1. I want to be strong but I can’t.
On the days when I was really struggling, I simply could not muster up the strength to even get out of bed. I would for fear that you would resent me. I wanted so badly to be the man you needed, but I was broken and I had no clue had to fix myself.
2. When you cry, it destroys me.
On the days when you could no longer handle the person I had become and broke down, my heart broke into a thousand different pieces. I wanted to cry but I couldn’t. I was empty inside.
3. I want to be spontaneous but I am deathly afraid of the unknown.
Anxiety can be so debilitating that you have no energy to do anything that makes you uncomfortable. No matter how much I wanted to do something, when the day came and my anxiety was in full force, I always made an excuse and declined.
Our Senior year spring break was my seventh layer of hell. The reason I hated the idea of going was because I was afraid I’d break down and die on the side of a Punta Cana road.
4. I want to be the old me more than you want me to be.
I desperately wanted to be the the old me. The social chair. The life of the party. The enthusiastic adventurer that traveled to the edges of the world with you. I wanted it so badly that it kept me from realizing that in order to get better I would have to let go of the old me, and step into the new me.
5. When I get frustrated or seem stressed, it is because my anxious mind is controlling me and not letting go.
Do you remember that time when I threw my iPhone onto your parents driveway after a run? It wasn’t because the music stopped working. It was because I had just spent the last six miles in cognitive hell and I had to release it.
6. I replay conversations over and over in my head.
It wasn’t fair. I took everything you said too literally and overanalyzed every situation. If you did not provide me with the necessary affirmation for the day, I felt like you were distancing yourself from me and getting ready to leave.
7. I fear every day that you will realize how weak I am and leave me.
Will today be the day you finally throw in the towel and leave me? I was so worried that my flaw would turn you away.
I was so wrong. It was the thing that brought us closer than anything else we have gone through.
8. From the moment I wake up until the moment I go to bed, I am deathly afraid of finally breaking down in front of everyone.
After having my first panic attack, I was constantly plagued with the fear of having another one. That is why I dropped out of every class I had with my friends. That is why I always had 2–3 “pre-game” drinks before we went out. That is why I always suggested we take a cab instead of the subway.
I was so embarrassed that if I broke down in front of everyone that I would be ruined. Another lie.
9. I am constantly comparing myself to other men and wondering why I can’t be as strong as them.
Social Media and the highlight reel created a constant platform on which I could compare myself to others. Seeing everyone else around me partying and have guilt-free fun, while I could barely make it through the day, destroyed my confidence.
10. I am scared that I will never get better.
When I was at my worst, I believed that I would never get better. And although I feared what that would mean for my health, I was more scared of the realization that if I never got better you would leave me.
Thank God, I finally did.
11. I sometimes drink myself to sleep to ease the pain.
Everyone around me is doing it, I would tell myself.
All the while knowing that I needed it to calm my nerves and get to bed. On some nights, the knowledge that I had access to alcohol if I needed it would be the only thing that will help me fall asleep.
Thank you for questioning my motives and keeping me on the right path.
12. But most of all, I hope you knew that I loved you deeply and that without your strength I am not sure where I would have ended up.
Although I was unable to express myself the way I liked, your commitment to stand by me is the truest form of bravery I have ever known.
I wish that I had the strength to tell you that when I was in my darkest days, because I now know that you would have been there to pick me up. Your strength and power were my inspiration to get better.