I’m “high-functioning” they say. I have “high-functioning” depression, “high-functioning” anxiety, “high-functioning” PTSD and complex PTSD, “high-functioning” ASD & ADHD.
I suppose that’s because on the surface I’m pretty much kept together. I’m pretty sociable; I go out & see friends, I work (supporting people with mental illnesses would you believe!?), I sing in a group, out in public, I’m also studying for a masters in Psychology. I smile, laugh and joke a lot, I try to be there all hours to support my friends and would do anything I can to help them. I get complimented on being “so chilled”, “happy-go-lucky”, “really laid back”, “always smiley and bubbly.”
But then there’s what you don’t see. Most of the time, people only see what I want them to see. Other times I am dying inside, screaming, trying to reach out, begging for someone to help me, some support, praying for someone to tell me I’m not as awful as I think I am or begging for some kind of distraction, yet usually I try to push through alone. I try not to let people see this side, the side that would shock them if they saw this reality exists.
People don’t tend to see the hours of curling up on my bed, eyes squeezed tightly shut as I relive and re-experience one type of trauma or another. They can’t see the insomnia or when I do eventually sleep the nightmares and night terrors that plague what could be my one chance to switch off from it all. They don’t tend to see the panic attacks that feel like they go on for hours as they drain the energy from me. They don’t see me needing to be ready extra early to allow for the numerous attempts to leave the house. They don’t see the intrusive thoughts that take over mind, body and soul and convince me everyone secretly hates me, that I deserve this and that everyone would be better off without me. Nor do they see how hard I try to push it all away and keep it hidden in the company of other people and try to be the ‘me’ that people have come to expect.
But then at times it gets more difficult, I struggle to hide it, it feels pretty much impossible to keep up that façade and continue being the person people expect me to be. It feels like I have absolutely no strength left to push through any more rubbish that comes my way. And no matter how much I try to start each morning feeling grateful that I get to see another day, I can’t do it with any sincerity. It can get to a point where I waking up in the morning feels terrifying and the thought of having to try and fight through another day is beyond terrifying. I barely focus and become physically and mentally drained. Leaving the house starts to feel even more difficult.
So, I guess you could say people that are “high functioning”, can still barely be functioning at all.