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A Letter From Your Friend With Depression

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Dear Friend,

It’s OK you don’t understand. I don’t hold any grudges. But please do not pity me.

If you made it through childhood, teenage and early adult years without mental illness — I am so happy for you. If you consider some of these times as the best years of your life, I want to hear about it. I am glad you had such great experiences in that part of life.

However, please do not brush off my reality. I understand it may seem uncomfortable and you don’t know how to react. I don’t expect you to know what to do. That’s OK.

Please don’t look at me with pity, or whisper about my past. It’s my reality just as much as yours was.

Just because it isn’t light or full of humor, please don’t brush it aside as anything less than your great times.

I have only briefly mentioned the stuff from those years, often joking about my own illness or the abuse of substances to make it more appealing to others.

Every time I am met with the same awkwardness, and I hesitate to talk about it because it’s not the same life you enjoyed.

I don’t expect you to cover your good parts for me since I didn’t have them. Yet I shy away from a lot of my life, because it isn’t what you want to hear.

I know it may seem like a mood killer; the truth is… you have the faintest clue.

You will never understand the lurking guilt that will stay with me for not passing high school because I could barely keep myself alive. I am happy you will never understand that. I truly am.

You will make comments about when I will I achieve the things you think are normal for my age. My achievements are different.

Your parents are proud of you and your career/education/family etc. Mine are proud I’m alive.

My family takes comfort in the fact they no longer think about if they’ll wake one day to find me dead. They are relieved that I don’t self-harm (even if I relapse, at least I’m not in hospital right?)

They are happy I maintain a stable weight and prioritize my own mental health. They don’t care what job I have, because they at least get to talk to their daughter another day or week.

They are no longer getting calls about their daughter going to the ER for another suicide attempt. Honestly, it’s been so long they may not even think about it anymore. For them for a long time that’s more than they could ever dream of for me.

So please stop pushing your achievements on me; I have fought hard for my own.

I am so happy for every promotion you get, every milestone you meet. But please just because I’m taking a little longer, don’t rush me. I’ll get there.

I’m still learning how to be alive.

I’m still battling more than you know.

I have no bitter feelings towards you. I am proud of you and happy for you.

But please remember if I mention any of this. I am barely scratching the surface of what happened over the years. I was bad.

I’ve felt so unable to say anything about it. Other than the bits I do share, because I know it sucks.

I know most people don’t want to hear the reality of life unless it’s fun and good. I’m sorry mine wasn’t. I’m sorry I don’t have the same fun stories. I’m sorry that whilst you snuck out with your friends, I was overdosing. I’m sorry that as you sat in classes with friends I lay on the bathroom floor trying to find the will to live. I’m sorry that as you got your first job or went to your first concert I was in hospital with my parents unsure I’d walk out.

I’m sorry my past isn’t the fun years you would like to hear about.

I am happy you don’t understand, and I hope you never do.

But please, I feel bad enough. Don’t pity me for it.

– Your friend who is finally happy they survived

Photo by Joshua Sazon on Unsplash

Originally published: February 28, 2020
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