A Letter to Those Struggling with Mental Illness

Found this on the link at the bottom of this post. I thought it needed to be shared.

Dear friend,

I know that things may be hard right now. You may be feeling hopeless, sad, lonely or isolated. But you do have reason to hope. We always do. Mental illness blinds us to this reality. You may think that nobody could understand what you’re going through. But many do because they have been there, too. I can.

I have suffered from mental illness for a long time. I know how hard it can be. I also know that treatment can work and recovery is possible. First, you may need to come to terms with a few things. You are not a burden. Your loved ones will not leave you. You are not to blame for your illness. It was not anything you did or said. Mental illness happens to a lot of us.

We are beautiful people, kind and empathetic. It’s true, certainly no less than everyone else. And you are brave and courageous. Many people admire you. You should be proud to live with mental illness day-by-day. It is an achievement. You must believe that you are strong. You are. Mental illness may have made you stronger than most.

But still, there is stigma. It can really hurt. It says terrible, awful things about us. It holds us back, but it doesn’t realize how resilient we are. Stigma lies. Don’t believe any of it. Stigma is a bully. Stand up and it will shrink. You must listen to what you know is true deep down within you, not a bully’s empty bluster. I know you know the truth about you. A lot of people do.

You deserve so much more than being sick. You deserve to live a life full of happiness. You have dreams to pursue, and you can reach them. To do this, you have to believe in yourself. You have to love yourself to know that you’re worthy of more. Believe in hope. It is all around you. If you cannot find your own hope, find hope in your loved ones. There are so many people who know you can and will get better, including your peers. We believe in you.

Please believe me when I tell you that today is not your forever.

But only you can change your life for the better. You have to take responsibility for your condition, find the best treatment, be adherent, ask for and accept help, listen to good advice from those who love you. Take care of yourself with sleep, diet and exercise. Find out what gives you meaning and purpose in your life — a career, good relationships, happiness — and pursue it.

Recovery can be hard to reach. It was for me. But the rewards are great. You may make mistakes, experience setbacks and disappointments, and get discouraged. We all do. But that’s all part of the journey. Recovery is not a straight path. You must never give up. Every step will make you stronger and stronger.

It’s really just a matter of time before you reach recovery, but you need to be patient and cautious. Even if you’ve been suffering for a long time, you can still get better. Be inspired by your peers. I struggled for a long time but I reached recovery. Many people living with mental illness have, and you can, too.

Much better days lie ahead for you. Love yourself. Know that you are loved, worthy, deserving and capable. You’ve got what it takes. We’re all rooting for you and need you. We’ll be with you every step of the way, in our thoughts and hearts. We believe in you. You have to believe in you, too.

Love, your friend, your peer, Katherine

Katherine Ponte, BA, JD, MBA, CPRP, is a mental health advocate, writer, entrepreneur and lawyer. She has been living with severe bipolar I disorder with psychosis and extended periods of suicidal depression for 20 years. She is now happily living in recovery. Katherine is the founder of ForLikeMinds, an online mental illness peer support community. She is a Faculty Member of the Program for Recovery and Community Health, Department of Psychiatry, School of Medicine, Yale University. Katherine is also the Founder of BipolarThriving: Bipolar Recovery Coaching and the Creator of Psych Ward Greeting Cards, which visits and distributes greeting cards to patients in psychiatric units. She is a member of the Board of NAMI-New York City and Fountain House. Katherine is the author of ForLikeMinds: Mental Illness Recovery Insights and a monthly contributor to the NAMI Blog. A native of Toronto, Canada, Katherine calls New York City and the Catskills home. Her life’s mission is to share her hope and inspire others to believe that mental illness recovery is possible and help them reach it. In the two years since reaching recovery and starting to share her story publicly, her work has reached over one million people.


Thank you for sharing this. I need to hear something like this.

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What a sweet and beautiful message. A reminder that what is fundamental is within reach, even when we don’t see it. It is so essential to read these words when our mental health feels chaotic, and especially in the wild world we’re living in. Thank you for sharing it, friend. It’s beautiful. It brings a sense of grounding.

Please believe me when I tell you that today is not your forever.

Goosebumps. Yes. We’re made to change, and every breath we take is a step further to something different, something better.


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Thank you for sharing this.


I’m close to tears reading this… but in a good way. I needed this right now, thank you so much for sharing <3


I definitely needed to hear this, thank you so much for sharing :heart:


Stigma is a bullly yes.

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