Written by Ellen Scott
Originally published metro.co.uk (Monday 10 Apr 2017 7:39 am)
Since I’ve started being honest about my mental health, I’ve noticed that my relationships have changed – mostly for the better.
There’s more trust there. We’re able to talk about bigger things. Now that I’ve opened up, the people around me have started to open up, too.
And it’s made me think about how much time I’ve spent being not-the-best friend when I wasn’t open about what I was dealing with (meaning depression, anxiety, panic attacks, and obsessive thoughts).
I want to say sorry. I’m sorry for all the times I didn’t message you back because I overthought a response, then decided that ignoring you entirely would make you hate me less than taking a few hours to send a text.
(Picture: Ella Byworth for Metro.co.uk)
I’m sorry I declined your calls, scared to reveal that yes, you had woken me up, because I’m still in bed at 3pm on a Sunday.
I’m sorry I backed out of plans at the last minute because after getting ready much too early, my anxiety jumped in to remind me of all the dangers outside my house.
I’m sorry for lying, for covering things up, for pretending I had food poisoning or other commitments. Some other stuff I don’t feel proud of:
All the times I pushed you away because I didn’t want you to notice that I wasn’t being myself.
The times I got angry for no reason, was irritable, and decided the easiest option was to cut you out of my life instead of letting you in.
(Picture: Ella Byworth for Metro.co.uk)
The moments I wasn’t 100% invested in our conversations, when my attention wandered as you told me what’s been going on – because I was too busy thinking about what a rubbish person I was and obsessing over mess-ups.
The times I let myself drift because I didn’t feel like I could keep up with the rest of you, going out, going for runs in the morning, working on stuff together.
I felt embarrassed.
Ashamed that the simplest things suddenly felt impossible, that my brain wasn’t a safe place for me to be anymore, that I was scared of turned on light switches, open doors, footsteps behind me.
I’m sorry for doubting that you’d understand. I’m sorry that my brain told me I couldn’t trust you or rely on you, that telling you would what was happening would be a mistake.
That’s the thing about depression – it becomes your biggest secret and your closest friend, and pushes everyone else away in the process.
Depression hides the person people know and love. It makes you irritable, withdrawn, suddenly uninterested in all the things you used to get excited about.
It tells you that you don’t deserve friends and loved ones, and makes you believe that if you were to tell anyone your thoughts, they’d recoil in horror.
That’s why actually opening up and being honest – which is a big part of being a good friend, if you didn’t know – feels so f***ing scary.
(Picture: Erin Aniker for Metro.co.uk)
You’re scared that they’ll reject you. That they’ll say something pushes you over the edge.
Trusting someone with your biggest, heaviest secret gives them power: to hurt you or help you get better.
To avoid that, I pushed people away.
I became a good actress.
I said I was fine, that something had come up when you asked to spend time together, I made sure to stick to ‘safe’ topics when we talked so I wouldn’t let things slip. I wasn’t a good friend because I wasn’t being myself. I wasn’t letting people in.
And I’m sorry about that, because it wrecked a lot of friendships, made me miss out on years of great talks with my mum, who I kept at a distance so she wouldn’t figure out what was going on in my head, and held me back from making connections with new people.
I’m working on that now.
I’m learning that the people I care about care about me, too. They won’t hate me just because I’m sad, or judge me for being scared – they just care that I’m okay.
I’m working on trusting people. I’m working on listening to the people I love instead of the negative voice in my head that tells me everyone hates me and I’m generally sh*t.
It’s okay to need a little help from the people in my life to get through a time that’s not all that great.
The people I want in my life aren’t the ones who’d ditch me when things get tough. They’re the ones that are there to listen when I need it, who know, now, that they can open up to me too, and they’re the ones that help me to stay sane every day – more than they know.
So now I’m done with the sorries – although I’m sure there are more to come with further unanswered texts and ditched plans – I want to say thank you.
Thank you to the people who’ve stuck with me when I haven’t been the best friend in return.
Thank you for listening.
Thank you for caring.
And I’m so glad I’ve got you. I’m getting better. And I’ll get better at being your friend along the way.