Some because they are designed that way and some because we fail to see beyond that which is first presented to us or because we are (IMHO) prone, as a species, to making assumptions.
Perhaps I am just cynical and certainly I accept that not everyone makes assumptions and yet so many folk do seem to don’t they?
‘Functioning’ is one such area in which, in my opinion, so many assumptions are often drawn and all too often drawn in error.
Being high-functioning implies (and yes this is a deliberate simplification) that you are able to cope or to function within social, occupational, or other important areas of functioning quite adequately despite your condition.
To all intents and purposes I am considered to be ‘high-functioning’. Whilst it is true that I am not able to work, that inability to work is mainly as a result of my physical health and not my mental health.
I am, for the most part, extremely articulate and do actually socialize from time to time – generally within a church based environment as a result of my personal faith – and indeed many people who know me would not consider me to have any obvious mental health difficulties.
The trouble is of course that I do and the trouble is that whilst to all intents and purposes I am high-functioning in some areas there are areas in which I don’t function well at all. Areas which folk don’t often see and which, as a result of my apparent high-functioning in other areas, are not only seldom considered but which when they do become apparent folk find hard to understand given how well I function or cope in other areas.
I am an avid writer – writing both novels and poetry and magazine articles and the such and I author several blogs. I used to, up until last year, teach creative writing I fix computers (although I do less of that nowadays as a result of my health etc). I sing and for years led worship in my local church. I design and maintain websites. I draw and paint and sculpt and taught art for some time and am scheduled to do so again soon.
So when friends and family consider what I do they consider me to be extremely high functioning and indeed even my psychiatrists have commented on how well I seem to be coping.
The difficulty is of course that ‘seeming to be coping’ and actually coping are two different things entirely and all this comes at a cost and takes a lot more effort for me than for most folk. Effort which I, and I am fairly confident a lot of others in similar positions to me, hide and try not to let people see.
We want to be high-functioning or at least adequately functioning don’t we? We need to be high-functioning, adequately functioning, coping.
It is inbuilt to seek to ‘get better’, to cling to evidence that we are indeed ‘getting better’ or at very least ‘managing as best we can’.
Additionally isn’t it equally important to many of us that we are not a ‘burden’ to others or that we don’t cause concern or worry for others? But in so doing are we creating a rod for our own back? Are we feeding the very difficulties that others have in understanding the difficulties we experience with or as a result of our poor mental-health?
Is there a price of being high-functioning? Yes, I am convinced that there is. Whilst I accept that some of that is down to my own actions or my inability to show or share what I am truly going through sometimes, I think a great deal of that price is the loneliness and the feeling that folk really don’t understand which often results from my lack of sharing and other people’s assumptions.