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What Does High Functioning Mental Illness Look Like?

Posted by Erin Fischer on

We’re slowly releasing more Mental Health Profiles, the aim of this series is to show people that there is no one size fits all approach to having a mental illness. Most recently we have had two profiles looking at people who experience what they considered high functioning mental illness and because of that they felt that they couldn’t get help.

Mental illnesses are on a spectrum, on one end you have people who suffer with them but require minimal treatment or intervention, in the middle you have people who will require ongoing treatment and interventions and on the other end you have people who will require major interventions and treatment (including hospitalisation). You can slide on the spectrum depending on various circumstances, which is all apart of life.

When we think of mental illnesses our minds often go to the extremes – someone who can’t get out of bed due to depression, the person in the corner hyperventilating with anxiety or who can’t leave their house, someone with scars on their arms due to self-harm or someone in a padded room.

When that couldn’t be further from the truth. Mental illness looks like someone standing awkwardly in a room because they are afraid to speak due to anxiety, it looks like someone who is forcing themselves to smile and pretend they are having a good time when very little brings joy to their lives, it’s someone counting calories in their head as they take a bite of food, it’s someone taking risks because they don’t care if they hurt themselves and they need to feel something (anything!) and it’s someone blinking back tears, blaming it on allergies because they just can’t handle things anymore and have pushed feelings down one too many times. It’s the things that we can easily miss or brush off as just someone’s personality.

It can be hard when we’re the person who is struggling and unsure or wanting to get help. So how do you know when you need to get help?

  • Feeling hopeless/unmotivated.
  • Crying all the time for no reason.
  • Loss of appetite.
  • The things you normally find enjoyable aren’t anymore.
  • Feeling down.
  • Seconding guessing everything.
  • Insomnia.

You might be able to function somewhat normally but under the surface you feel off and are struggling and it takes more effort to be yourself. Sometimes these feelings pass after a while but if they start to impact your life and/or linger then it might be time to see someone. 

Everyone will experience different mental illness symptoms and just because you have the same diagnosis as someone doesn’t mean that it will have the same impacts on you, respond to the same treatments or require the same intensity of treatments. The brain is extremely complex and there are so many factors that need to be considered when it comes to treating mental illnesses. Don’t compare your struggles to others and don’t think just because yours aren’t as severe as someone else’s you don’t need help. The thing to remember is if that if your mental health is impacting your day-to-day life you need to talk to someone and seek help before things get worse.

Feel free to drop by, just say, ‘Hey Barty’ in strict confidence and you can be anonymous if you wish. Or, do not hesitate to leave a question in the comments below any time.


About Erin Fischer

Am the qualified mental health professional at Barty Single Origin. Write topical pieces with a focus on mental health. Always available on chat, Passionate about reducing the stigma surrounding mental health and letting people know it's A-OK to be not OK.


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