themighty logo

To My Daughters, One Day You’ll Understand Why Daddy Couldn’t Always Play


I wrote this on the suggestion of my therapist. It was therapeutic to write. Maybe you’ll be able to relate. If so, then I suggest that you do the same and share your story.

My sweet girls,

One day you’ll understand, and it will all make sense. I know right now it’s confusing seeing your daddy go through all these things. You’re too young to understand what mental illness is. You know what it looks like, but you don’t realize it has a name — depression.

You see, I have this condition called depression, persistent depressive disorder to be exact. It turns out I’ve had it all my adult life. I knew as a teenager something was seriously wrong, that “normal” people don’t have these horrific dark thoughts. It was so dark for me I almost took my own life when I was 16, and to this day, I’m not exactly sure why I decided (at the last moment) not to pull the trigger. But I’m glad I didn’t.

I never sought out professional help until you three came around. I was afraid what people would think of me, afraid of losing my career, afraid people I loved would leave me if they knew what goes on in my brain. I tried reaching out to a few people who I trusted, but when I saw how they reacted, I decided it wasn’t worth it. I thought I was alone, and no one would ever understand me. I didn’t even understand what was going on with me.

Looking back, I’ve had at least three major depressive episodes in my life. This last one has been the worst by far. I’ve had far more physical symptoms than before, along with the crippling mental symptoms of sadness, hopelessness and apathy. I’m sure it’s been confusing for you to watch me go through all this, and I’m sorry I can’t explain it in a way that makes sense to you.

I’m sorry for the times I laid in bed all day when you wanted to play. I’m sorry for the times I was present but not really all there. It is torture to see the disappointed look in your eyes when I say, “Sorry honey, Daddy can’t play today.” I’m sorry we didn’t go to the park more, play dollhouse more, go for more walks and bike rides as a family.

Hopefully, one day you’ll look back and realize I did the best I could.

Thank you for the hugs, snuggles, love, grace and hope you’ve given me. When I had run out of hope, you were my hope. You were the reason I kept fighting, kept living. You were the reason I kept going through so many changes in medication, so many sessions of therapy, in the hopes I could be there for you in the best way possible. When I was at my worst, I would think of you and find the courage to keep going. I was and still am determined to be here for you, to watch you grow into beautiful young women.

I’m hopeful that you’ll live in a world where there is no stigma for those living with a mental illness. I’m hopeful you’ll never have to walk down this dark road of struggle yourselves. Yet, if you do have to face these issues, then you’ll have no greater supporter than me. I will always be here for you, no matter what. You don’t have to be afraid, for you are not alone in this world.

Love you always,

Dad

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

If you need support right now, call the Suicide Prevention Lifeline at 1-800-273-8255. You can reach the Crisis Text Line by texting “START” to 741-741.

We want to hear your story. Become a Mighty contributor here.

Image via Thinkstock.