Dear Dazai

These last couple of years have been hard.

Really hard.

I never told anyone this but there were moments, when it was at its worst that my only reason for continuing on was to make sure my kittens got fed. Getting out of bed was a chore and I didn’t have any energy to put into anything, certainly not any care for myself.

Waking up in the middle of the night panicked, heart palpitations, trouble breathing and constant nausea have that effect on you.

I wasn’t just anxious, I was panicked about everything. I was panicked about being panicked. There were days when I was so in the grip of a panic attack that I worried that my heart would stop beating. That my last moments would be filled with mind numbing terror because my heart would explode in my chest.

My tears stayed wet on my face on those days.

I finally sought some help after I realised that I couldn’t do anything. I had run out of spoons to do anything other than feed kittens and occasionally feed myself. My work suffered, I stopped doing all the things I loved because I didn’t have any energy for them and there was a moment where the disconnect from my existence was so strong that I felt like an imposter in my own body.

My reflection was a stranger. It moved with me but I didn’t know it. It’s intimacy wasn’t a comfort it was a threat.

There’s been nothing more terrifying in my lifetime.

Nothing.

Amelia became a salvation. Through gentle coaxing at three in the morning, she convinced me that my life as it was couldn’t continue. That it wasn’t anything that was doing me any good and I needed to reach out and ask for help.

From someone a bit closer than half a world away.

I’m not sure what I would have done without her, to be honest I can’t imagine that my life would be at the point it is now. That I would have got to the stage where I could put this on paper. Admit a vulnerability that I didn’t want the world to see.

So I got some proper help.

I started medication. I started therapy.

And I tried very hard to be honest with the people in my life about how I was feeling. I’m sure this will still come as a shock to a lot of them, because I’m generally quite private, I don’t like admitting these things, but it’s important.

And I’m trying so very hard to be more honest. With others. With those in my life that don’t get letters written to them.

I went to Japan around this time. A small piece of heaven in my chaotic life.

I’d heard about you before I went, but I hadn’t been properly introduced to you. Hadn’t picked up anything you’d written. I knew your name, knew your life story as recounted by a Wikipedia page, knew of you. I didn’t know you, not really.

At Kinokuniya, near Shinjuku station, in the small English language section, because unfortunately I’m only just learning some kanji now, I found your two novels. Cheap, minimalist paperbacks that now have pride of place on my bookshelf beside my bed, close by my in case I need them. I need them often.

I’d been floating through my life for so long I’d forgotten that I could be something else. More tangible. I forgot that I could be me, that I had something to offer the world outside the cracked, damaged shell that I was in that moment.

Until I opened ‘No Longer Human’.

My world exploded.

Everything became richer again and I realised that I wasn’t the only person who felt like this. That I wasn’t alone. I’d found an anchor in the storm.

I’d found a kindred spirit in you and it was exactly what I needed in that moment.

This isn’t the first letter of course. There was one written many months ago now, and many in between. But I felt it was important to tell you why I started writing to you. Why it was so important that you came into my life.

My existence today has owed a lot to you, so I feel it’s important at this moment to say thank you so much for talking me back from the ledge. For giving me something to take comfort in. For simply being there.

My anxiety is still here. There are still very bad days, days were the panic overwhelms me. Where life overwhelms me. But it’s not as bad as it was.

Thank you for everything,

xx

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