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To the Friends Who Left Because of My Mental Illness

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Thank you. Truth is that is the only thing I can do. I thank you for being a part of my life for the time that you were there, and I thank you for leaving and making me a stronger person. Yes, it is one of the hardest parts of living with a mental illness, constantly seeing people walk out of your life, but at the same time it gives you a chance to reevaluate your relationships. If you aren’t able to handle me at my worst, then you don’t deserve to be there when I’m at my best.

I want you to know mental illness is real. Brains are beautiful organs responsible for so many important tasks, but just like any other organ in the body, they can get sick. The thing about when your mind becomes sick is that it can take years before it manifests into something noticeable. When it finally makes its presence known, you might be able to minimize the pain for a while without anybody noticing, but after suppressing it for so long, it comes at you like a boomerang. To the people around you, it can seem like a sudden change, a complete 360 in a short amount of time. But, really it has been there all along, slowly stabbing the dagger deeper and deeper.

At some point the depression gets so bad, getting out bed and brushing your teeth is an accomplishment. Eating three meals a day is nearly impossible and keeping up with schoolwork is a challenge. Maintaining friendships is a difficult task when you can’t get out of bed or brush your teeth. I don’t expect you to understand how I feel, since you may have never experienced a mental illness, but at some point just being there is important. But, you aren’t there anymore. Is it because of my mental illness? Is it because you have moved on? I don’t know.

What I do know is how hard it is to not have the people in your life that were once your best friends. What I do know is that my mental illness does not define me. What I do know is that I will not invalidate myself because of my mental illness or beat myself up because of lost friendships. I will champion the little accomplishments I make every day. I will continue the practice of self-care. I will seek help when I need it. I won’t let the stigma of mental illness win.

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Originally published: February 8, 2017
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