To the Wife Who Has Anxiety and Depression, From Your Husband

To my wife and my best friend,

When we first met five years ago, I never thought I would be writing this. As we stood on stage in front of all of those strangers, acting our hearts out, I never once believed we would find ourselves here. We’ve come a long way.

When we first met, I’d never been truly close to a person who suffered from long-term anxiety and severe depression. They’d been merely buzzwords thrown around too many times by people who couldn’t think of another way to describe their daily frustrations.

“I think I’m going to have a panic attack.” or “Oh my gosh, I’m so depressed” became a monotonous phrase that strangers were all too happy to proclaim when the coffee shop ran out of their favorite muffin or they were forced to stay in the library a little later than normal to finish a paper instead of going to the bars with their friends. It was a signal to others they had problems and they wanted people to recognize and sympathize with their petty difficulties. 

But you were different. 

I never saw this monotony in you. To the contrary, you were always so bright and full of life and energy. But then, slowly, I started to see the side of you that you were so apt to hide from me and the rest of the world for fear of being found out. The multiple days where you would stay in bed, or not shower, or the days where eating a meal seemed like too much work. The times I would catch you crying and you would try to hide it in a (poor) attempt to smooth everything over. 

We have now been together five years and married for nearly two of them. The time we’ve spent together has been amazing but truly defines an “emotional roller coaster.” Writing from the perspective of a husband who always likes to consider himself truly honest and, for lack of a better term, “manly,” it seemed inconceivable for me at first that there were days I couldn’t make you feel better. That I was powerless to change how you felt. 

When you reached your lowest low, it was difficult for me to not take personally your statements asking me to simply let you be and that you needed to work through it on your own. That there was nothing I could do to be a better husband or companion and help your sadness and anxiety go away and that, yes, you were crying, but it was nothing I had done. At that time, I’m sad to say, your assurances fell on deaf ears. 

When you reached your lowest low, you said something to me I will never be fully equipped to handle. “The only reason I’m still alive is because I couldn’t do that to you. I couldn’t kill myself only because I know how much it would hurt you.” That’s what you said. It broke my heart. In one sweeping statement, you managed to communicate exactly how much you value me and at the same time how much value you have placed on yourself. The frustration that comes with not being able to tell your depressed wife how much you love her, how each day is brighter with her in it, and instead knowing she will simply smile and not fully believe you or not realize what you’re trying to communicate is truly one of the hardest feelings I’ve ever had to overcome. In a word, I felt helpless. Leading up to our wedding and even a few months past it, I felt absolutely immobilized. I firmly believed there was nothing I could do. I felt trapped in a cycle of trying to understand your depression, to getting frustrated when it got too bad, and finally returning to wanting nothing more but to help you feel better. A truly unenviable position for any new husband. 

But today is a brighter day. It is more than a one year since that day and, after numerous phone calls and quite a few tears, you have been meeting with a psychologist who has helped you (well… helped both of us) learn to deal with your depression and anxiety in a healthy, controlled way. I have learned that there will always be days when you are down. Days when you are not quite yourself. And, while some days are a struggle, I am still trying to learn that when you are unhappy, there may not be a root cause.

I know it still scares you. While your suicidal thoughts have dissipated, I know you constantly think about a day when they might reenter our lives and the home we have made. But know that this time… this time I will be ready. 

When we first met, I was a foolish college boy with a tremendous crush. I was not properly equipped to handle the effects of mental illness, nor was I ready to deal with the perceived backlash I thought could only be my fault. I was ready to give in to whatever you wanted, even if those tendencies were reckless or self-destructive.

Today, I am a man. Today I am your husband.

When we first met, I thought you were different. I was right. Because despite the internal battle you fight on a daily basis, you still manage to be truly the best wife I could have ever hoped for. Despite the challenges mental illness will no doubt bring to our future, I welcome them head on. So long as we can do it together.

Your vigilant defender,

Your husband.

If you or someone you know needs help, see our suicide prevention resources.

If you need support right now, call the Suicide Prevention Lifeline at 1-800-273-8255.

