Imagine letting people into your life. Letting your guard down. Letting yourself become vulnerable.
Imagine spending so much time with these people that you finally decide to let them know about the monsters in your closet; your mental illnesses.
Now, imagine having faith that what you’ve revealed won’t change anything, but then watch these people slowly fade out of your life one by one.
That’s the reality of watching people give up on you. The primary problem here is that they don’t understand. They say they do; they seem like they grasp the concept, but in reality, they don’t at all.
They don’t understand what it’s like to live your struggles. In their eyes, you’re not trying hard enough. They’ve given you a moment, a day, a week and you should be better by now. You’re so negative. Why can’t you just look at the bright side of things? Why can’t you just stop worrying about things that make you anxious?
The truth is that I think these things myself. I’m not patient with myself. I see the effort that I’m putting in; I see the how hard I am working; I see the time I’m spending. Yet, I’m not seeing any results and it makes me wonder if things are ever going to get better. Why haven’t things gotten better?
But what makes it worse? Watching you give up on me.
I’ve watched friends slowly dip out of my life. They avoid texting me. They quit inviting me out. My Snapchats go unanswered. Seeing this makes it even harder to fight it. Don’t they understand how hard it was for me to admit my illnesses to them? How much strength did it take to tell them that I wasn’t okay? To try to seem like I was pulling myself together as I went through the hells and horrors of finding a medication that worked for me?
I’ve watched my coworkers slowly cut me less and less slack. They gave me a day off and that should be enough, but it’s not. I’m grateful for the help I’ve received from them, but sometimes, it isn’t enough. Depression and anxiety aren’t something that goes away by staying in bed for a day.
It makes people uncomfortable. I don’t know why because they’re not the ones who are living their lives trying to power through each day as people watch on in pity. I don’t want your pity. I’m not fragile. I don’t need you to babysit me. I didn’t ask you to carry my baggage for me. I just want your support. I want you to tell me that you love me; that you’re here for me. And I want you to mean it.
Being friends with someone with a mental illness is no different than being friends with someone who doesn’t have one. The only difference is that sometimes, you need to be a little bit more supportive when it matters and sometimes, you need to try a little harder to understand someone other than yourself.
I’m extremely grateful for the ones who have stuck by my side through thick and thin, and not just when it’s convenient for them. To them, I say this: thank you. Ask me questions. Talk to me. Don’t treat me like I’m fragile but also don’t act like my illness isn’t there. Educating yourself about it is the most important thing you could do for our relationship. Your friendship and support mean the world to me.
And what I have to say to those who’ve given up on me? I hope you never in your life have to experience mental illness firsthand. And if you do, I hope you find the support in others that I couldn’t find in you. Because it feels so shitty to watch people give up on you and I wouldn’t wish it on anyone.