An Open Letter to the Friend Who’s Always Been There
I'm writing this after a rough couple weeks being stuck inside my aching head.
Mental illness is no joke. Not many understand it—let alone stand by their friends who live with it. I understand this, because it can be super hard, frustrating and unfair at times to do so. I'm sorry if I’ve been unfair to you. I know you’re busy with work and family and you’re under no obligation to a person you rarely see anymore. But I want to thank you for “getting it” and for still being there for me from afar—to listen, to see past my brain and to recognize the person I am inside that is fighting.
I reach out to you more when I’m spiraling, so you may not know everything that’s going on in my life. But just knowing that you’re in my corner and that you don't judge me is beyond helpful.
I know that sometimes I'm not rational and a couple times in the past, I’ve been unkind to you. This breaks my heart because that isn't who I am and nobody who’s just trying to help deserves to be treated poorly. The best way I can explain those irrational moments would be… to have you think of a person who has a physical, chronic illness that suddenly flares up. They can't help that things got worse, but after they get back to baseline, they’ll still feel guilty and as if they were a burden to others.
I always feel guilty when I’m unkind to you, as well. I beat myself up because I despise what my anxiety and depression can do to me. But it hurts more thinking about what it can do to others—to you. The truth is: Even though I'm doing better overall, I still have an illness, which means I’ll still have flare ups in which I don't feel well for a while. But I promise I will always apologize when I'm out of line, and I will try to grow from each experience.
I have said thank you countless times before (to you and a few special others), but this time I need to add to it. It can take incredible strength, courage and commitment to stand by a person with mental illness and to love them for who they are.
So while I fight an internal battle, I wanted to tell you that I am glad there are people like you who help me fight. I don’t ever want to get so lost in my own struggle that I am not a good friend to you in return. I never want to fail to acknowledge or thank you for your support.
Thank you for holding me up when I had no strength.
Thank you for catching me when I felt like falling.
Thank you for not giving up on me.
I know that you can’t always be there, as you should take care of yourself first. But please don’t forget the difference you have made over the years. You have inspired me. You have taught me that I am worthy and worth fighting for. And it often doesn’t take much more than a few words from you to keep me afloat when I feel like I’m drowning.
You once said that you were proud of me and my commitment to recovery. I want to tell you that I am also proud of your commitment to being kind and helping others—to helping me.
I am blessed to call you my friend.
Jennifer Pellecchia is a wife, mother, fitness professional, and artist. A life-long Jersey girl, she planks for mental health awareness wherever she goes and hopes to change the world one plank at a time.
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