The Mighty is asking the following: Write a letter to anyone you wish had a better understanding of your experience with disability, disease or mental illness. If you’d like to participate, please send a blog post to [email protected]. Please include a photo for the piece, a photo of yourself and 1-2 sentence bio. Check out our Submit a Story page for more about our submission guidelines.


The Lies I Believed When I Was Depressed

It’s no surprise depression lies, but then again, there’s no rulebook for depression either. For me, some lies changed over time. Once I realized I needed help, my depression had already convinced me getting help was too embarrassing, never mind that I wasn’t strong enough anyway.

When I decided to get help for the first time, I went to student counseling services at my college, and my depression told me I was helpless. That wasn’t enough though, because a couple of weeks into counseling the guilt set in. This time my depression told me I wasn’t depressed enough to be putting extra pressure on the already strained counseling available at my college. I walked out of my therapist’s office every Thursday, and my depression reminded me I wasn’t special; in fact, my therapist was probably relieved to see me go. It didn’t just last a day or two, it lasted months and years. When they told me fighting depression wasn’t a hopeless battle at all, my depression told me I was the exception.

The lies I believed weren’t entirely false. I believed I was alone because my depression pushed away my friends and told me to stay in bed. The more time I spent alone, the more I was convinced I was incapable of connecting with other people. If I wasn’t feeling as lonely as I thought I should, I had an arsenal of sad songs to reassure me that I was, in fact, a tortured soul. I fueled my melancholy by playing Twenty One Pilots and Bon Iver tirelessly. I had about a 15-minute walk to my therapist’s office, which was plenty of time for Coldplay to convince me I was sad and needed to be seeing a therapist.

I got to the end of my first semester of college and graduated from therapy, convinced I was fit as a fiddle. Then I cried for hours as my depression told me my therapist was happy he never had to see me again. My depression was happy to have me back though, so I resumed my comfortable ritual of crying on Christmas for the third year in a row and listened to every word my depression had to say.

By the time I reached my sophomore year of college, I felt like my depression had swallowed me whole. I didn’t know what to do, so I kept smiling for my doctor and convinced him the drugs he prescribed had transformed me into a healthy, well-adjusted college student. My depression put forth a convincing argument for how much of a failure I was on the daily, so I didn’t want to make my doctor feel like he had failed to treat me. My depression wasn’t just lying to me anymore; it was lying to my professors, my friends, my colleagues and anyone who might threaten to help me.

My breaking point wasn’t the dramatic scene Hollywood had sold to me; instead it was quiet and lonely. My depression told me that my Physics homework was never going to make sense to someone as lazy as I was. It told me that I was the only one struggling with my classes, not because of my depression, but because I lacked the necessary discipline. My depression pinned what felt like the weight of the world on me and told me I was on my own.

I later learned I had never been further from the truth.

During my stay at the hospital, I started to gain some perspective on just how many lies I had amassed. I had never had so many people standing around me before in my life. I met other patients who knew what I was going through. Nothing changed except I was now able to see the help and support that had always been around me. There was no epiphany, but rather a process of reflecting on how my depression had lied to me about more than just sadness. I’m not mad at my depression and I’m not mad at myself. Rather, I’ve decided to focus on what I know to be true; depression or not: I am worthy of success, support, love and life.

The Mighty is asking the following: What was the moment that made you realize it was time to face your mental illness? What was your next step? If you’d like to participate, please send a blog post to [email protected] Please include a photo for the piece, a photo of yourself and 1-2 sentence bio. Check out our Submit a Story page for more about our submission guidelines.

6 Things Anyone Who Doesn't Understand Depression Should Know

I had a conversation with a friend recently that upset me quite a lot. I was trying to open up about my experience with depression and she made remarks like “Wow, you are so weak,” and “How could you get depressed over something like that?” At first, these insults infuriated me, but then they helped me realize something. Most people have no idea what depression really is. My friend had no basic knowledge about depression, and that’s because society doesn’t make an effort to understand it.

