High functioning depression is also known as Dysthymia. It can be very hard to spot because someone living with depression may appear, to people on the outside, as someone who is bubbly, entrepreneurial, happy and together, someone who gets things done and is generally calm.
In the past people have described me as “supermum” and complemented me on running a successful business, blogs and a charity while still finding time to nurse my son and do reading and baking with my four year old. But high functioning depression hides itself behind these things which is why I find it so important to talk about it and reach for help when I need it.
The Suffering of High Functioning Depression
Some days are worse than others and I’ll find myself in tears for “no reason”, but sometimes it’s something that’s happened. Funny enough when someone takes a shot at me, it rolls off my back and it’s the feelings I have about myself I struggle with.
Tools for High Functioning Depression
I like to keep things organised and together, and sometimes I get huge anxiety if I feel things are out of place. Orders come in on the website and if I need to send a client an invoice I feel I have to copy over all of the information including the order number and some product info, then I copy the share link from PayPal onto the client’s account. I feel it saves me time down the road though if I need to hunt things down. I also copy the information over to spreadsheets in my Google Drive so we can see at a glance what needs to be made. It takes a long time but gets quicker the more I do it but it means we can look at the sheet on an iPad or a phone and see all of our orders with cremation ash at once, or all of our orders for necklaces.
As the business grows and I need to delegate more than ever to our artists and admin helpers, it becomes super important that everyone can access the same info. I can’t imagine how it would be if all of my orders were on pieces of paper and spreadsheets have become my life. We even use a spreadsheet to organise our Instagram hashtags from The Spreadsheet Alchemist (not a sponsored link, just a huge fan of Kristi’s work), and my tax returns go on them too.
I use templates in Photoshop to do mockups for clients, like this new ring design we’ve introduced in the past week. Already I’ve had four enquiries and I’m proud as punch because I know that we wouldn’t be able to achieve this look without a great team of artists and our new metalsmith.
Recovering From High Functioning Depression
As life becomes more challenging, depression can work in a vicious cycle and make me feel worse and worse. A year and a half ago I tried to commit suicide, genuinely thinking my children would be better off without me. When I was released from hospital I decided to fight to get some help and kept pestering my GP until I got onto a waiting list for cognitive behavioural therapy. Around this time, my only artist was struggling with her alcoholism and when I asked her to take a break I knew I was going to struggle with the business. By the time I had trained another artist, orders were coming in fast and things were heading in the right direction. When Gin had a family bereavement in November 2017 I started looking for someone else to help and was lucky to find Andrea which kept me going over another holiday period.
In January 2018 I started CBT sessions and I can’t tell you enough how they’ve helped me to recover. I’m working on chipping away at all of the nasty core beliefs and I know that there are people who would laugh if they knew the thoughts I have about myself. Now I have techniques to apply when I’m feeling depressed, anxious, tired or overwhelmed. Sometimes I’m in pain and I am kind to myself, and do something different. I have a printout in my studio with basic self-care advice and I’m starting to get better. My life isn’t perfect but I’m proud of my business and my family. I’m gradually reducing my anti-deperssants with my GP and councillor’s help and looking forward to the future. I know that I can cope with high functioning depression and you can too!
This blog is sponsored by Amazon Audible, who have given me this link for a free trial and audio book for you all. I love to listen to books as I work and at the moment I’m listening to Vladimir Nabokov’s Lolita and She Means Business by Carrie Green. I’ve usually got three or four books on the go but Audible and Kindle mean I can switch from one device to the next.