Thinking of Stephen “tWitch” Boss

The Controversial High-Functioning Depression

4 min readJan 19, 2023
A picture of someone holding a smiley face balloon covering their face. The smiley face looks happy, with their tongue out. They’re also holding other brightly colored ballons, with a bright wall painted sunny yellow-white colored faces. The pic is meant to depict one who is elated, happy, high-functioning, and the life of the party on the outside, masking a possible invisible depressive turmoil within them.
Photo by Lidya Nada on Unsplash

I’m inclined to think we don’t talk about mental health and depression enough or that we don’t give it the attention it deserves.

Sometimes it’s because one doesn’t know that they are depressed,
Others are shy to speak out,
Still, some aren’t taken seriously, especially if they have high-functioning depression or look OK. They may speak out or ask for help, and people might think they’re playing.
On occasion, it’s society, which includes people who surmise it’s not a thing,
It could also be that some people believe they’re in dire straits and that the world can do nothing to help them,
And other times, employers may not consider mental health a vital factor for employees. Even so, few acknowledge its importance and have periodic initiatives to help their teams. Some have comprehensive coverage in their medical health insurance, while others dismiss mental health or even brush off employees’ needs or requests when they come asking for help.

Nonetheless, depression is a crucial health issue that needs more serious attention than usual.

That said, no one walks around with the words “hey, I am depressed” painted on their forehead; most people look OK, even more than OK, but have an unexplainable turmoil in a battlefield within them.

Take the example of deceased world-renown dancer Stephen “tWITCH” Boss — death by suicide. Based on comments following his death, he seemed perfectly OK. Many described him with what can be summarised as “he was a shining light in every room he walked into.” Dancing with so much energy and zeal and exuding a positivity that uplifts even those at their lowest, with accompanying encouraging captions. No one saw his suicide coming!

I can’t help but wonder, was the euphoria his way of working through what was bothering him? Was it his version of therapy to compensate for a probable emptiness or whatever overwhelming emotions he had within?

It’s not easy, and it’s also unfair and impudent to conclude what was happening within him or interpret his personality without having known or talked to him. One can only wonder…with the surety of only one thing; depression is real; it’s simple but also highly complicated. And one can only wish we could tell what goes on in one’s mind, read it, or help…

This is not to conclude that he had high functioning depression, but it brings the condition to mind.

While some experts have called this state of mind thigh-functioning depression, others, like psychiatrist Jessi Gold, MD, have said it should be named otherwise.

It made me curious, though, about high-functioning depression (HFD). So just what is it?

What is High-Functioning Depression?

In layperson’s terms, it’s when someone is depressed but can still function properly. In both cases, it may not be easy to tell when one is depressed.

But the main difference between HFD & major depression is:

  1. Duration: HFD lasts long, even years, while major depression (MDD) occurs in short severe episodes.
  2. Severity: In HFD, one can perform normally or almost typically (the key word here is high-functioning but not fully functioning). They can get through their daily tasks like jobs, family and social obligations, school, etc., naturally while still having internal psychological turmoil. In contrast, MDD leaves the person’s functioning impaired; they’re unable to function normally, say at work. Among the noticeable things in a non-functioning individual may be: Not caring for oneself, a lack of enthusiasm for their usual activities or responsibilities, and social withdrawal.

Needless to say, there’s a thin line between HFD and significant depression, and one can easily transition into the latter from the former.

The symptoms…

Are more or less the same in both cases.
For example, feeling hopeless, helpless, or inadequate.
Others include overwhelming sadness, occasional unexplainable breakdowns, and feeling low.
There may also be a lack of interest in activities — in HFD, one forces themselves or even grovels if they have to as long as they get things done, while in significant depression, they can’t function.
To boot, trouble sleeping, unexplainable weight loss or gain, drug use, and, in major depression, suicidal thoughts or delusions and paranoia may also occur.

Usually, you may or may not tell if someone is depressed, but these symptoms and many others are the invisible that goes on internally.

One can only hope that:

Society can look at depression more seriously,
Authorities, like employers, can have better solutions,
Those suffering can speak out or seek the necessary help,
And those spoken to can take the victim seriously.
And eventually, we can decipher this mental illness with better ways of recognizing and handling it.




I see extra in the ordinary & use words to paint it; fueled by a quest for mental health. Lover of forests, fitness, nature, good food & reading & a coffee snob