Even though I don’t feel I conform to the informal medical name for it (since it doesn’t actually appear as a true medical diagnosis in the Diagnostic and Statistical Manual of Mental Disorders, which I didn’t know until two minutes ago), I sometimes wonder if I’m someone with high-functioning depression. The joke there to make it obvious is I don’t feel like I’m “high-functioning” much at all, more like perpetually at half-mast.
The reason it’s called “high-functioning depression” is that it’s essentially another way of saying someone has dysthymia, aka, a persistent depressive disorder considered a low-grade form of depression marked by “lagging energy or fatigue,” according to Health.com. In other words, it’s not necessarily the major disrupter that, well, major depressive disorder is, so the person can “high-function” through it, but still, it persists like a low-level hum for years. It’s a fine line based on severity, and such.
A lot of the time, I feel as if I’m slogging through the work week and other activities, and not in the usual ha-ha way people talk about slogging through the work week, but rather, that it takes enormous effort to do what I need to do to be “high-functioning” at work. I can get into mental zones, and hard deadlines certainly are a godsend in that way by facilitating those “mental zones,” but beyond that, one way of putting how I feel is “getting by.” Which, again, is more half-mast, low-functioning than high-functioning, as I see it, but the informal term is what it is.
In that way, I’m proud of myself actually. What I’m describing has been a thing before 2020, but because of other reasons that helped push me deeper down into the pit, the year has been especially marked by this. And despite that, I’ve managed to push through and help produce 45 editions of a weekly newspaper, with the 46th coming tomorrow. Off the top of my head, I have no idea how many original stories I wrote for those 45 editions, but if I had to guess, I suspect it ranges between 180 and 360, give or take. I’m proud of our team’s coronavirus coverage, our Black Lives Matter coverage, and our usual coverage regarding schools, government meetings, criminal matters, feature stories on the community, and everything in between that comes up.
Sometimes, I wonder how. How many years has it been that have already gone by like this? How is it 2020 already? How is it November already?
That’s the trick, of course, whether it’s dysthymia or MDD, those disorders trick you into thinking there is no tomorrow, that the slog will continue apace, but somehow be trapped in a day without end. It’s a dual monster in that way. And yet. Somehow, here we are, 11 months into this year, two years into whatever this is or maybe longer, probably much longer, and it continues.
But today was a hard one, a particularly pronounced battering and lift, and slog. So, that’s why I wanted to vomit some words out. Catharsis of a kind, although as someone wise once told me, catharsis isn’t the same as therapy, and therapy isn’t about making you feel better (as catharsis does), but getting better. Smart framing. Alas.
Do you ever think about this? How many other people are walking around putting a “brave face on,” as people say, but inside are suffering through it? We often think of dysthymia and MDD sufferers as dang near being comatose and unable to function on a day-to-day basis in any capacity, and that’s certainty true of a percentage of dysthymia and MDD folks, but it’s not the whole story.
Thank you for reading.