A Letter of Regret From Your Anxious and Depressed Friend

Dear Friend,

I was not always this way.

I did not always hide away from the general public for months or weeks at a time. Once I was quite confident. I occasionally felt happy. I had a full time job and I could face customers with no concern. I would chat to people over the phone, make an effort to see friends, be interested in daily life. I could cope with negativity. Overcome it, even. I wouldn’t let anything bring me down because I had something inside me that made me keep going out there, into the world, facing it all.

But sometimes, Friend, things happen. Sometimes just one thing. Sometimes many things. The courage to face these things is strong at first, at least stronger than now. But depending on luck, or coincidence, or fate, or opportunity, eventually the voice of that courage for some people is quieter. Weaker. And sometimes, silenced completely.

It is not your fault these things happened. And if you hear the tales of what they were, you will likely hold an opinion in your head of what could have been done or said as a result to resolve the issue. But your experience in this life is not the same as mine, Friend. No matter what we have in common, we can never share the exact same perception. Please make sure not to confuse your perception with mine. We are different.

Sometimes I need a break from people. Usually the people who I don’t yet know completely, but like, and with whom I want to hold some kind of friendship. I’m already tired of feeling anxious and sad and don’t want you to grow tired of me feeling anxious and sad. I’m sure you care and would be happy for me to confide in you, but I’ve confided in friends before and been burned and heartbroken in return. I can’t bring myself to take that kind of risk again.

I’m afraid I won’t be good company. I’m afraid I’ll burden you with my emotions which I don’t feel would be fair on you. I have heard of your struggles too, Friend, and would like to help you, but I can’t. I take all struggles as if they were my own and my load is already far too heavy. Sometimes my whole world is devoid of any good news, and any conversation we could have would be very quiet on my behalf. All I can really do is listen, because if I speak I might burst into tears. But I don’t feel strong enough to pretend to be holding myself together right now, so I’d just rather not.

I’m sorry you feel I’ve been avoiding you. You see me comment on social media but I ignore your messages. This is because commenting on social media is usually not personal. It’s a distraction. It’s a way to have adult conversation without the spotlight being on me. I can do it in my pyjamas without having done my face to look like I’m prettier than I feel on the inside. I don’t run much risk of having to answer the question “How are you?”

…because I don’t want to lie to you. That would make me feel anxious when I’m already feeling anxious. I don’t believe in lying to people, especially people I care about. I don’t want to fake a smile, tell you I’m fine, and divert your questions while screaming inside how I’m anything but fine.

You may see me posting an update about a group I went to, or am going to go to. Maybe inviting someone along. But I still haven’t answered your messages. This does not mean I’m feeling better and have purposely skipped you. This doesn’t mean you did anything wrong. My doctor told me to do things in the community so I don’t completely shut myself off. This is what I’m trying to do. I’m trying to get myself back into the habit of being seen in public for something other than to run a quick errand. I’m trying to quell the self-talk in my head that tells me everyone hates me and thinks I’m weird. Sometimes when I meet new people and they smile at me, I think that perhaps I’m not all that strange. “I can do this… I can do this…” I say to myself.

You see, Friend, with a head full of thoughts like mine, there is no invisible ticket machine. In a perfect world I would answer all messages and requests in order, and you’d be able to know when I’m going to call your number. But that’s not how this works. There is no ticket, no number, and if I can’t shut off the feelings inside me, I might never get to you. Or I could respond to you tomorrow. I really have no way of knowing.

To expect that I give you attention specifically is just unrealistic, and I’m sorry. I regret that the nature of this beast is not one where I can gain complete control whenever I want to, and give all the people all the attention they want or deserve. You may be lonely too, and I’m sorry. But I’m training myself to take care of myself and my needs, and to give myself all the attention I deserve, because that’s what is supposed to help me recover, or at least cope.

Part of the reason I got into this mess is because I put everyone else’s needs before mine. And they took, and took, and took some more until there was nothing left, because I was so willing to give. I regret being so naïve. I love to see people happy, but I forget that I need to be happy first. You might not be one of those people of whom I speak, but that’s unfortunately irrelevant. I can’t handle any of it yet.

Maybe we struck a friendship during a time when socialising wasn’t so daunting. Maybe you think it’s totally uncharacteristic of me to be silent and surely you must have caused offense. But Friend, understand that this condition is unpredictable and the best thing you can do is just wait.

There is no forcing a friendship with me. I need time. I’m grieving that part of me that no longer exists and that bright future I thought I was going to have.

As part of my anxious predicament I’m regretting so many things. Things that are long since dead and buried, things that happened yesterday… The way I reacted to something, the person I shouldn’t have trusted but did, the thing I said that surely must’ve made me look like an idiot. The fact that I feel this way in the first place. The fact that I can’t make it stop. The fact that I’m hurting my friends by accident by apparently turning my back on them. The fact that I don’t have the strength to be what my loved ones need any more. The fact that I can’t talk to you about this in person because it’s too hard. The fact that I can’t have friends because I can’t talk to my friends and therefore none of them can begin to understand why it’s hard for me to keep friends. The fact that I am so alone I don’t know when I’ll ever be less alone. The fact that there are people depending on me that deserve better than for me to be so afraid of so many things that I can hardly function.

