An Honest Letter on the Inspiration to Keep Living

By Nik Wiles

Dear friend,

When my depression hits hardest, here is a list of the things I’m told should inspire me to keep living:

  • My daughter, Skylar Astrid (she’s OK, I guess)
  • My fiancée, Caitlin (also OK, I might marry her)
  • My friends and family (I’ll keep them, I suppose)
  • My talents, like writing (I can write a sentence, sometimes)
  • My cats (no, seriously, my cats)
  • My ability to help other people (well, yeah, there was that one dude once)
  • My access to higher education (job opportunities and all that)
  • My job at the university (I can’t seem to pry myself away from a university)
  • The food in my belly (mostly coffee)
  • The shirt on my back (usually TWLOHA, I’ll be real)
  • The ceiling over my head (it’s popcorn style; can’t we all agree that’s weird?)

When my depression hits its hardest, here’s a list of the things that actually inspire me to keep living:

Yep. That’s real life with depression.

I need you to know that I do get it. I totally get that, on a good day, you can logically and emotionally understand that yes, your son or daughter is awesome. I understand that, on a good day, you know your significant other/friends/family/cat (or twenty cats, I’m not judging) loves you and doesn’t want to lose you. I know that you generally know, on a good day, that you are lucky to have food and a shirt (or blouse or toga) and a roof over your head.

However, when depression hits hardest, it’s not your best day. It’s not even a good day. It’s a dark day. Or days. Or weeks. And I want you to know that it’s OK if nothing inspires you to keep living during those days. Don’t let others who don’t understand, aren’t willing to try to understand, don’t want to understand…don’t let those people make you feel guilty for suffering from depression despite your kid, your talent, your education, your job, etc. You don’t have to justify your mental illness to the world. You just have to try to see the next day the best you can.

You just have to try to see the next day the best you can. You just have to make it there.

Even though you may not believe it right now, you feel inspired to keep living again. It may be your daughter or relationship or a TWLOHA shirt or the popcorn ceiling (that last one may not happen, let’s be honest) — you will see the reasons to keep living, and you will finally believe them.

And when you do wake up one day and see all the reasons to keep living, don’t look back on the dark days with guilt. Don’t punish yourself for having depression despite all you may or may not have in your life. Don’t require a justification from yourself for something you can’t control. Don’t let others require a justification from you either.

Just live and breathe and seek healing the best you can.

Enjoy the reasons to keep living when you see them. And when you don’t, just believe that you will see them again.


A friend

P.S. – There will never, ever be a universe in which popcorn ceilings aren’t weird. Can we all agree on that?

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Comments (12)

  1. Diane

    I don’t even know how to describe it the expression really stinks, if it wasn’t for my mom some days I wouldn’t have a reason.

    Reply  |  
    1. Becky Ebert

      Diane, thank you for commenting. Some days you can’t find a reason, but that’s okay. Just continue as best you can. It’s wonderful to know that your mom gives you reason. There’s no doubt that you give her reason to continue living as well. Please know that you are not alone. Ever. We are here for you. We see you.

      Reply  |  
  2. Devin

    This article brought me to tears. This is honestly the only thing I’ve read so far that describes exactly how I feel on bad days and good days. I know I’m not alone in my struggle with depression, but it definitely can feel like that at times. Reading this reminded me I’m not alone. Thank you.

    Reply  |  
  3. Carina Blazer

    I don’t know why, but I read this with an English accent. 😊 Thank you friend. I will read this again. And again. And again. It was precisely the honest encouragement I needed.

    Reply  |  
  4. Claire

    Thank you.

    Reply  |  
  5. Alicia

    This was what I needed to keep going today.

    Reply  |  
  6. Lindsay

    So very honest. Thank you for sharing.

    Reply  |  
  7. mother

    depression is real my daughters dead depression is real

    Reply  |  
    1. Becky Ebert

      We are incredibly sorry for your loss. Losing anyone you are close to is devastating. Losing a child is unthinkable. We are sending you hope and love and support. If you would like to share more of your story with us, please email You are not alone.

      Reply  |  
  8. Nancy

    So true. I write from the other side now. Counseling helped me understand my self more and continues to help me. I want to encourage those who are concerned about someone to continue to reach out to them. A friend continued to call, insisted on seeing me, and stayed with me through the night. I did not reach out to her. I was to far gone. I do not know if I would still be here if she had not been so insistent. I never felt judged by her. She did not try to tell me all the reasons I had to live. She just loved me and let me know I mattered to her.

    Reply  |  
  9. Mackenzie Rea

    Thank you.

    Reply  |  
  10. Chelsea

    Thank you. My depression has been very strong for the past several weeks. The feelings of hopelessness and helplessness are very palpable right now. Reading this helped.

    Reply  |  
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