WHEN YOU MAKE ME WATCH: A Love Letter to Those Mental Illness Touches

Sometimes it’s best to skip statistics and shoot to the heart, specifically to the deepest recesses where memories hurt as much as they help. That’s where we find truth and perspective. It’s the imperfections in our lives, the pain and the struggle and the lessons learned, that are the fabric of our character and explain who we’ve become and where we intend to go. When we open up about what we’ve been through, either directly or indirectly, we find we’re more alike than different. 

In the spirit of vulnerability, I offer you a love letter I wrote and published years ago. The letter is directed toward both those struggling with mental illness and those who helplessly watch that struggle. For those who directly struggle with mental health, read this letter and know your loved ones see you drowning and are desperately trying to find a lifeline you can reach. For those watching the struggle, you’re not alone. In the hope that my vulnerability leads to powerful conversation and perspective around dinner tables and during the pockets of time we discuss our day, I offer you that January 2016 love letter. 


When you’re drowning, you pull me down. I struggle to breathe as you tread water beside me, trying to save you but not knowing how. You don’t touch me and yet, your presence constricts my lungs and bruises my heart.

I see your pain, even though you refuse to cry.

I hear your screams, even though you never open your mouth.

When you’re gone from me, I wait. I remember your old self will return, even though I have no idea when or how. You don’t move and yet, your inability to take my hand cuts my heart.

I love you, even though you’re too lost to feel it.

I need you, even though you’re too far away to know it.

When your pain changes you, I breathe. I let myself believe that one day you’ll smile, again. You don’t ask me to and yet, I know you want me to stay. And because it’s you, I do.

I feel your wounds, even though the blood is yours.

I remember you. I wait for you. I love you.

To feel yourself struggle is painful. To watch someone you love struggle dismantles a piece of your soul, one fragment at a time. If I could absorb your pain, I would. If I could love you harder, I’d try. Until your spirit finds its way back home, I’ll continue to give you slivers of mine.

Author: Evelyn Lindell
Certified Health & Wellness Coach