Living with High-Functioning Depression

To my loyal readers, friends, and family you may have noticed my absence since last week.  I was sick and then while recovering had a bout of depression.  It was so bad I had an anxiety attack at work.  I couldn’t calm down and I was shaking for quite a few hours from the residuals of my attack.  I barely made it through work, let alone had the energy to write any LookBooks or post on Instagram.  Putting out material masked in positivity feels dishonest to myself and my followers, as if the only way to feel better is through social medias popularity reinforcement.

I have been struggling with my mental health for years, but remain without a formal diagnosis.  Though therapy and medication do seem like a good option, it is hard to cover the cost of all of these things when I have enough bills to pay as is.  On top of that I don’t like the idea of being medicated for the rest of my life.  I think anti-depressants and anti-anxiety pills work wonders for so many people, but it’s just something I don’t want.  The worst part about mental health issues is that unlike something like a cold, there isn’t a quick fix where all of sudden I’ll wake up and feel like a new person.  It’s going to be a lifelong struggle, and I want to control it as best I can.  There may be a point where I can’t do it on my own, and that’s okay.

Maybe it was with the completion of college, but in the last year my bouts of crippling depression have increased and taken me to the point where I can’t get out of bed, talk to my friends, or even go to work. I just lay staring at the wall and telling myself over and over again that I have to get up.  I need to eat, I need to drink water, I need to shower, and I can’t do it.  Luckily for me I have a very supportive group of friends and a loving partner who understand my struggles and know when I need to be left alone and when I need company.  I just continually isolate myself hoping that I’ll feel better when in reality it takes an even bigger toll.

From the outside you all know me as a happy and tough human being who has an opinion on just about anything and oozes confidence.  I have what is known as high-functioning depression.  Meaning I can do everything I want to do and handle a high amount of stress.  I can go to work, I can challenge myself, I can try new things, and I can be a functioning member of society.  But when a small things goes wrong, I’m out of commission.  A small mistake or incident can throw a wrench in my entire life and I can’t bounce back quickly. I am in constant check so that I never fail.

Like this week, I had to arrange last minute details to get a Visa and I was convinced it wasn’t going to work.  I worried myself to the point that I broke down.  I didn’t sleep, I didn’t eat, I just worried until my chest hurt.  I got inside my head and knew that failure was imminent.  If not for some supportive words from my coworkers, a solution from my father, and an early visit from my partner:  I wouldn’t have done anything this weekend.

Even with all of this, the fact that everything is going to be alright, and is alright.  I had to spend Friday in bed doing nothing because I still couldn’t fully be myself.  It really fucking sucked.  I wanted to be productive and get things done and I couldn’t do it because my anxiety attack had taken a physical toll on me.  My partner wanted to go out and do something and I just wanted to watch movies and do nothing, even though I have a laundry list of things to do.

What’s especially stressful is that without a “formal diagnosis” this is all hearsay, I have no proof that anything is wrong from a medical standpoint.  But I know I’m not right all the time, something is wrong is my head, but that’s okay.  I have a strong awareness of myself and my mentality and it has kept me alive.  Being in my own head so much scares me.  There’s a part of me that thinks at some point my depression will consume me to the point where I won’t bounce back, nothing will make me feel like myself again, and I’ll make one quick decision and it’ll all be over.

But you know what, that’s all fine because it is my reality.  It may not always be fine, things will go wrong, maybe I won’t be able to get out of bed for a few weeks, but I will stay alive.  I have a pact with myself that I will never take my life.  I will suffer and trudge through all the shit that life throws at me because I owe it myself and my family and friends to see this life to the bitter end.

I feel that Hollywood and the internet have beautified mental illness.  Like a fucking cool thing that makes you artistic and deep, finding beauty in your struggle.  They don’t show the weight loss from not eating for a week, or the weight gain from binge eating, the sores from laying in the same position for too long, the constant feeling of exhaustion like at any moment your body will stop working, the forced smiles and engagement with other people which only makes you feel worse because you feel like a big fat liar wearing a mask.  Depression isn’t fun, it isn’t cool, it isn’t anything but a giant suck fest that makes living more difficult than it already is.

Also, anxiety isn’t just worrying too much, its not being able to stop yourself from ripping the skin off around your fingers and grinding your teeth to the point that it hurts, and being unable to focus on anything because you just can’t make a mistake or everything is ruined.  Anxiety isn’t simple, it isn’t easy, and it feels like your heart will beat out of your chest.

So basically I want to tell you all that I’m not sorry I have depression, I won’t apologize for the way my brain is.  But what I will say is that when I’m rude and short with people I can’t stop myself.  When I disappear for a week, I will be back.  When I seem depressed and out of it, I am. I’m a bit fucked in the head, but that’s okay.

Just don’t tell me to “smile” and I’ll feel better, that maybe it’s just hormones, or that I’m just being melodramatic.  My mental health isn’t something you have to be involved with, but it does make me the person I am.  I’m going to be unpleasant and moody, but I’m still me, I am not my depression or anxiety. I’m just  Saba, a Psychedelic Lover with a passion for wide-brimmed hats, feminism, and towering platforms.

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