A Letter to My Future Roommates About My Mental Illnesses
It’s an exciting time, senior year of college, and I’m going to be living with four of my best friends. We’ve managed to get a really good deal on a rental home that’s just a minute or so from campus. It’s supposed to be the time of our lives, the last hoorah before we branch out and pursue masters’ degrees and careers.
We’ve all talked endlessly about how much fun we’ll have together. We can’t wait to play a game of cornhole while our dinner is on the grill, and then sit out on the patio to share a meal together. We can hardly wait to invite our mutual friends over and eat too much popcorn while we watch a Nicholas Sparks movie. We’re excited to carpool to school together.
We talk about getting to do each others’ hair and makeup for events and how much fun it’ll be to share closets. We look forward to the late night ice cream runs and midnight gossip sessions. It’s suppose to be such an exciting time in our lives.
While I’m excited for what this new journey brings, I’m also terrified because living with my best friends will allow them a window into my mental illness they’ve never been able to look through before. Even at my weakest moments in front of them, they’ve still only seen the most put together pieces of me. Living with me will be something else entirely. So I apologize for that now.
My depression will make me shut myself away from you all. I’ll lay in my bed for hours and not talk to anyone. Sometimes, I’ll sleep at every chance I can get. If there’s a spare minute in the day, I’ll be in the bed. I’ll sleep an entire weekend if I feel like it because I’m too drained to think of anything. I’m too drained to be a person. I will refuse to go anywhere with you because I can’t bear the thought of leaving the house. Some days, you won’t see me eat at all, and other days you’ll wonder how I’m not sick from all of the eating I’ve done.
My anxiety will make me question all of the little changes you want to do to the house, even things as minuscule as reorganizing the tupperware. I’ll feel out of control. My anxiety will spin the loss of control over the tupperware organization into a loss of control over my entire life. If we get into an argument (which is bound to happen with five girls living together), then I’ll spend the rest of the day overanalyzing what you said, what I said and the things that were left unspoken.
Sometimes I’ll channel my anxieties into nervous energy. I’ll be hyper and slightly out of control of the things I say and do. I’ll want to talk your head off about inconsequential things. My eyes will be dilated from the insomnia. I’ll look strange to you.
I’ll stay awake until 4:00 a.m., letting my thoughts overtake me, never slowing down. I’ll have all of these great ideas of things we should do. I’ll get more cleaning done around the house in the time span of one hour than you could in an entire week. Then, when it seems as if you can’t take my hyperactivity any longer, my anxieties will settle or shift their energy again.
My post-traumatic stress disorder (PTSD) is what will cause the most problems. Little things put me on edge. I’m scared of open spaces, open doors and open cabinets. It makes me feel unsafe. I’m afraid of visitors when I’m the only one at the house. I’m afraid of the car doors slamming and other loud noises that leave me feeling unsettled and uneasy.
I can’t deal with unlocked doors. I need to feel closed in to feel secure. I’ll check to make sure the doors are locked each night, even if you tell me you’ve already done so. I’ll look out the windows to make sure we’re all safe each night along with a whole slew of other little tricks I now have. They will seem odd to you and probably cause arguments amongst the five of us.
So I apologize for running into my room after class without saying “hi” to you. I apologize for shutting myself off from the rest of the world for a couple of days. I apologize for being too tired to go get ice cream with you. I’m sorry for sleeping when you had something important you wanted to tell me. I’m sorry for not going out on Thursday night. I apologize for getting upset over how the tupperware is organized.
I’m sorry for thinking you hate me when you don’t. I’m sorry for crying hysterically when your boyfriend comes over late, unannounced, and it scares me. I’m sorry for going behind you to lock the door even though you already locked it. I apologize for closing all of the doors in the house when I’m home alone. I’m sorry for being myself one day and then being a shell of myself the next day.
As my best friends, I hope you can remember these bad days are temporary and they don’t define who I am as a person or as who I am as your friend. I hope you can see my quirks in the ways I see them and learn to look past some of them altogether. I hope we can grow closer as friends once you see these parts of me.
When I’m checking to make sure the door is locked another time, just remember I’m doing that in an effort to protect myself as well as you. When I lock myself in my room for hours at a time, remember all of the laughs we’ve shared as friends. When I make a big deal about how we stack the tupperware, remember all of the times you’ve made a big deal out of something as well.
When I’m crying over something, I hope you remember you can cry to me too. When you feel like living with me is too much, remind yourself of how much you can trust me, how I’m loyal to a fault and how I care about you as a friend. When times get tough, my hope is you’ll pray good things into my life in the same ways that I’ve prayed good things into your lives.