To My Friend Without a Mental Illness: Don't Stop Telling Me About Your Day
To my dear best friend,
You’ve known me for a decade. We became close after I was first diagnosed with a mental illness at the age of 15. You were there when I tried tried to hide it by trying to fit in and you were there when I was the angsty “emo” kid who withdrew from everything. Besides my family, you were the first to know I was on antidepressants and you were the one I turned to when I needed help remembering things would be OK. We laughed together, we cried together. We moved away to different colleges at the same time. You would always answer the phone when I would call you crying, telling you I wanted to drop out, give up, die. We got into fights and we made up, until I started experiencing major depressive episodes and withdrew from you completely. You travelled the world. I moved home, went to community college and partied excessively trying to pretend I was OK.
I am incredibly thankful we reconnected and grew close again. For four years you have become my sister and my soulmate. You were there when my medications were balanced, when I was excelling at work and school and maintaining a social life. You also saw me relapse with major depression and generalized anxiety and for the last two years you have been leading my personal cheer squad. But I’ll never forget the day you said my problems were more important than yours. The day you said you didn’t have a real reason for being sad because you weren’t struggling like me.
I briefly explained to you that your problems, your successes and you are all important to me, but there is more I should have said. I should have told you how much I love and value you. I should have told you no one’s problems are any bigger than anyone else’s problems because it’s all perspective. Our brains are different — that’s it. While you might feel sad for a day, my brain lacks the ability to snap me out of my depression without the assistance of medication. And sometimes I don’t have a reason to feel the way I do. Just because I’m depressed doesn’t mean your feelings and emotions are not important to me. And while I may not always be able to offer advice or I seem preoccupied, I will always take the time to listen to you tell me about the things going on in your life.
Your argument with your spouse, your funny story about your niece, your long day at work are all important to me. You have always been there to pick me up and to make me smile. I want to do the same for you. We’ve grown together and we’ve grown individually. We’ve struggled together and we’ve struggled apart, but every experience is worth sharing with me because I promise you, I’m listening and my mental illness is not bigger than my love for you and will never make me stop caring.
Please don’t ever stop telling me about your day.
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