Hello once again everyone! I have officially returned from Paris, ready and refreshed to bring you more blogging, and, most importantly, more posts about mental health! Today I thought I would talk about a topic that’s particularly close to my heart, which is that of high functioning mental illness. This is basically me in a nutshell. For example:
- I wear makeup every day
- If I can’t get a shower, I do my hair and put on nice-smelling lotion
- I don’t always cry when I go to the doctor/therapist
- I manage to get my schoolwork in on time
And these are only a couple of examples. There are loads of different ways in which people have high functioning mental illnesses. I often talk about it as if I don’t have time for my mental illness – I take time for self-care, and things like that (well, usually), but there are some days in which I feel like I have to go to work, or focus on an essay. I can sort of sweep it to the side, not allowing myself to focus on dealing with my mental ill health at that exact time, and waiting until I have the time to spend all day in bed, or something similar. I have no doubt that this makes my mental health worse. As a professor of mine said to me recently: “I’m not worried about the work getting done. I’m worried about what it’ll do to you to get it done.”
(A note: this is not a healthy way of dealing with this. I should probably do a post at some point talking about better ways of making sure I get my life things done and maintaining my mental health, but I’m not at that point yet! I think its good to realise that although I’m pretty well-adjusted in some areas pertaining to mental health, this is not one of them. Please let me know if you have any ideas that might help.)
I am also very, very good at putting on a brave face. I’m quite a bubbly person normally (just ask my friends and family – I can chat to literally anyone for hours), so it can become very obvious when I am depressed. However, I don’t let it show, except to the people very close to me. I guess this is a bit odd, because I talk about my mental health a lot. I just don’t like to show it. I think that this is because when I talk about mental health, I can control the narrative, if that makes sense. Whereas if I allow my body to speak for me, people can see all sorts of things that I don’t necessarily want them to.
I think this is why some people don’t believe me when I say I have depression and anxiety. Half the problem is that they cannot see through my appearance of functionality, and the other half is that there’s such a stereotype about what depressed people look like/act like. Just because I’ve got dressed this morning doesn’t mean that I’m okay. I’ve just made a purposeful effort in pretending that I am.
I know that a surprisingly high number of people have high functioning mental illnesses like this – what have your experiences been like? Let me know x