A High Functioning Mental illness makes people disregard the struggle that comes along with it.Pronoy Roy, Author and Blogger
Depression. Anxiety. Personality Disorder. A High Functioning Mental illness makes people disregard the struggle that comes along with it. Depression. Anxiety. Personality Disorder.
These are some examples of high functioning mental illness. What makes them high functioning? Well, it is because you have the capacity to continue your daily task while struggling with it, which comes in contrast to mental illnesses like schizophrenia.
Now when I say capacity, I don’t mean that you can function properly with these illnesses. In fact, in severe cases of depression and panic disorder, you can’t even call them high functioning. Often times when we read about these illnesses, we take a very medical path to explain to them because we believe that that is how we can convince the ‘other’ into believing in it. Not empathizing, understanding or supporting. Just believing in it. What happens when people agree that the disease exists but aren’t convinced that it impacts you because you are ‘functioning‘?
Well, a doctor’s note may feel school-like but is the best way to say that you are being honest. There are many ways to go about this complex punch of understanding, empathy, support, and care, but not everyone has the right ingredients or the right ratios.
What I mean to say is that sometimes people can be over-empathizing or think they’re being supportive when in reality they are just patronizing you. I’ll be honest I have been that person and I have also been the person who has been patronized. So how do keep this balance of functioning, struggling, and being patronized while keeping calm? The first step is to accept that none of this is your fault.
I know everyone deals with mental illness differently and so I am going to use my experience as an example. There is a lot of self-blaming involved. Thinking, “If I would have done [that] differently” or “What would happen if I hadn’t met [X] person”. You have no control over these. You make decisions in the moment and not everything you do can be perfect.
The second step is to seek help. Yes, this has been repeated over and over and over… but, it has not been said enough number of times. Talking to someone, a close friend or a parent is great and very healing but what these people don’t have in their toolkit is methods of functioning. You can tell your friend you are anxious but it is your counselor that can tell you methods of dealing with it when you do have a panic attack or someone triggers your anxiety.
Seeking help is a bit of loaded advice. Some people do not have financial assistance for this, for some, depending on where they live, there is a stigma around it. For many, there isn’t a practitioner nearby or there are very little means of finding a practitioner. Before I go any further, I want to recognize the privilege I have had where I had a supportive family, access to a practitioner and financial assistance while working to get better.
I will not be able to say much about what you can do to find medical assistance for dealing with mental illness but what I can say is, if you have a good support system, you will be all right. I am not going to go much more into what seeking help because that’s not what this article is about. This piece is about recognizing that there is a struggle that comes with mental illnesses and it is never easy for anyone.
People who deal with depression have a wide variety of symptoms. Some can’t sleep at all, some can’t wake up before 16 hours of sleep. Some can’t eat, some just have the need to keep eating constantly. Personally, I had difficulty leaving my room, and bed because I didn’t want to see anyone. Even if I had to use the washroom, I would hold it in till night time where I knew my roommates were in their rooms and I would not have to talk to them. I willingly switched off my phone and laptop for weeks without talking to anyone. I isolated myself and stopped getting the help I was receiving. Did I eat, sleep and basically function? Yes. Was I a productive human with the purpose of trying to better his life? No.
Mental illnesses are never a topic you can brush off because they have real-life consequences, and in many cases, these consequences are worse than physical pain. I have a few tips for you to encourage functioning even when you don’t have the energy.
Have an accountability buddy
This has worked a lot for me. After weeks of locking myself away, I got an accountability buddy. They checked up on me every day, asked if I needed anything. Some days I did not want to walk to class, so I would ask my buddy to walk with me and they would! You have to realize that your loved ones are more than happy to help and you and you are never a burden. They feel bad when you push them away, so why not make them a part of your journey of getting better?
Be Uncomfortable for 30 minutes a day
This is a very important one. In life, as we grow and develop, there are a lot of days and points where we feel out of our comfort zone. When dealing with a mental illness, the natural response is to isolate yourself and just be comfortable. But, what many people don’t realize is that this happens because one of the symptoms of depression is that you don’t take joy in anything you do. This pushes you to go towards material and immaterial things that have brought you happiness earlier. Doing so does not help either because of you of the illness. So, try to go outside your comfort zone for at least 30 minutes every day because then you can keep working on different emotions that you can produce. Think of it as exercising your brain. This will try to push it to bring the chemical levels in your body to normal levels.
Get away from social media
We all have that one friend who has the perfect life, they go for photoshoots and eat caviar on a yacht. And we know they are doing all this because they post it on social media. Get away from unrealistic ideals of what life should be like. Life is never easy and people who tell you otherwise are either liars or billionaires. (I don’t think the billionaires have it easy either tbh.)
Reading has been my go-to when I feel uncomfortable in my skin. The characters and their stories take me away, even if just for a while. There isn’t much more to say about that. I hope reading helps you too.
A lot of people will tell you to meditate, and maybe it works for you. Some will offer you take hiking because nature is beautiful and it helped them. Maybe that can help you. I may not be able to say what exactly it is that will start you on your path to healing, but, I know – as long as you make an effort to get better, you will.
Hope you enjoyed reading this blog. If you’d like to read more check out Why disability is important to Diversity