I’m trying, Friend, and I’m so sorry if you’re hurt by me. If you want to walk away I understand, but please do not convey to me the disappointment that I’m not what you want me to be, because I’ve got enough disappointment in myself for the both of us. Just send me positive thoughts as much as you can spare in the hopes that maybe, one day, I’ll be on the other side of this, and I’ll be so grateful that you were so patient and understanding. When that day comes I will be able to call you a ‘Great Friend.’

Sincerely,

A Nervous Wreck


Read Why I Chose to Speak Out.

For more understanding on anxiety attacks from my own personal story, click here.

Read about The “Mental” Stigma here. 

Read Where I’m Going With This here.

Help end ignorance. Help make this world one of greater understanding and compassion.

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596 thoughts on “A Letter of Regret From Your Anxious and Depressed Friend

  1. Pingback: The “Mental” Stigma | talkingthisandthat

  2. Get up every day & do your best. No one should expect more of you than that. If only everyone did the world would be a better place.
    People are hard work & complex. People drain us & we drain them back.
    We all want our lives to be good. But we’ve all been given a cross to carry. Some crosses are heavier than others.
    Don’t try & impress anyone, Just be yourself.

    Liked by 20 people

  3. Pingback: A Letter of Regret From Your Anxious and Depressed Friend | Cosmolology

  4. Thank you so much for this. You have helped me understand even more why my very special friend doesn’t reply to many of my messages, yet reassures me sometimes that they are welcome! Also reassured me to forget any hurt I feel, I finally understand it’s not a personal rejection. Thank you so much.x

    Liked by 13 people

  5. Dear Kirsten,

    A friend of mine just sent me this article to read. I went through it, and then paused, and looked within myself to find this sense of calm that someone else out there was able to so beautifully express how I feel and yet this fear, realizing just how true and weighted every single word in this article is.

    Thank you for this. Thank you for writing this and expressing this in a way that must have taken everything inside of you to do. Thank you for your courage. And thank you for sharing this with all of us, to help us help ourselves by helping our friends understand. I assure you, my words do not do justice to my gratitude.

    Truly indebted to you.

    Godspeed!

    Liked by 12 people

  6. Thank you SO much! I was crying my eyes out when I read this, because all of this is so true. I feel like I could hug you. I finally know how to explain it all to the people close to me now.

    Liked by 11 people

  7. Wow, this brought me to tears! I’ve had depression and anxiety for a long, long time and am going through a blip at the minute. This helps, in some way, it really helps. We may feel alone when we are ill or in a blip, but we’re never really alone, as there are so many of us experiencing much the same thing. If only more friends and family, on the other side, could read and absorb this. A huge weight would then lift, I believe. Thank you xxx

    Liked by 11 people

  8. You nailed it. This is so insightful. I’m sure it will help loads of people, sufferers and friends alike. Also I followed you on Instagram. No idea why, I don’t even use it anymore. So if you’re puzzled / mildly alarmed that some random starting following you, I hope this clears things up. Again, thanks, what a great piece of writing.

    Liked by 7 people

  9. This was posted on facebook by the Time to Talk mental health group.

    I read it and cried. I re-read it and cried again. I’ve re-read it so many times today it’s unbelievable.

    You my sweet hit home so hard with me. Your perfect writing could be about me, but written in a way I never could.

    I saved the link and thought about nothing else all day. Late today I got the guts to write something to my facebook friends and attached a link to your blog. I was scared. So very scared of what my friends or aquatencies might say or comment, as they were about to discover something about me I myself could never put into words or talk to them about.

    I told them I didn’t want sympathy or for them to comment or to indeed hurt them, but felt it was time they understood me the way I am today. There was no need. I asked only of them to read your blog to be able to understand me as I am today. I am not the cheeky confident party guy I once was and this is me today.

    The few that did respond either thanked me for having the guts to post your blog, or totally got me finally. A few even reposted as like you and I, could never talk about this.

    I have nothing but huge praise for you for writing this amazing blog.

    I hope that one day you will be able to cope as I wish for myself.

    For now. A huge virtual hug and bucket loads of respect and admiration.

    With much love.

    Gavin

    Liked by 12 people

      • Today you have changed my world.

        I asked….no told my partner to read this. After 8 years together, he knew nothing of how I feel or understood me fully.

        You have opened his eyes too, as well as to a lot of my friends. The comments are still coming in.

        Tomorrow is a new day. I hope the sun shines on us all xx

        Liked by 9 people

  10. Heartfelt thanks for expressing so perfectly how I’ve been feeling for a while now.

    Depression or anxiety are bad enough in isolation, but I think having both is emotional paralysis. I’m sorry that you feel this way, but it gives me reassurance that I’m not the only one.

