Tuesday, 17 February 2015

Welcome to my world- 'high functioning'



Ok so the running theme in my brain is guilt; the running theme in my medical notes is certainly 'high functioning'. The medical professionals seem to like this phrase. Basically what it boils download to is that even when i feel like shit i still general manage to carry out most of the tasks necessary for everyday life.

No matter how many times i might say or feel that i want to call up in bed and cry and ignore the world i can't do it. I get up, i get dressed, i go to work. I even do 'unnecessary' things like guides or ringing and i rarely cancel on friends. And I'm not,  by the way, implying that I'm somehow better or more hardworking or whatever than people who can't do those things. Because I'm not. Just different. A lot of it ties back into the guilt thing. The need to be productive. The need to keep up appearances.

And I'm certainly not unusual in that. There are a lot of people out there that you'd never guess were struggling because they get up, put on the right expression and play the game. Often there's a very clichéd view of depression (for example) as shutting or the world, constantly weeping, hiding in a darkened room. And probably that's what it is like for some people. But not all. There are some very successful people living with mental illnesses, people who seem to have everything and be totally together. You can never tell.
Which is why it needs to be easier for people to speak about it. So it no longer has to be a secret.
I've often felt unable to talk honestly about how I'm feeling simply because the way i act doesn't reflect the way i feel. I feel life I'm exaggerating or being silly when clearly everyone can see I'm fine. It's very easy to look over dramatic or attention seeking if you confess to feeling suicidal two seconds after you've been sitting laughing, cracking jokes.
So many times I've had things in my mind to tell therapists or counsellors or GPs and been derailed simply by them opening with 'you seem happier/better/more cheerful' today. Because I'm good at seeming cheerful and to contradict them feels like whinging.
I've come across several professionals along the way and only one of them has ever really 'got it'. Her summation was basically 'ok so we know you can manage, we just bed to help you feel less shit about it' lol. There's a big focus in mental health services on getting people back to work or back into social circles....back functioning basically. Which is tricky when you already do those things. In my discharge meeting last time my psychologist told me i was doing well because i was managing to hold down a job, seeing friends, engaging with my hobbies and studying. It didn't seem worth pointing out that i was already doing all those things when i first entered their services!
I don't know where I'm going with this. Don't get me wrong, I'm very grateful that I'm able to lead a normal life...i mean you've got to be, right? Just every so often i resent it as well. It's really hard work. It exacerbates the feelings of guilt because obviously 'I'm fine'. It definitely limits the help you can get because that goes to the 'really sick' people. And sometimes it doesn't seem worth all the effort!
I shouldn't leave these posts so late, my thoughts on this were much more coherent earlier! I think the vast majority of people with mental health issues will fall into the 'high functioning' bracket at least at some point. The place of managing but struggling. And i think maybe that makes them more vulnerable...because nobody knows, so nobody can support our look out for them and they feel unable to tell anyone. I just think that's important to be aware of. That's my conclusion basically, just look out for folk, even if they don't for the classically 'ill' stereotype. x

Ps. And a funny note to end on.