Foregoing roses, chocolates and cards, this Valentine's Day we bring you a powerful personal story first published on the NAMI (National Alliance on Mental Illness) website. If you are supported and suffering from mental illness, today is a reminder that you are loved. If you are a support system for someone suffering from a mental illness, today is a reminder you are loved, and the letter below is addressed to you.
To all the men and women who stand beside their loved one as an invisible illness succumbs us to tears, to anger, to wrist slitting, pill swallowing, agonizing desires to die; thank you. At times, you have been the singular image that kept us alive.
Whether you are aware or not, your very presence has kept us from being completely consumed by depression, anxiety, hallucinations, intrusive thoughts, suicidal thoughts and a plethora of other mental tortures. Though at times you could not find the right words, your decision to remain at our side, and witness the darkest parts of us, only made us more able to continue living, when everything within us wanted to die.
Thank you, for sitting silently beside us as we wept, for screaming loudly as you tried to convince us to keep fighting, for listening to us as we tried to explain away our fears, for all the psychiatric visits, the changes in medication, for holding us when we screamed at you to leave, and most of all, for waiting. For always, waiting; for us to return from our own personal hell. Waiting for us to rise again after we have fallen and return to you; a little bit changed, a little bit hardened, but a little bit stronger.