I have been been reading a good amount about depression recently. I always saw myself in the symptoms but I did not know that it may not be a debilitating illness.Well what I used to associate with a debilitating illness. One thing I feel most of the blogs and awareness websites fail to mention is how depression may not hinder your ability to function. After my diagnosis, I felt the need to write about my experience with depression to understand it better. Although I thought I did not feel that I communicated my point effectively, I did not expect the comments and messages I received in the last few days. After reading through them and trying to make sense of it the main question I had is this. Is it possible to be mentally ill and have it be indiscernible for the most part? In this moment I can only liken it to an alcoholic or drug addict who is fully functional.
Last week, a friend of mine mentioned the term high functioning depression when I talked to her about starting therapy and how I felt. A few days later another friend linked an article about it which then spurred my research. Based on this information, it would suggest that there are two sides to a depression diagnosis. You can experience symptoms and be disabled by them or experience them and be fully functional. For me it is a mix. Occasionally I am disabled but for the most part I am functional. I have now noticed that this theme is present in most mental illnesses. For example there are people on the autism spectrum who are unable to communicate verbally along with the other symptoms and others who are verbal yet hindered in the other ways an autistic person would be. These different presentations do not however affect the diagnosis.
This difference in usage is what made me believe I was not depressed. With most physical illnesses the diagnosis is always the same. For example with a broken arm an x-ray will show the problem with the bone and a course of action can be taken to correct it. There are different categories of break due to a set of criteria but there is no such thing as a broken arm that loos like it is not broken.
Through my experience thus far it seems as if most mental health work focuses on teaching methods of coping. The ill patient is given tools and sometimes medication to regulate their moods and feelings so that they can engage the world as they would like. Although I do not outrightly disagree with this approach, I wonder if this is the best approach to take.
If you are already able to function, who is to say that you actually have a problem?