So rather than go on a rant about everything wrong with how my friend responded, I’d like to take the route of education. People need to understand what depression is because it affects more than 350 million people worldwide. That means your friend, co-worker or family member, someone you see every day could have depression. And yet so many people are kept silenced about it because of a simple lack of knowledge, so here are some things I feel every person should know about depression.

1. You’re not you when you’re depressed.

Depression is a disorder that robs you of your identity. Your innate personality completely disappears when you are depressed. I am a naturally cheerful person, I love to laugh and talk for hours on end. Most people would describe me as hyper and animated, but when depression entered my life and my body that old me was gone. That is how powerful and detrimental depression truly is. It can erase all of your characteristics and leave you feeling like there is just an emptiness inside of you.

One thing I really hate is when people believe who I was when I was depressed is who I am now afterwards. People may say things like, “Oh you can’t handle being on your own.” or “You’ll just cry about it.” But that’s not me. That was depression. Who I was when I was depressed is not who I really am.

2. Depression can be more than your situation.

I suffered from depression during college. It was after freshmen year when I had transferred to a much bigger university. I left all of my friends to enter a new environment completely alone, with people who already seemed to have made their friends and weren’t looking for new ones. I felt so alone during that time, which I believe contributed a lot to me becoming depressed.

But I’d like to add a pivotal fact. Depression can be bigger than your situation. Yes, how you feel after a certain trauma, shock or change in your life can be contributing factors to developing depression. But depression is more than how you feel at a certain moment or season in your life. It can come out of nowhere, for no particular reason. It can occur from something big or small or it could happen with no relation to how your life is going at all.

I like to compare it to getting a cold. Do you ever blame someone for getting a cold? No. Sure they could have worn more layers or washed their hands more but we never say, “You got a cold. That’s your fault.” It’s the same with depression. So why do we show compassion for people who get illnesses like a cold or even cancer and yet blame people for getting depression — another illness? Getting depression is out of your control.

3. You can’t force yourself to be happy when you’re depressed.

Forcing yourself to “just be happy” when you are depressed is mentally and emotionally impossible. That’s like asking someone to get out of a cage without a key and then blaming them when they inevitably fail.

Your brain actually changes when you are clinically depressed. It’s as if happiness and joy gets locked up in your brain as it steadily becomes harder to access. Telling a depressed individual to just try and be happier is not only impossible, it is painful and hurtful. When you’re depressed and you try to make yourself feel happiness again you most likely fail since there is a biological reason for feeling that way. This could have you end up feeling only more depressed and dejected afterwards.

4. Depression is more than just sadness.

I feel like people use the word depression so recklessly now. Saying you are depressed because the weather is bad or you did poorly on a test is insulting to me. It minimizes the pain I endured when I was going through actual depression.

So what is the difference between sadness and depression? Sadness I’d say is still on the same spectrum with happiness. In a given day you could range from happy to normal to sad. But depression is a world away from that spectrum.

When people ask me what depression feels like the only way I can describe it is through an image. Picture yourself lying at the bottom of an entire ocean. But there is no sunlight, just pitch black dark. The weight of the ocean is on top of you but you don’t have the strength to move, breathe or even to swim to the surface. It’s too far away and the weight is so life crushing you are just stuck. You can’t even tell where the surface is anymore.

5. Depression is an actual medical disorder.

Like I described in #3, depression is biological. It affects the neurons, cells and chemicals in your brain. Depression is classified as a disorder and is an actual medical illness. I feel as though people don’t understand the influence depression has on a person. It can wipe away how you think. It can take away your ability to feel. It can make you feel like all the light in you withered away. It can break your spirit as well. It can make you forget your reason for living. It takes all of the power and strength out of you. It can take away your ability to fight, to laugh, to smile. Depression has the power to do all of that, so don’t tell me it’s “just a feeling.”

6. Depression affects all of you.

Although depression stems from your mind, it can impact so much more. When I was going through depression I had terrible digestion problems. Indigestion and nausea happened on a weekly basis. It went so far as having blood in my stool and having to get a colonoscopy. The way you feel emotionally and mentally has a proven impact on your physical body. You can get migraines and even throw up or faint from it. Depression can tarnish your mind and your body.

