11 Ways High-Functioning Depression and Anxiety are Present in My Life

Posted June 30, 2016 in Life / 15 Comments

Note: I wrote this and then typed it up. I haven’t edited it extensively and I don’t want to. This was me just writing some things down that I decided might be worthwhile to be shared. If it helps even one person, then this post has done its job.

11 Ways High-Functioning Depression and Anxiety is Present in My Life

Let me tell you a bit about my mental illness. You might be surprised and you might learn something. I can tell you right now, this illness isn’t exactly what you think it is.

Remember, this is all just experiences from my life. I’m not a doctor, just a crazy young woman who prays quite a bit and reads quite a few books.

#1-3 can be more positive than #4-11.

1. I strive for perfection.

I feel that, in order to do anything, I have to do it better than everyone else. I feel I have to be perfect because, only then, will I be validated. I work really hard. I’m praised for “going above and beyond” in my job. I’ve always thought my grades were unacceptable if they weren’t As. I’m the high achiever always striving to do better. Isn’t this a good thing? Sometimes…

2. I always try to keep busy.

I always need to be doing something, even if that something isn’t really all that important. Sometimes this can be productive and sometimes not so much. I’ll deep clean my closet. I’ll do my laundry. I’ll read a book. I’ll write reviews. I’ll prepare for school. I’ll read a book. I have a really hard time just sitting, just being.

3. I have a pretty set schedule.

I like to know exactly when and how things are going to happen. This is one reason I love working in a school: Everything runs on a schedule! I know exactly what is going to happen when. I know exactly where I need to be at every part of the day. It is all a beautiful schedule. Aren’t schedules wonderful?

4. I’m always telling myself I’m not good enough.

It can start out simple: I’m not good enough for this amazing opportunity that has presented itself. This could easily be true. But, then, it progresses: I’m not good enough for my job. I don’t deserve my friends. I definitely don’t deserve my family. I’m not a good enough person. I can’t be loved. I am useless. I am pointless. I am a waste of space. I am nothing. This is the mantra that I hear all the time.

5. I feel like I am always wasting time.

No matter what I’m doing, I always feel I should be doing something more important. I’m always wasting time. I’m reading when I should be making dinner. I’m writing reviews when I should be preparing for class. I’m journaling when I should be sleeping. I’m never doing enough with my time. Somehow, I’m always wasting it.

6. I hate it when plans change.

Things are on a schedule for a reason: I function best that way. If you change plans with me, I will be freaking out internally. I will be trying to figure out what I did wrong. I will be thinking of all the reasons the plan should not change. I will be almost to tears internally, trying to mentally put my schedule back together.

7. I apologize for everything, even if it had absolutely nothing to do with me.

I’m sorry! are some of the words I say most often. “I’m sorry I was late” (even when I wasn’t). “I’m sorry you didn’t get mustard on your sandwich” (how was I supposed to fix that in the first place?). “I’m sorry that I’m sorry for everything that I’m sorry for.” You see how this goes? I feel like I always need to be apologizing for something, for myself.

8. I fake it with the best of them.

I should seriously have become an actress. I am so good at hiding my feelings. I can be breaking down inside, having a screaming match in my head, and yet I’ll still manage to smile and tell you I’m wonderful and everything is fine. You’ll believe me, too. I’m that good at faking it. No one knows when I’m crying on the inside. No one knows when I don’t think I can do it anymore. No one knows when I’m on the point of giving up. Just smile and wave, boys. Smile and wave.

Smile and Wave, Boys - Madagascar Penguins

9. I have a nervous habit so common neither of us recognizes that I do it.

You don’t realize I’m doing it. I don’t realize I’m doing it. It is so common that everyone overlooks it. When I’m nervous or scared, my right hand goes to my necklace and fiddles with it. I never leave home without this necklace: a small crucifix and a Miraculous Medal on a silver chain. It has become my armor and the world is my battle. Without this little nervous habit, I would no longer be grounded. I need this nervous habit that bad.

10. I can hold it all together… most of the time.

You’d never know I have a mental illness. I can hold it all together and I can fake it… until I can’t anymore. This isn’t every day or even every week, but it does happen. It gets to the point where I can’t hold it all together anymore. I am going against the current and I just can’t keep swimming. Usually, I’ll be able to put myself back together before heading out in public, so you’ll never know I lost it. You’ll never know that I’m really not okay. You’ll never know just how much the world is pushing in on me and how ready I am to just give up.

