Andrew_044

Emotional numbness

8 posts in this topic

I'm currently suffering from emotional numbness or anhedonia(the scientific name for numbness).This means that I don't experience any emotions,positive or negative.I rarely feel emotions,but with very low intensity,and they last less than 1-2 seconds.To be honest,I can't remember the last time I felt an emotion for a long time.I'm also getting tired pretty quick which I am sure it's unusual for my age(I'm 16 years old).I can't even concentrate properly..

Here's a video that explains my situation:

I want to get this clear:I'm not depressed,I am experiencing anhedonia as a separate state than depression,and I am sure of it.Also,I'm not suffering from apathy either.

So...I've found some techniques like meditation,affirmations,writing and activities that involve leaving my comfort zone that might help me,but considering my situation,I'm not motivated to continue.I struggled to do 2 weeks of "work" in order to cure myself,but I just couldn't continue anymore...No motivation,and got really tired..

I would appreciate if you give me some kind of technique so I would stop procrastinating(I watched some videos about it,but they require motivation,which I lack like any other emotion).Also,it would be nice if I can find somebody that went through what I am going now.

Hopefully,I didn't wrote to much..

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Hi Andrew, I have a very close family member who has experienced something very similar to what you are describing. 

To support this family member, I recently read a book that discusses this topic at length, among many other things - it's called The Body Keeps the Score, by Bessel Van der Kolk, a renowned clinical psychologist who deals primarily with trauma.

I'm not sure what the root of your experience is based on what you wrote, but the family member I mentioned, as well as most of the cases Bessel discusses in his book, experience an almost complete numbing of all emotion due to past trauma, and the way the body and the brain were molded and rewired in order to function despite intense trauma -- in order to be able to live with the memory of past trauma, many people learn to ignore what they feel. They may not intend to suppress or ignore all of their emotions -- the brain's purpose in those cases is to make living with traumatic and terrible memories tolerable, but as a side effect, it becomes difficult or impossible to feel any emotion, since the brain's emotional processing centers can't shut down just the negative: everything gets shut down to boot.

So again, I'm not assuming that what you are experience is a result of traumatic experiences in your past, just saying that this is one common explanation for emotional numbness. Teal mentions in a lot of her work that we are all suffering from past trauma in some form or another, so even if there is no glaring trauma you have dealt with, it's possible the emotional numbness is still connected to unresolved past trauma.

I know first hand how difficult it can be to get motivated to move in a positive direction when nothing seems to work. However, you should know that you are already in a good position just by seeking to understand your experience--Bessel Van der Kolk talks about personal emotional curiosity being an essential component of moving into a space of healing, and you are already moving in that direction, as evidenced by your post. 

I recommend staying curious about how you feel, and paying close attention to how you feel, even if what you feel is primarily a lack of emotion rather than the presence of emotion. The process of getting back into a space of tolerating emotion requires patience and most of all this curiosity. As you mentioned, meditation is an excellent, excellent way to demonstrate to yourself that you care how you feel and that you want to be able to feel both positive and negative emotion, in order to regain that emotional tolerance and be able to move in the direction of what feels good to you emotionally and ultimately what brings you joy. 

I hope some of this was at least a little helpful. :):)

Katie

 

 

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5 minutes ago, KatieHarmony said:

Hi Andrew, I have a very close family member who has experienced something very similar to what you are describing. 

To support this family member, I recently read a book that discusses this topic at length, among many other things - it's called The Body Keeps the Score, by Bessel Van der Kolk, a renowned clinical psychologist who deals primarily with trauma.

I'm not sure what the root of your experience is based on what you wrote, but the family member I mentioned, as well as most of the cases Bessel discusses in his book, experience an almost complete numbing of all emotion due to past trauma, and the way the body and the brain were molded and rewired in order to function despite intense trauma -- in order to be able to live with the memory of past trauma, many people learn to ignore what they feel. They may not intend to suppress or ignore all of their emotions -- the brain's purpose in those cases is to make living with traumatic and terrible memories tolerable, but as a side effect, it becomes difficult or impossible to feel any emotion, since the brain's emotional processing centers can't shut down just the negative: everything gets shut down to boot.

So again, I'm not assuming that what you are experience is a result of traumatic experiences in your past, just saying that this is one common explanation for emotional numbness. Teal mentions in a lot of her work that we are all suffering from past trauma in some form or another, so even if there is no glaring trauma you have dealt with, it's possible the emotional numbness is still connected to unresolved past trauma.

I know first hand how difficult it can be to get motivated to move in a positive direction when nothing seems to work. However, you should know that you are already in a good position just by seeking to understand your experience--Bessel Van der Kolk talks about personal emotional curiosity being an essential component of moving into a space of healing, and you are already moving in that direction, as evidenced by your post. 

I recommend staying curious about how you feel, and paying close attention to how you feel, even if what you feel is primarily a lack of emotion rather than the presence of emotion. The process of getting back into a space of tolerating emotion requires patience and most of all this curiosity. As you mentioned, meditation is an excellent, excellent way to demonstrate to yourself that you care how you feel and that you want to be able to feel both positive and negative emotion, in order to regain that emotional tolerance and be able to move in the direction of what feels good to you emotionally and ultimately what brings you joy. 

