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While there’s still a considerable stigma attached to having mental illness, I decided to openly talk about my condition to help some people understand a bit of how high-functioning depression affects the ones who suffer from it.
I find it important to share how we see the world and how it shapes us, hoping that my experiences can improve the way we treat each other—and for the better.
First of all, it is definitely not easy to spot any signs from someone with high-functioning depression. The main reason for this, it's because from our appearances we look completely fine. We take care of ourselves, we shower, we go to work or to school, we accomplish our daily tasks, and we can also maintain healthy relationships. What you don't know is that on the inside we are shouting.
The truth is there’s no difference between depression and high-functioning depression. Therefore, the symptoms are the same and can range from mild to severe. They may include changes in eating and sleeping habits, low self-esteem, fatigue, hopelessness, and difficulty concentrating. Most people function practically normal, but they are always struggling internally. However, getting by through the day does not necessarily means it is easy. Speaking for myself, most of the time I feel like I am constantly faking my way through it all. Like I cannot be myself and have to look OK, so I am acceptable in society. It is like I am an actress. A big impersonator of my own role, according to standards of a “normal individual.” And also, even when I can accomplish my daily jobs and tasks, I feel like I am not doing it at my full potential. I know I could do so much better and more effectively.
We also have good days. Mostly when we are able to wake up on time, shower, and paint our faces on. We can be around people, as if work requires it, or school. Anxiety is not taking over our minds, and we do not feel desperation when talking to colleagues or even strangers. We can produce. Personally, I can write, read, paint, do my best at work, and even hangout with my friends. I feel like a productive person. These are good days.
But we also have bad days. And they are horrible. I fight with myself the entire time. I don't want to see anyone in the world. I am ashamed of myself. Of showing how I am at that particular moment. That is when I have to fake it. When I have to put on a face and pretend to be an approachable person. Talking to someone else is hell. But I have rent to pay at the end of the month, and I simply have to go to work because I can't afford to make my life more complicated than it already is. What I really want to do is binge watch TV shows or YouTube, and think about nothing. The only person I want to see is the delivery guy with my pizza and ice cream.
Can you imagine how extremely tiring it is to get through a single bad day? How about it for the most part of your life? I feel exhausted.
The amount of energy it takes cannot be repaired though sleep because even sleeping is not easy. It is very frustrating having to deal with it. I hate going to work on a very bad day. I feel so incompetent. It is impossible to focus properly. Sometimes nothing gets done, or it takes a ridiculous amount of time because I am in a daze all day.
The worst part of living like this, besides the exhaustion, is the constant feeling that you're forced smile and laugh around people, but you're not enough, they just tolerate your presence in the world. It's the feeling that you're not allowed to be yourself and you are not good enough for anybody or anything. It's feeling like you are a useless waste of space and trying so hard to prove they are wrong; for example, being top of your class (like my case was). It’s going above and beyond all day, every day, driven by the thought you can actually make someone feel that you’re worth their time because you don’t feel like you are.
Seeking help is not easy at all, but it is actually the strongest and bravest thing you can do. It does not make you weak. If it requires medication, don't take it the wrong way, it has helped a lot of people, myself included. There is nothing wrong with admitting you have an issue. I myself was very against going to therapy, but it has helped me in a lot of ways.
However, the ironic part is first you have to gather courage to admit you have a mental condition. After you put it out to the world, you have to prove that you are actually struggling just because you don't look “enough depressed” or because your bank account is doing OK, and that you are not faking the depression to have it easy. No, we are not. We are openly admitting we need help. We are asking for support. And this just by itself is very hard to do because we don't want to be a weight for people, especially those we care about. Also, because we don't want people to judge us, saying that “we are failures.” I was a suicidal girl in school and got very close to ending it all, but no one believed me because my scores were one of the highest in the class and I looked decent enough.
Please believe people when they ask for help.