20 thoughts on “The Loneliness of Being High-Functioning with Severe Mental Illness

  • June 4, 2018 at 2:45 pm

    To a Fellow Human,
    I was given your story that you have published here by somebody who knows me well and thought that I wrote it due to the fact that near everything is identical to what you have written… Replace “studio” with “class” and “working on degree” with “working on a book” and there is absolutely, definitively, ultimately no difference whatsoever.

    I have successfully identified at least 6 specific identities which have their own speech pattern, differences in penmanship, differences in appearance and dress, along with their own names and occupations. I have developed, or a person has manifested, Within Myself a doctor witch regulates my physical, mental, spiritual and social well-being. This doctor is unique in the sense that I cannot control whatsoever how the doctor diagnosis me even Within extraordinarily manic episodes. It’s like I have a psychiatrist and psychologist inside of me which makes its own appointments based on the necessity of other personalities Within Myself when these other personalities begin to control the ego and physically become out of control. I do not know whether the creation of this doctor was a construct of my own or was developed by experiencing great relief through appointments with psychiatrists in the physical world whom helped me evolve how I stratify my disease. I will use the term disease but I do not think of it as it. It is more of a curse and a blessing. Unfortunately I have not unraveled the true blessed nature of what drives me…

    • June 4, 2018 at 9:28 pm

      Thank you for sharing your story. Wow, I wrote this article feeling like I was alone, and hearing you say how much you relate helps me. It’s nice to know that we’re not alone with our struggles, though I’m sorry you feel the same way. I’ve never come in contact with someone else who has bipolar and DID.

      That’s so interesting about the doctor witch inside of you that regulates you when you are manic or unbalanced. It seems like often people with dissociative disorders – the disorders were created as a way to survive something, like a form of self-regulation as you say. Our minds work to preserve us when we are going through difficulties.

      I have five other selves – three that are younger versions of me and two others. I’m lucky in that I’m conscious and almost always dominant. I can switch to them and back but I have control over the switching most of the time. We just argue within my head sometimes. Right now I’m using my counseling skills to counsel them. I’m hoping that if I can help them resolve their core problems then they will naturally integrate. We’ll see how it goes. I just discovered them less than two years and only really understood them eight months ago. So I’m still figuring things out.

  • June 5, 2018 at 2:09 am

    I need help!!! My boyfriend, I believe, no, I’m CERTAIN has DID. The more I research, the more I know without a doubt. He won’t even admit it. He is very good at hiding it. His friends have no idea. I swear, he has like 17 alters. A good majority are childlike or adolescent. And for every thing that he absolutely hates and will not tolerate, there’s an alter that does that exact thing. It took me a while to put the pieces together. I’m no stranger to mental illness, but this is like nothing I’ve ever seen. The man i fell in love with is the sweetest, funniest, cuddliest and introspective guy. He is always working on himself, admitting his faults and trying to get better. And then, there’s that [email protected]$&#%*%er that has not an ounce of soul behind his eyes. No feelings, no remorse ….. nothing. Just pure hatred.
    I am no naive weak little girl. And my intuition is off the charts. It’s a curse really. I truly believe ignorance is bliss. I have such a connection to him and my gut won’t let me give up on him. He has never been treated for or diagnosed properly so he has never even had a chance. He is one of 9 kids raised by a single mother in a Hispanic family where mental illness is not talked about or considered. I know that he for sure has attachment disorder and abandonment issues compiled in there.
    He is a case study for sure. I have no doubt with the right psychiatrist who can tap into what caused the disassociation (I am certain it was severe abuse and his vehement denial of such makes me even more certain) he could be a high functioning person. He is very smart and driven.
    He is tortured inside. You can’t fake the fear, sadness and defeat you see in his eyes. He thinks he has a demon in him. He feels unworthy of love.
    The reason I’m asking for help is he is currently in jail awaiting trial for torture and battery…….. I’m the victim. I can tell you , the person who did those things to me was not him. He doesn’t look the same, he doesn’t talk the same and he has NOTHING behind those eyes. This may sound nuts, but I swear , he’s even taller and more muscular. When he is present, I feel nothing. Well, I do, but it’s all bad. I could kill him with my bare hands and dance on top of his dead carcas . Part of me is nothing but relieved to be rid of him.
    But when I see the light come back to his eyes and the shame and sadness in there, it breaks my heart. Its worse than anything he could do to me.
    I am in California where torture is a life sentence. I can’t let them throw away an entire life without at least trying to save it.
    Just me advocating for his mental health has everyone looking at me like I need to be commited as well. I NEED HELP!!! Please please please. Where do I start??? I need expert psychiatrists l! I need to be pointed in the right direction of pro bono attorney or some sort of counsel other than people who work for the state….. the people trying to fry his ass.
    I’m not even saying that I can stay with him because I can’t ever risk being in that place again. I could died. But I do know the wounded,tortured and living soul in there. HE DESERVES A CHANCE!!!! I’m not going to just give up on him and throw him to the wolves. Please , any help would be most appreciated

