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The danger of high-functioning depression

MikeMike Screen addict 🎮LondonPosts: 2,916 Community Manager
I came across this article a few days ago and thought it would resonate with a lot of you folks. A college student talks about how, among some, there's this idea that depression and wider mental health issues cannot affect those with 'perfect lives' or those who are high achieving. As a result of this misconception, fog can often slip over people in this demographic and they can miss out on the support they need. She also goes into her story and it's a really interesting read.

Thoughts/experiences, anyone? :chin:
All behaviour is a need trying to be met.

Comments

  • apandavapandav :) Posts: 2,072
    What really frustrates me is , I constantly get: your at uni, you have a family who love you, friends etc. I don't understand why you should be sad. Worst part is- even a mental health nurse told me the above - I thought maybe they'd know better!!

    I just felt like I can relate to the idea of being depressed yet still doing well at uni. I'll be honest I've surprised myself how well I've done at uni (even not including mental health issues)- but I tend to use studying to escape sometimes so it does make sense.
  • MikeMike Screen addict 🎮 LondonPosts: 2,916 Community Manager
    Really cool to hear your insights, apandav. It must be extremely frustrating, right? Especially to hear it from a mental health nurse - that is not okay. :no:
    apandav wrote: »
    I'll be honest I've surprised myself how well I've done at uni (even not including mental health issues)- but I tend to use studying to escape sometimes so it does make sense.

    I think this is pretty key. I've spoken to a lot of people, myself, who say that academia is essentially their coping mechanism/form of escape. There seems to be a difference in society's perception of those who focus their negative energy in a more 'productive' way (e.g. academia, art, etc) and those who tend to release their emotions in a less 'productive' way (e.g. self-harm, aggression, etc). Although, in either case, those harmful feelings and difficulties are still there and are usually damaging to the individual.

    Can I ask how you've been able to break that barrier/misconception down with people, if you have? :chin:
    All behaviour is a need trying to be met.
  • Jacob101Jacob101 Rampant Poster Posts: 684 Incredible Poster
    I constantly get from people - you have a loving family who care about you, a roof over your head, food to eat and some people dont even have that so why be so miserable, also i get, you have achieved so much in your life already and have met some amazing people and been giving some amazing opportunities that most of us will never get given in our lifetime and you still act like this,- a miserable, upset and horrible girl who doesn't appreciate anything. { --- that is what my parents and some close relatives say to me.
    'Don't worry about failures, worry about the chances you miss when you don't even try.'
  • MaisyMaisy The Mix convert CymruPosts: 295 Moderator
    Totally me! I first started feeling depressed when I was 12 and went to high school. Any time I said I felt depressed, the response was usually 'You're not' or 'It's just a state of mind' and 'get over it' or 'get al life'. So I started believing this, and anytime I felt down, I blamed it on everything- stress, periods (sorry guys!) lack of sleep, but it got to the point where I had run out of things to blame. And yet, everyone thought I was doing well. I was a straight A student. I had two people (1 being my best friend) tell me I had the perfect life. When I did my A-Levels, I completely failed year 12, but that was ignored and I was told to revise more. I thought uni would magically solve all my problems (and it did for a short while) but by second year, all my anxiety came back again. Even when I graduated with a 2:1 (I was expecting a 2:2 because my grades slipped a lot during final year) no-one knew how I felt. Even now, I find myself comparing myself to others thinking I'm really lucky that I got a degree, because many people who have been in my situation (depression, anxiety, abuse, ill parent etc), haven't.

    But at the same time, I think what kept me going was academia, like @Mike since I had no interests, and not many friends either, so it was easier to just focus on school work rather than all my issues.
  • apandavapandav :) Posts: 2,072
    Mike wrote: »
    Really cool to hear your insights, apandav. It must be extremely frustrating, right? Especially to hear it from a mental health nurse - that is not okay. :no:



    I think this is pretty key. I've spoken to a lot of people, myself, who say that academia is essentially their coping mechanism/form of escape. There seems to be a difference in society's perception of those who focus their negative energy in a more 'productive' way (e.g. academia, art, etc) and those who tend to release their emotions in a less 'productive' way (e.g. self-harm, aggression, etc). Although, in either case, those harmful feelings and difficulties are still there and are usually damaging to the individual.

    Can I ask how you've been able to break that barrier/misconception down with people, if you have? :chin:

    I don't feel I've managed to break the barrier/ misconception down, I'm the type of person who just agrees (even if it upsets me or whatnot, I do start to regret it after, and wonder if I should have said something and what etc.). I wish I could break down this barrier, and I know people like myself and others speaking out would have an effect (as a whole in the long run) maybe, but I don't feel like I'm strong enough to do it. And to be honest people with mental health problems are probably at one of the worst points in their lives, hence the probably feel less unable to speak out at that time- hence how will this misconception be broken?

    I agree with your point, I do think for me academia is a coping mechanism in a way, which is probably hard for people outside to understand- I've heard more people who are in similar situations have their grades go down- you'd think it would be more stressful. I'm not saying uni can't be stressful (or any other form of studies)- there were points where it was stressful and got too much, and I couldn't even use it to cope(but that was when the amount was above a certain level). Below that level it helps me to cope.
  • RavenclawRavenclaw Noob Posts: 74 The answer to life, the universe, and everything
    I could definitely relate to this a lot. It's definitely a risk for those with high functioning mental illnesses, and something I think it's worth raising awareness of. Depression and mental illnesses take many different forms, and has already been said, a lot of people don't realise that academia or other productive activities can actually be used as a coping mechanism in some ways and sometimes it's the behaviour the rest of the world doesn't see, and the reasons behind these mechanisms, which indicate that there's something wrong.

    I think it also links a lot to the idea of not feeling or being considered to be "sick enough" which is something I've struggled with for a long time - and still do - and which stopped me from getting help for a long time. I still feel very guilty often, as I know that others have it much much worse and from an outside view it probably looks like I'm complaining about nothing because many think I have a "perfect life". But the thing is, people in these situations often know what good parts of their life they have - reminding them in a condescending way isn't going to help them, it just invalidates their experience and can cause extra guilt as they feel they can't control their unnecessary and invalid emotions and furthermore that they don't have the right to feel that way.

    Anyway, this definitely made me think, so just throwing in my two pennies worth. c:
  • MikeMike Screen addict 🎮 LondonPosts: 2,916 Community Manager
    Guys, it's seriously uber interesting to hear about all your experiences and your take on this. :yes:

    I think the point @Ravenclaw raised about the guilt this sort of thing induces is a really interesting one. I was actually listening to a podcast fairly recently with Scroobius Pip and Jodi Ann Bickley where she talks about suffering with ME. One thing she talked about during the piece was the way she felt like a fraud a lot of the time and felt like her emotions and feelings weren't justified. She goes on to say that because she feels okay some of the time and can't actually see evidence of her illness - like you could with a broken leg, for example - she often doubted herself and wondered whether it was all in her head.

    Not only does this seem applicable to mental illness on a wider scale (because people can't see it, some don't believe it's there or take it seriously), but it seems super relevant to everything you guys are talking about; like people constantly iterating that you have the 'perfect life' etc. would just be compounding those feelings of doubt and tendencies to question the legitimacy of what you're feeling. Particularly when you have all the tangible reasons in the world to be happy by society's standards (good grades, etc), it can be harder to listen to those that are more emotional and mental.

    I know @apandav raised a great point about the whole situation being a bit of a self-reinforcing cycle (feeling unable to speak up, etc.), but I'm intrigued to know whether the rest of you guys tried to battle against this before? If so, how did you do it and how did it pan out? :chin:
    All behaviour is a need trying to be met.
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