All words I use at the start of sentences when asked to describe how I feel. Or what I feel.
Because I just don’t know.
I’ve felt like this for a while now. Apathetic, lost, numb. A sort of in between place where lots of emotions and feelings circle about me; where I can see them clearly but they prove themselves elusive or “not quite right”.
Sometimes it’s like living in a vacuum. A vacuum where all the feelings have been sucked out and I float in an empty, featureless void.
Of course there are reasons why I feel…or don’t feel, this way.
Anhedonia, the loss of pleasure in interests and pursuits is a major factor in my life. It’s hard to get feelings about day to day matters when you can’t get strong feelings about things you used to be passionate about. If you don’t have anything to latch on to; anything to begin with, then the struggle to identify how and what you feel, is that much harder.
People will say, “Oh, but you feel depressed”. They will pinpoint that as evidence of feeling but that’s not the point I’m making here. Yes, I do “feel” depressed but that’s a general state of mind not something I “feel”directly.
I don’t know what I like. I don’t know what I dislike. I’m ambivalent about most things. I can’t get enthusiastic about things. There’s no desire to do things. There’s no passion. Everything’s sort of “meh”. Everything’s bland, vanilla, samey, and a kind of nothingness.
Looking back I question now, whether most of my life has been like this, a genuine struggle to feel emotions. Have I ever had real feelings ?. What feelings are “real” ?.
It’s a mystery.
Perhaps I’ve always balanced my life between very small windows of high emotions (travel, occasional achievements of note, romance) and much larger windows of desperately low emotions ( family bereavements, loss of pets, relationship endings,…a long list) all underscored with general depression, low mood, crippling low self-esteem, a sense of failure and general apathy towards life with added dysthymia, anhedonia and alexithymia, all thrown into the mix for good measure.
It’s not all bad news. The numbness protects against rash decisions. It prevents me from throwing myself enthusiastically into risky ventures as I don’t have the enthusiasm for them. It stops me from spending large sums of money on things I might like but wouldn’t enhance my life. It reins me in.
But the counter argument is that it stops me from enjoying things because I can’t recognise enjoying them. They make everything a chore; an exercise of going through the motions rather than an emotional investment.
I wish I knew the answer.
You don’t know how many times I try to dig myself out. How many times I try to force myself to, and I’m sorry but I have to use those awful words, “snap out of it”; to kick start my enthusiasm for something.
But I can’t.
Those microseconds of enthusiastic emotion; those clutching at straw moments are ephemeral. They slip through my fingers like the finest gossamer; barely there.
They say the road to hell is paved with good intentions. Somewhere, deep inside me, there are good intentions. Those intentions are tiny voices crying in the desert of the numb, desperately trying to be heard.
One day, perhaps …and I can’t put it higher than that, a tiny voice will be heard and a movement will begin within me that brings me back to the light. A movement that brings sustainable enthusiasm, enjoyment and the rich panoply of emotion, if not bursting through, at least simmering gently, more visible than before.
It’s an everyday struggle. It’s a constant wearisome fight. The enemies of Anhedonia, Dysthymia, Alexithymia as well as Fibro Fog are an ever present frustration. They each hang heavy around my neck and in my heart.
Until I can control them..
I will remain..