To the People Who Love Me, Mental Illness and All
I consider myself to be brave. Getting out of bed each morning may not seem brave to most, but most people who have battled through the self-eclipsed war of depression knows otherwise. When the voices and forces within you want nothing more than to bring you down, you need to rise above. And that is the bravest thing anyone could ever do.
While others saw me as “crazy,” you saw I was hurting. Depression can turn you into someone you aren’t. It can make your face unrecognizable in the mirror, your voice unrecognizable to your ears. When you’re hurting, you sometimes do and say things you don’t mean. You can turn into an angry, ugly person — someone you truly are not. And to those who could not handle it, I’m sorry. I truly am sorry. To those who stayed, thank you. I love you.
While others saw me as “lazy,” you saw that I was trying. When you get into a really bad state, sleeping is rare. You lay awake through the night, thinking, weeping and panicking. Essentially, I was wishing I was dead. Waking up in the morning and carrying on like a “normal human” is not the easiest thing in the world to do, when just 12 hours ago you were praying to fall asleep and not wake up. Some would say I was unmotivated, boring or mean. They weren’t wrong, but if only they knew. Thank you for seeing through the ugliness and recognizing my potential.
While others saw me as “dramatic,” you saw that I was crying for help. When you’re depressed, it can be difficult to reach out. You might fear what others will think and how they will treat you. “Get over it” and “you’re so dramatic” are phrases I’ve heard more than enough. To tell a depressed person that they are being dramatic can be one of the most hurtful things one could do. The thoughts that go on in our minds can be scary — terrifying in fact. It takes courage to face them yourself, let alone talk to someone else about them. So to those who told me to “get over it” and to “stop being dramatic,” thank you for showing me I did not need you in my life. To those who stood by me and listened to my thoughts, no matter how irrational or imaginative they may be, thank you. I appreciate you more than you know.
Although I am nowhere near “cured,” I am starting to see a light. A light I once thought I would never find. My mental illness is my reality. I would never choose this life for myself or anyone, but I am slowly starting to accept the cards I was dealt. Do I still have sad days? Yes. Do I still have days where I find it impossible to get out of bed, eat, or even shower? Absolutely. But, I am learning to cope with my reality and I am slowly learning to live with this monster called depression. I’ve realized that I haven’t been the person I truly am or the person I am meant to be. I’ve done and said some terrible things. I’ve made mistakes and I’ve been an ugly person.
To those I have hurt while I was hurting, I’m sorry. I hope you can understand. But to those who have stuck by my side, through thick and thin, you mean more to me than you’ll ever know. Without your guidance, support and concern, I may not be here today. Without your determination and love, my mental illness would have won the war.
This letter is for the friends and family who wipe away my tears, listen to my irrational thoughts and fears, and love me unconditionally when I am far from lovable. I know it’s not easy, but thank you for always thinking I am worth it.
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 reach the Crisis Text Line by texting “START” to 741-741.
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Unsplash photo via Michael Henry