open letter to my friend suffering from depression

you must be thinking this is just another sympathy note. another person who doesn’t understand how debilitating your illness is. another oh shame response to your daily struggle. but its not.

i have so much respect for you – from when you first opened up to me about having a disorder. i can only imagine how much courage that took, how much courage you have to constantly have every time you decide to tell someone else. how your fight never ends with just your illness, but is intensified by the stigma attached to it.

i am so proud of you. i am proud at how you have admitted to yourself that how you feel is not your fault. how you have decided to get help for something you cannot cope with alone. admitting to yourself that you are more than just sad, that you are part of the 11 million people suffering from depression. i am proud of how you have decided to embrace the stigma, the pitied looks, and put yourself first. you have chosen the fix your illness, and that takes serious guts.

before you told me about your depression i was angry with you. angry for not being as interested in what we used to enjoy. angry at how you had changed so rapidly, and became a vastly different version of yourself. i didn’t understand. i didn’t realize that you were just trying to cope, you were just coming to terms with your struggle. i was angry that we were drifting apart, and that i didn’t understand why. i am so sorry for this.

i am sorry for being so selfish in only thinking of how this affected me. i am sorry i couldn’t look past my feelings and think about why you were so different. i am sorry i was part of the majority of people who judged you, and didn’t consider how that made you feel. i realize now that i was part of the problem. i added an extra hurt to your already broken heart. i let you suffer and i am sorry.

i have seen first hand what this illness has done to you. i have seen how your actions are so out of your hands – your struggle has made me realize the struggle so many others are silently dealing with. you have helped me grow; helped me become more tolerant and understanding of those sufferers acting out because of this disorder. you have made me realize that often there is so much more below the surface.

to my friend who is suffering from depression, know that you are so much more than that depressed person. you are courageous. you are brave. you are fighting a constant battle and never give up. you are so much more than the label of depressed. you have passion, interests, goals and dreams. when you are judged you hurt, and when you achieve you celebrate. but you constantly fight. you have the ability to never stop fighting – a drive that most people don’t have. you are so much more than the ordinary. you are the silent hero, the modest unnoticed warrior in a constant battle. but i know that you will win. you are so much stronger than you realize, and you will conquer this illness.

i believe in you. i love you. and i am so proud to call you my friend.