High-functioning depression can be hard to see.
But that doesn’t mean it’s not there. Here are a few of my symptoms with depression:
- When I feel depressed, my energy is extremely low. I have zero motivation to get out of bed, shower or even change clothes.
- My high-functioning depression is very present, even when it’s less noticeable. I feel heavy-hearted and utterly devastated for no apparent reason. It’s like walking through molasses and living in a world of grey.
- It usually makes me less social. So I bail on plans or only agree to one-on-one events with people who know me well and are familiar with my struggle. I may seem flaky, when really I struggle with shame and social anxiety.
- But sometimes seeing plans through is helpful. When I am being social — even while depressed –it keeps me distracted from the pain and hurt I feel.
- I don’t know why it happens. It’s not because I was dumped or fired or betrayed — it comes out of nowhere and I cannot control it. I ask my friends and family to be sensitive to that, and not ask, “Why so sad?”
- I feel isolated in this seemingly internal battle. It seems like it’s just me, myself and I going against depression, against mental illness and internal hurt. I know in my head I’m not alone, but emotionally I feel singled out.
- Affectionate gestures mean the world to me. Offering a hug, to sit with me or even just an ear to listen mean so much. It makes me feel less alone and much more supported.
- I notice and value support. Though I may be challenging to break through to when down, I truly do see your support and note it in the back of my mind, tuck it away in my heart.
No man is an island.
I have learned the hard (and sometimes easy) way the past 2 years since being diagnosed. Though I often feel false shame and guilt, I have seen a proverbial village of friends and family — both new and old — arise and support me and say, “I’m with you” during this battle.
I see the hurt depression not only causes me, but inhabits those who care for me. They exude this empathy and sympathy and outright compassion that humbles me greatly. They struggle with it in an equal, though certainly different, way as I do.
I seek out these three qualities for those who care for the depressed to have:
- Patience — patience to sit and humbly wait for the storms to pass, even though they may come and go and come again. Patience with depression and patience with the depressed.
- Kindness — please extend compassion when responding to someone who is depressed. Consider placing yourself in their shoes, consider their constant internal struggle.
- Grace — grace to give when a depressed person wrongs you or bails on plans or causes hurt. Grace because no was is perfect and we all struggle in one way or another.