What It Means When You Say You're There for Me
Editor’s note: If you experience suicidal thoughts, the following post could be potentially triggering. You can contact the Crisis Text Line by texting “START” to 741-741.
When I tell someone I have depression and anxiety, there is a cacophony of fear within. What if they pity me? What if they think less of me, that I am weak when in actuality I am strong for fighting a silent war every day with every breath? What if they brush me off, tell me to get over it? What if?
You see, my greatest fear is not getting enough help.
At first, it’s great — I tell you about this silent war, I show you my scars and you don’t cower away in fear. You stay. You care. The relief I feel is instantaneous and overwhelming. I allow myself to hope a little. Could I have found an ally?
But I fear that you won’t persevere in showing you care.
This is the cycle: I wear my mask perfectly, too perfectly. It cracks and I have no other choice but to let someone in until I am strong enough to hide myself away again. I often compare this to a covered, boiling pot of water — eventually, the water comes bursting out, demanding to be set free, because the lid has been left on too long. So I talk, I bubble over. And you listen. I cry. And you listen. What you don’t know is that I’ve only allowed myself to show you a small fraction of my pain because it is crushing, all-consuming and it has often been too much for others to handle. I shed a few tears, but I don’t “ugly cry” until I am alone again. I tell you I’ve been “a little low lately” when I am actually numb, empty and hopeless. I try my best to keep you safe — from me, from the enormity of my pain.
Because you’re there for me… until you’ve had to talk me down from the ledge for the hundredth time.
You’re there for me… until I can’t take off my armor no matter how many times you keep checking in on me. I push you away when all I want is for you to ask again. Ask louder. Just ask again.“
You’re there for me… until it’s too much.
You’re there for me… until I’m too much.
So when you say those words, “I’m here for you,” I panic. I desperately try to choke down the hope I feel rising in me, desperate to believe those words. You see, I’ve heard them before and I know they have an expiry date. So I am conflicted. On one hand, I want to bask in the warmth of those words that despite all logic, I still long to be told. But on the other, I wish you hadn’t spoken them at all. I wish you hadn’t started digging me out if you couldn’t finish, destroying the neat patch of land I was safely buried in. I wish you hadn’t knocked down my walls, leaving me bare and unprotected, without ever bringing me to safety. I wish you hadn’t started walking me across my bridge to recovery, only to leave me stranded halfway. Because then I wouldn’t feel like all I’m worthy of is a halfway try. That I am impossible to understand. That there is only so much help I am deserving of and capable of benefiting from. That this pain can never fade.
So yes, I fear not getting enough help when you say you’re there for me. I know you are sincere and probably believe it when you tell me that, but I need help. A lot. And it’s often too much for those around me. So if you are truly there for me, I will need convincing. Don’t just tell me — show me. Keep showing me and keep showing others. I believe we can all make a difference this way. Actions speak louder than words. It’s cliché because it’s true. Because the words, those words, mean nothing to me anymore. They are too easy to say, but hard to really mean. All I ask is that you stand beside me and be my friend — no promises needed. Simply listen, care, and I will do my best to do the same for you.
I hope you will truly stay.
If you need support right now, call the National Suicide Prevention Lifeline at 1-800-273-8255, the Trevor Project at 1-866-488-7386 or text “START” to 741-741. Head here for a list of crisis centers around the world.
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Thinkstock photo via sanjagrujic