Diane Engster: I Have Problems; I’m Not Low Functioning, Part 2 of 2

Low functioning or unhappy?

Low functioning or unhappy?

My biggest problem is finding a job that’s the right fit for where I am right now.  That does not make me “low functioning.”

How would you know if this man is low functioning or just feeling bad?

I can have great energy, great focus, good ideas, etc. etc. for a certain time.  Then, all of a sudden, I crash and can’t do much of anything. When the crash happens, I can’t live up to the obligations I’ve committed myself to, and that makes working on projects with other people difficult.

These crashes can come so often that I don’t feel very much in recovery or well at all.  My mental/emotional state is complicated by other medical conditions and chronic pain.

It also really lowers my self-esteem and confidence because I want to continue like I was, but I can hardly get out of bed, and the ideas and energy just won’t come. It’s very frustrating.

Calling This “Low Functioning” Makes It Worse

I might appear low-functioning to some people. But others’ expectations and judgment don’t help me at a time like this. In fact, expectations and judgment make it worse. I need others to believe in me and validate me. Usually little by little I come out of it.

Calling me “low functioning” now would make me feel worse.  It would be like turning this temporary phase, whatever it is, into my permanent, unchangeable identity.

How Can You Tell Life Challenges From Low Functioning

Some say people who are “low functioning” have vastly different needs than those who are “high functioning” yet many of their problems are bad docs, stereotyping by professionals, the wrong diagnosis, and wrong medications.

Many people have been hampered and discouraged into hopelessness by these things. “Low functioning” could be caused by medication effects or side-effects. “High-functioning” could mean being alert, responsive, sociable, and eyes not glazed over.

One who is heavily sedated on medication probably wouldn’t have these characteristics and thus, would be seen as “low-functioning.”   Categorizing certain experiences might help some people if the system were not so rigid, static, and stigmatizing, with all its claims of being based on science.

It helps me to know my experience is similar to someone else’s, and its called a panic attack, or tangential thinking, or distractibility, or depression, or euphoria, etc. Mostly, though, diagnoses box people in, and separate people, rather than view human experience on a continuum.

How would/has being labeled “low functioning” make you feel?

 

 

Diane Engster

Wordworks Blog Author: Diane Engster

Diane Engster has been a mental health civil rights leader for over 30 years. She currently spends time in Florida, Washington, D.C., and other national hot spots for advocacy. She is a frequent visitor to Alternatives Facebook discussion groups and is often willing to challenge peoples' basic assumptions.

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