Just like high functioning addiction or alcoholism, high functioning depression looks one way but feels completely different to the person suffering. Depression, though it can be managed and coped with, has persistent symptoms that can be unruly. Showing up to a job, to a marriage, to a family and to a life is possible with depression. Facing the challenges of having depression while doing so is incredibly challenging. Depression, along with many other mental illnesses, is quickly dismissed when everything on the outside appears to be fine. Outside the sun may be shining. Inside is a dark storm, forever brewing.
Sometimes, showing up and doing well is part of the way one copes with depression. It might be surprising to learn someone has depression when they do their job so well or function so seemingly normally in life. Just because you can’t see the way someone’s depression affects them doesn’t mean it isn’t real. Telling an alcoholic you don’t think they’re an alcoholic because you don’t see them as one is making a statement according to social guidelines. Projecting social expectations onto someone suffering from mental illness only heightens their sense that they are different. More troublingly, it tells them that their authentic and individual experience in life is unimportant.
Supporting a loved one with high functioning depression should include many activities or gestures to help them remember just how important they are. Their life and place in this world has a great impact on everyone involved. Losing them would be a significant loss to the world around them. Remove the stigma and blanket generalizations of depression by creating an individualized world for your loved one. What activities do they enjoy the most? What small actions can you commit to each day to help remind them that they are loved? Of course, none of this is meant out of codependency, but instead compassion.
Compassion is the ability to recognize someone’s suffering. Sometimes, suffering is hard to notice when it is so adequately masked by high functioning behavior. As the family and friends of a loved one suffering from mental health disorders we learn to question what we see. A spiritual practice to engage in this contemplation can include a conversation with yourself, with friends, etc, to ask, “At what cost does this person’s life come?”. What we see on the outside is only sometimes an indication of what’s inside. We can never know what someone is going through until we stop to ask.
Enlightened Solutions wants to know if you are suffering from mental health issues like anxiety. A certified and licensed dual diagnosis center, Enlightened offers the best in integrative treatment. For more information call 833-801-5483
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