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18 Secrets of People With 'High-Functioning' Depression

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Many who live with depression feel the pressure to appear as if everything is OK — or as some people call it, live with “high-functioning” depression. Though not an official diagnosis, people who don’t “look like” they have depression, or who go through life like nothing is wrong, might identify with the phrase.

Some may feel ashamed and can’t find a “reason” why they are feeling depressed— so they try to hide it. Some might believe if anyone saw past their perfectly orchestrated act, they might leave. And some may think if they can manage to carry on like everything is fine, it eventually will be.

No matter what reasons someone with depression has for “functioning” through it, a struggle with depression is serious and needs to be taken seriously. We need to remember that even when someone appears to have it “all together,” we may not know the whole story. If a friend who seems “fine” on the outside confides in you about their struggle with depression — listen.

We wanted to know the secrets of people with “high-functioning” depression, so we asked our mental health community to share one thing they wish others understood.


Here’s what they told us:

1. “Just because I ‘act fine’ on the outside, doesn’t mean I feel fine on the inside. It’s like living a double life — the facade that everyone else sees vs. what I feel like and know to be true on the inside. It’s exhausting, emotionally and physically, to keep up both personas.” — Sage S.

2.  I wish people understood that even if I sleep for a long time, I can still be incredibly tired. People think I’m being ‘lazy’ when I’m really not. My depression just constantly wears me out.” — Aimee P.

3.Just because I’m functioning and getting things done, doesn’t mean I’m not experiencing symptoms.” — Paula H.

4. “I want to be the picture perfect house wife. I want it to look like Martha Stuart and the pioneer woman are about to throw a huge party up in here… but I can’t. And when I can’t, I hate myself. The more things I want to fix the worse I beat myself up when I can’t accomplish them all.” — Brittany H.

5. “Some days I’ll be able to power on through with little resistance from my illness. But then there are days when everything is heavy and I don’t know how to convey that or even ask for help because I have to keep a facade going.” — Luis V.

6.Just because I look happy and can smile, doesn’t mean I truly am happy. I sometimes put on a brave face so I can continue to support and help others. I could be crumbling inside and you may not even notice.” — Jocelyn L.

7. “After a five-hour shift at my part-time job, I have nothing left to give… nothing left to give my husband, our kids, our home, my hobbies. Holding down a job [and] dealing with the public takes every ounce of energy I have. And that makes me feel like the world’s worst wife and mom.” — Kristina W.

8. “When I have bad days, there is no magic reset button.” — Morgan S.

9. “My depression can sometimes arrive unprovoked. I may be having a great few days and getting a lot of things done but suddenly my mood just drops and there usually isn’t a reason why.” — Kira M.

10. Depression doesn’t equal sadness all the time. I love hanging out, but sometimes I can’t. I’m physically, emotionally and mentally spent when I ‘flake out’ on plans. Hiding my depression has become a full-time job minus the benefits.” — Monica W.

11.Dealing with depression isn’t always as easy as stepping outside to get some fresh air or taking the kids to play at the park. Doing simple things just as these can even trigger my anxiety. I start to analyze all the things in the day or things we are dealing with as a family or the things my closest family and friends are dealing with.” — Jimmy K.

12. “I wish people could understand how much effort it takes to hold my life together when I’m ill. I can’t not keep functioning — the stakes are too high and I’m not sure I could cope with the fallout — but it takes all I’ve got to keep moving forward.” — Annette A.

13. “Just because I could yesterday, doesn’t mean I can today, but I might be able to tomorrow.” — Melissa W.

14. “My depression doesn’t need to be ‘measured up.’ Just because you can’t see it or because my symptoms aren’t as obvious as some doesn’t mean I don’t deal with my depression every moment of every day.” — Breanna H.

15. “It’s easy for me to be strong and support you, but when it comes to myself, I literally can’t even think straight. I’m so tired from concentrating on making it through the day that by evening, I’m exhausted. Even though I say I’m fine, I really could do with someone looking after me for a change.” — Rachel R.

16. “I don’t want to be cranky all the time. This is just how my high-functioning depression presents. It makes me want to just stay inside and not speak to anyone, because everything I say comes out harsh and rude and all it does is make people angry with me.” — Courtney W.

17. “I’m a moment away from breaking. I work really hard to keep it together.” — Cari S.

18. “I might be happy, I might be productive, but I’m constantly fighting my brain, and each human interaction drains more of me. Just because I don’t show the pressure of my emotions building doesn’t mean I’m not ready to erupt. Just ask me if I’m alright. Ask me what’s new and mean it. I’m ‘high-functioning’ but I’m still depressed and I still need a friend.” — Haley F.

 Thinkstock photo via Anna_Isaeva.

18 Secrets of People With 'High-Functioning' Depression
Originally published: July 26, 2017
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