An Open Letter to the Loved Ones of Someone Living with Anxiety & Depression

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.

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2 Responses

  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. 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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