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

      • No – this is not really absurd. This is what a child or even adults get to hear when they are highly-sensitive. The normal sensitives cannot imagine at all how it is if you feel everything so more deeply than them. On the other hand we as highly-sensitive people are sometimes not aware on how normal sensitive people are dealing with stimuli from outside. Everybody of us tend to think that all others feel everything the same.

        So it is unfortunately quite normal that a normal sensitive parent tell its highly-sensitive child that it is “too sensitive” and that it should be strong and that it shouldn’t be so sensitive anymore – BUT: if somebody is highly-sensitive, this characteristic won’t vanish. High-Sensitivity is an innate trait and should be more liked… For the normal sensitive parents more the negative sides of high-sensitivity are aware.

        Anyway it is important that high-sensitivity is known to the people and that everybody understands it at least basically. A lot of things can be explained. Mostly important is it for the HSPs itself that they know they are highly-sensitive. With this knowledge one can be aware of her-/himself and love and also forgive oneself much more easier.

        Cheers,
        Julia

        Like

      • I’ve always been very sensitive. I’d cry to see anyone in pain or to see animals hurt or neglected, I even remember crying at Charlie and the Chocolate Factory when he doesn’t get the golden ticket the second time- now that’s absurd. I knew he would eventually get the ticket or there would be no story! I’m getting emotional just thinking about it and laughing at myself. Unfortunately being highly sensitive opens one up to abusive relationships which encourages solitude over and over… the negativity is just too much.

        Liked by 1 person

      • I follow your reasoning about the “too sensitive” concept! The judgements of sensitivity do seem out of whack to me and not equally applied. I’m yet to hear a parent tell a child “you’re too calloused”. Maybe in that case the parent is too sensitive to tell the child that. It is my opinion that a kid’s basic nature is rightly sensitive and unless they are whiny complainer types, “too sensitive” is not something you want to tell a child. But I do see the dynamic that you speak of. Have a great day! Luka

        Liked by 1 person

  1. Truly inspirational. I can really relate to this. All we have to do is fight back, and keep up enough strength to fight back depression no matter how many days, years, even decades it takes.

    Spread the love- some people aren’t lucky enough to receive it ‘

    Liked by 3 people

  2. Feelings of such immense torment put up so beautifully. I have had my loved one go through this hell…and i agree with each and every word of it. Even i wrote up something the topic. All wishes and prayers for people battling this daemon.

    Liked by 2 people

  3. at times the journey of life can be hard and keep being that way, but accepting it as it goes and forcing a path through is the true inner strength, the way you expressed your words made me feel aomething unique that i never felt before, i was unaware i had an unopened door in my heart

    Liked by 2 people

      • This was epic. A dear friend had been showing me his “pieces” all along, but all I could ever do was keep assembling the puzzle. You have no idea how much effort I put in to understand. I told him, “I’m not leaving you behind” and now I know the true value in what I spoke, at a time when I actually knew very little about this complex issue. In one blog you have bestowed upon me the knowledge I needed to best stand with him because he is worth it. Stronger Together.

        Liked by 1 person

  4. Hi Kirsten – For all your negativity and challenges, you express yourself remarkably well and (I suspect) very candidly. I sincerely hope that your efforts to take care of yourself before others is progressing. All the best. Colin.

    Liked by 1 person

  5. So relateable. I cant tell you how emotional I was getting reading this, this is a an amazing piece of writing and has helped me knowing someone else there can relate to how I feel.

    Liked by 2 people

  6. Reblogged this on Random Pen and commented:
    I think everyone who has felt anxiety or depression, or who knows and loves someone who has — which is pretty much everyone in the world, did you but know, should read this.

    Liked by 1 person

  7. I seriously needed this more than you know. I felt like I was reading something that I’ve been wanting to write. Everything you said, is exactly how I feel. I’m not sure what changed me, or why it’s getting worse now that I’ve been diagnosed with cancer but everyday is a struggle.

    Liked by 3 people

    • It’s no wonder you’re struggling, who could blame you? I can’t imagine how that feels, but I’m so sorry you’re going through it. Make sure to be kind to yourself in every way, and I hope your friends and family can understand and be kind as well.

      Liked by 1 person

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  9. Reblogged this on Anne Skyvington and commented:
    I thought all my difficulties were from childhood trauma, until I realised that it was only part thereof: Some of it was inherited and it was up to me to seek a lasting cure. It’s not always easy to share ,and this is done beautifully.

    Like

  10. Thank you for your wonderful post. I have been in similar situations, having given to much to others and forgetting about myself, until I was too anxious to be around people or talk to anyone. I have spent a lot of time trying to find myself and renew my positivity. I hope you are able to do this as well, to heal, and get back out there. And the friends that are still waiting when you get back, those are the keepers. Best of luck.

    Liked by 2 people

  11. Whilst I may not have gone though it myself, this has helped me understand a friend of mine who has and so I thank you because I was confused about why she did what she did when I was trying to help but I know now that people should be their own first priority especially in these situations.
    Very insightful!

    Liked by 2 people

  12. Wow, this is so powerful, so true. Since losing my little boy I’ve desperately struggled with coping with anything, I find talking online to strangers or people I’ve never met easier than the curious questions of those closest to me. My response always to how are you ‘don’t worry what it’s like walking a mile in my shoes, try being in my head for one day’.

    Like

    • I’m so sorry for your loss. I know it’s different, but I really struggled losing my sister. I tried to have jobs or go out but anything reminding me of a sister or a mother (as she was a bit like a mother to me) would set me off and I’d cry everywhere. I’ve experienced other losses similar to losing a child, but I can’t imagine what you’re going through. All I can offer is an intention of a comforting hug. Internet strangers are no doubt easier to converse with than people closer to us, maybe because there’s less expectation and judgement (in the right places). I sincerely wish you peace with your grief, but don’t be ashamed or afraid to cry as often as you feel the need. Sometimes we need it.

      Liked by 1 person

  13. Thank you for this. It’s close to home and will be remembered. I’ve come to know this rawness so acutely lately that it seems to be the only time I can comfortably take a well needed disconnected breath… After the fact of course.

    Liked by 2 people

  14. Pingback: Jaakko Saari | Kirsten Young on Depression

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