I wake up every morning, do the mundane usual morning stuff that one does, go to class, smile at people and talk to them as expected of me. I am a fully-functioning adult woman. But, this fully-functioning adult woman, also suffers from crippling depression and anxiety.
“You don’t look depressed”. “You’ve got everything going for you, why would you be depressed?”. “You seem fine.” I’m sure it’s just a phase”. If I had a penny for every time someone told me something along these lines in a (very unsuccessful) bid to cheer me up, I definitely wouldn’t have to be worrying about working.
No one’s to blame for these comments. Most people think of depression and immediately their mind goes to a sobbing shell of a human who never gets out of bed, whose life is in shambles, with nothing going for them. But I possess none of these so-called requisites of a depressed person. So surely, I can’t be depressed, can I?
I am a high-functioning person, seemingly fine on the outside. I take my classes and my work seriously, don’t postpone on things I need to get done, go out, socialise and have a good laugh. And then as I’m walking down the street, as I’m scrolling through the world of social media, as I’m curling up for a Netflix marathon, everything suddenly comes crashing down. I am in tears, I feel hopeless. I am having a depressive episode. Something triggered it, or maybe it was nothing that triggered it, but the point is, it’s come for a visit, and I’m sure it’ll overstay its welcome.
The problem isn’t the depression, I mean, the depression is, for sure, a problem. But even more annoying than my debilitating mental health, is people’s reaction to it. Being high-functioning is a blessing. It means I get things done, and I don’t miss out on life and its opportunities.
But it also means people often cannot seem to wrap their heads around the idea of a person with depression, actually functioning like a normal person. And no matter how hard I try to explain, the pitch of “hey, I am depressed but I’m not defunct” seems to go right over their heads.
High-functioning depression seems to be a foreign concept. And this foreign concept is exhausting to deal with. You have to constantly validate your need for help and support. And on your bad days, you feel terrible for not performing to the best of your abilities. And with all the people telling you that you aren’t depressed, you start second-guessing yourself, and that’s never a good thought to have in an already muddled, struggling brain.
Even if they can’t quite grasp the intricacies of it, there’s something I wish people would understand about high-functioning depression, I can’t “just get over it”. I need the same amount of care and support; both from regular folks and medical professionals, that people with other mental (or physical) health issues get.
We function, but we are not fine, and I’d love for people to get that. I’d love to be floating in money from all the pennies I collected from the aforementioned “pep talk” comments, but I’d much rather just have people accept me. Accept that while I function perfectly fine, I am depressed, and I am working on bettering myself everyday, so the least you can do is understand that.