You are not crazy: Ten characteristics of perfectly hidden depression
No one suspects anything is wrong. Yet you’re the person who might kill yourself, and no one would know why.
- Margaret Rutherford author of Perfectly Hidden Depression
I lived in this liminal state of “is it a mental illness?” and “you are a mean, lean, achieving machine” for most of my life. My half-assed attempts at getting help were just that. Half-assed. I got sent home with happy pills and a pat in the back. Said pills would end up in the garbage within months.
I chose my angst. It was better than feeling nothing.
For someone who lives in this state, labels can be such a relief. Perfectionism doesn’t quite do it. Simply put — if your perfectionism doesn’t lead to suicidal thoughts, we are not talking about the same experience.
Hence my relief when I learned about PERFECTLY HIDDEN DEPRESSION (PHD for short). PHD is not a clinical diagnosis but it is a set of characteristics that when they appear together…well, you are kinda fucked.
These are the 10 characteristics of PHD:
- Inner voice is constant, critical and shaming
- Excessive sense of responsibility
- Stays in their head to avoid emotions
- Need to control yourself and your environment
- Uses accomplishments to feel valuable
- Doesn’t allow others in their inner world
- Struggle with self-compassion, dismisses their own pain and struggle
- May have other mental health issues: eating disorder, anxiety, addiction
- Believes strongly in counting your blessings as the foundation of well-being
- May enjoy success within a professional structure but struggle with emotional intimacy in relationships
How many sound familiar to you? It’s not exactly the quiz I wanted to ace, but naming the thing is the first step.
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