This powerful essay illustrates what it's like to live with an 'invisible' mental illness.

"Everyone is fighting a battle you know nothing about. Be kind. Always."

While this quote is true for anyone you may come in contact with, it may be especially true for those of us with "high-functioning" mental illnesses.

You come in contact with people in this category every day, even if you don't know it. In fact, you might be one of these people yourself.


Despite a handful of mental health diagnoses, I have a steady job, am working part-time on a master's degree, have a social life, and in general seem to be a functioning adult. I am glad to be moving through life, and I refuse to let my disorders define me or even limit me. However, struggling with these demons while also being an over-achiever can be isolating and frustrating.

Being "high-functioning" does not make disorders or battles any less overwhelming.

Sometimes it feels like I'm swimming in the ocean, caught in a riptide and getting pulled in over my head all while fighting with every ounce of strength to reach the surface for a breath of air. It is a constant struggle to keep my battles from drowning me or pulling me under.

Many people understandably do get pulled under to the point of not getting out of bed or going to work or functioning. But others' highly active survival instincts keep them struggling to reach the surface of the water so they can breathe. Their current is just as strong, and the threat and pain of these struggles is just as real. Their instinct is just different — to fight as hard as they can and not ever stop.

It may seem like this makes high-functioning people's struggles "easier," "less severe," or "less real."

In reality, my instinct is just to tread water and maintain appearances while many other people's is to not fight the ocean quite so hard. Neither response is wrong — people just fight their battles differently.

Of course, mental illnesses and trauma are awful and isolating no matter what. Being "high-functioning," though, can feel extremely isolating and confusing in a different way. Most of the time, the people I love are not aware of how much I am struggling. They see me achieving, they see me living, and they figure I am OK. I have an active sense of humor and tend to minimize my fight. People assume I'm managing just fine.

Even those closest to me are sometimes confused by the juxtaposition of my mental illness and my functional life.

Unless I specifically tell my family and friends that I am absolutely not OK in explicit terms, it is all too easy to assume that everything is fine. I realized about nine months ago that my own parents, whom I am very close to, had no idea how severe my PTSD was or how anxious and depressed I felt.

A couple of times a week, I go to bed having to actively battle thoughts like everyone would be better off without me and that I should just make myself disappear. These thoughts aren't rational, and they aren't visible to anyone (other than my therapist who always seems to know).

When I get up in the morning, I put on a brave face and tackle the day while my brain and body scream at me that it would be better, safer, and easier if I just stayed in bed all day. Every moment of every day, I fight the current that is trying to pull me under and fight the desire to just stop. I want to give in. I want to let the pain and depression wash over me. More than anything I want peace and rest for a little while because fighting this and putting on my brave face is exhausting. I still fight, though, because that is the only way I can find to manage life.

Being "high-functioning" is a gift at times, and it allows me to be a productive adult.

It comes at a cost, too, as fighting to remain functioning drains me. In all likelihood, someone in your circle, someone you know and love, is fighting this same battle. Smiles and laughter and "I'm doing well!" answers can lie about the pain and exhaustion that may be completely invisible to others.

So remember, as much as you can, be kind always with everyone. Sometimes your gentleness might just be the lifeline someone needs to get through the day.

If you need support right now, call the National Suicide Prevention Lifeline at 800-273-8255 or text "START" to 741-741.

This story originally appeared on The Mighty and is reprinted here with permission. If you or someone you know needs help, visit The Mighty's suicide prevention resources page.

True

We're redefining what normal means in these uncertain times, and although this is different for all of us, love continues to transform us for the better.

Love is what united Marie-Claire and David Archbold, who met while taking a photography class. "We went into the darkroom to see what developed," they joke—and after a decade of marriage, they know firsthand the deep commitment and connection romantic love requires.

All photos courtesy of Marie-Claire and David Archbold

However, their relationship became even sweeter when they adopted James: a little boy with a huge heart.

In the United States alone, there are roughly 122,000 children awaiting adoption according to the latest report from the U.S Department of Health and Human Services. While the goal is always for a child to be parented by and stay with their biological family, that is not always a possibility. This is where adoption offers hope—not only does it create new families, it gives birth parents an avenue through which to see their child flourish when they are not able to parent. For the right families, it's a beautiful thing.

The Archbolds knew early on that adoption was an option for them. David has three daughters from a previous marriage, but knowing their family was not yet complete, the couple embarked on a two-year journey to find their match. When the adoption agency called and told them about James, they were elated. From the moment they met him, the Archbolds knew he was meant to be part of their family. David locked eyes with the brown-eyed baby and they stared at each other in quiet wonder for such a long time that the whole room fell silent. "He still looks at me like that," said David.

