When you function “too well” to have your mental illness taken seriously
I would say I function pretty well.
I get up and out of bed every single day. I shower. I take care of my kids. I make it to appointments when we have them. I socialize with people. I go places. I take care of our household. I pay our bills on time.
I do everything expected out of a 32 year old adult.
Most people in my life have no idea that I deal with crippling anxiety. Most people in my life would have no idea that I have been walking though a fog of despair for the last year. A fog I can’t seem to shake no matter what I do. Most people have no idea that I grew up with an alcoholic father. And that I deal every single day with ACOA (Adult Children of Alcoholic) issues.
I have written more about these things here on Medium than I have ever talked about in real life with people.
Even my therapist has only gotten a glimpse of who I really am, and what I’ve got going on in my life.
I function so well that I feel I must hide the struggles that I have.
I have to hide the fact that I am human.
I have to hide this because I worry people will see the real me.
I worry they won’t take me seriously.
I like to think I am strong.
I like to think I am independent.
When in reality I sometimes feel fragile.
I sometimes feel broken.
And I have a really hard time asking for help.
Acting “fine” is a cognitive process.
I can do this no matter how I feel inside. To say it is very difficult is an understatement, but it isn’t impossible.
I know this, because I do it every single day.
I fear people won’t take my anxiety or despair seriously because I operate so well throughout my life.
So I hide it.
And I hide it really, really well.
I don’t discuss that I am in therapy with people. Only a handful of people know that I go. I fear what people will think, if they know that I spend an hour each week discussing my life with a stranger.
I don’t discuss the daily anxiety that I feel with people. How it feels sometimes like I can’t breathe. Or how it feels like I might be crushed under the weight of my anxious mind.
I don’t discuss how lonely being a stay at home mom can be at times. How sometimes I just long for someone to reach out to me and check in on me. How I look forward 6PM when my husband gets home and I can see and talk to another adult.
I don’t discuss how our financial situation this year has nearly killed me. How it has brought with it this darkness that I can’t shake. How it has brought up so many other issues, issues that are even more pressing than the drastic financial stuff.
Instead of discussing these things I shove them down deep inside of myself.
Down into the place that I don’t go often. And I for sure don’t shine a light on them for other people to see.
I am working on this. I know that the only true way to really have relationships in life is to be vulnerable with people. To allow them to see the real me.
I am trying to remember that it is ok that I function so well. It is ok that I don’t spend days in bed, or miss payments on our bills, or even that I enjoy socializing with people.
It is ok that I deal with mental health issues.
That it is ok that I am human.