When you have high functioning anxiety and/or depression you can usually carry on a regular life without it looking disrupted to the outsider. You don’t stay in bed all day. You bathe. You get your work done. You don’t have a panic attack in the middle of the grocery store.
Most of the people who know you probably have no clue that you have anxiety or depression. Even those who do know probably have no idea about the torment your mind goes through each day just so you can appear as functional as you do.
Those with high functioning depression and anxiety are often driven to push themselves by several factors. One is excessive worry about failure. Another is the inner critic telling them they are not enough. Not good enough. Not a hard-enough worker. Not successful enough.
They are also aware that if they slow down and try to relax, their anxiety and depression will come rushing to the forefront of their minds. Workaholics are sometimes just people with high functioning depression or anxiety who don’t want to let their mind wander and be on its own. Nothing good comes from that wandering.
At some point, most high functioning anxious and/or depressed people will realize there is something wrong. There are three options for help.
Seek Professional Help
The obvious one is to go to your doctor. This will require that you have the means to do so. It will also require that you have a doctor who will recognize you have anxiety or depression. Without the expected life upheaval, some older or more traditional doctors may not. If that is the case, you can look for another doctor, if your insurance allows that.
You can also, if you have the means, seek therapy out on your own. Some therapists have a sliding scale for cash patients. Or there are online options with therapists you can access through your phone, computer, or tablet. Some also offer access to a psychiatrist if you need or want to try medication. The main barrier to this is cost. Many, if not most, people would not be able to afford their own treatment.
Seek Support from the Right Friends
This leaves looking for support among your loved ones. There are some caveats here. You do not want to share your issues with someone who will not take you seriously. They may downplay your feelings or treat them as if they are not valid because you hold it together so well in public.
Those people are not helpful to you. Unfortunately, for many of us, the attitude of “what do you have to be scared or depressed about,” is very pervasive among our contacts.
If that is you, there is little you can do to change these people’s minds. If they are not willing to look beneath the surface, they will not be able to support you.
For most of us, that leaves self-help. Books, websites, blogs, articles here on Medium, and our own grit and gumption.
Seek out others who have been or are in your situation. See what they are doing. Most of us are willing to share our experiences and ideas that have worked for us or that we’ve heard have worked for others.
Remember that each person and situation is different so what works for one won’t work for everyone. When you read suggestions, take what works for you and skip the rest.
Your life should not be a case of just surviving and hauling yourself through each day. If your hidden anxiety and depression are dragging you down, look for help.