Depression doesn’t have to look a certain way, and just because I am functional for the most part doesn’t mean that I am not hurting inside. I make it through every day but being able to get through the day doesn’t mean it’s easy. I may look perfect on the outside, but on the inside, I am suffering just as much as someone who externalizes their depression.
Here are 14 things I wish people understood about my high-functioning depression.
1. I hide my feelings.
I am really good at hiding my emotions. I am surprised that I haven’t gotten an Oscar for the best actress award. Every day I play the role of the “successful, happy woman.” I have become quite adept at acting the role of the self that people around me expect me to be. I spend the day smiling and forcing laughter when in reality I am plagued by the feelings of extreme sadness and misery.
2. I am always exhausted.
Waking up, brushing my teeth, driving and even breathing is exhausting. Everything takes an incredible amount of energy. Getting through the day is exhausting – everything is difficult. Some days are physically, mentally and emotionally draining.
3. I don’t want to be around people.
I find myself getting easily frustrated with my friends and co-workers, even though I know there’s no way they know I’m having a hard day. I’m extremely irritable and judgmental. I just want to be far away from people and hide in my own bubble.
4. I can’t concentrate.
I spend a lot of time staring off into space, trying to regain control of my own mind. Sometimes things don’t get done at all, I easily lose focus on the things that I have to do. My physical body is present, but my mind is gone.
5. I feel like no one understands me.
On rare occasions when I tell someone I am feeling depressed, the first thing they always tell me is that I don’t look depressed. Or sometimes they say I have nothing to be depressed about. Well, excuse me but I don’t have to have a frown on my face all the time or have tears running down my cheeks to show the sadness that I feel inside. It’s hard for others to understand what I feel, so instead, I just bottle things up. I feel like an outcast, and I rather not to talk about my depression to avoid skepticism or criticism.
6. I can’t do anything at 100%.
I can go through work and life and get most things done, but I am not doing my best. I know that I can do more, and do so much better but my depression makes it impossible to reach my full potential.
7. I am my own worst critic.
I think that I am a loser, an idiot and that I am not smart enough. My ruthless inner critic condemns myself. I stress over my performance, doubting myself and everything I do.
8. I am too nice sometimes.
I am not always moody or angry. There are days when I portray a positive attitude. I high-five and give compliments to everyone. I act like I am an employee of the month, and smile at everyone that I see. I am not being fake, it’s just that I think that if I can brighten other people’s day then maybe I’ll feel less miserable. I think that if I can make others feel better, then maybe some of my pain will go away.
9. Nothing makes me happy.
When I am depressed is difficult to experience joy to its fullest extent. The hobbies, activities or goals that have brought me happiness, eventually, they become more of a burden than something I find pleasure in. I become less and less excited about anything and feel as though I’m living my life half-numb.
10. I keep myself busy.
I try to keep myself busy all the time because if I stop, even for a moment, the sadness takes over and I become completely useless. I’m always busy doing something just to keep my mind occupied.
11. I constantly have negative thoughts.
I think that my life is worthless, and there is no point of living another day. I think that the world would be better off without me taking up space on the planet. And on the days when the pain is unbearable, I think of ways to make it all end. These are the negative thoughts spinning in my head every single day that I just can’t turn them off.
12. I overdo everything.
With high-functioning depression, I don’t know what a “middle ground” is. I overdo most things in my life when it comes to sleeping, eating, drinking, working, studying. I’ll spend a lot of time working, or at the gym. I binge watch T.V, drink a lot or overeat.
13. It’s very hard to get help.
I’ve been suicidal, and told this to my regular doctor, still yet, he never referred me to see a psychiatrist partly because I looked “normal.” I’ve had multiple appointments and tried to explain what was going on in my head, still yet, I felt as though they could not understand the chaos that it is going inside my mind. Perhaps, they thought I was okay because I managed to drag myself to the doctor’s office and everything I said made sense. Not to mention, that even when you have health insurance, psychiatrist visits or treatment is not cheap at all.
14. I don’t have to have a “reason” to be depressed.
Even when everything is going well in my life, I still get depressed. I experience episodes of extreme sadness and pain. I feel the same kind of pain you feel when you lose a loved one. I feel the same kind of sadness that lingers after a breakup. I feel emptiness, unhappiness, and hopelessness. I feel all these emotions, and don’t really have a reason why nor an explanation of why I feel the way I do.
The truth is high-functioning depression is debilitating.
If you know someone living with high-functioning depression who mentions they’re struggling, please just listen to them, and don’t try to ignore the fact that they are suffering even though they are not showing it.