There once was a woman named,
Jodi Ann Bickley.
Jodi Ann got very sick one day. She had a tick bite and it made her very sick. Jodi nearly died. Jodi has Chronic Fatigue Syndrome (which is also known as Myalgic Encephalomyelitis) and Lyme Disease. (I have Lyme Disease too).
During her recovery, a long process, a long and lonely process, Jodi became very sad and very depressed. One day, Jodi wanted to kill herself. And she nearly did.
But, something changed, she had to learn how to write again, and in the process, she started writing letters.
She wrote to herself, she wrote to her family, she wrote to her friends, she wrote to strangers. She wrote and wrote and wrote.
And, she got better. Slowly.
Jodi started the One Million Lovely Letters project. She asked for letters and letters did she receive. She wrote back. She wrote to people who need it. Who need a little light in their darkness.
Jodi wrote a book. Jodi did a TEDx talk. She started a blog. She received so many requests for letters that she started asking for volunteers to help answer her growing inbox. They became part of her “team” and helped respond to the letters.
I wrote to Jodi. I don’t even know when. I knew my letter would take time. I knew I would get a letter. I wasn’t upset it hadn’t arrived yet. It came yesterday.
I removed my address in the photo.
I have been in a dark well of depression.
I have been so full of pain. Self-hatred. Fear. Depression. Tears. I’m not well. I’m not well at all.
And then yesterday, I opened the letterbox and this envelope was sitting there.
It was just sitting there. The only piece of mail in my old, slightly rusty, metal letterbox.
It was like magic. I was awestruck and with trembling hands I picked it up from the bottom of the letterbox.
It took me a long time to stop staring at the letter and open it. I opened it carefully, with a pair of scissors. Normally when I get mail from my friends I don’t bother with careful-ness, I’m too excited to read their words. And also because, I will have more of their words in my hands again. It doesn’t mean I love their words any less. But this letter. This letter was different.
I texted my best friend, Athena, and gave her a brief rundown on what OMLL is. And I showed her the letter in my hands, still unopened.
Our conversation went something like this:
Me: Omg omg omg
M: have you heard of “One Million Lovely Letters”?
[briefly linked to site and explained the project. Then sent photos of the book, the letter I received, and that I was anxious to open it]
A: That’s awesome!!
A: Open it!!
M: Everyone who writes to her gets a letter
A: Open it!!
M: I’m so nervous
[photos of opening letter, letter unfolded, front and back.]
M: It smells … good. Sweet. Not like perfume. But like … I dunno how to describe it.
The letter is undated and reads (and no I do not mind sharing it, if you need you can imagine it’s been written to you):
ONE MILLION LOVELY LETTERS
This is a letter just for you to tell you what an amazing person I think you are.
It takes so much courage to face so many difficulties and yet you do, everyday. Even on the darkest days you find the strength to go on. You are an inspiration Eleanor 🙂
You are an incredible young woman and it’s a privilege to share these words with you. It takes so much more than people realise to keep going yet you find hope in each new day. I am proud of you and you should feel proud of yourself, you are a part of all that is beautiful in this world.
Take heart my darling you deserve every happiness in this life. Have faith in yourself, you are wonderful.
Believe me when I tell you, you have touched my heart and you are not alone.
Always, Fiona x
I have no way to contact Fiona, and I managed to connect with Jodi on Instagram.
Thankyou to both of you.