Dear Lou. An open letter to a girl who saved my life

I was inspired by R U OK? Day to write this open letter about my old life. It's to someone who's still very close to me and who showed so much bravery and love when we were in our early teens. R U OK? is doing a campaign at the moment called Thanks For Asking. You can write your own letter to someone privately to say thanks for asking too.


Hey Lou,

This is a letter of thanks. 

I know it’s been a million years since we’ve spoken about so much of this stuff but I wanted to tell you how much what you’ve done for me has made a massive impact. Remember how our friendship pretty much started from the get-go being built on D&Ms? I really liked that. I felt that I was able to help you get through some shit at the time, and that meant a lot to me. When it came time for my turn, I sort of felt like I didn’t want to burden you though. I didn’t really feel comfortable talking to many people about my personal issues, so you really were one of the few I could count on. I don’t know if you knew it at the time but those conversations we had over the phone and in writing changed my life in a big way. I suppose in hindsight I shouldn’t have felt so bad about it right? There really shouldn’t be any shame in helping someone you care about.

I want to tell you how those conversations helped. Being in an all boys school was really hard for someone like me who didn’t entirely fit in but also wasn’t quite a misfit. It was a social purgatory of sorts that I put myself in. For whatever reason, maybe just the blokeyness, I didn't feel there was much of an option to talk to people my own age about what was going on in my life. There was the councillor… sure. He was super helpful and the school was years ahead of its time in being supportive and caring for me. But as far as having someone to REALLY talk to on a personal level my own age. that just didn’t exist. I was worried that opening up about stuff would’ve just made it worse for me. I was worried that people might make my life even harder if they knew what was really going on in my head. I think I was fearful of the judgement… so then you come along. haha it was perfect timing! You and I used to talk on the phone every day for hours and hours. I remember our parents used to get so shitty at us when we wouldn’t go to sleep. With you I never felt any fear of talking. I never had any worries about what the consequences might be of speaking up and getting things off my chest. You were never judgemental and it made my life so much more comfortable and I felt so much safer.

It felt so good talking to you! I love how there were so many hilarious and silly moments mixed in with our serious and heartbreaking conversations. Some of the stupid expressions we came up with I still think about a lot. No word of a lie I still occasionally say “cool beans”. It’s so dorky but it just slips out sometimes. I think you get me on to that one. Behind all that it just felt like someone understood me, which is what I was really lacking. I didn’t think people really got me but you did. I’ll always be really grateful for that Lou.

The impact of those conversations carried on for a long time. The differences that made are massive! It really taught me how to open up to people more. That was something I wasn’t too good at back then. I learnt how to trust people with things I thought were massive scary secrets. And they helped me understand myself a lot better.

It’s life-changing stuff, Lou. Thanks for being you.

Yours truly,

Nic Newling

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R U OK? is a not-for-profit organisation dedicated to encouraging and empowering all people to ask “are you ok?” of anyone struggling with life. Our vision is a world where everyone is connected and is protected from suicide.

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