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To the Friends I Haven't Told About My Anxiety and Depression

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To start off, I would like to apologize. For the weeks that go by when I won’t talk to you. For all the messages, snapchats and phone calls I’ve ignored in the past and for all that I will in the future. I’m sorry I can hardly commit to making plans outside of school. I’m sorry I have the tendency to be really quiet and secluded for extended periods of time. I’m sorry what I do makes you question our relationship and whether I like you or not. I am sorry what I do or don’t do can be extremely confusing, and I never seem to explain it to your satisfaction. I am sorry I always dodge the real reason or float around an actual answer. Most days, I’m just sorry I am me.

I want you to know it isn’t because I don’t trust you or care about you. I either care too much or I’m too scared of saying it out loud to your face and seeing your reaction. I like you too much to scare you away. I know most of you will never fully understand, try as you might. I don’t want to hurt you, to cause you trouble, make you worry more or put more on your already full plate. I care about you, and part of caring is protecting — protecting you from the real me, the one behind the carefully constructed mask, who takes so much energy to hold and maintain. I am also ashamed of who I really. I can’t ever seem to truly get it together, no matter what it might seem like to you.

I may be getting better, but I’ve still got a long way to go. I regularly see a psychologist and I have medication to help, but learning to cope and manage is a long process. I tell you all this because I trust you. I trust you will take this information and process it. I have waited until I am mostly sure you won’t run screaming in the other direction.

If you hadn’t already figured it out, I live with severe anxiety, of almost every kind, and depression. I was officially diagnosed with generalized anxiety disorder (GAD) in sixth grade and depression in 11th. Please, know I am generally better than I was last year, but my state of being fluctuates daily and lows can still last weeks.

I won’t go too far into specifics, but here is an outline of my life: On the good days, I get small bursts of real happiness. I’m not plagued by the endless thoughts running through my head so fast I can never make sense of them and I get to sleep. These are the days I’m not too quiet and not too sleepy. I actually smile on these days. On normal days, I’m OK. I don’t really feel anything too strongly. I worry about practically everything for at least a minute in the day. I average five hours of sleep on these days. I may be feeling slightly depressed, but it’s nothing I can’t handle. Fake smiles are common.

Really bad days are the days when I am either in the middle of an anxiety attack or close to one. I am completely secluded. I likely won’t talk or smile much at all. Now, these “good,” “normal,” and “really bad” days are a generalization. My days can fall anywhere in between. At my worst so far, I have spent countless hours trying to come up with the best way to end it all.

I could write millions of words trying to explain every last detail of what life is like for me, but I’ve found there are some people who are able to explain it better than I ever would be able to. So basically, what I really want to say in this long-winded letter is I do actually care about you. I value your friendship, the time you spend with me, the effort you put into getting to know me and trying to make sure I am OK. I am so thankful for you, don’t ever think otherwise.

Even just staying with me, not saying anything, can be all I need. Hugs are always appreciated. Please, don’t try to relate. Don’t say, “I understand” if you really don’t. “I know” is comforting. It lets me know you recognize how I’m feeling, but you won’t try to fix it.

Please, don’t pity me. Don’t look at me or treat me like I may break at any moment. If I am going to break, then you will know. I can be a very difficult person to understand. Most of the time, I wear a mask. The times I really reveal my true self are few and far between.

I don’t write to you because I want you to treat me differently. I just want you to be aware. I want you to know a little more about me because I know lots about you, but you really don’t know much about me.

Image via Thinkstock.

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

If you need support right now, call the Suicide Prevention Lifeline at 1-800-273-8255. You can reach the Crisis Text Line by texting “START” to 741-741.

Originally published: September 7, 2016
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