What is Normal Anyway? (High Functioning Mental Illness)

I’m smart. I read well. I can do math at a high level. I’m talented in multiple fields of art, music, and communication. I understand conceptual problems with relative ease and enjoy good philosophical exercises. However, paperwork, emails, and essays give me anxiety. Missed text messages and interpersonal conflict can keep my mind tied up for hours. I’m a very high achiever, but I feel like I end up near success by accident. I have High Functioning ADHD.

All my life, I just understood things. Subjects in school came easy and I often didn’t need to study, work hard, or try until late high school. The concepts still made since but I was often lacking early exposure to certain skills by the time some students were dealing with the same material for years. I used to be able to sit in class and retain material. Now, it takes more time, longer than a few days to process with I intrinsically understand.


This left me in a weird place when I no longer wanted to write research papers and long articles about Frankenstein’s monster. The struggle only intensified when I was faced with potentially making a choice that will shape my entire future. Decision making is hard when all you know how to do is just stay alive.

I could do anything that I wanted to do but what I wanted to do shifted with the winds. Committing to a specific career, passion, or even characteristic I wanted to show others was nearly impossible. I have so much inside of me, that limiting seemed stupid. Part of me struggles with identity. I felt amorphous, not completely settled into myself, still reacting to the world around me.


Eventually, I realized that something was wrong. Not in a sense that I was wrong, just different. I couldn’t understand what it was or what it meant but I knew something was off from the way I think I should have felt.

I walked around sad until people came around. I would be in therapy and solve everyone’s problems. I would come through with group projects that involved others while my work fell by the waste-side. Others kept me functional but not my own success. I didn’t care if I succeeded but I didn’t want to drag others down in the process. Everyone’s life and world was more important than my own and I had no clue why.


The problem when you are high functioning is that you don’t know that the additional steps you have to go through aren’t typical. You don’t know that motivation should be easier to come by. You don’t know that the typical person doesn’t need to fidget with toys in class to maintain focus on words. You don’t know that a mute feeling is mute until you compare it to someone else’s resting emotion. You don’t know that the paralysis of making any decision isn’t common until someone tells you such. You don’t know that you are struggling until someone else tells your that there is a better way.

I didn’t know I was depressed. I didn’t know I had anxiety. I didn’t know my focus was everywhere. I didn’t know what was normal and what was not. Frankly, I still don’t. But, I live daily the best I can. I picked up a thousand coping mechanisms and am weeding out the helpful from the harmful. I pay attention to my body’s reactions and voice my concerns. Most of all, I ask people for their opinions to see if something is off. I also now ask others how they are because the one thing I learned, some people don’t even know they need help until it’s too late.


Check on a friend today.

Turn Your Brightness Up!



Published by Magnificent Miles

I'm a little dreamer with big dreams that wants to be far from ordinary and go anywhere that's not familiar. The Lord is my guide as I attempt to improve, not just my own, but everyone's quality of life.

Leave a Reply

%d bloggers like this: