The cost of being "high functioning"
Several years ago, a kindly therapist, for whom I was seeing and my insurance (at that time) was paying... told me that I was considered "high functioning" for having such a severe mental illness. I took it as a compliment, thanked her and she noted that it was, indeed, a form of compliment. Little did I really realize, what it really meant.
I have periods of what is called "decompensation". I have numerous periods of "decompensation". To decompensate, as I am aware of it, is to have periods of time when your got up and go basically packed up and left, when your ability to function within your daily living basically malfunctions to the point where you are... well... not able to function within your daily living.
This recurring period of "decompensation" nets me what is known as a status of Adult with Severe and Persistent Mental Illness. It is a rather serious and severe status. Yet, I am "high functioning" while malfunctioning.
I can raise a child fairly much on my own. I can pay my bills relatively well. I work full time and manage complex tasks. I drive a car, cook my own meals (or better yet, microwave and/or visit a drive thru) and I can rationalize my bouts of auditory and visual hallucinations as hallucinations, for the most part. I recognize triggers and symptoms within myself. This is why I was noted as "high functioning".
Yet the cost of being so, is really really high. I am not considered "mentally ill" ENOUGH to be ill, at least - not on appearance. I am so adapt at "faking it to make it", that I hide fairly well... my decompensation to a great degree. I've had to in order to survive.
Still... when a circuit on the board has overheated, shorted out or torn loose... causing all sorts of internal chaos, anguish, agitation and stress... NO ONE sees it and worse of all, NO ONE believes it. I'm told to "suck it up" and "be grateful" and "pull up your britches and get on with it", instead of just allowing myself to lay about in the bed all day when my mind is screaming or take off my clothing and swish my bra around when I feel the intense need to tear my clothes in public, to be free (I have this intense urging every so often; this and shaving off ALL of my hair).
If I'm deeply suicidal; it barely resonates outwardly. If I'm hearing voices screaming at me, only I hear the voices and yet am able to filter out the "real" ones from the "non-real" ones and respond reasonably cohesively. If my mind has gone squirrely and shot out in 6 directions at the same time... sure my eyes may spin and rattle but damn if I still don't manage that report.
The cost of being "high functioning" is when NO ONE sees, hears or believes you when you are low to barely functioning. In addition; when something is so not right in whoville, you are so keenly aware of it and yet often times, cannot right it.
As I grow older, I am growing ever more weary within my mind of "faking it to make it" and not being taken seriously when I practically screaming that something is just NOT right. I'm weary of being told to just "suck it up" or asked "what is your problem, it's not like others don't have any and you are something special. get on with yourself and stop whining."
Or, just not being taken seriously... at all.
There is a song called "If I die Young" by The Band Perry. Each time I hear it, I get goose bumps and tears. There is a line in there somewhere about "save your tears and put them in your pocket for a time when you'll need them." and another line that goes something like "a penny for my thoughts. Oh no, I'll sell them for a dollar.. they are worth so much more after I'm a gonna.. funny how people start a listening to what you've been saying, after your gone."
I've always said, to family - friends and my journals "one day you will hate you did not hear me, that you did not notice me and it will be too late then."
The high cost of being "high functioning" is that no one hears you, no one notices you and seldom does anyone feel it necessary to help you... when you are apparently so able to help yourself.