What Does “High-Functioning” Mental Illness Mean?

Your loved one has a job. They have a spouse. They own a home, have children, make their payments on time, are involved in the community, and even dress well. On the outside everything feels fine. Of course, they say they don’t feel right and that they’re unhappy and struggling somehow, but that simply couldn’t be true, could it? Looking at their lives, there’s obviously nothing wrong.

A contributor for The Mighty, a mental health blogging website, writes “It’s easy for people are are still functioning to slip through the cracks. These are the people who go without help until it’s almost too late.” Such individuals who fall for the myth of being “high-functioning” “can go years without ever receiving proper professional treatment until they get to the point where finally someone notices their struggle.” It shouldn’t take checking into a hospital, being diagnosed, or forced into lockdown for a suicide attempt to finally be recognized for having a mental illness.

Importantly, the author emphasizes, the problematic way of thinking about “high-functioning” and “low-functioning” mental illness “practically forces a person to get much worse before they can ever get better.” This is equal to the argument of “hitting rock bottom” in addiction. Essentially, playing into the myth of being “high functioning” is invalidating the internal struggle with mental health somebody lives out every day. It can be invalidating, it is misinformed and ultimately, it could be a fatal kind of ignorance.

Mental illness doesn’t always wear itself on a sleeve. Sometimes it is deeply hidden. After all it is a mental illness, not a physical illness. Many Symptoms of mental illnesses are physical and can be noticeable. Most of them are feelings, thoughts, moods, and behaviors. These things are intangible and come from somewhere deep within. Judging them as existent or non-existent simply isn’t helpful. It is harmful.

 

If you are struggling with mental health and need someone to listen, Hired Power is here to help. From safe passage transport to personal recovery assistants, our recovery services are here to support you so you can focus on healing. For more information, call 800-910-9299.