Content warning: Suicidal intent, Overdose, Self-harm
I remember a long time ago, I encouraged a friend to stop apologising so much and start using “thank you” in it’s place. She told me that it made everything sound so much more positive, and that less apologising really helped her get her gratitude across properly, instead of everything sounding like an expression of guilt.
After publishing my post this morning, which was entitled ‘I’m Sorry’ and contained a letter of apology to my partner, I recalled that ‘thank you’ is sometimes more suitable than ‘sorry’. So this blog post contains my letter of apology, transformed into a letter of gratitude.
To my partner,
I’m sorry. Thank you. I’m sorry about my mental illness. I’m sorry that my struggle has caused life to be so tiring for you, especially over the last few months. Thank you for supporting me whilst my illness has been particularly challenging. Thank you for helping me through my struggle, particularly as it must have been tiring for you. I’m sorry that you’ve had to take on so much – I’m sorry that the upkeep of our home, the laundering of our clothes, and the payment of our bills, all became things that I couldn’t face keeping on top of. Thank you for taking on the household chores that I couldn’t keep on top of. I’m sorry that you’ve had to do all of the work to look after our cats, when I was the one who was so desperate to adopt them. Thank you for feeding and looking after our cats, even though it was me who so desperately wanted to adopt them. I truly believe they’ve been therapeutic for me whilst I’ve been ill, so I hope you still agree that adopting them was a great idea. I’m sorry that making important phone calls, organising my sick notes, collecting my prescriptions, and filling in the paperwork associated with my leave from work all became solely your responsibility. Thank you for making important phone calls for me, even though you find making phone calls difficult yourself. Thank you for signing my paperwork as my carer and for emailing my work about my sickness leave. Thank you for going to the pharmacy on your way home from work to collect my medicines, even though it’s a significant diversion from your usual route. I’m sorry that my income has dwindled down to nothing, and your income has had to become ‘ours’. Thank you for supporting the two of us financially whilst I’m not well enough to earn money myself. I’m sorry that on top of full time work, you’ve spent hours by my side in various hospitals, and almost as much time travelling to and from said hospitals on public transport. Thank you for travelling a lot just to sit with me in hospital wards, playing scrabble or doing puzzles with me. Thank you for listening to me tell stories about the patients on the ward with me, and for holding my hand to comfort me when I’d had a bad day. Thank you for bringing me chocolate to cheer me up, and fruit to satisfy my ‘vitamin cravings’. I’m sorry for the amount of nights you’ve had to sleep in our bed, cold and alone, with no one to keep you warm. Thank you for waiting patiently at home whilst I was in hospital, keeping the cats company until I was deemed well enough to be discharged. I’m sorry that when I’m not in hospital, you have to spend ages looking after me, checking that I’m OK, making sure that I’m as safe as possible. I’m sorry that sometimes, I’m impossible to keep safe. Thank you for doing your best to keep me safe, even when it’s very difficult to do so. Thank you for always checking whether I’m OK, and for looking after me. I’m sorry that you went from just being my boyfriend, my lover, to being my next of kin and my emergency contact. I’m sorry that you involuntarily had to take on the role of my ‘carer’. Thank you for being my carer as well as my partner and my team mate. It means more to me than you’ll ever know. I’m sorry for lying about how I felt sometimes. I’m sorry that I didn’t always tell you when I felt unsafe and suicidal, or when I was stockpiling spare medications ‘in case I wanted to use them in an overdose at a later point’. I’m sorry that you now know the process of phoning for an ambulance better than the back of your own hand. I’m sorry that I disappeared in the middle of a suicide attempt whilst you were out of town, and I’m sorry that you had to call the police that day to report me missing. I’m sorry for the times I took overdoses whilst you were in the flat with me, instead of talking to you about how I was feeling. I’m sorry that I once stole the keys to the medication safe whilst you were sleeping, so that I could take too many pills. I’m sorry I lied and said I didn’t have any medications stored in secret places, when in actual fact I did. I’m sorry I sneaked out when you were