If a tree falls in a forest and no one is around to hear it, does it make a sound?If you are depressed and nobody else knows it, does your depression make any difference?
What if you are depressed and you don't know it?
The second one happened to me. I was diagnosed with depression when I went to the doctor about something else. So I had been depressed without knowing it. Not that I thought I was happy, it just didn't occur to me I had an illness called depression.
The first one happened to me at least in this sense. I only recently told my children about me being depressed, and even though it had been going on most of their lives, they told me they had no idea it had been happening. Overall I think that's a good thing, especially since I had worked half time to parent them. On the other hand, if family members don't know you are ill they can't help you.
Let's drag this post back to academia, and maybe even to high functioning.
What if you are depressed, but functioning at a high level in academia? Does your depression make any difference?
There is a strong feeling that depression in academia is almost a taboo: indeed that is the main reason for starting Depressed Academics. Somewhere we can talk about it, and be anonymous and private if we want to be. So many people in academia are depressed and their colleagues don't know it.
If your colleagues don't know you are depressed, and they also think you are doing a good job as a researcher or teacher, or being a good student, does your depression make any difference?
For some people, it may literally make no difference to them or their colleagues in an academic sense.
For other people, I think it does make a difference. Even if you don't know you are depressed in a clinical sense, like I didn't. I've always found that when I am confident I do better work, and I'm not usually confident when I'm depressed. Well, maybe not so much confident actually, but happy to operate outside my comfort blanket of stuff I really know I can do.
This post again shows why I find it so difficult to write about high functioning depression. I can't draw conclusions, just raise questions. But I have got a final question for you.
Even if your depression makes no difference to your colleagues, it makes a difference to you. Why not be a happy Socrates instead of a miserable one?