I emailed the following letter to 8 of my closest friends in April 2010. Simply writing and sending this note was an amazing step forward for me in my healing and recovery. The response was universal and compassionate and loving. I recommend that everyone try and find the courage to do this. I’ve included some of my friends’ responses below in italics.
I’m thinking about all of you who are struggling out there in the internet ether, and sending waves of loving energy. Perhaps you can read the wonderful, compassionate responses of my friends and let them sink in to you a bit– they are remarkable and insightful, and their words have kept me going. I hope they speak to you too.
Endless rays of warm sunlight (despite the nasty rain that’s overtaking Manhattan).
Boy, I hate to be doing this in an email. But it seems that most everyone I love is across the pond/doing Shakespeare/going to a different school etc. so here we are.
I wanted to share something with you all both for my own healing and because I love you and want you to be involved in my life. As you all know, as a kid I struggled with a host of psychological struggles and symptoms, none of which were label-able and all of which took about five years to finally get in check. I found a medication that worked at age 14, and I took those straight through till December 2008, when I decided to go off them.
Right now, I’m struggling again. This has manifested itself in various ways, many of which are quite familiar from my early depressive days, but also including the most obvious way—my eating. I’m again obnoxiously un-label-able in this regard because it’s been a sort of confusing path, but the closest I’ve come to a diagnosis is EDNOS– eating disorder not otherwise specified. It’s embarrassing, it’s insanely hard to talk about, but telling all of you is a really, really important step.
So here’s the thing—I’m not telling you this because I want your pity, your concern, or even your help. None of that. I am working incredibly hard with a whole host of doctors right now (anyone need referrals? I’ve got ’em!), and basically all I need are allies. You already are my best friends, but you couldn’t be my allies in my recovery unless you knew everything, which now you do. Congrats! You’re allies. And talking about it, for me, makes it less shameful and less powerful. So all I need from you is just to keep being my friends. Easy, right? I trust you all with everything, and goddamnit I miss you all like you wouldn’t believe.
You are welcome to talk to me about this or just to know and know that I know you know. It’s the sharing, that, for me, is really important. You’re all already doing what I’m asking you to do.
I love you all so so so much. Thank you for being there.
I love you so so so so so much! I admire you and everything you do and I’m so happy to know that you know that I’m here for you. You should not be embarrassed or shameful because we all have our strengths and weaknesses, as much as we want to be- none of us are actually Superwoman! But when we share what we feel, we become stronger (something I have recently been learning, too) and can defeat the monsters that are holding us down. We will be damn good actors because we know what pain is, but we also know what happiness is. We cry with as much intensity as we laugh. I’ll always be here, and I ALWAYS look forward to our “performance dates”. We should see eachother more often under a tree somewhere, to balance our lives better- take our time to look at the stars and talk about our lives outside the theatre, because whether we like it or not, we do have lives outside of our art haha…easier said than done, right?
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Thank you for such a brave and open message…seems like you already know the people who are your friends and would be completely supportive of you but still… ANYTIME, I’m here. All last year I struggled through depression which had manifested itself (I thought) very publicly the summer previous–and addressing it really does make it feel less “shameful” and less…dominating. Which is good…because it’s neither.
I hope that the end of the year is happy for you and that we’ll get to spend some time together. I went to hot yoga today…it was perfect except my favorite yoga buddy wasn’t there! Any plans yet for your birthday? Is there anything specific you’d like to do? Love and miss you, too.
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I got this last night, and I wanted to call you, but I thought maybe that would be a little soon. All I can say is that my heart is bursting right now, bursting with love and compassion and…frustration and love and love. I add frustration in with love because I am frustrated that when I knew…or felt..or intuited that you were suffering these pasts months…or year that I didn’t try to engage in a dialogue with you about it. Because I felt there was some sort of line I didn’t feel I could cross…because it “wasn’t my place.” ?…For whatever reason. I wish I would have broken through that invisible barrier. And, I’m sorry that I didn’t try. But man is it amazing to know that you are working through this, and I hope I can be a great ally for you now. The beautiful tokens you’ve shared about your life and your struggles is completely inspiring. There’s nothing that moves me more than people making courageous, scary choices for the betterment of their own health and well-being. You seem so alive and attune with yourself right now, and I hope I can be a source of positivity and strength and good conversation for you!
Please let me know if there is anything special I can do for you. I’d love to come over and cook together-you can teach me a thing or two-and then watch a great movie?…also, my new favorite part of the city is Riverside Park at 110th-ish street near your house, so we should plop down on park bench together sometime.
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I hate to say that I am glad to receive this email, but for me it is true. I am so glad that we are able to have a dialogue about this and in whatever way I can help you through it. I want to be there for you. Obviously you know that K, R, and I all care greatly about you, which is the only reason we pestered you about all of this in the beginning of the year. We were concerned about you and only want/ wanted for you to get better.
I know I have been unattainable the past few weeks. Hamlet is in crazy mode. But it’s almost over. I would love to get together with you some time soon! We can talk about all this if you want, I am hear as a sounding board, as a listener, as a friend, and as an advice giver if you need. Although this is big news, it does not need to consume you (as I am sure you know). This will clearly by no means effect our relationship or form a relationship of pity. I also want to hear about your summer plans, your life, how school is, etc. That being said I will always be concerned about you as friend. If you are having a bad day and need someone around, call me. I’m here for you. If you ever need a friend to go with you somewhere important, call me and i’ll be there. The most important thing right now is to make sure you have tons of support and I am here to support you and hopefully will be there to help you in anyway I can.
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I love you. I really do, so call me whenever. Even if you just want to talk. I really hope we’ll see more of each other this summer, Becca, and I’m sorry you’re going though a rough patch. This winter was absolutely horrid for me. Maybe we can get together sometime soon and exchange stories. You are beautiful though, and will always be the most talented person I’ve met. Let’s start a book club again this summer. I’ve been dying to read “Emperor’s Children” and “House of Mirth.” AND BOTH TAKE PLACE IN NYC. SO SUCK IT OPRAH.
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My Dearest B,
You are so incredibly brave to share this with me. I am so glad that you have decided to entrust me with this information. I recognize how difficult it must have been for you to do this, but I applaud you enormously for it. I agree that this is a very very very essential step for you and you should celebrate how far you have come in your process with this! I understand how arduous, lonely, sad, confusing, frustrating, and powerful something like binge-eating can be, especially in conjunction with the other feelings you are experiencing. Please know that you are not alone. I think about you every day and pray for your joy and strength. If it is something that will be helpful for you, I would love to talk about it when I get home. But only only only if you want to. I just find that, as you say, putting something like this out in the open takes its power away and relieves the craziness from your mind.
I am here for whatever you need, even if it is just an e-mail to say ahhhhhhhhhh today was really hard or yayyy today was great. You are so deeply important to me and I would do anything for you in a heartbeat. I will be back in the U.S. on May 4th and then maybe taking a trip into NYC if I can. Will you be around? How long will school be going on until?
Remember that in the process it is essential that you really nurture yourself. You and your body need and deserve it.