To My Strong, Exhausted Friend: I See You

Dear you,

I see you.

You cover it well, but I know how tired you are.

Pretending you are coping, painting on a bright smile and saying ‘everything is fine’.

Worn out from hiding the effort it is taking you to get through each day.

You rarely let your guard down.

Occasionally I glimpse, past the work, the relentless striving and the competency, and I see you holding on for dear life.

Desperately trying to keep it together.

Pretending you can do it all.

Hoping no one sees your panic.

Faking it til you make it in the hope one day you will, and this won’t have all been for nothing.

I can see the frantic whirr in your eyes.

I know you are terrified of what would happen if you finally laid it all down and said, “I’m done.”

You are wound so tight and fearful of what the unravelling will look like.

I watch as you bite your lip to stop saying what you really need to say:

that you are overwhelmed, but don’t know how to stop.

Have you admitted the truth to yourself?

Do you think you know too much to be ill?

You are not used to being the patient, needing support.

You are the one who offers help, not the one who receives it.

Do you know how fragile you are?

(and how precious?)

I am not going to sugar coat it,

it will be messy.

To be honest and give up.

To surrender.

You will feel over-exposed and will worry about what this will mean for you.

How will others respond when you are the one with questions, not answers?

But underneath, at the end of the day when you sit alone, you will find a peace that appears after the storm, when the old masks of competency and achievement and capacity have been burnt to the ground.

You will sit and see beauty in the patterns the ashes make on the floor, in the light as it falls unfiltered through the window pane.

And you will begin to feel the possibilities of the spacious place this fine death has created.

I know you don’t want to hear this and you think you can keep on, keeping on, but really dear friend this end will be so good.

It will make room for the new.

Yes, there is pain ahead. Change always brings loss.

But you are not alone. There are others of us here who have walked this road.

We have felt we were losing our minds, ourselves, everything.

It was only afterwards we saw not what we had lost, but what we had found, and it was beautiful.

So stop.



Let it go.

All of it.

Lay your burdens down.

Come and sit here with me, there is room for you.

Big love,


I wrote this letter for anyone who has been telling themselves that it is just them – that everyone else copes and they need to just knuckle down and stop complaining.

For anyone who can’t relax and doesn’t know how to stop. For anyone who would love to rest but has no idea how that could ever be possible.

I wrote this because this is how I felt for a long time.

A failure, guilty, unsatisfied, lonely.

It doesn’t have to be this way.

If you are needing some help to remember that there is hope I have made a seven day series just for you. Fill in the form below and I will send a note to your inbox every day for the next week. I hope these meditations are words of life and comfort for you.

Each email also comes with an audio download so, if you prefer, you can choose for me to speak these words over you instead of reading them for yourself.

Love, Elli x


This article originally appeared at The Hippo Chronicles.

Elli Johnson
Elli Johnson
Elli Johnson. Writer. Photographer. Child wrangler. (Over)thinker. Beauty seeker. Professional tea drinker. Mental health advocate. I’m learning how to live and writing about it as I go, follow me at, on twitter @MrsElliJohnson and on Instagram @ellijohnson

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