Originally written in French. Translated by HugoM.
I’ve never known how to approach people, never considered myself sufficiently attractive or interesting to talk to, nor managed to meet new people on my own. Whether parties of all kinds I used to go to or friend reunions that I’d been dragged to, I couldn’t feel at ease or tell myself, “be yourself, and it’s going to be alright, speak”. I couldn’t speak.
I went to forums trying to look for contacts who wouldn’t ask for too much but with whom I could talk about anything without being scared. Anonymity hid me. I wasn’t seen, and I didn’t see the others… But forums can be dangerous, and dating apps too. There were always guys who tried to flirt or didn’t behave. I end up disappearing from those social media, feeling disgusted, hurt, and even more scared. I couldn’t talk.
One day I discovered Slowly. Nice design, a concept I’d never seen anywhere before: it is like exchanging letters but through the internet. I downloaded it, discovered a very beautiful interface, and then beautiful people.
I started writing. I loved writing long letters to people from everywhere who usually answered, and even letters without a reply didn’t leave me frustrated or bitter. I threw bottles to the sea, and it was soothing.
I was myself. I was myself in the letters I wrote. I spoke about things I’d kept for myself, and I’d grown. I would disappear sometimes, but I would let my penpals know when I needed breaks. I managed to contact some after my breaks. Some others have never answered again.
A few years ago, a diagnosis came: “You are indeed sick, this invisible disease, depression” I fell for a long time. I was alone. I didn’t find support, no reassurance, no escape. I didn’t know who to speak to. It seemed I couldn’t manage to talk anymore. As time went by, my body was as messed up as my brain. I was slowly killing myself, turning off and sinking. It was so terrible. All these troubles, all this pain and loneliness never ended.
And then, I downloaded the app again. I received letters. I preferred not to talk about my problems because I found them too heavy and depressing. So I talked about other things. I forced myself to remember what I’d like to do and what I found beautiful. This exercise helped me. I wrote about nature, poetries and books that changed me. I wrote about the fruits I liked and the sun’s warmth. When I sometimes mentioned how cold the night felt and terrifying, people reminded me that I loved the sun and it would rise in the morning when I read the letter.
I’ve exchanged so many letters and words, and I’ve read so many stories and fragments of lives. I got really attached to some of my penpals. I remember Haroun that I liked a lot – it was years ago, and for now, I have other penpals like Mathilde. She is one of the most wonderful people I have spoken with. These fantastic people, I only wish them the best in their lives.
I can keep the rhythm now that I almost take no breaks, and I write with pleasure. It seems that it helped me get better. What is sure is that I’ve fought back my fears.
There’s so much to learn from others, and we have so much to offer. I keep throwing bottles into the sea, and I’m still surprised that that bottle is received, filled with another letter and sent back to me.
Some letters are like sun rays that keep shining in my heart.
Slowly is an app I find wonderful, thank you.
I’ll never feel alone again.
I would like to end the same way I end my letters,
– Lisa. “