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To Loved Ones Who Feel Helpless Watching Me Struggle With Mental Illness

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Dear mom, dad, sister, brother, grandma, grandpa, aunt, uncle, cousin, husband, wife, son, daughter, best friend, girlfriend, boyfriend and acquaintances,

I know you see me suffering. I know it’s obvious. I know you notice when I stop eating, when I have marks on my body, when I don’t leave my room, when I can’t stomach food because my anxiety is so high or when I engage in self-destructive behaviors. I know you notice all these things, because who wouldn’t?

I know you walk on egg shells around me because you don’t know what will push me over the edge. It bothers me just as much as it bothers you that I’m so unpredictable. I know you wonder how you can help me. I know you wonder when I’ll get “better.” I know you wonder how long my moods will last. I know you wonder about what I am doing, who I’m with and if I’ll be safe. I know you wonder if you’ll have to bury me too early — I wonder the same things, too. I wonder what life would be like if you and me both did not have to wonder these things at all.

But I believe we were put in these circumstances for a reason. We may not understand what that reason is just yet, but our time will come, have faith. Faith is the only thing keeping me going. It can be a life-saver, literally. There has been many times where I didn’t think I could continue the fight, and the only thing that kept me going was the ounce of faith instilled in me. Faith can help you, too.

Please be patient with me. I’m fragile and afraid of what the world has in store for me, just as fearful as you are. I may make mistakes. I may piss you off and make you want to snap; I may have some really bad days, but please never leave me.

I need you. I need your support, love and affection. I need someone to pick up the pieces when I fall apart because let’s be honest, that happens quite frequently. I need you to never give up on me because sometimes I give up on myself. I need you to love me on those tough days I can’t love myself.

Warning: There will be many of those days.

I know it’s frustrating to watch me wallow in my sadness and I know you may feel like I’m doing nothing to help myself, but my mental illness can be emotionally and physically debilitating. I hope you can understand that. Sometimes I try to help myself and it fails. I need support and I need help. I cannot do this alone.

And that’s where you come in.

Please try not to put me down. Have patience with me when I can’t comprehend the advice you’re trying to give me. Please give me the space I need, then smother me with love. Please get me the professional help I may need whether I want it or not. Please listen to me with open ears even if you’ve heard it a million times, take what I’m saying seriously and never doubt the power of mental illness.

Thank you. Thank you for noticing I’m suffering and thank you for caring. I know it’s not easy to watch me suffer, destroy myself and sometimes even my life, but if you’ve stuck by my side I appreciate it more than you know. If I don’t say it enough, I love you and could not battle the demon that is mental illness without you. You are truly a special person for sticking by my side and handling my worst days. Thank you for sitting with me while I finish a meal. Thank you for bandaging up my self-harm wounds. Thank you for locking up all the things in my house I could possibly use to harm myself or others. Thank you for visiting me in the psych ward when I know it can be a terrifying place. Thank you for calming me down when the voices in my head were never ending. But most importantly, thank you for being a shoulder to cry on and for having open ears.

If you haven’t stuck by me, I’m sorry you could not handle the deck of cards I was given. I’m sorry for all the pain I may have caused you. I never wanted to hurt anybody so if I hurt you, and I apologize. I’m sorry you will not be by my side to experience the greater things life has in store for me. I hope you know it hurt me deeply when you left. I will forever wonder what I did to deserve the pain of abandonment, and I will never understand why or how someone could give up on me like you did. I hope life treats you well, and that you never have to experience the pain I went through when you left.

Shoutout to all the moms, dads, sisters, brothers, grandmas, grandpas, aunts, uncles, cousins, husbands, wives, sons, daughters, best friends, girlfriends, boyfriends and acquaintances who are sticking by someone suffering from a mental illness.

You guys truly are the stars that light up our dark skies.

If you or someone you know needs help, please visit the National Suicide Prevention Lifeline. You can also reach the Crisis Text Line by texting “START” to 741-741. Head here for a list of crisis centers around the world.

The Crisis Text Line is looking for volunteers! If you’re interesting in becoming a Crisis Counselor, you can learn more information here.

Originally published: March 3, 2016
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