I hope some of this was at least a little helpful. :):)

Katie

 

 

Yes,I suspect that this is the root cause of my numbness.Many of my family members got really sick in a short period of time,my father was even close to death...

Anyways,ahm,I hope I won't offense but,may I ask if your family member managed to cure himself?

I have a request,hopefully it won't seem stupid.Can you give me some examples of when do normal people feel emotions?(by "normal" I mean non-depressive).For example,when I read I feel blank..When I eat I feel blank.I want a few points on which I can rely and check my progress.

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It sounds like your experience with your father and family members becoming very sick could definitely be a traumatic trigger that would lead to emotional numbing. You could try starting with Teal's video "Healing the Emotional Body" to bring yourself to the direct root here as well.

To answer your question about this particular family member -- yes, he has managed to overcome the emotional numbness. He has not completely healed all of the impacts of his trauma, but he has done a lot to move in the direction of healing. His childhood trauma is really extreme and intense, so I think it will take him bit by bit over a long period of time to heal each piece, but he has done a lot to move in the direction of healing. He talks to me a lot more than he used to talk to anyone about his experience, and he and I have worked together to describe his emotions when he starts to feel something he doesn't know how to put a name to, which has helped him identify and sit with different emotions. 

A lot of his emotional numbing came from growing up in a family where no one really talked about what they were feeling or acknowledged emotions in general. They were not a very touchy-feely family, so if you were experiencing something difficult, you were expected to sort of just cope with it on your own. So after years of learning to talk through his emotions and what they were, he has been able to lift a lot of the emotional numbing. 

As far as examples of when people typically experience emotion, I would say that some good indicators are positive or negative life experiences -- if something disappointing happens to you, for example (like dropping your ice cream cone, or losing your keys, or getting rejected by a friend, etc.), it would be normal for you to experience emotions like anger, sadness, etc. Or if something exciting happens to you, for example (like you get a job offer, or someone invites you to a theme park or a ball game or something you really enjoy, etc.), it would be normal for you to experience emotions like excitement, or happiness/joy, or contentment. 

Things like reading and eating (like you mention), don't necessarily always have emotions tied to them; although I'm sure they can, they are just a little more neutral than other life experiences. :)

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22 minutes ago, KatieHarmony said:

It sounds like your experience with your father and family members becoming very sick could definitely be a traumatic trigger that would lead to emotional numbing. You could try starting with Teal's video "Healing the Emotional Body" to bring yourself to the direct root here as well.

To answer your question about this particular family member -- yes, he has managed to overcome the emotional numbness. He has not completely healed all of the impacts of his trauma, but he has done a lot to move in the direction of healing. His childhood trauma is really extreme and intense, so I think it will take him bit by bit over a long period of time to heal each piece, but he has done a lot to move in the direction of healing. He talks to me a lot more than he used to talk to anyone about his experience, and he and I have worked together to describe his emotions when he starts to feel something he doesn't know how to put a name to, which has helped him identify and sit with different emotions. 

A lot of his emotional numbing came from growing up in a family where no one really talked about what they were feeling or acknowledged emotions in general. They were not a very touchy-feely family, so if you were experiencing something difficult, you were expected to sort of just cope with it on your own. So after years of learning to talk through his emotions and what they were, he has been able to lift a lot of the emotional numbing. 

As far as examples of when people typically experience emotion, I would say that some good indicators are positive or negative life experiences -- if something disappointing happens to you, for example (like dropping your ice cream cone, or losing your keys, or getting rejected by a friend, etc.), it would be normal for you to experience emotions like anger, sadness, etc. Or if something exciting happens to you, for example (like you get a job offer, or someone invites you to a theme park or a ball game or something you really enjoy, etc.), it would be normal for you to experience emotions like excitement, or happiness/joy, or contentment. 

Things like reading and eating (like you mention), don't necessarily always have emotions tied to them; although I'm sure they can, they are just a little more neutral than other life experiences. :)

Thanks a lot.I can relate myself to him a little bit...

In my search for answers,I found this website: http://www.anhedoniasupport.com/fp/

There is a tab with "Overcoming Flatlining".This woman claims that she overcomed emotional numbness and helped other people do so,with the exercises in her course.You might want to check that out,it might be helpful..I haven't tried it to be honest,the course is to expensive for me,and I can't ask for money from my parents...She doesn't look like a ####.

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Here is a video made by Teal that seems to relate to your exact idea of non-feeling. One of the bigger revelations being that you *are* in fact still feeling, you're just not conscious of it. She makes this point around 4:50. Good news! :D

<iframe width="560" height="315" src="https://www.youtube.com/embed/iO6R_95Zobg" frameborder="0" allowfullscreen></iframe>

P.S. Anyone know why my iframe isn't working xD

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Try changing your diet :) good things will happen. Your body maybe too tired to deal with emotions if it is fighting the chemicals

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