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The Words I Wish I Could Tell My Loved Ones About Living With a Mental Illness

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Dear those I love, even those I don’t know,

I live with depression, anxiety and bipolar disorder. I have been medicated, I have a service dog and I survived a suicide attempt. Those of us who have these illnesses that are so often taboo in today’s society would like you to know how it feels coming from our side, but for many, trying to explain what’s going through our head is sometimes so difficult. Even when we do have the words to explain what we are feeling, we are too scared to reach out. That doesn’t mean we don’t want you to know what we are feeling. 

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I had been scared, if not utterly terrified, to share what I felt on a daily basis, until one day I was so down low and and so full of feelings I just started typing. I kept typing and typing until I felt I had nothing else to say. The rest of what you will read is what I have felt and experienced in my life, and what I know so many others wish they could put a voice to. So I choose to publish this not as just a story from me, but what I know others who live with my illnesses have opened up and told.

There are many days we will wake up and feel hopeless. We won’t be able to find the energy to do anything. We will want nothing more than to just stay in bed, not able or wanting to take on the day.

There come times we breakdown, and in the midst of those breakdowns whether apparent or not, we might say things that hurt you. Then later we will realize what we said and regret it, but know the damage has already been done. We hate that we sometimes do this. Please know we don’t mean it. Our illnesses aren’t us.

We often feel alone, but are to scared to reach out in fear that we will be judged. That we will lose those we love in the process. We wish more than often that we could just open up, but that fear is always there. If we open up, please don’t judge us. Instead love us. Support us. Your love is what carries many of us through the hardest times.

Our feelings are often times confusing and overbearing, and we can’t find the words that convey what we are feeling. Please in these times be our support, our rock we can lean on, so we can know we aren’t alone in our struggle.

So many times in my life I wished I could help others understand what I need. These are the things I wish I could tell those I love.

“I just need someone who is willing to stay in my life even through my darkest times, and not give up on me and leave me to my own mind. When people leave my life and can’t handle me and my illness, it makes things so much harder for me.”

“I pray for someone who will love me regardless of what happens and who is willing to be there for me. I just want someone who I can call or text about what’s going through my head, who will not judge, but support me.”

“I want someone who wants to be in my life and will help me keep holding on. Someone who will be there for me, who loves me regardless of what my mind tells me.”

“Every day I struggle to continue on through life. I feel alone and want to reach out so much, but I’m scared that if I do I will lose you and be dropped from your life.”

“Living with the unending battle that’s depression, anxiety and bipolar, I know I can say things that hurt. I often struggle controlling my thoughts and keeping them quiet, and when I hurt you because of my actions I hurt and am so sorry for what I’ve done. Please know that isn’t me speaking, it is my illness telling me I’m not good enough, or that it doesn’t matter what I say because I don’t matter.”

“What I really want is to be understood and loved by people. Not shunned, not left alone. I want to feel the love of others, I want to do things, I want to be normal. But sometimes I just can’t, and when I can’t that is when I really truly need someone to be there for me.”

“It is so hard when you feel like you are alone. That those you care about most ignore you or dismiss the fact that anything is wrong. It hurts. It hurts to feel forgotten and alone.”

“This battle I face, was never meant to be battled alone.”

“Please don’t forget me.”

There is so much we wish we could say to you. There is so much going on under the surface that you will probably never see or think is there. If I could say one final thing to those in my life it would be: “You never know when just saying ‘hi,’ calling or a hug can truly help so much. Many times I have gotten to the point when I didn’t want to continue. I didn’t see the point, and it was someone calling me out of the blue that would help me. Please don’t give up on us. We didn’t choose this. We just want to be loved.”

I hope for a better tomorrow even when that hope feels so far away I feel like I can’t reach it. But I know with the help of friends, family and loved ones, those of us who struggle with illnesses like mine will always have hope if we have you. 

Don’t forget about us.

With love and hope for a better day,

Zachary Walker

If you or someone you know needs help, visit our suicide prevention resources page.

If you need support right now, call the National Suicide Prevention Lifeline at 1-800-273-8255 or text “START” to 741-741.

Image via Thinkstock.

Originally published: December 26, 2016
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