11. This one is the worst: Most people won’t even believe I have a mental illness.

My life looks perfect. I’m successful in my job. I have friends. I socialize every day at work (with children and my colleagues). I’m accomplished. I don’t fit the boxes labeled “depression” or “anxiety” or “mental illness.” Over and over I’m told to snap out of it, to pull up my big girl panties and deal with it. I’m often told it’s just the way life is or it’s a phase and all I need to do is pull myself together.

Let me tell you something: I’m not going to apologize for not fitting in your little, labeled boxes. I do have a mental illness and it does have a name: high-functioning depression and anxiety. The high-functioning means hidden.

You aren’t going to see it unless you are super-close with me (my little sister is pretty good at seeing it but not all the time). I’m really good at pretending everything is alright. You’ll believe me when I say “I’m fine” because I look fine. I may be fine on the outside, but on the inside, I’m far from okay.

I put myself down. I don’t believe any compliments given to me. I read nuances into text messages that don’t exist. I think every glance means something is wrong with me. I try to figure out what I did wrong that a plan needs to change. I apologize for being me because I’m afraid me isn’t good enough.

My life is not perfect but I can fake it. I can attempt to lower my expectations, take some time to relax, try to write myself a summer schedule, and try my hardest to focus on the positives, on the good. I can keep taking my meds, seeing my doctors, and saying my prayers. Somehow, with God’s grace, I’ll make it through.

amanda

Links on High-Functioning Depression and Anxiety

If you made it all the way through this post, congratulations!
It is rather long, so thanks for sticking with me. *hugs*
Also, if any of this is you, too, don’t go it alone.
Please, get the help that will make you stronger.

If you have any experience with high-functioning depression and anxiety, I’d love to hear it. The hardest part is going it alone.

October 2016: 5 Ways I Deal with High-Functioning Depression and Anxiety during Grad School

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15 responses to “11 Ways High-Functioning Depression and Anxiety are Present in My Life

  1. First, I’m sending a super-tight virtual hug.
    I actually know how you feel, really.
    I had a really bad month (well, two months now): feeling really alone, crying over night, feeling useless and all.. So I keep trying to get busy just to not think about it. I’ve got friends that everytime I told them I’m feeling now or depressed they answered “it’s your fault” or “you need to stay positive” or (this is was the top on my month) “Oh My God, stop it! You make me want to kill myself” That was actually the best of my month.
    So I’ve decided to stop trying to explain to other what I have. At least, they won’t make me feel worse than I am.
    So that’s me 😀
    I’m also doing a post of my anxiety/depression as I told you on twitter, I don’t know when I’ll be able to finish it. But I’m doing it.

    • THANK YOU!
      It is just nice to know that I’m not alone. I live in rural Montana, USA so you basically know just about everyone in town (at least by sight if not by name). Sometimes that can make it harder since they all think they know me, too. They just what they think they’re going to see: a special ed teacher who has it all together.
      Friends can be a blessing and a burden. It is great when they are there for you and terrible when they just don’t get it.
      I have given up telling people in real life. They just don’t believe me most of the time because I look so put together.
      When I wrote this out, I was just writing to get it out. Once I had finished, I thought it might help someone else. That is why I even considered posting it in the first place.
      Thanks so much for stopping by and commenting. When you get your post done, I will be sure to read it.
      I hope you have a wonderful end of the week and weekend!

  2. Great post, Amanda! I really appreciate these posts – whether I can personally relate or not, because they are important. People should be more open and aware about mental illness. I have depression and anxiety. I used to have really bad social anxiety, where I couldn’t order at a restaurant without wanting to cry – I’d have my mom do it for me, and I was a teenager! It can be weird things, embarrassing things, but it’s not our fault. I’m glad your sister can understand you most of the time. I suppose we all try and hide how we feel sometimes, but it’s never good to hide it almost all the time. I have a friend that often thinks she’s not enough at anything, and it’s horrible to hear her talk about herself like that. I can empathize though – in my bad moments, I’m similar. But we get through it. And talking helps.

    -Lauren

    • Thank you for taking the time to comment. It definitely helps to know we aren’t alone when we are struggling with these things. Society has such a stigma against mental illness and we need to understand that the illness does not define the person.
      I hope you have a great weekend!

