Dysthymia: persistent mild depression.
Also known as high functioning depression. Womp womp.
I’ve talked a lot about signs of high functioning depression with my psychiatrist. I keep thinking about it because, with most mental health issues, you don’t look sick, or necessarily act sick, so it’s confusing. You seem totally fine, and most people with high functioning depression can hide it really well. I feel like I know so many people who have it because I work in comedy, and that’s a whole other post. But most people don’t even know they have it. I used to think someone was full of shit if they were excited about a sunny day or an upcoming vacation. It turns out I was the one who had a skewed way of thinking because I have good ol depression. I still struggle with almost all of these. If you relate to any of these SIGNS of high functioning depression, please get your buns to a therapist.
DIFFICULTY EXPERIENCING JOY
The things that you used to have fun doing or looked forward to like a yoga class, dinner with friends, hooking up with randoms, crafting, or whatever floats your boat don’t excite you anymore. They feel like burdens or stuff you want to avoid because it feels like such an enormous effort. You have tickets in great seats to Dolly Parton at the Hollywood Bowl, and you don’t even break a smile! Big fat SIGN of high functioning depression.
RELENTLESSLY CRITICAL – of self and others
You have a constant and intrusive internal narrative that’s critical of yourself, of others, and of the world in general. You pick yourself apart, you think you’re a failure, your thighs are huge, you think your boss is a moron, your partner’s the most irritating person in the world, and life sucks ass. These negative thoughts feel like something you can’t turn off, total SIGN.
You constantly doubt whether or not you chose the right career, whether you’re in the right relationship, or if you’re even capable of being in one at all. You doubt what you’re doing with your life and if you’re even a normal adult. This constant self-doubt could be situational, but it feels like you can’t move past it- SIGN.
VERY LOW ENERGY
If it feels like getting through each day is like walking up the Grand Canyon with a whale strapped to your back. You feel like you barely have the mental, emotional, and physical energy to handle your life anymore. You feel like you have no energy AT ALL- SIGN.
IRRITABILITY OR EXCESSIVE ANGER
You find yourself losing your shit way to easily. Your mother says something wrong, your coworker didn’t proofread a project, or your kid just spilled blue nail polish on the coffee table. Your irritability and quick to anger are on another level. You find yourself exploding in a way that is disproportionate to what pissed you off. Basically, you’re a raging bitch on wheels. Definitely a SIGN.
FEELINGS OF GUILT AND WORRY OVER PAST AND FUTURE
You have a constant fear that you chose the wrong career (comedy), and that your ovaries are drying up (they have). Or that you married the wrong person, or how you’ll take care of your parents when they get older because you still have to pay off your credit cards and on and on. Everyone has these worries from time to time, but if feelings of guilt and fear over your past and future are continually dominating your thoughts- SIGN.
RELYING ON COPING STRATEGIES MORE AND MORE
You find yourself needing extensive zone-out time after work and on the weekends. If I could get paid for staring into space, Jeff Bezos would be my financial competition. Or you numb out on alcohol, weed, internet surfing, constant Netflix, to escape your life- SIGN.
You feel a generalized sense of sadness that you can’t seem to pinpoint. Like nobody has died, and you’re not going through a breakup. You turn off your favorite song in the car, Push It by Salt N Pepa, because you’re so numb you can’t even enjoy a beat. Or you stop smiling the minute you close your front door and sink into a deep sense of hopelessness- SIGN.
SMALL THINGS FEEL LIKE HUGE THINGS
You feel overwhelmed or crazy stressed out by something that happens that maybe wouldn’t have felt like such a huge deal in the past. Like the heel breaks off your favorite boot that you bought with all your tips from bartending, you spill salad dressing on your computer trackpad, your emails aren’t going through, and it feels like your career is over. It’s the end of the world! Instead of the annoyance that it is, your response is disproportionate to whatever is happening. You’re acting like a lunatic- big SIGN.
Society encourages perfectionism —get into an amazing school, land an amazing job, write the perfect script, have the perfect nose, be a perfect weight, strive, strive, strive. But perfectionism goes too far where striving for all this shit turns into unrealistic demands of yourself. You psychologically beat yourself up when you fall short of the bar you have set. If you find yourself doing this and it’s causing you distress- SIGN.
UNABLE TO REST AND SLOW DOWN
You need to clean up and organize your place the minute you get home from a long day at work before you even consider sitting down. You have to color-code your books and alphabetize your bills NOW! You find yourself uncomfortable with stillness and calm periods because of the painful thoughts and feelings you have when you do actually chill out- SIGN.
Most likely, we can all see ourselves in this list some of the time.
Occasional low energy, partaking in your favorite coping mechanism, or irritability after a bad night’s sleep, is a normal and natural thang to do. Please, I love myself a big fat glass of wine after a long day.
What I mean is if you’re feeling most of these signs, most of the time, for long periods, like months if not years. That’s when there’s a higher likelihood that you’re showing signs of high functioning depression. And it sucks. And you don’t have to feel like that 24-7. Go to a therapist and sort it out!
Calling out to all my high functioning depressive brothers and sisters let the people know in the comments what you do to make it through the day, or what keeps you from not making it through the day. Or share this post because sharing is caring!