High Functioning Dysfunction

High Functioning Dysfunction June 22, 2016

This Mighty article by Amanda Leventhal popped up on my facebook feed today:

The Mighty

This is basically my story, too. I vividly remember crying to myself that “I’m not crazy. I’m not crazy. I’m not crazy.” even before I was 13. I carved those words into the bookshelf above my bed to help me stay grounded. I remember sitting in our car with my mom when she said, “You really aren’t happy are you?” I was 14. She took me to a kinesiologist. He did a color test (purple), some muscle tests and allergy scratches. He told me to get off sugar. I did for a year, but the depression didn’t change. I went to an MD of my own accord when I was 16. I was suicidal and it wasn’t the first time. I had tried in my early teens already. I’ve been on and off medications (including Lexapro, Zoloft, Wellbutrin, Celexa, Amitryptaline, Effexor) since then. Right now I’m on a Prozac/Trazodone/Lamictal cocktail and it is making a difference for the better. I’m not healed, and the medications don’t cover up my problems, they merely turn down the volume enough that I can think and work through the trial instead of being snuffed out by them.

I have PTSD, depression, and am bipolar.  I am a high functioning patient. My doctors and therapists have asked how I do it, “God and my kids,” I say, “they are my reality check.” Until I started blogging about it, most people didn’t know that I was struggling. I tried to kill myself in college…twice. But the next day I was back in class or at church pretending everything was ok. In one of my favorite Huxley books, the character remarks on suffering, “You get used to it. And brother, when you’re dead, you’re dead.”  It is partially true. Being overwhelmed and in pain, feeling hopelessness and being confused — you do get used to it.

With my mental health struggles, I got used to it.  Daily medications, constant doctor visits, CBT, weekly therapy, lots of prayers, staying in the Word, living off of what I know is true when my whole body screams to the contrary. I can laugh, I can smile, but when I get in the car, when I am home alone, when something reminds me of something I deeply wish to forget, when I’m sitting with my therapist or in the doctor’s office or in church, that is when you’d catch a glimpse of me when I’m not high functioning.

I didn’t and still don’t want sympathy and trite platitudes. I want help, answers, strategies for coping and I want to help others who struggle like me. Of course, it would be amazing to completely overcome these trials, but it appears that God has a better plan.

It is possible to have joy, look normal and be a bit unhinged simultaneously. Please don’t assume that people like me are being over dramatic. Remember that we put our best foot forward for others because we feel guilty for our struggles (even when they aren’t our fault). These valleys of death, this crucible, these are the things that we need prayer for and help with. Don’t excuse yourself from fighting for people who don’t look sick. They are the ones who often need your help the most.


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