To My Parents: Let Me Explain My Mental Illness


Dear mom and dad,

First off, I’d like to say I am a teenager diagnosed with major depression (with psychotic symptoms and a potential eating disorder). I also experience severe anxiety. I want you both, as well as parents and guardians of other teenagers dealing with mental illness, to see things from my perspective for a moment.

I don’t want to hurt you. I don’t mean to scare you or make you feel sorry for me. What’s happening with me is not your fault, but it isn’t mine either. I want to get better. Really, I do. Unfortunately, recovery is hard.

I used to self-harm and am finally more than a year clean. Yet, sometimes, I still think about doing it. I will try to talk to you about it, but it can be hard. I need you to check up on me when I am sad but not be too overbearing. I need you to help and love me but give me some space. Sometimes, I feel guilty for what happened. I want to make you feel better, and I feel bad about hurting you. I especially feel bad about the way I hurt you. I want to make things right.

My mental illness feels like an invader, like something entered me without my permission.  It’s invasive. It’s painful, and I need it to go away. It feels like a pain in my chest that never leaves. It’s hard to breathe. It’s hard to think. It’s hard to live, but I want to. I really do.

It just makes me so scared of life, of living in the outside world. I am terrified. I wish I could tell you exactly how I feel, but it is horrifying to even think about sharing this with you aloud. So, I tell you like this. I drop hints. I may try to speak up about how I am feeling, but I need you to be patient with me.

My mental illness is a part of me, for now. It doesn’t always have to be. It can come and go.  It can disappear entirely. It is all up to how I handle it and how you handle it. I may say I hate doctors, psychiatrists and therapists, but eventually I will be glad for the help I received. I may relapse and that’s scary. But it is OK because I will get right back up and try again, with your help.

Most of all, I want you to remember that I love you. I love you so much. And I need you.

Love,

Your daughter

The Mighty is asking the following: Tell us about the first time you reached out to someone about your mental illness. Whether it was a friend or a professional, we want to hear about why you opened up, how it went, and why you’re glad (or maybe not glad) you did it. Check out our Submit a Story page for more about our submission guidelines.


Find this story helpful? Share it with someone you care about.