at work, to buy painkillers from the corner shop only to hide them in my sock drawer. Thank you for understanding that my mental illness sometimes causes me to behave in an undesirable way, and for seeing that I don’t always have full control over my actions. Thank you for seeing things from my point of view, and for getting why sometimes I lied or held back the truth. Thank you for always forgiving me for the poor choices I’ve made, and for being on my side no matter what. Thank you for being on-the-ball and calling the emergency services whenever it was necessary. You always seemed to know when I was in danger, even when you weren’t physically anywhere near me. I’m sorry I ran away from home late at night several times and made you worried sick; I’m sorry you then had to come to collect me from the railway bridge in the cold wind and rain to bring me home, when you had to be up at 7:00AM the following morning for work. Thank you for calmly and reassuringly talking to me when I got myself into a state and ran away from home to stand on the railway bridge. Thank you for understanding and never being cross with me. Thank you for giving up time that should have been spent sleeping just to make sure that I was safe. I’m sorry that you’ve had to come home from work to find me unconscious (or near-unconscious) repeatedly. I’m sorry that the responsibility for saving my life fell onto you so many times. Thank you for saving my life, even when I said I didn’t want you to. I’m sorry you’ve had to ride in an ambulance to A&E with me so many times. I’m sorry you’ve had to sit in A&E whilst they ran tests and decided what treatment I needed. I’m sorry that you’ve sat with me, bored, lonely, whilst I’ve fallen unconscious from the overdoses I’ve taken. I’m sorry if every overdose felt like deja-vu for you. I’m sorry you’ve had to call your manager at work and book urgent unplanned leave from work, just because I’ve fucked up and needed you with me. I’m sorry for the states you’ve seen me in. Thank you for repeatedly keeping me company in the emergency department for hours upon hours. Thank you for fetching me water when I was thirsty, for helping me to the bathroom, for helping me to get changed into comfy clothes and for going to buy food when I was hungry. Thank you for packing my hospital bags for me and always including something that would comfort me, like one of my cuddly toys. Thank you for holding my hand during ambulance rides. I’m not sure if this is the case, but having your hand there to hold has always been very important to me in those situations; it felt like you were reassuring me that even though the situation my illness had created was a bad one, you didn’t resent me for it. I’m sorry that I’ve locked myself in the bathroom to self-harm. I’m sorry you’ve known I was self-harming and had to just let me do it, because there was no way of stopping me. I’m sorry for the times you’ve had to help me clean and bandage the wounds I’ve inflicted upon myself. I’m sorry that I’ve made myself so grossly unattractive, covering myself in scars that will fade but never quite disappear. Thank you for understanding that sometimes, you can’t keep me safe from myself. Thank you for letting me learn my own lessons about how to express my pain, and for helping me to make sure my wounds are sterile and safe. Thank you for never judging me for my scars. I remember I had scars all over my legs before you ever saw me in few-enough clothes for them to be visible, and I’ve always appreciated that you’ve never looked twice or questioned them. Thank you for doing your best to ‘get’ it. Thank you for telling me that I’m beautiful, scars ‘n’ all. I’m sorry that you’ve stayed awake with me in the small hours of the morning whilst I’ve cried, and cried, and cried, and you’ve lost sleep. I’m sorry that when I was writing a part of this blog post at 4 in the morning because I couldn’t sleep, I started crying and it woke you up. I’m sorry for soaking your pillows and your T-shirts with my tears. Thank you for staying up late with me just to comfort and cuddle me. Thank you for not being grumpy when you woke up to the sound of me sobbing into a pillow during the early hours of this morning; thank you for instead just holding me close and trying your best to make things seem as OK as possible. I’m sorry that I’ve made you cry.
I’m sorry I wasn’t there to comfort you whilst you cried.
Thank you for letting me know that you’ve cried about everything. It broke my heart to picture you crying alone, but in a way it made me understand a bit more how all of this has been making you feel. I feared you resented me, but the fact that you got upset and not angry reiterated to me that actually, you just care about me. A lot.
