Early-2006, with nobody to turn to during a bout of depression, a young lady by the name of Crystal wrote a desperate letter to someone she looked up to—someone she knew had been through something similar. She later explained:
I had no idea who to turn to. But I really needed someone to turn to and to ease the pain. So I wrote to Stephen Fry because he is my hero, and he has been through this himself. And lo and behold, he replied to my letter, and I will love him eternally for this.
Stephen’s perfect reply—written on this day in 2006—can be read below, and should be shared far and wide. I’m also including audio of this letter being read by the man himself, recorded at Letters Live on 3rd October 2019, at London’s Royal Albert Hall.
April 10th, 2006
I’m so sorry to hear that life is getting you down at the moment. Goodness knows, it can be so tough when nothing seems to fit and little seems to be fulfilling. I’m not sure there’s any specific advice I can give that will help bring life back its savour. Although they mean well, it’s sometimes quite galling to be reminded how much people love you when you don’t love yourself that much.
I’ve found that it’s of some help to think of one’s moods and feelings about the world as being similar to weather.
Here are some obvious things about the weather:
You can’t change it by wishing it away.
If it’s dark and rainy it really is dark and rainy and you can’t alter it.
But nor is it your fault that it’s dark and rainy, and it might be dark and rainy for two weeks in a row.
It will be sunny one day.
It isn’t under one’s control as to when the sun comes out, but come out it will.
It really is the same with one’s moods, I think. The wrong approach is to believe that they are illusions. They are real. Depression, anxiety, listlessness—these are as real as the weather—AND EQUALLY NOT UNDER ONE’S CONTROL. No one’s fault. Not yours.
They will pass: they really will.
In the same way that one has to accept the weather, so one has to accept how one feels about life sometimes. “Today's a crap day,” is a perfectly realistic approach. It’s all about finding a kind of mental umbrella. “Hey-ho, it’s raining inside: it isn’t my fault and there’s nothing I can do about it, but sit it out. But the sun may well come out tomorrow and when it does, I shall take full advantage.”
I don’t know if any of that is of any use: it may not seem it, and if so, I’m sorry. I just thought I’d drop you a line to wish you well in your search to find a little more pleasure and purpose in life.
Very best wishes,