To my partner, from the monster you saw this morning
This isn’t a Dear John letter, though after this morning I’m scared you wish it was. I snapped and I can’t explain why. I’m sorry you had to see it and be part of it — the tantrum, the sobbing, the violent behavior toward you and myself. I’m sorry that I made you late to work. I’m sorry all I said was, “See you later,” and walked away.
I’m not myself. I don’t recognize myself. I don’t know what I’ve become. I can’t articulate this face-to-face, because most of the time I don’t know what I’m feeling. It’s a heavy fog and the glimmer of lights I see are rays of genuine feeling. But they are fleeting and they disappear.
I see how much pain I’m causing you and how confused you are. Is this an act? What’s wrong with me? Why did I lash out over something that should be a nonissue? Why am I being so irrational?
Can’t I just control it? Turn it off? Calm down? Get over it?
You probably think I’m drifting away, that I’m creating more and more distance between us. I don’t know how to reconnect with you. I’m not connected to myself.
I’m writing this to tell you how much I love you. In order for you to understand how much I love you, I want you to understand that what I’m experiencing is real. I found a letter template a while back, and I want to share this part of it with you:
“My mood shifts on a moment-to-moment basis and although I may appear to be normal on the outside, on the inside I’m being tossed about like a tiny boat on a dark and torrid ocean. I wish I knew how to tell you why I’m feeling depressed but the truth is I don’t fully understand [it] myself. I know at times I feel totally empty, as if every particle of my being has been sucked into a black hole. At other times I feel crushed, my spirit devoid of human warmth, and these are feelings I simply cannot control. I often feel exhausted by the simplest of tasks. I am unable to respond in ways I used to and I know this frustrates you, because it frustrates me too.
I can see how concerned and distressed you become when I cry for no apparent reason. Again, I can’t stop this from happening. It’s like being stuck on autopilot and things are happening without my input. But what I do know is that after I cry I feel a little better.”
I’m not OK and I don’t understand why. I don’t understand why I’ve escalated to a point I’ve never been and why I can’t regulate myself back down to a healthier level. It’s almost like I can see the swings, the rage, and the sadness accumulate like a wave and I can’t do anything but wait for the wave to hit me.
There isn’t anything I can say to make this better. There isn’t any way to take any of it back. I’m crumbling and falling apart.
I remember the first time my therapist told me she thought I was experiencing an episode of depression. The world suddenly made sense. I couldn’t get myself out of the rut I was in. It’s like you said last night — before all of this, I was fine. I didn’t need medication, I didn’t need therapy, I didn’t need anything but my own processes for coping. I was resilient and strong and could bounce back quickly.
When she said “depression” the world started to make sense again. I was used to faking being OK for a few hours here and there, but when I closed my door I melted into my bed and didn’t have to answer to anyone. I didn’t have a romantic relationship to maintain or lose. Hours of solitude gave me the energy to fake it for a few more hours the next day. On weekends, I sometimes had to fake it for a date. Whoever it was that I went out with had no idea who I was. I could create my identity and be whoever I wanted to be. For a few hours I almost started to believe I was OK, but the next morning that person was gone and I was alone. The solitude gave me the space to recharge to fake it again the next day.
I met you on the last leg of my “recovery.” Was I better? I think so. No more reinventing, no more needing to fake it. It was enough commitment but not too much. There was still downtime to recharge in solitude, but in that solitude I started to miss you and didn’t want to be alone. I needed to be near you. I didn’t need the solitude anymore. I was healthy. Was I finally OK? Yes. I made it through the trauma that stupid fucking asshole put me through, the trauma that put the episode into motion. I found you and I fell in love with you. Then came the relief that the episode was a single isolated incident. I had been proactive and done all the hard work to make sure I was healthy and taking care of myself. I overcame it and was stronger, more resilient than I was before.
Fast forward to this morning. What triggered it? When did it start? Is it going to end?
I thought it was over. It’s not and it’s worse than it was before. I didn’t use to rip my hair out or lash out at the people I love. When I scream at you I see myself ruining us and scaring you to a point where you’ll say you’ve had it. Maybe that’s what I want, or what the unstable part of me wants. Maybe I’m craving another trauma to the point of it becoming self-fulfilled prophecy. Is it chemicals? Is it hormones? Is it reverting back to the place I began when I first heard the word “depression” used to describe me? If I knew, I would know where to start to fix it.
As scary as it seems, cutting myself was a temporary but hugely satisfying release. It was a pain I could control. I could trace my veins and control the pain I inflicted. Then I could watch it heal. It felt like a progress I could see with my own eyes. It’s an illusion, I know that.
You’ve asked what you can do to help. I don’t know what I need or what will help me. My coping mechanism has always been to isolate myself and fake it. I can’t do that now; we live together and you know me better than anyone has ever known me. I can’t hide a single feeling from you and I can fake feelings about as well as I can hide them.
You’re my soulmate and my best friend, and today I don’t deserve you. You didn’t deserve to be kept up late last night, and you didn’t deserve to be kept home so late this morning. You don’t deserve to have to pin me down while I’m sobbing uncontrollably. This is a rabbit hole and you don’t deserve to be sucked down it with me. You deserve to be happy with someone who doesn’t lean on you to be the only pillar of sanity in her life. You deserve to be with someone who doesn’t exhaust you. It’s not fair to you.
I’m committed to getting better, to not giving up, and to doing everything I can to take steps toward being the person you fell in love with. But what if you don’t have the patience? Is there a point of trying to get back there if there’s not something to work toward?
People often find themselves in relationships where their partner is depressed; they become tired, exhausted. It starts to poison their own life. I’m not so fragile that I won’t survive if it becomes too much for you. Sometimes it feels like I’m preparing for that. If you reach that point, please tell me.
Please know that when I’m sitting next to you — even if I’m not talking and I look upset — I need you to take my hand and to let it go. If you still love me and want to be with me, please be patient and please kiss me often. As long as you want me, I’ll stay. If you find you can’t do it, then I’ll let you go.
I love you more than I can ever show you.