I have Major Depressive Disorder and Generalized Anxiety, which I have dealt with for years now. However, the combination of depression and anxiety often counteract one another, so that, to those who don't know me that well, I seem fine and very put-together. For example, if I do not want to get out of bed one day to go to class because I feel too depressed to function, my anxiety will kick in, getting progressively get worse and worse until about the thought of missing class has so much irrational fear behind it that I am forced out of bed.
This constant battle between depression and anxiety makes it seem as if I don't suffer from mental illness. I can recall many times when I confessed to people what I deal with on a daily basis, and they outright told me, "No. There's no way you have that. You are much too high-functioning."
Little do they know that every day is a fight to get out of bed, go to class, and go to work. But my anxiety never ceases to step in, forcing me to act out of fear to complete mundane, everyday tasks. Unfortunately, most of my actions are fear-driven. This is what makes me look so together to the outside world.
The denial of my mental illnesses from others prevented me from seeking help for years. Too often, when I confided in a friend, relative, or teacher, I was told things akin to, "But your GPA is so high," "But you're always so cheery and happy," and "But you're just too active to be struggling." This forced me to keep up the veil of being high-functioning for years until depression and anxiety nearly destroyed me.
So now, after a fair amount of struggle, I am seeking help. I have the support of those closest to me who can easily see through the thin veil that is my brand of high-functioning mental illness and will help me realize when I'm spinning out of control. I have an amazing team of trained professionals at my beck and call who help talk me out of panic attacks and help trace what the root cause of my problems are. And, perhaps most importantly, for the first time in my life, I am willing to be open with others about the fact that I suffer from mental illness, and I don't always have to try to look put together to the outside world.