To the Friend I Text When I'm at My Worst
I am writing you this letter to explain what is going on before, during, and after I text you. I text many people throughout the day and for a variety of reasons. But the texts I send to you are often different.
My texts to you are sent at all times of the day — especially late at night when my demons are at their worst for me or after I have spent a long day fighting my own mind and finally break from the pressure.
My texts to you are my way of crying out for help.
My texts to you are me screaming out my pain silently through my fingertips and onto my phone since I can’t scream it out loud.
My texts to you are my truth.
You don’t know this, but more often than not, I write a text and then delete it. Or I write a text and it just sits there for hours as a draft, and then I erase it. Sometimes doing this is enough to calm me down and give me some relief.
So when you do receive one of my more erratic texts, please know it is sent because I am hurting so badly that I just need to tell somebody about it. The act of hitting send is like purging the thoughts from my mind and for some reason, it usually helps.
But sometimes after I send you one text, I am still in the middle of a panic attack. Or I am still weeping uncontrollably. So I text you again and again — trying to find some peace.
After I text you and the dust has settled, I get embarrassed that I let down my wall and I unveiled the parts of me that aren’t polished and aren’t very pretty. So then I go to the other extreme and text apologies and positive words to make up for any negative.
And I feel guilty for leaning on you once again. Sometimes I look back and don’t even remember the words I sent you. Yet there they are in front of me — a visual reminder of the battle I just fought.
You see, I have “high-functioning” mental illness. To the outside world, I appear to be just fine. I can get up, go to work, take care of my children, be a good wife and laugh with my friends. Inside, however, I am struggling just to make it through each day without drowning. I get frustrated because I want to be the girl everybody else sees, not the girl I feel within me. I still have trouble accepting this is my life, even though I have dealt with varying degrees of mental illness since childhood. I should be used to it by now. But then again, one can and should never have to get used to something like this.
And part of the reason why I have lasted this long is due to your friendship, support and the texts I send to you.
When we first met, you were only introduced to the person I let everybody get to know. That person is very real, but incomplete. But for some reason I connected with you and felt safe to open up about my other side. I wonder if you regret getting to know that other side. She can be a handful — trust me, I live with her.
But that other side has also given me blessings I wouldn’t trade. Kindness, compassion and creativity. And friendships — true, meaningful friendships.
And because I consider you to be a true friend, I owe you a sincere apology. The world does not revolve around me, yet I know I have been very selfish. I want to be a good friend. I want to hear about your life — good and bad. I care about you, too. I am stuck in my head so much of the time that it consumes me. But friendship is a two-way street, and I have provided much more traffic on my side.
I feel like it isn’t fair that I text you when I’m struggling.
I worry it isn’t fair to ask anybody to be the recipient of the thoughts in my head.
I feel like it isn’t fair that I am not the friend you signed up for.
I worry it just isn’t fair…and I am sorry.
I am also very thankful. I know you have a very busy life. You have a stressful job, a family, friends and much more. The fact you still make time to listen and encourage me speaks to your character, loyalty and kindness. You’ve seen me at my best — fun, strong and successful. But you also accept me at my worst — sad, weak and broken. You never make me feel bad for reaching out for help or judge me for texts that invade your phone.
I’m sure there are many times when the texts come in and you must shake your head and think to yourself, Here we go again. Or you are so very busy with life that you don’t even have time to read them. But yet, you keep any annoyance or frustration to yourself and make to time to check in with me when you can.
And those words of encouragement and the knowledge you care have helped me more than you’ll even know. I used to fear my texts would push you too far and you would decide that being my friend isn’t worth it. But you once told me you weren’t going anywhere — and you haven’t. You haven’t given up on me.
And because of that, I know that I cannot give up on myself either.
Thank you from the bottom of my heart.
If you need support right now, call the National Suicide Prevention Lifeline at 1-800-273-8255 or text “START” to 741-741.
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Unsplash photo via Ana Bernardo.