So, this is a hard thing for me to talk about. I have been hiding something about me from most people for a long time. I have depression. Most people don’t know this about me because I have what they call functional depression. I am able to manage well enough that most people have no idea what is actually happening inside my head. Yes, this does mean that at many times in my life I have had to play the role. Being an actor in my own life has surprisingly come easily to me, especially when I was working.
Today is one of my bad days. The thing is, when you have depression and can still function, you have bad days and good days. On the bad days, you find it harder to put on the painted smile and function the way society wants you to. Instead, your smile in a little dimmer and your eyes can give away the pain that you are feeling inside. Sometimes it is triggered by things like stress and other times, unbeknownst to me at least, it is as if a magical depression fairy has sprinkled me with depression dust. This magical depression dust weighs you down and steals your ability to think clearly.
Just today, I have found myself forgetting things and being very distracted. I am not sitting around the house, staring at nothing, and thinking about every bad thing in my life. Depression can make you contemplate the negative but most of it is just a feeling. It is a sense of dread and anxiety mixed with confusion. You are confused why you have these feelings in the first place. It is not just an emotional feeling but a physical feeling as well. For me, I have a dizzy headache and my whole body feels extremely heavy. It is as if I am walking through the densest fog imaginable.
I haven’t had the courage until now to fully talk about what I go through because I have always been afraid of being seen as weak or inferior. On all doctor’s office forms, I hesitate when it asks about depression and anxiety. In the end, I always leave those boxes unchecked. I fear I will open a huge can of worms by admitting that I actually have a problem. Don’t get me wrong, I want to feel like whatever a normal adult feels like, but I don’t want to have that label on me. So, I have mostly kept it all to myself.
I usually stay clear from writing on my bad days out of fear that my writing will be too negative. Today felt different though. I began to write haiku poetry about how I was feeling. Surprisingly, people were reacting quickly to what I had written. After driving around town like a zombie still in the haze of depression, I felt like I had to write about what I am really going through.
This may not be true for everyone, but I can feel my bad days coming. It usually starts with just a mediocre day that made me feel bad by the end of the day. Nothing truly bad happened but by the end of the day, I feel as if something is wrong, leaving me feeling anxious. The next morning there is no escaping the way I feel. It is as if the day before were the signs of a cold and now I am barely able to breathe and coughing up my lungs. I knew it was coming but there wasn’t anything I could do about it. This morning, after a restless sleep that included a dream about being back at work with a room full of people who were rejecting me by ignoring me, I felt an instant dread. Nothing bad was scheduled for today. Sure, dishes had piled up in the sink, but that always happens when I have one dishwasher and a house full of people. I began to feel as if I should be paranoid about something or as if something bad was inevitably going to happen. It left me feeling physically drained and heavy.
Even though I am still stuck in my depression haze, I know it will pass and I will be able to have a real smile again. It may take a day or two but I will return to my sense of normal. I shouldn’t feel embarrassed or ashamed of what I am feeling. I did not plan to feel this way and I certainly do not have complete control over it. Instead, I am going to try to be more open about it. Maybe this will help others to understand what I am going through and know it is nothing they did.
Being an active listener is the best thing you can do for a person who has to battle depression. When I am having a bad day, I just want to be held and reminded of the good things in my life. I may snap at people or have a harsh look on my face, but I promise it is not intentional. All I need is a little understanding and comfort to help ease me into a better day. For all of the people who are suffering as I am, it is okay to let people know how it really feels. There is nothing wrong with that.
2 responses to “Opinion: What it is Like to Have Functional Depression.”
There is nothing wrong with that at all. Being accepted. Being understood. Being held. Being actively listened to. All so so key. Glad I could listen today. Now. Right now. Hope you are feeling that weight is a little lighter, that fog a little less dense , after writing this blog and being so honest with all of us. Well done you.
Thank you so much, Kelvin. Just your comment lifted some of the weight. I really needed that.
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