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To My College Friends Who Help Me Fight PTSD

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This is definitely not what you signed up for. Sometimes I feel so far from the girl who made you laugh and started a friendship with. Most of the time I don’t even recognize myself and I don’t know who I am anymore — but you do.

• What is PTSD?

Thank you for being strong for me.

When I come into your room in the middle of the night because I can’t fight the anxiety anymore. When my thoughts are racing and I’m in a panic and you sit down and help me talk things through one by one. When I am out of control shaking and believing that I am alone in the trauma and you hold on to me until it all passes. When I’m out of my mind, but you’re still right here. Thank you for being strong for me.

Thank you for forgiving me. 

When my thoughts tell me you’re going to betray me and I shut you out, but you continue get me to talk things out. When I throw things and panic and probably traumatize you some, you wait it out and tell me it’s OK. When I punch you in the leg during a panic attack or accidentally smack you in the face. When you try to help me and I say nasty things because I’m afraid of you just walking out of my life for good.

Thank you for fighting for me.

When other people say I’m too far gone and you keep believing I’m worth it. When I don’t believe I’m ever going to get better and you believe enough for the both of us. When you’re tired and it hurts like hell, but you choose not to give up because you love me. I don’t get it, but I don’t know where I’d be without you.

Thank you for being “normal” with me. 

When I’m feeling just fine. When my anxiety doesn’t have me in a ball on one of our beds and we just laugh. Or when I come out of a panic attack and you tell me about how I corrected you in the middle of it. When we watch YouTube videos, eat ice cream, talk about boys and paint our nails. Thank you for not seeing me as a victim. Thank you for being my friends. When everyone else looks and tilts their heads, you smile and shake yours and we just do life together and it seems so “normal.” Those are the moments that mean everything to me.

Thank you for understanding my weird needs and going out of your way to meet them. 

When I need to have one of you within earshot in public, and you never leave my side. When I have to run out in the middle of class and you carry my backpack to my room and tell the professor that I’m just having a hard day. When I have to sit in the back of pretty much every event and you make sure I’m never alone, even if it means you missing out on being close to the fun. For always having something to say to the people that ask too many questions that is equally kind and private for me. When I can’t handle lots of people and you sit with me at a little table in the dining hall. When I cancel plans that involved an outing and you defend against anyone who might call me a flake.

Thank you for being honest with me. 

You are not my doctor or therapist, but you are the most important people in my life right now. You have become my family — my support system — and one of my biggest fears through all of this is that you will become tired, burnt out and need to walk away. Thank you for telling me when it hurts you. Thank you for crying in front of me and letting me hold you and pray for you too. Thank you for telling me when you need a night off, but are still a phone call away. Thank you for letting me love and support you in the ways that I can. It reminds me that I am still me. When you tell me that my panic attacks are hard on you and we talk about how we can make things better. When you tell me that my anxiety makes you anxious and we talk through it and come up with a plan, when you tell me you’re mad at yourself for getting mad at me during a flashback and we cry together. Thank you for telling me and fighting this with me. Our friendship won’t survive if it’s one sided, so thank you for telling me lovingly how it effects you. I need to know. You are important too.

Thank you for fighting with me.

When it’s all so much and we cry together. When none of us know what to do, but you squeeze my hands and stay with me until we figure out the next step. When you have every reason to walk away, but you tell me that we’re in this together. When we talk down a panic attack or figure out a trigger and you light up with excitement. When I cry because I don’t want this for you, but you remind me that we all have seasons of need and this is my season. This is not what you signed up for. This is not what your dorm life experience should be. I don’t care what anybody says, I do not deserve friends like you, but I am so thankful. Your love reminds me that there is hope. Your joy reminds me of God’s goodness. Your strength and persistence reminds me that life really is worth living. Your hope reminds me that there are good things to come. Your hands and hugs remind me that I’m not alone. Your words remind me that God is faithful. Your prayers bring peace and strength and comfort from our Heavenly Father and a reminder that it really is a gift to be loved. And I am so loved.

Thank you for loving me when I’m hardest to love. I love you too.

Unsplash photo via Ian Dooley

Originally published: April 16, 2018
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