An Open Letter to the Loved Ones of Someone Living with Anxiety & Depression3 min read

I am a func­tional 8.

You know the pain scale? I am the little face with the wrin­kled up, inward-facing eye­brows and the frown with a hint of scowl. I’m not crying yet, but I sure as hell feel like it. It hurts, a whole lot.

I am not speaking of phys­ical afflic­tion, though my body has enough woes of its own. Today, I am talking about my mind. My pre­sumed lack of sero­tonin seems to be made up for by an end­less source of adren­a­line on tap. I am sad, deep down to my bones, and I don’t really know why.

All I can tell you is that life feels heavy, and I am improp­erly equipped. I always seem to be falling short some­where: in my work, in my mar­riage, in my moth­er­hood, and onward. I have an inces­sant need to fix my short­com­ings, and so cues the adren­a­line.

My ner­vous system makes no dif­fer­en­ti­a­tion between a car crash and an argu­ment. When some­thing goes wrong, it is there to help at full force. This adren­a­line rush rarely ever helps, though, and often makes things much, much worse. 

I feel com­pelled to do something–anything– RIGHT. NOW! It is as if I have the emer­gent need to solve a 2000-piece jigsaw puzzle with expert pre­ci­sion and speed, but instead I sling half the pieces across the room. As the pieces scatter, my need to com­plete the pic­ture increases two-fold, while my adrenaline-fueled panic pre­vents any actual progress.

So, I am anx­ious because I am depressed, and I am depressed because I am anx­ious. I am exhausted from the effort of pro­cessing all of these feel­ings and trying not to run off the rails. Sometimes I wish I had a vice to dull the pain; I wish I used alcohol or hard drugs or pre­scrip­tions to take the edge off. Because, it is just so loud in here. I want it to quiet down, just for a while. I am com­pletely spent from the effort of trying to want to stay alive.

Perhaps this sounds dra­matic and attention-seeking; and I sup­pose it truly is, but these are facts none the less. I know I am high-strung and morose and chron­i­cally dif­fi­cult to manage, but I am trying so damn hard. I am doing the absolute best that I can.

I could really use sup­port. I would ben­efit from val­i­da­tion. I want to be told that I am suf­fi­cient and worthy and loved without con­di­tions. I long to be accepted and cared for, even when my good face is slip­ping.

Because, I am more than my depres­sion, anx­iety, and sen­sory over­load. I have so much to offer beyond short­com­ings. I am resilient as hell. I know how to per­se­vere and feel hope in the midst of tur­moil.

I can be happy even when I am sad and there is some­thing to be said for that. I empathize deeply and love without bounds. I am a good person, both despite of and because of my faulty brain.

I ask that you be gentle. I ask that you be kind. I ask that you look for and acknowl­edge my effort. I func­tion much better when I feel it is accept­able to struggle. I recover much more quickly when reas­sured that I am good enough even as I despair.

I do not expect per­fec­tion. I do not want anyone fix me or carry the weight of my prob­lems on their shoul­ders. But, I would love for someone to acknowl­edge my burden and tell me I am strong enough to lift it on my own.

I ask for more sup­port than the average person. I need more sup­port than the average person. But, I am willing to give more as well. Please help me to rec­og­nize my good­ness, so I can sup­port, love, and partner with you at my full poten­tial.


  1. This is beau­ti­fully written and it is a remark­ably accu­rate reflec­tion of much of my own expe­ri­ence. It’s reas­suring and com­forting to know that there are others whose expe­ri­ences are sim­ilar to my own. Thank you for having the courage to share.

    1. Author

      Thank you so much for responding and for your kind words. It means a lot to me to be helpful to someone.

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