Aside from the physical aspect, depression can affect your social relationships. During my depression I knew I had to seek out new friendships and social relationships, but that depression kept me from making an effort. Depression made it too hard and too terrifying, the thought of socializing filled me with anxiety and stress. I’ve also seen relationships end because one person is affected by depression and the other just can’t handle it.

If you feel like you identify with any of the symptoms I’ve described about depression please seek out help. I know that is a very hard thing to do, especially with the stigma surrounding mental illness, but you are worth it. You are worth the effort of getting out of this terrible disorder.

There are many different ways you can seek out professional help. If you are currently a student, there are student health services with counseling that can really make a difference. Sometimes you just need to let all the emotions out by talking to someone, and that someone should be a licensed professional who knows what you are going through. Whether it is a public grade school or at the university level, this counseling could be free or at very low cost to you. They can also refer you to people who can help you even better if your school doesn’t have the proper resources.

Like I mentioned earlier, support systems are very important. Whether these come from family, religion or friends, it is important to have those human connections helping you recover.

Now I’m not saying that with faith, hope, support and therapy you will be instantly healed. You won’t. It is important to know that depression and healing is a long journey. It took me three to four years to really feel unaffected by depression any longer. But you must keep up the fight. Life is worth living even in the darkest times. You can get through it.

If you or someone you know needs help, see our suicide prevention resources.

If you need support right now, call the Suicide Prevention Lifeline at 1-800-273-8255.

The Mighty is asking the following: Create a list-style story of your choice in regards to disability, disease or illness. It can be lighthearted and funny or more serious — whatever inspires you. Be sure to include at least one intro paragraph for your list. If you’d like to participate, please send a blog post to [email protected] Please include a photo for the piece, a photo of yourself and 1-2 sentence bio. Check out our Submit a Story page for more about our submission guidelines.

Mother and Dauhgter hugging

5 Things I Remind Myself When I'm Depressed

you got this When I’m faced with a depressive episode, my colorful world turns gray. An ominous dark cloud follows me everywhere, settling when I have an inkling of positive thoughts. Depressive episodes turn me into a slug, moving slowly, leaving a sad slime in my wake. I try to cope, but sometimes my usual coping mechanisms have no effect on my dreary mood. One thing I try to do is make lists: a gratitude list, a list of things in my life I want to remember and a list of what I need to remind myself when depression hits:

1. You are not alone.

Depression is isolating and lonely and tries to make me believe I am the only one experiencing what seems like a never-ending plunge into darkness. But in reality, I am not alone. There are millions of people just like me who understand what I’m going through and can relate to what I am feeling.

2. Someone is depending on you.

My daughter just turned one. And even though she is pretty self sufficient and independent, she still depends on me for her basic needs: food, a clean diaper and a hot bath. She depends on me for her emotional and intellectual needs, as well: teaching her words, reading to her, cuddling her and enjoying special moments with her. I can’t do any of that if I’m glued to my bed feeling hopeless. I have to get up because she needs me. I have to let her give me hope.

3. One step at a time.

When depression takes over, I have no motivation, and even the smallest tasks seem daunting. Cleaning the litter boxes seems like too big a task to complete. Bathing my daughter seems too complicated to do. Instead of getting caught up in the sea of tasks I have to complete, I split the sea into rivers, smaller tasks done throughout the day, and it’s not so daunting anymore.

4. You are strong.

I feel fragile when I’m depressed — like the mirror I refuse to look into because my self-esteem is at its lowest. Even though I feel frail, I’m not. I’m just having feelings of inadequacy because the depression doesn’t allow me to think realistically. Realistically, I am tough. I’ve been through bad breakups, fights with my friends and childbirth! And I came out OK, ready to take on the next challenge.

5. Your medication is working; take it! 

“If my medication were really working, why am I still having down days?” I ask myself this question at the start of each depressive episode, ignoring the advice of my doctor who told me everyone has bad days regardless of whether or not they are taking medication. Without my medication, my depression would be completely debilitating, and the suicidal thoughts would come back. My medication is helping me more than I realize when I’m depressed, and it is so important that I keep taking it. 

