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A letter to my daughter

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Hamish holds Matilda to his chest and kisses her head there are trees behind them

Marking Father’s Day, SANE Peer Ambassador Hamish writes a letter to his two-week-old daughter Matilda. He commits to sharing the wisdom gained from his mental health recovery and to helping his daughter navigate life’s complexities with compassion.  

Dearest Matilda,  

Nothing can ever fully prepare you for what you may face as you walk your path in this world. So it is my hope that this letter will help you navigate some of the complicated and at times confronting situations. 

It is true that it’s not always smooth sailing. But what is more important to remember is that there are always ways to overcome challenges and when you do, you will have valuable lessons that you can carry with yourself and pass on to people who may be in need of some guidance or assistance. 

There are also a lot of beautiful things in the world which, when nurtured and understood, can have such a positive impact on us and those around us. One being the people we meet who may be living with complex mental health issues, and how we view and communicate with them.   

These people are all around us, they could be your teacher, your friend, a person at the bus stop or the shops. They could be your closest friends, or someone you only meet once.   

They could be someone like me. 

Our conditions and challenges may not be visible, and at times we might be doing our best to either hide them or blend in with society so we don’t feel different. I need you to understand that we shouldn’t have to. This is really important.   

Compassion is the key here. If you are compassionate to those around you then you create a safe place for them to be themselves. Everyone longs for a sense of community, and communities are built on trust and the need to coexist freely without judgement.

It is easier said than done, but if you’re able to openly communicate and understand the people around you, you in turn build that safe place for them. 

As I hope this letter serves you in our mission to rid the world of stigma towards mental health issues, there’s a more direct way that I can help you. 

I want to be able to share the lessons I’ve learnt through my own mental health recovery, as they give me a perspective that others may not always see. 

One recurring lesson in my recovery has been to reflect on what’s happened, and look at things with a fresh point of view. I can’t wait to share these learnings with you.  

So my promise and commitment to you is to always be my authentic self around you. And that you will be raised in a tribe that never discriminates against others, that always approaches people with complex mental health issues compassionately, with an open mind, and that accepts everyone as they want to be - not as others deem they ‘should’ be. 

There may be times where I will struggle to communicate with you about how I’m feeling, or maybe why I’m feeling a certain way. But those times will never be any fault of yours and I will do my best to unpack these things with you as they happen. 

My hope is that it will give you the confidence to talk about challenges you may be facing, and eventually overcome them. 

As I said, nothing can ever fully prepare you for the challenges you will face. But I hope after reading this that you’re able to take pieces from it and form your own understanding of the world that we’re striving to create. 

The people you meet will help create this world, and your generation has the power to shape and mould it to how it should be - free of judgement and full of compassion towards one another. 

It is a comforting thought knowing that I will have done my best to prepare you for things to come.

Even though I may not always be right beside you when you’re faced with certain challenges, I have the utmost confidence that you will be able to handle things and inspire those around you to do the same. 

With all my love, Dad. 

Where to from here? 

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