Extraordinary People

How to unleash your innermost thoughts into the world without any judgement at all

Unique online platform, Letters Anonymous, invites people to share their stories anonymously.

Ever been consumed by the urge to scream into a pillow or vent in a diary as talking to someone just seems too overwhelming?

Well, we may just have the perfect solution for you.

A unique and innovative online platform named Letters Anonymous invites people to share their innermost thoughts, as you guessed it, anonymously.

Speaking exclusively to Uspire, founder Rebecca Coxon revealed that the idea started as she wanted to create a space whereby people could have a release without being judged.

Rebecca explained: “I’ve always thought letters were a thoughtful and intimate form of communication that require time and care.

“Throughout my life, I’ve kept handwritten letters and notes from friends, boyfriends, family and pen pals, as they feel so precious and personal.

“But the main reason I started Letters Anonymous was because I wanted a place where people could express themselves, without judgement, and feel they could get things off their chest in a safe but visible way.

“There’s something validating and empowering about having a letter published online for others to see – while retaining your anonymity if you wish – and in reading others letters we can feel less alone and more part of a community.”

Rebecca said that the thought of anyone feeling like they have no one in their life to talk to genuinely upsets her, and has been a huge motivation in shaping the site.

She said: “I’ve been there; not feeling like you have a voice is a slow form of mental suffocation. I don’t want anyone to feel that way.

“So, I created a platform where people can write and submit their letters and hopefully use it as a kind of therapeutic tool to heal, grow and express themselves.”

Each letter on the site comes with a unique title, with the subject matter extremely varied. There are declarations from ‘someone who needs a hug’, to a message aimed at ‘any girl who has been assaulted’, and a diary entry to ‘my five-year-old self’.

Writers are free to express what they wish, with minimal rules, other than guidance that the letters should be used to help people connect and listen to each other.

The very first letter on the site is one that Rebecca wrote herself to launch the platform, entitled ‘My brother who has OCD’ [Obsessive Compulsive Disorder].

Chatting about how the cathartic it was to open up publicly, Rebecca said: “I set up the website in 2017 and at the time my brother was going through a really rough patch with his OCD and depression, which he’d been struggling with for many years.

“When someone is struggling with mental illness, it can feel impossible to get through to them or communicate in any meaningful way.

“In my brother’s case, it felt like he had built up so many walls and become a shell of his normal self. Even having a conversation with him could feel exhausting and drenched in frustration and defensiveness (on both sides).

“And yet, I knew how much pain he was in and how fragile he was on the inside.”

Rebecca revealed that writing a letter to her sibling was extremely productive as it allowed her the time and space to voice how she felt, in a loving and supportive way.

She continued: “It reminded him (and me) of the person he used to be and knew he could be again – loving, funny, silly and kind – which his illness had taken away from him.

“A few days later I sent him and my mum a link to read the letter and it brought up some emotion and tears, especially from mum. It was a cathartic thing for the wider family.”

Rebecca, who makes documentaries and has worked on mainstream shows including Dispatches and 24 Hours In Police Custody, has since written several other letters.

In contrast to her brother’s letter, Rebecca says her follow-up pieces have not always been sad or dark.

[Credit: Scott Graham]

The London resident said: “Many of the letters on the site are about being in love, expressing gratitude or solidarity.

“Some letters are even direct responses to other letters, which is always nice to see, as it creates a kind of supportive dialogue between strangers across the world.”

When asked if she has any favourites amongst the collection, Rebecca said the ones that motivate her resonate the most.

She explained: “I have received lots of letters in which people mention that they feel they have nowhere else to express themselves, often revealing something for the first time, for example about their childhood abuse, a secret they’ve kept hidden for years or a relationship that has profoundly changed them.

“These kinds of letters always stay with me and are what motivate me to keep the website going. I actually have a Word document where I keep all my favourite lines and quotes from letters.

“I like this one because it sums up my intentions for the site: ‘Imagine my surprise when I came on this website to write to you, expecting a bounty of other letters like mine, full of hate and sorrow, only to be presented with letters to future-selves, unrequited loves, and endearing words of adoration. In a way, it made me happy. Happy knowing that my letter is only one small stain in this small society of clean unspoken truths.’”

Rebecca believes that by encouraging people to write more freely, as a society we can approach issues such as identity and mental health much more easily.

And the filmmaker, whose directorial debut Britain’s Child Drug Runners aired on Channel 4 last year, said that for her personally, writing is a way of processing chaotic thoughts and channelling them into something more positive.

She said: “It’s a relief and I find that I feel lighter after offloading whatever has been weighing on my mind; by releasing it onto the page and out into the world.

“There have been times when I’ve felt like I have something to say, about body image or things from my past, but feel they are too personal to write about publicly, or too intimate to share amongst friends or family, so I’ve written about them instead.

“I’ve received letters from people who live in countries where talking about mental health issues is taboo or where coming out as gay is illegal. It’s really important to me that people feel there is an accessible outlet for those kinds of things.

“Reading some of those letters has brought me to tears, they are really powerful and tell you a lot about the world we live in.”

[Credit: Neel]

Rebecca now hopes that the site can be a sounding board for any individual from any walk of life to express themselves – whether that’s grief, anger, love, frustration, sadness, or joy – and help us to understand ourselves better and learn how to move forward.

For anyone not confident with spelling or grammar, Rebecca proofreads every letter before it’s published – but never changes the content – so that people can feel comfortable even if writing is not their strongest skill or English isn’t their first language.

When quizzed on how she might inspire someone with little experience of putting pen to paper, Rebecca wants to remind people that a letter can be whatever they want it to be.

She said: “Some of my favourites on the website are only a sentence long. Others are full narratives of life stories; others are very poetic; and others are much more informal.

“The important thing is to write what you want to write about and not worry too much about how it comes out. Getting your thoughts on the page is the most important thing, then watching it flow out of you organically can feel really liberating.

“And it’s up to you what you do with it afterwards. You can remain completely anonymous, no one will know that you wrote it, or you can send the link to the intended recipient to read, now or in the future. The power is in your hands, that’s the beauty of it.”

Rebecca is also keen to stress that letters don’t always have to be written to someone else, and that writing one to yourself can be just as good for the soul.

She concluded: “Letters are usually written for someone else, but I’m also a big fan of writing letters to yourself, perhaps in the future, or your younger self, or from aspects of your personality – such as from your fears or hopes – which I learned from the author Elizabeth Gilbert, who is also a big fan of letter writing and a huge inspiration for me.”

To get involved, just click here: Letters Anonymous.

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