My depressive episodes are not pleasant. I don’t want to get out of bed. I don’t want to take on the day. I just want to cocoon myself in my blankets and forget my responsibilities. But I can’t. I have to get out of bed and untie myself from the shadow trying to keep me there. I have to get out of bed for my daughter, for myself and for my health. Reminding myself of these things makes it easy to make it through the day and make it to tomorrow.

If you or someone you know needs help, see our suicide prevention resources.

If you need support right now, call the Suicide Prevention Lifeline at 1-800-273-8255.

The Many Faces of Depression

I have read numerous blogs about depression, each written in their own style and explaining things in their own way. I am going to do that, too. I have decided to dissect my feelings into the “faces” I feel in the midst of a depressive episode. Many of these faces can occur at the same time, but I will tackle them individually in no particular order.

Face #1: Sad

This is probably the most well-known symptom and most talked about feeling in regards to depression. The famous media portrayal of depression of someone sitting with their head in their hands is often spoken about (not nearly often enough or in the right way, but at least people are talking and acknowledging depression more than they used to). For me, sadness rarely leaves. It’s a dull aching feeling inside that won’t bugger off. It kind of feels like a black cloud has invaded my mind and prevents me from accessing nice thoughts and feelings. A lot of the time I feel like I’m merely existing; not living. Words I would use to describe my sadness would be deep darkness, black and numb. Often I can feel nothing at all, indifferent to everything. I will wake up in the morning and there it will be, waiting for me to wake to invade my mind again.

Face #2: Lonely

I am blessed with a loving family, an amazing partner and some absolutely fantastic friends. I really do have a massive support network of people who love and care for me. Yet, I can be standing in a room full of people I know and still feel utterly alone. Depression makes me feel extremely isolated, even if that’s not the reality of the situation.

Face #3: Irritable

When I’m in a deep depression, I can feel extremely irritable with people, especially loved ones. I don’t know why this happens, it just does. I often feel a fuse has been lit and I am about to blow. This is why I often spend a lot of time alone, sort of a self-preservation tactic. If I do snap at people I often get left with a lot of guilt. So instead of being around people and biting their heads off and risk upsetting them (and myself), I stay away. I can literally feel the anger bubbling up inside just because someone is simply walking up the stairs. Where is the logic in that? No idea, but it happens.

Face #4: Physical effects 

Recently I have read a whole load of articles about depression being a psychical illness too, and I can see where they’re coming from. Depression doesn’t just invade the mind, it seeks into the body, too. For me, the physical side effects are the tiredness and lack of strength. Unless you’ve been there, I think it’s difficult to grasp the concept of being too tired to do anything. There are days where I cannot get out of bed apart from to go the bathroom (and I will cross my legs for as long as possible to avoid having to get up). This probably sounds gross, but I don’t really care. There are times where I’ve not showered in over two weeks, sometimes longer. The strength it takes to have a shower is enormous to me when I’m so low. If you’re thinking, “Ew, that’s gross, it’s not hard to shower,” know that to me, it’s like climbing a mountain. 

Face #5: Lack of motivation

Sometimes, I literally don’t have the strength to do anything. I’ve been thinking of writing this for months and months and have only just got around to writing it. I find reading incredibly difficult when I’m struggling, the words just don’t go in and it leads to frustration. It took me over a year to read one book. Motivation to go out and get fresh air is next to nothing, motivation to socialize is non-existent. It’s not because I don’t want to see my friends — it’s the tiredness and the effort and the guilt that follows when I still feel as crap after as I did before.

Face #6: Fake

This is the face which is hardest to write. I feel like I’m just admitting to being a liar. I’m not talking about making elaborate stories up about myself, but simple lies — I say and act fine when inside I am screaming. I’ve perfected my fake smile and my “I’m fine honestly” lie. If I manage to get out of bed and socialize (does happen a bit, especially as I am coming out of a long depressive episode), I often will put on a bright dress, do my hair and make-up and paint on a smile. Those who are with me generally think I’m doing OK and getting better, when in reality, not a lot has changed (sorry). Just because someone is smiling, laughing and has made an effort with their appearance does not mean they are fine. 

