When it comes to depression people have an image of what they “think” it looks like, and that in turn becomes what depression “should” look like.
I bet when you think of depression you picture someone who has a hard time getting out of bed in the morning. Or someone who has a record of calling in ‘sick’ to work because they don’t have the energy to leave the house. Someone who goes weeks without getting groceries or washing the stack of dishes in their sink because they lack any energy to do so. Or maybe you picture someone who is hopeless, sad, and crying in their room all alone.
Depression can look like that.
I bet you don’t picture the person who gets up every morning for their eight to five job. Or drives their kids to all of their sports activities and is the loudest on the sideline cheering them on. I bet you don’t picture the young college student who parties every Friday night and seems to have the most endearing social life.
Like most things in life, depression isn’t black and white. What’s showcased in movies or TV shows isn’t always the full story, in fact, hardly ever is that the case. Depression doesn’t have to look like anything that we are familiar with as a society to be classified as depression.
Say hello to ‘High Functioning Depression’?
If you thought depression looked like the first examples above, you aren’t wrong. You’re actually correct, but depression doesn’t have to look like the stereotypical depression that is showcased through TV shows and movies or portrayed online. However, that doesn’t make any level or type of depression better or worse to have. Any type of depression is serious and could be detrimental if not treated.
Just because High Functioning Depression doesn’t necessarily look like the stereotypical depression we are so familiar with doesn’t mean it isn’t valid or just as hard to manage and deal with.
I myself struggle with High Functioning Depression. You could probably ask a majority of the people who know me and they would have no clue that I struggle with depression. I have a job, go to school full-time (I am even taking a summer class and I am starting to question why on earth I chose to do that), I have a pretty active social life, I have goals and I am constantly on the go, I workout multiple times a week, and I pride myself in being someone who has a strong work ethic.
No, I don’t usually have a hard time getting out of bed or feel like I simply cannot tackle what the day has for me but don’t be fooled, I too have those days. However, most of the time my anxiety and depression clash making for an even harder time mentally. Anxiety makes me have to do all the things and depression comes in with its sneaky little lies telling me how much everyone hates me, how everyone is lying, how worthless I am, and how I am dramatic, unloved, a burden…blah blah blah.
One aspect that is hard to deal with when you have high-functioning depression is no one really understands. Since High Functioning Depression doesn’t correlate with what our stereotypical idea of depression looks like it is often not taken very seriously. I like to define it as the “Phantom Depression” because its true colors are hidden and it’s not usually seen by others.
I found a quote by the author of “Keys to Unlocking Depression” by Dr. Michael Yapko which says, “Most people who suffer from depression function. They go to work and pick up their kids. They do all the things they’re supposed to do, but they’re not having a particularly good time doing it,”
For me, depression isn’t an everyday thing. It comes and goes, sometimes by day, week, or even fluctuates throughout a single day. It’s unpredictable really. The kind of feeling that makes you want to crawl out of your skin or run away from but no matter what it lingers.It is the reason why I might question everything my boyfriend said to me that day or why I find myself constantly wanting to ask for reassurance in some aspect of my life. It is the reason why I strive for perfectionism and then feel even worse because it’s unattainable. It is the reason why I push myself so hard in school, sports, and life. Mainly because depression and anxiety makes you feel worthless and maybe, just maybe some materialistic thing will make you feel worthwhile. It is the reason why I can be having a good day and then I read too much into something someone said and all of my thoughts spiral.
Most days I question whether or not my struggle with depression is valid. But then I take a step back and realize that no matter what I am feeling or going through is valid simply because I am experiencing it. Depression is valid. No matter what label, how often, or what it feels like. No matter what you are going through, your experience is valid.
If you or a loved one are struggling with depression you are not alone. Suicide Prevention Services Depression Hotline 630-482-9696, NDMDA Depression Hotline – Support Group 800-826-3632.