    • June 5, 2018 at 8:09 am

      Wow, I’m so sorry you are going through this, both with how his apparent alter treated you and now how he is being treated. If he does have DID, DID is a disorder that is so misunderstood. It’s hard for me to understand it and I am experiencing it and have learned about mental health.

      I wish I had a direction to point you in but I live in another state and have no knowledge of issues with the legal system. Keep asking your question and hopefully on some platform someone can help you. Your question might be best answered on a platform about legal aid and mental health evaluation for people imprisoned. I wish the best to you and your boyfriend.


    • June 13, 2018 at 7:19 am

      I hope you find the help you in California for your boyfriend. Maybe refusing to testify is an option if you don’t want him to be there for the rest of his life. Don’t participate in helping them convict him. If he is free you can take him get the help he needs. Unfortunately jail houses more people with mental health issues then the hospitals do in the US. I also suggest using a different approach when trying to get help for your boyfriend. I know this is a tough time & it’s hard and time is of essence. But being panicked and pissed is only going to make people think your hysterical and crazy and not worth listening to. It’s important that you take the time to go step by step in aiding your man. You have to do it in a way that when you do encounter someone that can help you are calm and able to really get the info they need out and that you are specific on what you need from them so they can help you. I pray you find the resources and help you need.

  • June 5, 2018 at 6:26 am

    I often get the statements “you aren’t ill” or, “there must have been some mistake.” Uhm, no. I am Bipolar, with dysphoric agitated manias. I respond very well to a low dosage of medication but spiral rapidly without them. I am a psychologist. I have had these problems since I was very young, ut every so often I have som bright young person “rediscover” my case and decide to “correct my diagnoses and my world comes to pieces when they pull my meds or do another evaluation inspired by thothing but their own “but you can¨’t be so high functioning” prejudices. Thank God last time the person responsible was told off by a specialist in Neuropsychiatric disorders., so it hasn’t happened for a while.
    It’s too easy for those of us with such a profile to be either ignored, written off as attention mongers when we become symtomatic or as slackers when we have to pay attention to the limits we have when it comes to stress management. Some see us as unnecessarily taking mental health resources that should go to others. What they don’t see is what happens when we don’t have access to these, or the chaos that often is covered by years of hard earned coping skills and supportive family members.
    Thank you for the posting. It spoke volumes about what a strange position we occupy.

    • June 5, 2018 at 8:18 am

      I can relate to what you share. Right now I’m seeing a psychiatrist who doesn’t believe I’m that sick because I’m so high-functioning, and doesn’t believe I have DID since I seem so normal. I keep seeing him because it’s better than a psychiatrist who overmedicates me. I would get mental health professionals who looked at my chart and history of hospitalizations and decide I was high-risk and needed to be highly medicated so I didn’t have repeats of things that happened in the past. And I would get professionals who thought I was basically fine and being overdramatic. Most professionals diagnosed me as borderline, so then they didn’t take anything I said seriously since they thought people with bpd are manipulative and lie.