  3. I do the exact same thing with my necklace! Any time I get nervous or upset I go straight for my necklace. Mine used to belong to my grandma and I have worn it everyday since she passed away when I was 8. I’ve felt so naked the few times I’ve had to take it off.
    I recognise a lot of these things from my boyfriend who also suffers with severe depression. It’s so horrible to see someone always thinking the worst of themselves and putting themselves down, and knowing that no matter how many times I tell him otherwise he will continue to feel this way.
    I hate it when people don’t recognise it as an actually illness, but I do feel that if you look back 50 year things are definitely better. Maybe in another 50 years it will be recognised by all and there will be no more of these “just get on with it” comments.
    What a brave post to write, thank you for sharing.
    Hannah @ Broc’s Bookcase recently posted…Review: “The Sleeping Prince” – Melinda Salisbury

    • This is one of those posts that was easy to write on paper but really hard to work up the courage to post. I ended up taking an attitude similar to what I have at work: “If I can help just one student/one person, then it will have been worth it.”
      Thank you so much for your kind comment and I hope you have a wonderful weekend!

  4. Amber

    Hey Amanda. I’ve had anxiety for some time now…but I’m really good at faking it. My friend posted a link of a video on Facebook explaining what high functioning anxiety is and I had never heard of it, but everything in the video was me. So I started doing research and came across your article. I really feel where you are coming from because I face it too. I just thought something was wrong with me on the inside, like my brain was messed up making me think the way I do. I pray all the time for God to give me peace and help me through. Thanks for posting this because it has made me realize that I am not alone, and now I know that there is ACTUALLY something wrong with me and I am not broken. I wish you the best of luck dealing with this.

    • Hi Amber,

      I’m so glad that you found my post and that it helped you. Never feel like there is something wrong with you or that you are broken. God created you with this cross for a reason. I know that it isn’t an easy cross, even with all of the help available. Try to remember that it will, someday, get better.

      *hugs* You’ll be in my prayers, Amber. <3

  5. Jadelyn

    Thank you thank you thank you! Your post describe me exactly, as I was perusing through Google search results on “high functioning depression.” I’ve known something was off for a long time, but I couldn’t figure out why because it wasn’t completely life-paralyzing. I’ve had the same things said to me, “It’s time to pull up your big girl pants” (after I’ve survived alone for 6 years on my own, through college and grad school, but still felt something was wrong.) I do have questions about how to go about seeking help for this (I’ve been to two clinics who don’t believe me), and I feel a little worn down. Reading this has been a God-send today 🙂

    • I’m so glad my post was able to help you a bit, Jadelyn. Remember you are never alone.
      To answer your question, keep going to the doctors. If they don’t believe you, find another doctor until they do. It might help to ask for a psych evaluation. Talking to a psychologist who knows this exists may help the doctors actually believe you. (Remember: I’m not a doctor or health professional so I can’t give any really specific advice.)
      Always remember you are NOT alone. <3
      Amanda

  6. Doretha

    This post explains me to the fullest and I can relate and have done all 11 things. I can never keep still and I’m always so busy! Some think I am an over achiever, but I am so hard on myself. I had three jobs and was in school full time. I can’t stand not doing anything because like you said I am wasting time or I feel like I am. When I feel like this I feel like I’m not good enough and that I am a failure in all that I do. For me though when I am nervous I have this laugh a goofy laugh and it’s when I get put on the post too. I want to just cry and then I just pull it together bc no one needs to know how my world seems like it is crashing. It seems like if my life isn’t organized or structured I can’t sleep and can’t function. I sought out therapy and they both told me why was I there bc I am doing great and I am getting my LPC. I overcame so much in life people think I am so strong, but that pain is still here and contributes to my anxiety.

    • I am so glad you found this post. It is nice to know that we aren’t alone and that this actually does exist.
      It took a few doctors before they figured out what to call my problems.
      Hang in there. *hugs*

  7. Anessa

    Reading your post has made me think of my life. I lost my Mom, 2 months later I lost my Dad and 2 months after that I lost my sister. I have 2 daughters and one is still in the home and I have to function to take care of her and I stay busy with her and activities. I have noticed that I do not function how I use to fucntion. While I am not a messy person, I only clean enough for the appearance to be unnoticeable. Although, I have an OCD boyfriend who continually says how he takes pride in cleaning his home, doing his yard work, etc. It makes me feel as if he is saying I don’t take pride. I have told him on several ocassions that I am in a funk and he thinks changing they way my house looks will make me feel better. Well it doesn’t it make me think it makes him feel better to be at my house. I also know that I have some grief issues and I may not have fully dealt with the losses I have incurred but I definitely indulge in work and my childs sports and everyone talks about how strong I am and that they do not know I keep it together. I wish they only knew how I felt inside. I do not have it all together and my insides are running like New York City. Your post was great and more people need to be aware of depression and the many sides.

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