    Thankyou for sharing your courageous piece of writing. I’m forwarding it to all my friends as the first step in asking for their patience X

    Liked by 9 people

  11. At times I have felt the same but have struggled to put it into words as elegantly as you. I feel guilty about pushing friends away when I am hurting but those that are genuine understand and let you have that time and are there when you want them and the best thing is you don’t have to ask or say anything they just know. Focus on you at this time and when you are ready then look around and see your support network as it will be there. Take care

    Liked by 7 people

  12. Thank you so much for this, I feel like this speaks true of how my childhood friend is living. I feel that I understand all her ways better now than before.

    Liked by 7 people

  13. Thank you for this. You phrased it so well and it speaks so true to myself. Your writing has helped me a lot. I will not feel so guilty thinking im being a ‘bad’ friend and I will not feel guilty taking time for myself to get better. It’s a shame I couldn’t explain this to all my past friends, old childhood friends who have since drifted away. I’m sharing this with my current friends so to help them understand and not leave this time.
    … And as cheesy as it sounds, I feel like it’s ‘fate’ that bought me here. I needed that push to get myself sorted and here you are, so once again thank you, you have helped me tremendously!
    Xxx

    Liked by 7 people

    • That’s great to hear. As ‘fate’ would have it, just over a week ago I was feeling like a total nothing, like I was wasting all my skills and life lessons. Then something in me said “You know what? I’m just gonna do it, start my own blog.” And I’m glad I did, glad it got to you, and so glad it’s made a difference. Even if you had only ever been the only one, that would have been enough.

      Liked by 3 people

  14. First of all, thank you, thank you, thank you for reading my mind during my dark days and somehow putting all of the colors and emotions into words. I have extroverted friends that are a blessing to me, because they try very hard to understand me. But it’s very hard to explain the proverbial roller-coaster ride to someone that doesn’t ride one. My younger days were definitely different than now. I tried hard to be sociable, to be extroverted, to be able to “do” things with others and “enjoy life”. This post is beautifully written to prove that being who I really am is so much more beneficial to my own health, and makes ME a blessing to my friends as well. I’m no longer a burden because I’m not forcing myself to be something I’m not, and not suppressing my emotions that eventually made me a walking emotional time-bomb (that no one dared to mention).

    The one part I can’t say applies to me is this one:
    “You may see me posting an update about a group I went to, or am going to go to. Maybe inviting someone along. But I still haven’t answered your messages. This does not mean I’m feeling better and have purposely skipped you. This doesn’t mean you did anything wrong.”
    There is nothing wrong with it, but personally if I need to avoid people, I’m avoiding everyone except my close family. But that’s just me. And that’s ok. It’s ok to be me.

    I’m in the process of redoing my blog, and the Dark Place made me ignore it for a long while. But I’d like to reblog it… https://sakurablossom25.wordpress.com/. (It’s been so long I can’t remember how to do a link on someone else’s post.)

    Liked by 10 people

    • There’s a “reblog” button that looks like arrows in a loop.
      Thanks for your words, I’m so glad my piece has helped you in some way. Try “Being Grounded” as well, which talks about being kind, being gentle, and being forgiving toward ourselves and our needs.
      I look forward to reading your blog when you’ve got it back up.

      Liked by 2 people

  15. Pingback: With Love, from The Dark Place | Love You Big As Sky

  16. Pingback: A Letter of Regret From Your Anxious and Depressed Friend | The Saudi Expat

  17. Don’t worry about your depression and anxiety. Where I live people have severe psychological issue. You don’t, you just worry too much. My neighbors never leave their apartments and they haven’t slept in several months, naturally sleep deprivation causes severe psychological issues.

    Liked by 4 people

  18. thank you for being so vulnerable in front of this community! Its not easy to expose the hardest battles that one has to face, and for some reason I relate to this piece of writing. Thank you for being open and allowing others to realize that they are not alone.

    Liked by 7 people

  19. I grew up in a family with depression and bipolar disorder as family traits. It was nice to read such a poetic explanation of the low points of this kind of life. We know no other way of being and though we give each other a great deal of support as a family, it is nice to know there are others out there. I read several of your posts today and look forward to more.

    Liked by 6 people

  20. Powerful words so eloquently expressed. I have been down the very road you write about and it can be very dark and lonely. I am happy to say I have emerged on the other side and it is a pretty decent place. I now recognize the signs of the very slippery slope I can sometimes feel myself going down and work on early intervention strategies to stay on the right side of the road. Doesn’t always work but seems to shorten the duration of my stay.

    I applaud you for courage and thank you for writing the words I sometimes want to scream. All my best to you.

    Liked by 10 people

  21. Pingback: A Letter of Regret From Your Anxious and Depressed Friend | Explore America with Kids

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