Category Archives: Challenging Perceptions

Challenging Perceptions: High Functioning Depression

Challenging Perceptions: High Functioning Depression is the first part of a new series where we will be looking at research and personal accounts which challenge popular misconceptions about mental health.

“It’s easy to put depression into a box of symptoms, and though we as a society are constantly told mental illness comes in all shapes and sizes, we are stuck with a mental health stock image in our heads that many people don’t match.”

Amanda Leventhal was a busy teenager with good grades and involvement in many extracurricular activities. She also experienced high anxiety and depression. After consulting a psychiatrist at age 16, she wrestled with the common perception of depression and her own experiences.

Depression is often seen as an obvious sadness, lethargy and inaction. This perception means that many people go under the radar as they struggle with their mental health whilst continuing successfully with studies, jobs, socialising, and general day-to-day life.

“No matter how many times we are reminded that mental illness doesn’t discriminate, we revert back to a narrow idea of how it should manifest, and that is dangerous.”

Amanda’s testimony shows that the “inner” experience of depression is something which people endure differently, with a wider variety of “outer” symptoms than is commonly perceived. Her article is an important call to normalise being able to talk abut mental health, and to break down the narrow margin which defines it.

We Cannot Continue to Overlook ‘High-Functioning’ Depression [via The Mighty]

Further Reading: Comics About Mental Health

Graphic novels, strips and comics about mental health are an accessible and unique way of understanding the conditions they present. We’ve found some of the best to read online.

Attention Deficit Hyperactivity Disorder (ADHD)

Tyler Page‘s “medicated memoir” is a personal account of a lifetime of medication for what many still perceive as a childhood disorder. An extensive look into ADHD and also the medication industry, a Kickstarter for a physical release has recently been successfully funded.

Raised on Ritalin

Anorexia / Body Dysmorphia

Australian artist Khale McHurst‘s 206-part therapeutic exercise and chronicle of her realisation that, despite telling herself otherwise, she did indeed have an eating disorder is a journey which encompasses denial, depression, and acceptance in vivid, honest detail. Each strip is annotated with notes made after publication which gives further detail and insight of her continuing recovery.

I Do Not Have an Eating Disorder

Depression

“But trying to use willpower to overcome the apathetic sort of sadness that accompanies depression is like a person with no arms trying to punch themselves until their hands grow back”

US-based Allie Brosh’s Hyperbole and a Half blog entries about her sudden depression is rightly lauded for being a highly accomplished portrait of the condition in all its illogical and miserable non-glory.

Adventures in Depression

Depression Part Two

Schizophrenia

British Artist Darryl Cunningham took his experiences of his time working in a mental health institute and has compiled them into his 2011 graphic novel Psychiatric Tales: Eleven Graphic Stories About Mental Illness. You can read a selection of the chapters on his website, including this excellent chapter on the often-misunderstood Schizophrenia.

Psychiatric Tales: Schizophrenia

Anxiety

Gemma Correll’s blog is a continuing story of silliness, pugs and social anxiety. Her recent work involves taking suggestions from readers for illustrations for Mental Health America and their #MentalIllnessFeelsLike campaign.

Gemma Correll

Honourable Mention: Better, Drawn

The blog Better, Drawn hasn’t been updated in a while, but it’s still a valuable resource. Hosting short comic panels about a variety of mental health conditions, these bite-size presentations make a big impression.

Better, Drawn