Episode 7 - High-Functioning Depression

High - Functioning Depression Podcast

What is high-functioning depression?

High-functioning depression is essentially when you are a high-functioning person who is depressed.  So you have a life that looks good, and feels good some or most of the time but inside you feel completely depressed and you even have the symptoms of depression.


Pushing your life forward despite feeling disconnected, exhausted, and heavy

  • Intense imposter syndrome and fraud complex 
  • Working past your limits to overcompensate for a lack of self-worth/emptiness
  • Perfectionism 
  • Feeling empty, dark, despondent when alone
  • Using closet addictions to manage a sense of emptiness, or to run away from pain
  • Fear of sharing your emotional world or true self - fear of appearing anything but happy 
  • Inner-Conflict - feeling of being at war with yourself 
  • Feeling unworthy of life 
  • Perpetuating an image of a perfect/put together life. 
  • Chronic Fatigue/Brain Fog
  • Fear of being truly seen as you are/ difficulty connecting authentically to others
  • Feeling that you have to hide your true self 


With high-functioning depression there is a sense of hiding yourself - and feeling like you have to have a happy shiny demeanour as you walk through the world. And you even perpetuate this image to yourself.  There’s a lot of fear of the darker parts of your personality and your emotional world. There tends to be this split - you know - a compartmentalized life of feeling like one side - the happy shiny - high-performing side is acceptable to you and your family and the world - btu the darker side that feels sad, and despondent and experiences terror and despair is like less acceptable right. It’s bad to feel those things, and those things scare us and they scare the people around us so we push those parts of us down.

Carl Jung called it the shadow self - the parts of the personality and the inner-world which feel less comfortable and less socially acceptable which we hide from ourselves and hide from the world.

People who struggle with high-functioning depression do struggle with being emotionally honest with themselves.

And the reason for that is because of the intense shame, it’s really toxic shame that keeps you in this double-bind, unable to really see your own emotional world and unable to communicate your pain to yourself. And there is really this addictive cycle of pushing pain down and running away from it. Feeling like it’s always at your heels and you’re always sort of just escaping it. You’re just getting away from it right - like by a hair.

And so, Healing high-functioning depression is about integration and aligning your inner-world with your outer world. In some ways, it’s about making a good life great. Right - because having high-functioning depression doesn’t necessarily mean you want to change your career, or leave your family right. You’re probably happy and proud of your relationships and your accomplishments in your life and you should be.

But you just want to be able to feel balanced on the inside rather than always on the edge. The emotional edge. Because living life on the emotional edge - you know feeling like you’re always on the edge of a breakdown or on the edge of tears while maintaining your life and doing all the things feels really really really hard.

And there’s this strong element of heaviness and exhaustion that comes from living life this way. It’s very painful and it’s wounding.  So what I’m going to do, is I’m going to do two more podcasts - so this - high-functioning depression, is the first in the series. And then next week I’ll do a podcast on high-functioning anxiety, and then to end it i’m going to talk about tools for healing and i’m going to talk about the frame which is a framework and a concept I have developed to help you learn how to heal this.

But I am going to give you a place to start.

The way to begin to heal from high-functioning depression - is to cultivate emotional honesty so that you can begin to integrate those emotions which are darker and you’ve judged to be bad or less acceptable.

So the way START healing from high-functioning depression is to use a method I call Facing My Demons in the Morning. You want to face your demons in the morning.  And this is something I realized after years of being that perfectionist high-achieving personality and simultaneously pushing down massive amounts of depression, sadness, and pain.

So facing your demons in the morning is about creating sacred space in the morning for honesty. Honesty with yourself. Emotional honesty. In which you stop avoiding and pushing down pain and begin integrating, feeling, accepting, and being WITH yourself in pain. Because when we push our pain down, we are really abandoning ourselves right. Because we feel like that emotional pain is like a stain on us or means there is something wrong with us and that’s simply not the case because you are NOT your feelings, you’re not your good feelings and you’re not your bad feelings. You are YOU and your feelings are something which you experience okay.

So - Facing Your Demons in the Morning is REALLY REALLY simple. It’s simply waking up 15-30 minutes earlier in the morning and creating a sacred space for you to sit with yourself and be with yourself to allow whatever feelings emerge to emerge. AND - when you open your eyes I want you to pay really close attention to how you feel - because if you’re experiencing high-functioning depression it’s likely that there’s some serious heaviness, maybe some fear, and you may even feel like you want to cry when you wake up in the morning. So what I want you to do is not push past that and rush to get ready and get on with the day and perpetuate the cycle of pushing down the pain. What I want you to do is to notice how you feel and make space for that. Experience that heavy sensation, experience the tears or the fear.  This is a daily process of facing your demons.

So, you’re going to wake up 15-30 minutes early. And you’re going to just sit with yourself for at least 5 minutes. You’re going to sit with yourself and you’re going to allow what comes up to come up. You can light a candle - I like to light a candle and smudge using the sage sticks.

But you can literally just sit there - on a pillow on the floor - or on the couch, or you can lie down on a pillow on the floor. I want you to get out of bed to do this though.

And this is just a time to be there - be with those feelings. We are interrupting the patterning and the re-enactment of waking up and pushing the pain down and rushing through the day and feeling completely disjointed and sad. We are actually taking time in the morning - through this ritual of facing our demons to BE with those scary emotions and integrate them deeply into our experience.

Okay - and at first this will feel really bad. Because we’ve been pushing down those emotions for a long time. Like, for years right? So - it’s going to feel gross at first - because there’s lots of emotional clutter. But what we are doing through this process is starting to clear that out and clear the emotional body and physical body of that stuff that’s bubbling up on the surface.

And you will be surprised at how you feel after 7 days of doing this. Because it’s exhausting to live a split life right? It’s exhausting to abandon yourself. So we’re stopping that. Because we’re still worthy of love when we are sad and when we are in pain. You don’t deserve to abandon yourself simply because you don’t feel happy all the time that is ridiculous right.
So this is a beautiful way to begin healing.

Okay - so face your demons this week my loves. And pretty soon you will find that they become your friends.


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