Face #7: Guilt

This is a big one for me. I feel guilt about a lot of things. Firstly, I feel guilty about lying to people about how I’m really feeling. I don’t want to lie, but I also don’t want depression to be my identity. I don’t want to be the person who’s constantly crying at parties, who just can’t show happiness at anything. My name is Joy for goodness sake. I also feel a tremendous amount of guilt about people doing nice things for me when it doesn’t help my mood; despite their best efforts. I also often feel guilty for being ill, like I’m a massive burden to everyone. 

Face #8: Shame

I feel this links to guilt, too. I don’t think anyone should have to feel ashamed about their mental health, let’s face it, we didn’t flipping choose to be ill did we? However I do sometimes feel ashamed to have a mental health issue. My main reason for feeling ashamed is being off work at the moment. I hate it. I see all my friends working hard, doing some incredible jobs. And it hurts. It hurts to see that and not be part of it. There’s nothing I want more than to be able to go back to work full-time. I feel ashamed I’m not working due to mental health. I know I shouldn’t, but I do. No one but me has made me feel this way, no one has questioned me being off work, everyone knows it’s for the best at the moment, but it doesn’t stop me from beating myself up about it.

Face #9: Fear

It’s scary waking up and feeling empty and lost. It’s scary being in the dark and never knowing when you’ll next see light. It’s scary wondering if things can get any worse.

Face #10: Numb

Numbness is one of the worst symptoms of depression in my opinion. The feeling of numbness is intolerable at times. It’s like I can’t feel love. In my deepest depressions I have experienced such a sense of numbness I could not even feel love for my partner, family, friends or dogs. There was just nothing there. Just a dark blank space. I knew I once loved them, but I couldn’t feel that. When I’m feeling this way, nothing brings me any pleasure. Things I used to enjoy, like listening to music, just became nothingness to me. I completely lose my sense of self, my personality and anything positive. 

Face #10: Happiness

It’s a common misconception that people with depression feel no joy whatsoever. I must admit that for me it is little and rarely, but it does occur. A cuddle with my dog, a walk along the beach, a hug off my partner or a friend; these are all things I’ve felt happiness while doing. Although such of my happiness is faked, I’m happy to report genuine happiness does happen. I think I’ve felt it three or four times in the past few months, which I know doesn’t seem a lot, but at least it’s there. When this mood lifts, I will feel it more and more. Until then, I need to hold onto every second of happiness I can. It reminds me there is hope.  

If you or someone you know needs help, see our suicide prevention resources.

If you need support right now, call the Suicide Prevention Lifeline at 1-800-273-8255.

What I Would Say If I Was Honest About My Depression

I’m not OK.

I wish I could tell you this. I want to so many times. When you ask how I am.

I’m not OK.

Is what I want to say.

Instead I nod my head. Usually just one confident nod. Sometimes I’ll nod a few times. For security.

Tilt it slightly to the left.

Make sure my smile is big but not too big.

I am so good!

And then I immediately segue into talking about you. Asking how you are. What you have been up to. Steering as far away from the subject of me as I can get us. See how good I am at it? I amaze myself sometimes with how good of an actress I can be.

I feel myself dying a little bit more on the inside. Angry that I let another opportunity come and go. Another opportunity to open my mind up, just a little, and let some of the creatures out.

But I don’t. I can’t. I want to. I want to so badly. But I can’t.

Because here’s the thing: I was fine the day before. I was fine the week before. I’ve been fine for a whole month before!

Before it came back. Because it always does. It tricks me. But it tricks you more.

You see how good I have been. Maybe I was even great. Amazing. Fantastic. And I want you to know I really was. But you, like so many others, were tricked into thinking maybe it wouldn’t come back. That sense I had been doing so well. I’d been so happy. That I could do this.

