I recently received a beautiful comment on this blog. An anonymous support person wrote a letter that was much more powerful than anything I could write trying to understand that point of view. Thus, I wanted to share this letter from a family member or friend of a person struggling with mental illness. Hopefully, it will touch you as much as it impacted me.
Plus, if you ever have something that you want to bring to my attention or think that I should share, let me know in a comment. I cannot promise to always blog it. However, know that I am open to hearing your voice and what you would like to see more of on this blog.
Dear loved one, family member, or beloved friend,
My name does not matter, but what I have to say does. Over the years I have watched you painfully struggle with your silent battles and juggle every label doctors hand you. I have tried to be by your side and I have not been perfect. I had no idea what you were going through, even though I tried to understand.
Really, I did.
I read countless articles on depression, bipolar disorder, anxiety, eating disorders and every related article under the sun. I have studied opinions from psychiatrists, psychologists and medical professionals. I have spent hours reading blogs written by people claiming to be in your shoes. I have prayed for you on many long, sleepless nights and I have cried for you more times than I can recall. I have read all the studies and heard all the analogies about how what you are going through can be like an invisible broken leg. Really, I have tried.
The truth is, I know that I still don’t always get it. In fact, I know you are very patient with me as I stumble around trying to help. I know that I have said stupid things and failed to think before I carelessly release my thoughts and opinions without realizing how they could make your battles more difficult. Even now, I stumble and question writing these very words because I want every word to build you up and not break you down. Thank you for forgiving me each time I fail to support you in the way that you need… I try because, as far as I can tell, support is what we loved ones are supposed to do.
I want you to know that I don’t do it out of pity. I don’t do it out of a feeling of duty or obligation. I don’t do it because I would feel guilty if I ignored you.
I do it because I not only love you, but I LIKE you. The truth is that I genuinely like you as a person. You are really fun to hang out with. You are funny, charming, and make me laugh. You are intelligent and witty and make me think. You are beautiful, graceful and talented. You are brave and strong and you inspire me. You are patient and forgiving and you challenge me. You remind me that I am not perfect and you remind me that it is ok to struggle.
Because, honestly, I want to be more like you. I wish I knew that I could have that kind of strength and perseverance. I wish I could inspire people like you do. I wish I could do for other people what you did for me. You remind me what it means to be human living up to our fullest potential: GREATNESS despite the brokenness.
I love you. I know that you know that. I am here for you, I hope that you know that. But what I need you to know above all is that I AM SO THANKFUL for you. Without you, I would not be the person I am today. Your life has shaped my life and I could never thank you enough for letting me (try to) support you and most of all, to be your friend and loved one.
Please continue to be patient with me; I am only human. But please know that you are one of the greatest gifts the Lord has ever given me and I wouldn’t trade our relationship for anything in the world! I love you!
All my love,
A Support Person