To My Father: I Need You to Accept My Mental Illness
To my father,
Throughout my life, I never really spoke up about my mental health issues. I always wanted to be strong for you, which made it difficult for you to understand me and my behavior. I know for years on the surface it looked like everything was OK. But I have been fighting an unwinnable, invisible disease since I was at least 14. It’s been 10 years.
There is one thing I have always wanted to tell you about my depression and anxiety. It is a part of who I am. This past year, I have been struggling with the most debilitating anxiety I have ever experienced and new thoughts and feelings I can’t control. It is terrifying to have your own brain betray you. I have been scared for so long, and it has pained me to feel like I couldn’t turn to you.
Do you remember when I called you last year and tried to talk to you about my anxiety? Well I do, like it happened just minutes ago. You told me I should stop posting articles and talking about my mental illness on Facebook. That is the day I stopped trusting you. We have been through a lot in our lives, more than your average family, and you were always the first person I would turn to when I felt like the world was crashing down around me. On that day though, I felt for the first time you didn’t love me, at least not all of me.
My anxiety and depression make me hate myself more often than not. You know me, you know how much I pride myself on being strong. With these mental illnesses, I can’t always control my thoughts and feelings and it kills me. I can’t be the strong person I loved and was proud of, which is a really hard thing for me to face.
What makes all of this even harder is when times got tough, when I wasn’t the perfect child, I felt like you turned your back on me. A parent is supposed to love their child, all of them. This is a part of me, I feel, you don’t love, but this is the part of me I need you to accept the most. This issue is one that can’t be simply fixed with pills and therapy, and I can’t just sweep it under a rug. I will fight every day, for as long as I suffer from this, just to get through the day. I can’t tell you how many times I want to crawl into the tub, turn on the water and just cry for the next three hours. Love and support makes the burden of having to fight every day a little more bearable.
You are my daddy. The first man I ever loved. The man I have trusted with more than anyone else on this planet. You have held my hand through the toughest of times, and I need you to hold my hand through this, as well. I can’t do it on my own, no one really can. I know having a daughter who struggles with mental illness is difficult. Again, I am sorry that I cannot be “perfect” anymore, but I need to feel like this disease is not shameful. I post those articles on Facebook so my loved ones can understand what I am going through when I cannot put it into words. I do not care if future employers decide to not hire me because of it. If that is the case, then I wouldn’t want to work there.
Your love and support are the most important things to me. I have relied on you to be both parents for a while. To not have your support and understanding makes this so much more difficult. I love you and I want to feel comfortable around you again. I want to be able to share all aspects of my life with you. Part of me is proud to have depression and anxiety because it’s helped make me this strong. It’s helped me feel so much more deeply than I ever thought I could. It has inspired my favorite parts of myself. I paint and I write because that is how I translate the tornado in my head.
Please, understand even though this may not be the happiest part of me, it inspires some of my favorite parts of myself. I love you. Today and from here on out, I need you to love this part of me too.
Love your little girl,
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