You’re not the only one though. It got me too. Except, deep down, I always knew the truth. I knew it would eventually be back. It always comes back.

And so I can’t tell you. I like feeling as though someone is proud of me. I like seeing and hearing something other than concern when someone asks how I’m doing. As long as I don’t say it aloud.

I’m sick.

Then I can pretend for a little while longer that I am OK.

So I can’t tell you. I don’t want all of that to disappear yet.

Even though I need you. The longer I continue treading water, trying to keep a smile showing above the water, the more detached I become. Not just from you. From everything. Family. Friends. Strangers. The world.

The longer I keep news of this unwanted trespasser to myself, the harder it becomes for me to get away from it. The harder it becomes for me to kick it out of my house. Out of my mind. The harder it becomes for me to defend myself from his advances. Eventually I will become too tired. And I’ll let it take my innocence and spirit away. What’s left of it anyways.

My therapist says I need to open up to someone.

Who are your close friends? Maybe one of them?

My mind goes blank.

Who is your best friend?

I have turned into a mute. Unable to come up with an answer. Unable to say anything at all.

I tell him I don’t know anymore. I tell him I feel so removed from everyone I don’t think I have any. I tell him I don’t feel close to anyone.

He asks when the last time I felt like I had a best friend was. I tell him I don’t remember.

He tells me my mind is telling me all of these things. And I know this. I do. But I can’t shake the feelings and thoughts that have once again taken up residency in my already overcrowded mind. I don’t have the energy to evict them right now.

The loneliness. The sadness. The numbness. The fatigue. The overall melancholy that seems to hang over me at all times. So thick I sometimes I can actually see it. Hanging dense like fog. Hanging heavy on me like humidity in the summer when all you want is relief from the heat. It smothers you. Except this kind of humidity isn’t warm. It feels cold. It numbs me more instead of thawing me out.

I’m always cold. But I wake up at night sweating. My sheets damp from it. The side effects of my terrible, violent, excruciating dreams. So vivid I wake up screaming and crying more often than not. There are shapes lurking in the shadows, but the light is even more frightening. I can hear people whispering. And I know it’s about me.

I want to tell you this. I want to tell you that Saturday night I sat on the bathroom floor hugging my knees as tight as I could in an effort to keep myself from falling apart even more. I want to tell you about how badly my sobs scared me. How I found myself yelling in anguish. I want to tell you about the only way I was able to get any sort of relief from this. But I don’t want to scare you.

I want to tell you about the hand that roughly grabs my heart every time I decide to leave my house. I want to tell you about the dizziness that takes over. Sometimes just from walking across my room. The shortness and sharp intake of breath when this happens. I’m too tired for this.

I don’t want you to think of me as a burden. As another source of anxiety. Of worry. I don’t want you to pity me. I don’t want you to think of this as something to add to the list. The list of what’s wrong with me. I don’t want to pollute your happiness with my despair. I don’t want you to see me as something to be handled with care. Something fragile that could shatter if you talk too loudly.

Because I need you. I need you to remind me of how strong I am. I need you to be a place where I can rest. A bench to sit quietly on. To cry quietly on. Something to steady myself on so I don’t end up all the way on the ground.

I don’t need advice. I don’t need you to talk. I just need you to sit quietly with me. I just need you to sit next to me. To hold my hand. To help me up. I just need you there so that the loneliness and the sadness and the despair doesn’t drown me. I just need some help treading water for a little longer.

But I can’t tell you this. I can’t tell you because I am scared to admit it to myself yet. I need you to know my silence doesn’t mean I’m angry with you. I need you to know my awkward response doesn’t mean that I don’t want to talk. It means I don’t know how to talk. It means I don’t know how to connect my brain with my mouth and with my heart. I’ve forgotten how to.

And so I’ll whisper it onto this slate. Hoping it becomes lost among the rest of these thoughts.

I’m not OK.

Follow this journey on Twenties in Ruin

If you or someone you know needs help, see our suicide prevention resources.

If you need support right now, call the Suicide Prevention Lifeline at 1-800-273-8255.

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