Guest Blogs

“Is Emotional Pain Worse Than Physical Pain?”

A lecture on the link between depression and a heart attack got me thinking about why — when I seem to have so many things going for me — I am still so unhappy.

A friend and I went to a lecture at a ritzy hotel on Sunday, where a scientist from an Ivy League school entertained (some of) us with a lecture titled, “What comes first, depression or a heart attack?”

After stuffing my face with complimentary finger sandwiches and scones, I listened intently to her talk, wondering, in the end, who would really know? Sure, they could churn out a bunch of guinea pig studies that would generate flashy headlines, and maybe the results would spark some of the Big Pharma folks to invent a drug that targets both the blues and heart disease, but how many years would it take for such a definitive study to surface, and how long would it take to create a panacea that works? (Do they ever?)

To be honest, the talk was quite depressing (ironic, right?), and it got me wishing, in the scope of diseases and genetic abnormalities, that I had been born with webbed feet. The anguish of not being understood is worse than physical pain, I believe. (But what about the webbed-footed person who is misunderstood because of her disability? I guess none of us can truly appreciate another’s disease, no matter the commonalities.)

One thing the scientist (with impressive degrees, but an ultimately inconclusive heart-disease-depression study) said stuck with me: People who commit suicide are the ones who are withdrawn, not the ones who cry and are visibly sad to those around them. When I think about depression, I usually think about tears, but when a person is truly hopeless, there are no tears. One may even appear happy and content, as if there weren’t a care in the world, a pseudo-Pollyanna.

Sometimes I feel like that now, when it comes to the attention deficit hyperactivity disorder (ADD/ADHD). The Sister, who herself has been sad about a variety of things lately and says she’s even cried at work, asked me how long it’s been since I’ve been a therapist. More than I year; I’m fine, I told her, but, inside, I still feel like the slightest gust of wind could blow me over.

I had thought that swimming, living in a luxury building with a doorman and a penthouse apartment, and the coming of spring, would change things, and they did, but the benefit was only temporary, which is why, after returning from the most satisfying business trip, I have been wondering if travel and movement could be the answer to successfully leading an adult ADHD life.
Maybe a bit of it is the jetlag, the result of taking Adderall in a different time zone. Or maybe it’s also because I’ve given up on being happy at work. Having to chitchat, be polite, be politically correct, exhausts me. Maybe I need a vacation, but what good is a Band-Aid for depression? No, now I can only look within.

From the outside looking in, I have almost everything a person could ask for, and, yet, I can’t stop and settle for this, right here. Why can’t I be happy?

Related resources: