Gifts of the MDD
It’s not easy to have Massive Depressive Disorder. Of course, you’d expect me to say that, I have MDD. Nothing is easy for us. We’re the whiners. We’re the Eeyores in life’s hundred acre wood. The ones who find the sad, the dark, the lonely, and the hopelessness in every situation. It’s not our fault, we say, and it’s mostly true — most of us are just genetically wired to see the world through overly emotional fog colored glasses. But even when we feel dead inside, when we feel like we’ve lost the ability to feel at all, we still feel that, hard. We live in the buzzing pulse between life and death.
Sometimes, this gets really ugly. But other times, like how someone who has lost one sense develops stronger or different senses, maybe living in the middle of this wild and buzzing pulse isn’t always a bad thing. Like one who is visually impaired who sees even more with his ears and nose and fingers, maybe, if we just hang on a little longer, we’ll develop enhanced senses to make up for the ones we’ve lost. And these are worth claiming. These might even be the things that save our lives, that hold on to our truth, keep us showing up, even when everything seems lost.
If someone gave me a magic wand to erase all depressive thoughts from existence, I’d still try my hardest to wheedle the fairy godmother into keeping these qualities still intact, maybe just hidden under my new flowy and annoyingly hopeful couture dress.
So this one gets me in trouble, a lot. When you’re living on the edge of existence, suddenly you can’t handle the bullshit anymore. We tell the truth.
Yes, your butt does look fat in that outfit. No, I’m not doing ok today. And yup, I spend way too much money on Starbucks. Now let me tell you about the time I played soap opera with my cousin in her parents’ bedroom, and then we’ll have a heart-to-heart about our weaknesses and that time we got hurt in high school and how we wish someday we could just run away from it all and join a convent in rural India. We have very sensitive bullshit detectors; we can see driving twelve miles in your luxury SUV to buy organic bananas from a mile away.
But if we love you? Oh, you’ll know. We have to hold on to all the good we can, as long as we can, and when we can name the good — the not-bullshit — we’re encouraged to hang in there a little bit longer.
So one of our survival techniques is mindfulness. And it usually doesn’t look like alternate nostril breathing, or what-color-is-our-emotion visualizations, or meditation apps. But we have to be in this moment, this one right here. If we think about what has happened before this moment, we will find ourselves in a cesspool of shame. If we focus on moments to come, we will freak ourselves out into oblivion.
So come hang out with us when you want to talk about how the snow feels on our cheeks, or dig through broken shells on the beach, or enjoy a really good craft brew, even though our Wellbutrin says we shouldn’t drink while on the meds.
Feel the Feels
When we’re in a good, healthy, place, there ain’t no shame in feeling the feels with us. Sometimes, that’s just what we need to pull us out of our emotionally flat-lined stupor. Join us as we hippie swirl dance at the Phish concert, as we get in to a heated argument over the naming of the “pineapple” with strangers at a coffee shop, invite us in to your heart. We cherish tears. We collect them. They remind us we’re not alone.
We know what it’s like in those tender places. And many of us can tread lightly, honoring your emotions, feeling with you, because we’ve been there. It’s an honor, really.
This is another one that gets me in to trouble. Hell, they all do, but this one especially. Because every day feels like a black and white fight against the pull of life versus death, and because we tend to look at everything through a cracked grey lens, we aren’t too good at making distinctions. We live in a muddled mess most of the time, which is what the present moment usually is, isn’t it?
Sometimes we feel neither dead nor alive; we’re somewhere in the frozen soil, waiting for Spring, probably doubting that it’ll ever come. Sometimes we fall in love with our friends, but they have to stay just friends. Sometimes we have to find new moms for ourselves because when we’re broken we end up having to mother our real mothers. Or our therapists have to keep reminding us that they are not our friends. We want peanut butter and nutella and jelly and banana sandwiches with Fritos sprinkled inside. We want margaritas with our pizza and tattoos with our high heels. We are often walking contradictions. We might even drive twelve miles in our fancy SUVs to buy organic bananas. And we’ll stop for Starbucks on the way.
Sometimes we live so fully in the muddled middle that we don’t even realize how much this might hurt others. But maybe we who smudge these lines are pulling others into a world of radical acceptance, where division and categories fall away, and there’s just us.
For the too many people who have died by suicide, there are so many more of us who think about it every day, who have survived attempts, who have emotionally flat-lined and refuse to get out of bed, but who still, somehow, STAY.
Maybe if we see the difficult, messy, cluttered gifts of the MDD, our own gifts, we’ll want to stay just a little bit longer. We’ll deposit a little more stubborn into our survival vaults. Maybe for half a second we won’t see all of this empty pain, this emotional exhaustion, this dark separation from the world as completely pointless. Maybe we’ll change the world. Even if it’s just ours.
What do you think? What are other gifts given to victims of the noonday demon?