      So much of what you’re saying connects to my experience. Being high-functioning doesn’t mean we don’t suffer. I’ve been accused of faking mental illness to get attention or to get time off work. I love your line about “What they don’t see is what happens when we don’t have access to [mental health resources], or the chaos that often is covered by years of hard earned coping skills and supportive family members.” Yes I relate to that. I’m glad my article spoke to you. It encourages me that you also struggle with severe mental illness but that you are able to be a psychologist and be able to use resources and self-care in order to stay stable.

  • June 6, 2018 at 1:43 am

    I too am high functioning with severe mental illness. Mine are so bizarre that I haven’t yet found a therapist or psychiatrist who can even begin to understand what’s wrong or how to treat me. I often feel I have to prove my issues. Your disorders sound very similar to mine, except I don’t think I have DID. It’s more of a severe complex ptsd with dissociative tendencies. I fight myself when I’m alone at night. Most people think I’m normal. I’m very good at covering my symptoms up. I’m terribly lonely because I can never truly be myself. When I’m not functioning at my best, my loved ones think I’m being lazy or dramatic “How can I have a mental illness let alone a severe one?! “

    • June 6, 2018 at 7:12 am

      I’m so sorry that you haven’t found a therapist or psychiatrist who understands. It’s taken me a long time and right now I’m taking a break from therapists since I can’t find one who is a good match. My psychiatrist doesn’t believe I have DID but I keep seeing him since he doesn’t overmedicate me. I’m sorry that your friends are unkind. I can relate to the loneliness. I hope it helps you to know that you’re not alone – that there are others like me who understand part of what you’re going through. For me, support groups through NAMI (the National Alliance on Mental Illness) have helped with the loneliness.

  • June 6, 2018 at 5:25 am

    Life is a long and winding road, if your’e lucky.
    Who’d a thought, my long and innocent acceptance of a blank of early childhood as “normal” because no one I knew ever talked much about these, was in fact “not normal” and was hiding PTSD and CEN.
    Early education where my performances were good were aided and abetted by a very clever accommodation of ingenious mental loops and spirals to try and understand letters words, numbers and meanings.
    I did, I became a bookish “stealth ” dyslexic without knowing I had a problem until the higher levels of education at uni revealed this spook.
    Later attempts to be a writer met with the jimble jumble dance of symbols on keyboards and misspelling and atrocious English usage, and so I fell to earth again.
    Gimme visuals and practical stuff, I’m creative and imaginative and I wanted to be a carpenter just like Jesus when I was a kid, but ” things” took over and I became a guilty hot pot of seething wishful thinking lust for May Gray a primary school friend and therefore felt I ought to be consigned to Hell…Bloody Vicars Eh?
    I was also the “Dux” at my primary school. Clever clogs apparently, but destined to hit that higher education ceiling rather hard later on.
    Mid life crises, led to mega depression and a bipolar medication, which whipped away my “personality” according to a best friend, but when life became a little less stressful , I weaned off it and BPD became the general consensus of opinion.
    Then a slip betwixt cup and lip by a family elder reveals the why of no discernible memory of my early childhood, a piece of cruel horseplay which put me through what was eventually described as near death experience, hence no memory.
    This was followed by desertion by both parents, when my father ran off with another woman and the other went back to her mother.
    In the meantime apparently my other gran took over and eventually the courts assigned me to my reluctant mother.
    This lady then expected me to perform amazing academic tricks while not actually “mothering”
    I don’t mean not feeding or providing clean clothes.
    A warm touch, a hug perhaps?
    Nope cold comfort farm.
    But then I was my fathers son too, and guilty of hurting her by association?
    So how does a thoroughly damaged well pissed off anxiety ridden little boy survive and grow up?
    I passed for normal, by an ingenious series of play acting roles trying in a sense to find one cloaking personality which fitted as an inner and outer holistic state of feeling Ok.
    This was a bloody clever ruse, and opened up an array skills of varying ability, which unfortunately cannot pass for being a true polymath…
    Dilly dally dilettante more likely.
    No, too unkind to myself… Versatile… Life Juggler more likely.
    But it never really worked until all the real facts were on the table and I began to deal with Complex and Historic PTSD which then began to assuage the acute emotional pain of my road less travelled.
    First of all it was not easy, nor was it a quick fix.
    It took around 7 years and I made plenty of mistakes, which is fine , I’m human.
    The tools for recovery I used were CBT, NLP , TA EMDR and a bit of DBT, and also some research into the damage caused to the brain by PTSD.
    The successful recipe of such ingredients is as unique a the individual.
    These helped me to understand where my highly strung neurotic temperament and that huge disassociate mistrust of people came from, and nobody but nobody liked my 1000 yard stare.
    I wasn’t a Vietnam war vet watching waiting and listening for a tumbling bullet, but I had that stare.
    Given time and due attention to some of the sparse detail surrounding the cause of my PTSD, I can probably say that loss of speech after the incident is brain damage, and on return I had a speech impediment/ stammer which eventually went away unless I became life stressed, and up it popped.
    Not knowing about the real cause of my problem(s) therefore created a huge inferiority complex for most of my life, but as I healed, and re self educated knowing that I could access other neural pathways in my brain ( The Brain that Changes Itself Norman Doidge) then I got pretty calm, in fact some folks think I’m now too calm and easy going.
    Others can’t believe that a peace lovin easy going man can ever have gone through anything like I’ve described, and think I’m faking it all.
    “It can’t have been that bad..”
    Oh really?
    Well they can piss off then, I lived it, I felt it, I know and so does the Bigger Picture.
    Does this count as a gold star on my new homework book on assertiveness?

