High-functioning Depression: solace in solitude

I’ve always thought that depression was a one-person journey. It was one that I had to accept, deal with, and overcome all by myself, and I still very much stand by this.

The concept of Self-Actualization did not originate from Psychology; however, there were two Psychologists who contributed greatly to our understanding of the idea. According to Maslow, self-actualization, is the achievement of full personal potential — the realization of a ‘true self’ — which occurs only after all the other and basic needs are fulfilled. On the other hand, Carl Rogers asserts that self-actualization is not a desire or need, but rather an instinct to grow and achieve. Nowadays, Rogers’ idea of of self-actualization is often applied to the treatment of depression, whereby the improvement of the condition rely on the individuals themselves: they have to want to get better in order for them to get better. Although there is some debate as to how much of human decision-making and behavior can be accurately represented by the theory(ies), I very much agree that the power to be better rests with the individual.

A lot of the times, people who have depression do not want to get better. This is not to shame anybody, because some times we don’t feel like we have the strength, but a lot of the time we also don’t have the motivation. You no longer want to discuss your problems or feelings with your friends or loved ones. You no longer want to socialize and participate in activities that would normally bring you joy. Of course, this doesn’t apply to everyone with depression.

As somebody who has high-functioning depression, every day is solitary, but not always lonely. Because socializing can be such a chore, being alone has given me comfort at times, and now I often prefer to be on my own, than with company. Having lived and grown up in a household of six people, and having always shared a room with my younger brother, I never really have privacy. I never have my own space. So when I started struggling with depression, it was truly quite difficult at first — I had no place where I could cry and not worry about being seen. There was no way in which I could just sleep in and do absolutely nothing without somebody questioning it. If anything, my emotional flatness has made this somewhat easier. All that being said, this does not always scream ‘healthy relationships’, and indeed it has been challenging for both myself and my partner.

I do question, sometimes, whether it is good to be in a relationship when I can barely feel feelings on a daily basis, and to be honest, I still haven’t reached a conclusion yet. On the good days, I want to get better. I feel more energized to do a better job, and I want to be on top of things at work and outside of work. On the bad days, however, I’m just glad I have my cigarettes and that I haven’t fucked up too badly to get fired. (In all honesty, I don’t think I will ever fuck up that much unintentionally, but it’s hard not to be critical.)

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I borrowed a friend’s copy of Sophie’s World because I’ve heard great things about it, yet it’s taken me months to finish 26 pages. I hate that I read so slowly, because when I do, I am often reminded of how much I love learning. It is always in these rare moments where I get to be alone with a good book that I remember why I once wanted to study Philosophy at university, but also why I chose Science in the end. I’ll always have an interest in Philosophy, but there is Science behind everything, and that is wonderful.

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