To My Best Friend Who Worries About My Mental Illness
Dear Best Friend,
You have been there for me since we first met, and I am so grateful for that. You have helped me with my mental illnesses and a lot of other things. You worry anytime I have suicidal thoughts or I don’t eat, and it’s because you care.
This is for you.
Because you worry about me daily, wondering how I feel and thinking about what you can do to help me even if you can’t, because you’re my best friend. I remember one day you told me that you feel like you let me down. You have never once let me down. You have been there for me more than anyone I have ever met. Another night, you accidentally grabbed a pair of scissors off my legs and cut me. You felt so bad, but I promise you, it wasn’t your fault. You thought I would do it again because of my history with self-harm, and I almost did, but decided not to, because I knew how upset you would be with me.
When you see the cuts I have forgotten to cover up, please don’t think I’ve fallen off the wagon again. Please, don’t question me and make me feel alone. It’s not about bringing more pain into my life or punishing me. Honestly, I cannot explain the reasoning behind why I need to self-harm during some times and not others. When I do it, it just feels like I’m releasing the pent up feelings I don’t know how to properly express in any other way.
You’re the closest person to me in my life. Not even my parents know as much as you do, and sometimes, I don’t know if they ever will. You have to understand, when I talk about things too much and it’s the last thing you want to hear (especially because I’ve probably brought it up a million times before), I need to say it and I need you to listen. I need you to believe me when I tell you my fears and worries are real and rampant in my mind at all hours. I don’t need you to say everything will be OK.
Finally, when I close my eyes, look away, dig my fingers into my skin or close the door for too many hours, please don’t ignore me. Please, give me my time and space and don’t attack me with a barrage of questions, but also don’t leave me. I know that’s hard to do. I know it’s difficult to know what I need and what I don’t. Just don’t forget about the little signs that something may not be alright. I appreciate when you ask me later in the day if something you said bothered me. It makes me feel better when you ask me those things rather than asking why I didn’t text you or why I didn’t call you like you had asked.
I know you worry about me. I know you think I’m OK until you see me in a fit. I know you think telling me certain things will in calm me down. But it doesn’t always. What I need from you is to take me inside my closet and sit with me until we both talk about my problems and I feel better about them. I need you to be strong with me. So thank you for being there for me — I know you always will be. I love you a lot.
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 “HOME” to 741-741. Head here for a list of crisis centers around the world.
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Unsplash photo via Clarisse Meyer