Why I Don't Open Up to the People I Love About My Depression
“We know something’s wrong! We want to help! We love you! Why can’t you open up to us?”
Because I’m ashamed at how weak I feel.
Because if I expose that weakness to you, you might end up ashamed of me, too.
Because the last thing I ever want to do is be a weight around your neck.
Because you have your own problems, and your own life to live.
Because it might change the way you see me.
Because it might make you want to treat me with kid gloves, to tiptoe around me because you think I might shatter.
Because you might go the opposite route and decide it’s time for some “tough love.”
Because if I hear the words, “there are other people out there a lot worse off than you,” I probably will shatter. I’m aware. That’s part of the problem.
Because I’ve been here before, and I’ll probably be here again. It exhausts the hell out of me. I can only imagine what it would do to you.
Because I’m terrified you’ll blame yourself, when absolutely none of how I’m feeling is your fault.
Because I love you.
Because I want you to keep loving me.
Because I have an illness that convinces me that’s exactly what will end up happening, no matter how much you say otherwise.
I wish I could make you understand. The person you see from the outside doesn’t remotely resemble who I’m seeing on the inside. That person is weak. That person is self-destructive. That person makes all the wrong decisions, and worst of all knows it. That person is set to fall, and I’ll be damned if he’s going to take anyone I love along for the ride.
That’s why I work so damn hard to hide it. Why I get so upset when the mask slips and you get a glimpse of what’s really going on. Why I get angry and lash out when it does, or worse, pull away and collapse into myself. It’s because I’m afraid. Terrified. Terrified that if you see the real me, then it will all be over. You’ll wash your hands of me and go find someone who isn’t broken to spend your time with. Someone who doesn’t take as much work. Someone who won’t drain the life out of you.
I know your love isn’t that fickle. I know you aren’t the type to just walk away. I know it.
The problem is, I can’t feel it, and because I can’t feel it, I can’t trust it.
That’s why the depression tends to win. It doesn’t matter how many voices I hear from the outside telling me I’m worthwhile, that I’m loved, that they’ll never turn their backs on me, there’s always that voice on the inside that tells me that’s a lie. It doesn’t matter that I know it doesn’t make any sense. That voice is the one I can never escape from, and if I don’t have you to drown it out every now and then, I’ll be alone with it.
I can’t take that chance. I can’t risk driving you away, which is exactly what I feel I’ll end up doing. So what the hell am I supposed to do?
Open up to someone. Understand though, it might not be you. Not at first. It’s easier to talk to a stranger. I don’t care about disappointing a stranger. If a stranger upsets me, I can walk away. Not the healthiest choice, but still an option. A stranger has no preconceived notions. A stranger can be honest with me. A stranger has probably dealt with quite a few other people like me, which in a way helps because it forces me to realize I’m not the only person living with this.
Plus, not to be completely cynical, but if I’m paying for help, it’s less likely to give up on me.
I’ll open up to stranger, because I’m praying that, in the end, that will help me open up to you. It won’t be easy; it will be terrifying, which is why I’ll have to do it on my schedule, on my terms. It’s the only way I’ll feel safe doing so. I’m hoping you can understand that, because even though I may not be able to open up to you about how I’m feeling, that doesn’t mean you’re not helping. You are, in more ways than you know.
You’re what’s keeping me fighting, and no stranger can replace you.
Photo by Bruno Aguirre on Unsplash