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To Those Who Have Loved Ones With Mental Health Issues

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To whom it may concern,

I know this may be difficult for you to understand, to wrap your head around. You may be wondering how this happened, especially if we weren’t always like this. Maybe you think we do this for attention or out of immaturity. I assure you this is not true. Going through this is not easy for us!

For each of us it’s different; something that somehow triggered this awful feeling — set things in motion. Most of us fight every day to get through this, even if it’s hard to see at times.

We are fighters. While you may think of us as weak and though we may occasionally feel that way, we are actually strong. Every day we get up and try. Even if our steps may appear small, they are important, vital and significant.

Now, you may look at us and wonder, what’s wrong with them? You may see us struggling with the simplest of tasks and wonder why they seem so difficult to us. Trust me when I say, we wonder the same thing.

You may be wondering why I’m writing this letter. I’m writing it to raise awareness. I know this won’t solve everything and I know even after reading this, anxiety and other mental health issues may still seem impossible to understand. The truth is though, whether or not they are understood doesn’t make them any less real or any less scary.

So what can you do to help your loved ones? For starters, you can ask them. We all struggle with different issues, in different ways. Also, a great way to help is to listen and to respect the person who is struggling. You may not truly understand what they go through, but that doesn’t mean you can’t offer a listening ear or your simple respect. In addition, please understand we are just like everyone else and many of us can function quite normally when our anxiety or other mental health issues aren’t active (what I mean by this is that they’re not currently overwhelming). I know for myself, there are many times when I’m quite fine and don’t feel anxious at all. There are other times when I get incredibly anxious.

The most important thing there is to know is that even if you don’t experience the same feelings as your loved ones, you can and should still try to help. Even if you don’t understand how something helps, if it’s not harmful to anybody, why not help? We all need help sometimes, whether it’s because we struggle with mental health issues or not.

So please be kind. Please try to help one another. Please don’t judge what you don’t truly understand. Please, whether you understand what we go through or not, try your hardest to help in a positive way. Thank you!

Follow this journey on Getting Through Anxiety.

Originally published: July 31, 2016
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