The connection was mutual and instantaneous—love at first sight. The Archbolds knew that James was meant to be a part of their family. However, they faced significant challenges requiring an even deeper level of commitment due to James' medical condition.

James was born with congenital hyperinsulinism, a rare condition that causes his body to overproduce insulin, and within 2 months of his birth, he had to have surgery to remove 90% of his pancreas. There was a steep learning curve for the Archbolds, but they were already in love, and knew they were committed to the ongoing care that'd be required of bringing James into their lives. After lots of research and encouragement from James' medical team, they finally brought their son home.

Today, three-year-old James is thriving, filled with infectious joy that bubbles over and touches every person who comes in contact with him. "Part of love is when people recognize that they need to be with each other," said his adoptive grandfather. And because the Archbolds opted for an open adoption, there are even more people to love and support James as he grows.

This sweet story is brought to you by Sumo Citrus®. This oversized mandarin is celebrated for its incredible taste and distinct looks. Sumo Citrus is super-sweet, enormous, easy-to-peel, seedless, and juicy without the mess. Fans of the fruit are obsessive, stocking up from January to April when Sumo Citrus is in stores. To learn more, visit sumocitrus.com and @sumocitrus.

Terence Power / TikTok

A video of a busker in Dublin, Ireland singing "You've Got a Friend in Me" to a young boy with autism is going viral because it's just so darn adorable. The video was filmed over a year ago by Terence Power, the co-host of the popular "Talking Bollox Podcast."

It was filmed before face masks were required, so you can see the boy's beautiful reaction to the song.

Power uploaded it to TikTok because he had just joined the platform and had no idea the number of lives it would touch. "The support on it is unbelievable. I posted it on my Instagram a while back and on Facebook and the support then was amazing," he told Dublin Live.

"But I recently made TikTok and said I'd share it on that and I'm so glad I did now!" he continued.

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True

We're redefining what normal means in these uncertain times, and although this is different for all of us, love continues to transform us for the better.

Love is what united Marie-Claire and David Archbold, who met while taking a photography class. "We went into the darkroom to see what developed," they joke—and after a decade of marriage, they know firsthand the deep commitment and connection romantic love requires.

All photos courtesy of Marie-Claire and David Archbold

However, their relationship became even sweeter when they adopted James: a little boy with a huge heart.

In the United States alone, there are roughly 122,000 children awaiting adoption according to the latest report from the U.S Department of Health and Human Services. While the goal is always for a child to be parented by and stay with their biological family, that is not always a possibility. This is where adoption offers hope—not only does it create new families, it gives birth parents an avenue through which to see their child flourish when they are not able to parent. For the right families, it's a beautiful thing.

The Archbolds knew early on that adoption was an option for them. David has three daughters from a previous marriage, but knowing their family was not yet complete, the couple embarked on a two-year journey to find their match. When the adoption agency called and told them about James, they were elated. From the moment they met him, the Archbolds knew he was meant to be part of their family. David locked eyes with the brown-eyed baby and they stared at each other in quiet wonder for such a long time that the whole room fell silent. "He still looks at me like that," said David.

The connection was mutual and instantaneous—love at first sight. The Archbolds knew that James was meant to be a part of their family. However, they faced significant challenges requiring an even deeper level of commitment due to James' medical condition.

James was born with congenital hyperinsulinism, a rare condition that causes his body to overproduce insulin, and within 2 months of his birth, he had to have surgery to remove 90% of his pancreas. There was a steep learning curve for the Archbolds, but they were already in love, and knew they were committed to the ongoing care that'd be required of bringing James into their lives. After lots of research and encouragement from James' medical team, they finally brought their son home.

Today, three-year-old James is thriving, filled with infectious joy that bubbles over and touches every person who comes in contact with him. "Part of love is when people recognize that they need to be with each other," said his adoptive grandfather. And because the Archbolds opted for an open adoption, there are even more people to love and support James as he grows.

This sweet story is brought to you by Sumo Citrus®. This oversized mandarin is celebrated for its incredible taste and distinct looks. Sumo Citrus is super-sweet, enormous, easy-to-peel, seedless, and juicy without the mess. Fans of the fruit are obsessive, stocking up from January to April when Sumo Citrus is in stores. To learn more, visit sumocitrus.com and @sumocitrus.

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