A letter to my parents, who don’t understand my anxiety

Anxiety attck drawings
Drawings made by the author during a recent anxiety attack.

Dear Mom and Dad,

As I continue to learn how to communicate about how I feel, I have been finding word by word to express to you both about the feelings that consume me every day.

Growing up, I always heard my classmates talk about how their parents received them with open ears, comforting hugs and how their parents supported their decisions. And I often wondered why I couldn’t receive the same from you.

So I am writing this letter to you, and I can only hope that my words don’t hurt you to a great extent. Instead, I hope that they draw you into the reality of my struggles and my pain.

After I graduated from high school, I faced many sleepless nights crying in my room, experiencing anxiety attacks that were out of my control. I would lay in my bed exhausted trying to stay afloat.

I expressed to you both about the deterioration of my mental health, yet you called me childish and did not take the time to listen to me. When this happened, I felt so lonely and shattered on the inside.

You forced me to get a job because you said that my laziness would get me nowhere, but only if you knew that the ‘laziness’ was the exhaustion from the depression and endless cycle of anxiety.

On top of having to work at the start of the pandemic, I also started my college pathway. I would always come home exhausted and yet you told me to work harder because what I did was nothing compared to your workload.

As a first-generation student attending college, it is terrifying as I am still trying to figure out my place in the world, and sometimes you don’t understand the pressure that is embedded on my shoulders.

You don’t support me when I want to explore and apply for new jobs, and you still don’t understand that my current job causes me to fall behind on my studies and my ability to learn.

Whenever I experienced anxiety attacks in the past and even in the present time, you get mad about it and compare me to you and what you went through.

You always end up trying to find medical treatments to ‘help me,’ when in reality I just want you to listen to me, give me your comfort and not compare me to you because every human being struggles differently.

Both of you put a lot of pressure on me to succeed and still want me to work a job that includes long hours, and I need a break from those long shifts. I just want you to understand that school has to come first and not a job that will not benefit me in the future.

I am not saying that I don’t want to work at all, because I do, I just want you to support me at my job regardless of where I work and not care about how much money I am making.

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If you stopped comparing me to others, their successes, and their work ethic and instead focused on the daughter that you brought into this world, it would bring a lot more peace to my soul and my mind. It would also make me feel more confident knowing that I have your full support.

I just want the both of you to understand and truly feel how tired I am on a daily basis, and I want you to understand and realize that no one deserves to wake up exhausted and full of anxiety.

I am an adult now, which means that I have full control of the decisions that I choose to make. As my parents, you should respect my decisions instead of trying to stop me from them.

I know that you don’t believe in mental health nor do you have much interest in it, and I truly will never know what efforts I will have to go to prove that is very much real.

I need the both of you to be more understanding and be more open to the topic because my brothers are growing up each day, and if they are ever struggling with their mental health, I want you to listen to them, hug them and help them as much as you can.

Your lack of effort to listen to my feelings and emotions has caused me to build a wall around my heart and lack communication with others.

I need you to listen to me because I don’t have many people to talk to, and deep down inside I always hope that you could take the time out of your day to sit down and truly listen to all that is built inside of me.

I know that the both of you could do better, you are both strong and resilient people. I understand that you became parents at a very young age, and I also understand that you may not have been fully ready to take on all aspects of it.

Deep down in my heart, I truly hope that you both can change. You need to be more understanding, supportive in my decision making and those of my brother’s, be more loving and more comforting.

Mom and Dad, I love you with every single bit of my heart and I want the both of you to know that I will never resent you for any of this. I want you to become better people and truly change for the well-being of our family.

-Sincerely, your daughter

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