Measuring Our Symptoms Instead of Our Suffering

Functional is not OkOne of the most common things I hear from my friends and family who are struggling with very low moods is that they don’t need to do anything deliberate about it because they are able to manage.

It usually hurts to hear this because I want so much more for them than “being able to function.”

One friend explained that he didn’t see his struggles as a disability because sometimes they gave him insight, and anyway he was able to keep a job and manage his personal affairs.

Is it a disability? Sometimes? I don’t know, and honestly, in most circumstances I don’t really care. I object to the idea that your suffering should be measured by how well you hide it, how well you manage it, how much effect it has on others. I object to the idea that hiding it is a positive skill at all.

I’ve been an extremely functional clinically depressed person, travelling internationally for work and earning advanced degrees. I’ve also had periods when I could not function, when I had to get help to eat and pay my bills (right now comes to mind).

You know what? For me, as far as plain old suffering is concerned, they were (are) each about as bad as the other.

I do not mean to imply that there are not degrees to feeling low. There definitely are, and some cases are much more serious than others. Most people have responsibilities to others that make it difficult for them to care for themselves – I don’t mean to underestimate that either.

What I mean to say is that you don’t have to be debilitated to benefit from some care from yourself and some help from others. What I mean to say is that you deserve better than just getting through the day.

We’re behind you.

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