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To My Best Friend Who Doesn't Understand

Updated on August 25, 2017

To my friend who, unfortunately, doesn’t understand,
You have been my friend for literally my entire life. I have pictures of us at Mardi Gras parades when we were three or four. We played dress up together, we climbed trees together, and we got in trouble together; we were always together. So much so, that people who saw us apart from each other immediately started looking for the other. Best friends, two peas in a pod, two halves of a whole: they thought we were attached at the hip, or something. We aren’t, we are separate people. We have our own lives, our own thoughts, and (even though we can communicate through looks a lot of the time) our own minds. This can be a bit of a hindrance at times; it’s definitely a hindrance in this situation. For whatever reason, I happen to be someone who deals with mental illnesses, and you don’t. It’s just the way the cards were dealt; I do and you don’t.
Mental illnesses are something that, unless you deal with them, are extremely hard to understand. Sadly, you don’t understand. I say sadly, but the reality is that I am sort of glad you don’t understand, because that means you’ve never felt the pain that mental illnesses cause. You’ve never felt the pain I feel. On the other hand, I am a bit sad because you don’t understand. You are my best friend, you are the person I now is always there if I need help. I want to be able to talk to you about anything and everything. I want to be able to talk about the things I am dealing with, the challenges I face, and the pain I feel. But, I can’t. I’ve tried to, but it was like I was speaking another language. You heard, but you didn’t understand and you walked away. You and I are similar in many ways and in other ways we are polar opposites. The way try to grasp the things we don’t understand is one of those ways. When I don’t understand something I surround myself with it, it consumes me. I need to figure it out, no matter what. You, however, have a very different approach. You avoid whatever you don’t understand; you avoid talking about it, acknowledging, or even mentioning it. Unfortunately, this is what you do with mental illnesses.
There are so many things I wish you understood about mental illness right now. I wish you understood the pain that pervades my mind, the worries that control my actions, the thoughts that make me scared of myself, the skewed perceptions that rule my world… My mind is trying to destroy me and I wish you understood. I could sit here and go on and on about what you don’t understand and what I wish you understood, but that wouldn’t do anything. As much as I wish I could, I can’t make you understand anything. I can’t make you understand that the pain I feel is beyond immense, I can’t make you understand that what I feel won’t always make sense, I can’t make you understand how disabling mental illnesses are. I can’t make you understand that my illnesses won’t be consistent and that at times I will be too scared to leave the house and at others I’ll be able to conquer all my fears. I can’t make you understand that there will be times I won’t have it in me to interact. I can’t make you understand any of that, but I just need you to know and accept the facts that I am struggling, I am scared, I feel alone, I feel so much, and I need help. I need you to accept these facts and I need you to be there for me.
I love you. You are my best friend, someone who has been there for me through so much. I need you to be there for me now. You may not understand the way I feel, the challenges I face, or the things I’m dealing with; you may never understand and that’s ok. We are separate people. There are things about you that I may never understand and it’s ok. I don’t need you to understand, I just need you to accept and support me, because right now I am struggling.
Gene W.

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