Having rewritten this introduction three times already, I'm finding that this article was much easier to write in my head.

It's very apparent that I am open about my mental health. I don't think that it's productive to hide away how you're feeling, especially when there are people struggling around us every day. I think that if one person speaks up, you might actually give someone else the courage to do so, too. I think that one voice, one sentence, one word can change someone's life, and can give someone the slightest glimpse of hope that things will get better. Sometimes, that's all you need.

So, today, I am going to be a voice of reason.

Over the last few months ... let me rephrase ... over the last seven months, I have been struggling to find a state of peace and happiness. Of course, I have been happy and I have smiled and I have felt like my life was going really well, but there were also periods where I was laying in bed with sleep paralysis, sleeping for maybe four hours a night, and having such bad anxiety attacks that my face turns bright red and I feel like I'm on fire (it even happened last night). It's really hard to admit that you need the help, and I have come to terms that I can't handle all of this on my own.

Unfortunately (for the sake of my mental health), I cannot end friendships easily. I struggle to find reason and justification for letting a friendship end and will push to find answers or understand why that individual is feeling this way, especially if I thought that person liked being around me and having a relationship with me. I would rather know why you don't like me, or why you don't want to be my friend, then ignoring me and refusing to tell me what happened. I would like to know where I went wrong so I can work on it; if therapy taught me anything, it's to take the constructive criticism and grow from it.

Going out of my way to make sure that everyone is okay, that everyone is having a good day, that everyone knows that I'm there for them if they need me is something I pride myself on doing because I never want anyone to feel as alone as I did for so long.

Guessing by what I've been told over the last week, that is a problem for people. Honestly, I would have never guessed that trying to be there for everyone or reaching out often would be too much for people, but everyone is different and that is understandable.

I think what I'm gathering from everything that's happened that you will genuinely never please everyone. Everyone has a different love language. Everyone has a different way to communicate. Everyone has a different way of thinking. It's disappointing to know that there are people that will only use you during their times of trouble and despair, and others may use you for your support, but be unable to reciprocate.

I do my best to apologize and move on. I do my best to better myself, learn from my mistakes and grow from what I've done. I do my best to find closure in the words that are shared with people, even when they're bitter, or resentful, or insincere. I do my best.

At the end of the day, when the universe is ending and I have to come to terms with all my mistakes, the friendships that have ended won't be one of them.

Sometimes, it can be hard to move on from the ended friendships. It can be really hard.

However, there are people that will appreciate and love you, and sometimes, you will get lucky, and they will love you so much that they'd do absolutely anything to see you happy.

It may take a long time to find those friendships, the ones that accept you for every flaw, everything that makes you feel weak, everything that makes you feel like you're drowning in the world because those are the friendships that will find the very best parts of you. They will make you feel strong and will make you feel like you're conquering everything you set your mind to.

I think that's what this is about. It's about understanding that those are the friendships that mean the most. It's about the friendships that care to better your mental health and understand it, than to disregard and ignore it because let's face it, mental illness is very much a part of your relationships.

I think that I'm really lucky. I have such a great support system of friends that love me and care about me and want to see me be happy. It's really hard to accept that there are people like that in your life, that want to be there and love you for who you are.

I think that that's what my friendships have taught me the most.

Our friendships are not defined by our mental health, but by the happiness or sadness that you feel every day and by the anxiety or peacefulness that exists in your brain. It's how your support system trusts you, believes in you and understands you because they are the ones that will always be there to tell you that they love you and that they're proud of you.

I think I'm going to take my own advice on this one.

It's going to be okay.

...

To My Friends,

You always support me. You always care about me. You always make me feel like I am good enough.

Thank you for always being there.

You will always have a piece of my heart that is forever grateful for you.

Love you,

Caitlin