So I recently made this video about high functioning anxiety and depression for a competition that I’m in (I’m currently taking part in the semi-finals, thanks for asking) and the brief said that it had to be 1 minute long. I already went over the minute by a bit and I barely scratched the surface of this topic.
High functioning anxiety and/or depression is where you’re still able to perform essential tasks like go to work, volunteer etc. It doesn’t mean, however, that those with high functioning anxiety and depression aren’t suffering very much. Sometimes being high functioning makes it even more difficult for people with mental illnesses. It means it’s harder for them to access help, it’s harder to spot when someone has issues.
I recently wrote a thing for work talking about signs that someone could be struggling with their mental health (again, tip of the iceberg, I know). You can read that here. These were things that I exhibited when I was struggling a lot at work.
So just because I’m able to go to work that doesn’t mean I’m well. So here are some things that people don’t/rarely see about me when my depression and anxiety is at it’s worst and often even regular every day things.
- Hypersensitive emotions
- Hypersensitive senses (particularly struggles with light)
- Constant exhaustion
- Panic attacks in large groups of people
- Panic attacks when meeting new people
- Panic attacks in regular every day situations like shopping
- Constant fear of being judged
- Overthinking to the point of burning out
- Inability to focus
- Lethargy throughout the day
- Self harm through eating bad food and drinking obscene amounts
- Drinking to be able to deal with social situations
- Anxiety to the point where I can’t speak to my friends
- Suicidal thoughts
- Constant self destructive thoughts
- Constant self loathing
- Huge mood swings
- Days where I’m angry for no reason
- Days where I’m sad for no reason
- Days where I have severe mood swings multiple times
- Inability to process information
- Inability to form a coherent sentence
This is a pretty short list. I guess what I’m trying to get at (I’ve had only a few hours sleep) is that it’s not always obvious that someone is suffering. In the video below people talk about me as a jolly, happy, friendly guy and I love them all to pieces. However, I try my best not to show them my struggles and my difficulties just getting through a regular day. I don’t talk about how exhausting it is being a super happy, upbeat guy every day. I don’t mention the fact that that’s not what I’m like when I’m alone.
Other people with mental illnesses may be just like me. Putting a mask on every day just so that people don’t worry, so that we’re not a burden on anyone else. People with mental illnesses don’t choose to have them. They’ve been dealt a hand and they’re trying to get by with what they’ve been given.
Make a conscious effort to ask how someone is. Be the kind of person who checks in on someone just to see how they’re doing. Offer to support a person. Hell, even making them a cup of tea can sometimes be enough.
Be kind, be thoughtful and be understanding. Look after yourselves and look after each other.