I’m sorry I’m so withdrawn sometimes. I’m sorry about the days where I barely talk to you, because I’m feeling irritable or depressed, or because I just have nothing to say. Thank you for keeping a close eye on me whilst giving me the space I need when I’m feeling irritable or low. I’m sorry about the nights where I’ve refused a cuddle or a kiss goodnight, just because I’m feeling down. Thank you for understanding that sometimes, I don’t really feel like cuddling, and that my refusal doesn’t mean that I don’t love you. I’m sorry about the mornings and the afternoons that I’ve just spent lay in bed, unable to get up, incapable of wanting to ‘do the day’. Thank you for letting me rest when there’s time for me to, and for gently encouraging me to do what needs doing when there isn’t time for rest. I’m sorry for the times that you’ve reached out to hug me or reassure me and I’ve cowered away, refusing all physical contact. Thank you for understanding that me ducking away from your hugs is nothing personal. I’m sorry that I’m not the same as I used to be. Thank you for never losing confidence that the ‘real me’ is still in here somewhere, even though I feel that I’ve lost myself. I’m sorry you’ve had to lie for me to my family because I asked you not to tell them how ill I am. I’m sorry that you’ve had to keep my friends updated on my condition when I’ve tried to kill myself and worried them all in the process. Thank you for letting me choose who to share information about my condition with, and for understanding the complicated reasons why I don’t want to tell some of those closest to me what’s going on. Thank you for keeping my friends who do know up to date so that they don’t worry too much. I’m sorry that I pulled you away from your home county when I got a graduate job nearer to my own home county, and I’m sorry I then ended up failing to cope with the job anyway. I’m sorry that you got a job near(ish) to here, too; I’m sorry that you’re so far away from all of your friends and your family. I’m sorry that you have to do a frustratingly lengthy commute on rubbish public transport to and from work every day, because there wasn’t any work for you in the town we live in. I’m sorry I’ve trapped you here. Thank you for moving away from your home county with me when I got work near to mine. Thank you for understanding that my long term sickness leave from work wasn’t planned or predictable, and for not resenting living in the town where my work was/is based. Thank you for getting up early and commuting to the next county over for work, so that we can keep living independently from our families, and so that we can keep renting our cute little flat with our two cats. I know that sometimes it feels a little lonely here for both of us, because we don’t have any friends that live locally, but hopefully we can resolve that somehow. I’m sorry I’m so erratic. I’m sorry for being incapable of doing anything anymore. I’m sorry that I’m boring. I’m sorry that I’m difficult to be around. I’m sorry that I’m ill. Thank you for accepting my flaws, and understanding that I am poorly. I’m sorry that, out of all of the humans on this planet, it was me that you fell in love with.Thank you for choosing me when you could have had anyone.
It’s bittersweet, really; every single day I spend time reflecting upon how lucky I am to have you in my life, and yet at the same time I question why you didn’t run a mile back when we were still ‘just friends’ in 2013. I tell myself that you deserve better. I wonder why you chose to be with me, despite knowing I had so many health problems. It says a lot about the type of person that you are, because not many people would stick around after all I’ve put us through. After all I’ve put you through. Thank you for sticking by me through all of my health problems and challenges, and reassuring me that those things don’t change the love we share. Thank you for reminding me that my opinion of myself is not the same as your opinion of me. Thank you for understanding, and regularly reiterating, that it’s not all my fault that we’ve been through more than our fair share of difficulties recently.
I guess all of this is why they say that love hurts? Sure, it hurts, but I think we’d both rather feel the pain that love brings than never love at all. Right?
To my partner, my other half, my team mate; to the one I love
I’m sorry that loving me hurts so much sometimes.
I’m sorry that my mental illness gets in the way. I love you, though, so much, and for now I can only hope that that’s enough.
Thank you for loving me back.
from your Sweetie-Pie x