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When You're 'High-Functioning' and Always Smiling — but Still Depressed


People have a certain image in their heads when they think of a depressed person. Greasy hair. A somber expression. A gloomy outlook on life. This is what someone with depression might look like. I may even look like this on a bad day.

Most of the time, I don’t look depressed. I am known for my smile and sweet disposition. I joke, and laugh, and make people feel special. And because of my personality, people are surprised when I say I have depression.

They ask if I’m just feeling a little down. Or say others have it worse. Or tell me to just get over it. Like it’s all so easy. That it will just pass if I will it.

I don’t fit the “depressed person” stereotype. And I think that scares people. It means that depression can hit anyone, at anytime, without prejudice. It’s not a comforting thought. But I don’t think my illness should be questioned because of that.

Having “high-functioning” depression can be frustrating for many reasons, but not being believed may be one of the worst. I am less likely to receive counseling. Which means I am more likely to break down without such an important outlet at my disposal. Just because I excel at school, doesn’t mean I’m not suffering.

Instead of shock, I’d rather be met with compassion. Or asking how I am and actually caring about the answer. Sometimes compassion is the best and most appropriate response.

Unsplash photo via Caju Gomes