    • June 6, 2018 at 7:10 am

      That is quite a lot you have endured in your life. People can know so little of what we have experienced and be insensitive. I’m sorry that you’ve experienced people thinking that you’re faking it or being dramatic. I hope that you are kind to yourself and take care of yourself the best you can. I hope you have people in your life who are supportive now.

      • June 7, 2018 at 6:54 am

        Cheers Anna and thank you and wish the same for you. I often think how lucky I am to have found that in spite of all the stuff that went down, I had a lot more inner strength than I realised, which message I hope inspires others to dig deep and find their own.
        Namaste and good luck with your art and poetry and courses in psychology.

    • June 9, 2018 at 8:56 pm

      Hearing your story hit in a major way. Not for me personally, but I’m the one who who posted about my boyfriend who I know has DID. Not accepting this fact and accepting treatment could literally cost him his life. So many of the things you described, I see in him. Like the “dyslexia”. And one of his personalities rocks back and forth, squints and stutters like a nervous child. The more I read these stories the more I’m brought back to incidents that confused the hell out of me, but now I get it!! I guess i should be flattered that at least 8 different alters fell in love with me at different times in different ways, each with a whole new take and way to express it.
      I’m going to print your story and mail it to him. I have faith that these words are going to resonate in him and he will will have that “aha” moment.
      Whee he is incarcerated they won’t let them have access to legal material. In addition, they forced a restraining order that doesn’t allow him to have any contact with me whatsoever. It is so hard to get him help when I can’t even walk him through it. This feeling of helplessness is is eating me alive.
      Nobody will listen to me. They all think I am making excuses for him, I’m in denial, traumatized and codependent. Some of which is probably true, but I am pretty in tuned with myself and have the ability to filter thru the BS and separate facts feelings. God willing, I am strong enough to forge forward and help him even though the road is very lonely and rugged to say the least. I truly believe that is what brought him into my life. Most people brush him off and just think he’s a jerk. I saw something in him from the very beginning. And, although the majority of the time I had to deal with the extreme Inpleasantries, that 10% of him, that raw, introspective vulnerable guy that hated his behavior, looked so tortured and confused and was waiting for me to give up, kept me fighting till the bitter end.
      Well, I’m not going to say the end, because I haven’t given up. I want to bury my head in the sand, I want to collapse and just cry, I want to beat my head up against a wall. But I’ll have time for that later. It’s a new day and I will try to find yet another angle to go about this.
      I know this would be too much too ask, but, hell I’ve literally got NOTHING to lose, but if I sent you his mailing information, would you be willing to write to him? Send him your story, any resources or methods you used, ANYTHING? I know I’m grasping at straws, but at least I’m still grasping.

  • June 7, 2018 at 2:53 pm

    Thank you for sharing your story–so eloquent! Continue inspiring.

