I am sorry.
I realise that my behaviour has impacted those around me, both in the past, and also more recently. I don’t make excuses for the hurt that I’ve caused. And so, I’m writing you this letter because I want you to understand. Because you deserve an explanation and I think this is the best way to give you that explanation. You are honest with me and it is only fair that I do the same.
Having to pretend that I don’t ever feel sad, anxious, overwhelmed, or even panicked is not healthy. It is also incredibly exhausting, in all honesty. Up until now, I haven't admitted what has been going on because I thought I could carry on and cope. For the best part I do manage. However, like recently, every so often I hit a rough patch and as hard as I try to prevent it from happening, that spills over into my work life.
This is what I need from you: to listen, learn, and offer your support in whatever way feels most comfortable for you. If you aren’t sure what to say, you don’t need to say anything at all. Depression turns you into someone even you don't recognise. It isn't an excuse, but I hope it helps you to make sense of the way I may sometimes behave. It is never my intention at the time, but the fact remains that I have hurt people. And that is completely inexcusable.
I’ve imagined sharing this a thousand different times; during conversations around the coffee machine or after particularly stressful meetings. I’ve pictured myself blurting it out in a moment of need. But I held back, again and again. I was afraid of what you might say, or not say, back to me. Instead, I swallowed it down with, “No, I’m fine. I’m just tired today.” My mental illness has made me behave in a way that I am ashamed of. It turns me into a person even I don't recognise.
I’m sorry for pushing you away when you reached out to help me or needed me to help you. I may have made you feel that the help you were offering was not what I needed. You probably didn’t know how to help, and I did little to enlighten you. Defeated, you withdrew from me. I don’t blame you for that in retrospect.
I’m sorry for casting a dark shadow over such a great working environment. I poisoned your happy thoughts with negativity at every turn and I feel truly saddened by this realisation. I’m sorry for not being more helpful when you needed me to be. I can become so consumed by darkness and as a result I was not available to offer support and encouragement. I expected so much of everyone but offered nothing in return. I am sorry that I become defensive and shut off. I know that this isn't helpful when you are only trying to do your job. You have felt the tension and uncertainty of my darkness. I’m sorry for what you had to endure in doing so.
I cannot go back and change the way I treated you. I cannot take back the mistakes I made or the unforgivable way I have spoken to you. But I am truly sorry for the hurt that I have caused.
Most of the time I can do my job and I believe that I really do a good job. I want to help support the business as it grows and play an instrumental part in that. I promise that if I begin to feel really overwhelmed, anxious, or sad, I’ll come to you with an action plan or ask for extra support. Sometimes, I may need to take sick leave — because I live with a medical condition.
I choose to look at the positives this illness can bring, to not just my personal life, but to my work life. I know that I’m responsible for taking care of myself both at home and at work. And I know that there’s a line between our personal and professional lives.
What I’m asking from you is an open mind, tolerance, and support if, and when, I hit a rough patch. We’re a team, and we’re in this together. In return, I will do my job to my best ability and do what I can to support you to do your job.