight you enlightened me on the things I had gained. Allowing me the space to slightly retreat from time to time was a blessing and my trust that you would always be there never faltered. That’s because a mutual understanding had been fostered between us that, despite the inconsistencies in my mind and the irrationality in my behaviour, I cared for you just as you cared for me. You held onto that and kept on riding with me down that bumpy road because you could see the light at the end of the tunnel.

“You provided healthy escapism, you gave me hours, even days where I felt normal”

Thank you for being an ambassador for my joy. You provided healthy escapism, you gave me hours, even days where I felt normal. You somehow managed to make me laugh, you kept me lifted and inspired to keep striving. That weight that sometimes manifested into physical pain was lifted by you and a place was saved for me in your life. You let me sing and dance with you till I momentarily forgot my illness. Reassuring me made me secure and meant that I could enjoy the things I was once blind to. I could be proud of myself and you didn’t conflate that with conceit.

Just a gentle reminder to those who have friends that are suffering. As we continue fighting we are truly grateful for standing by our sides. Although you play such an important role in our lives, this is not your fault and our healing is not your responsibility. Look after yourself and your mental health. We admire your selflessness, however please show the same devotedness to your well-being. Do not neglect your feelings and let them be known. Without guilt, put your needs first and if needs be take a breather. Nonetheless, being our friend is far from elementary: for making us feel like we’re not hard to love, for colouring our moments and filling in our blanks, we are eternally grateful.

I am proud of me.

I am proud of simply being here.