  • June 11, 2018 at 2:19 am

    I can relate, to an extent. I am normal, in that because I can keep the symptoms of my mental disorders from impacting others I just look very much like an underachiever who makes excuses. I am incredibly proud of myself for holding down my part-time minimum wage job while being able to save money, be a good friend etc. I just hate feeling like my friends and family have no respect for me because they don’t really “buy” that I have real issues. It has hurt my self-esteem that I don’t have a “real” career, or live in a nice place. I am at least able to shrug off those feelings a bit now but it is very lonely.

    • June 17, 2018 at 12:08 pm

      Congratulations on being able to stay high-functioning and do what you do. It is hard when people don’t understand! I’m so sorry that people don’t respect you. I empathize with your loneliness. Hopefully it helps a little to know that there are those of us who “get it.”

  • June 13, 2018 at 7:34 am

    What is the best way to find a doctor or therapist or both. How do you know if you need a therapist over a doctor? Maybe the question is also what purpose do each serve & can your doc be your therapist too??? I know these may sound like stupid questions, i just new to this and would like to address my issues & issues of family and friends. But i am not sure how i should really start & once one goes to an appointment do i just tell them what i think i have or do they do like an evaluation to figure what you have? And how long does it typically take to figure out what a person has? Like how does this all work? I appreciate the help. Thank you in advance

    • June 13, 2018 at 8:35 am

      Roxana, The easiest way to find a psychiatrist (mental health doctor) would be to go through a hospital or community mental health center. There may be counselors affiliated with the hospital or center and you can find a therapist there. It’s helpful when they are at the same place since it makes it easier for them to communicate with each other and tailor their care to you. You can find lists of community mental health centers in your area by going to your city or region’s mental health board – they should have a list. Community mental health centers are usually the most reasonably priced since they work with people of low income. If you want more choice about a counselor, I like the lists of therapists on psychologytoday.com. I’ve used it before to find a good therapist. It says on there what the therapist specializes in, gives you a bio and lists of insurances that they accept. You will get a diagnosis on the first visit – for insurance reasons they are required to give a diagnosis. Ask them what the diagnosis is and have them explain what it means and why they think it fits you. The purpose of a psychiatrist/doctor is to prescribe medications. You may not need medications. So typically people go to a therapist first. The therapist could recommend whether you might benefit from seeing a doctor and being evaluated for whether any medications might help you. When you go to a therapist for the first time, you will have an intake, which typically lasts an hour and you will be filling out paperwork about yourself and your life history. But you should tell them what you think you have and what your concerns are so they have that information. The therapist will also give you a diagnosis the first time as required by insurance. Ask the therapist to explain the diagnosis. The diagnosis may be changed later after the therapist gets to know you better. A psychiatrist/doctor is to prescribe medication. A therapist is to talk to you and listen and be a guide as you try to manage your mental stresses. A therapist doesn’t just talk, therapists are trained in different methods to use in order to help people resolve their problems and become healthier. I hope this helps.

  • September 25, 2018 at 2:56 pm

    It’s comforting to know, yet I am so sorry, that I am not alone. To be so gifted and talented and expected to perform for society but not allowed to be broken because they don’t undertand. There is no chicken soup to make me feel better. I have to sink or swim and by choice I continue to swim. My art is eclectic and I have played several musical intruments. Self taught on a few, piano is next. To others I seem normal on the outside but they can’t hear the screaming on the inside. They fear what they do not understand so I have to hide most of the time. I have to hide in plain sight.

  • February 25, 2019 at 5:36 am

    We shouldn’t have to hide our mental illness or our suffering. Over the last few years, I’ve become more brave and letting people know that I suffer from “bipolar depression,” a circadian sleep disorder, etc I don’t tell people right away but only after they get to know me a little, get a sense of who I am. I see it as educating people and helping them understand that people like me, – who seem untroubled on the surface – do suffer and struggle with mental illness and are still normal, caring, likable people.

    yes, like you, I will get some people that try to relate with that “oh I know someone who suffers from bipolar disorder” or similar So, sometimes I will explain to them a bit more about what I go through. I’m never looking for pity, appreciate the sympathy, but mostly want to educate.


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