Friday, 24 November 2017

Depression & Numbness | Mental Health

Hello everyone! Today's post is going to be a more personal one, about something that has been really affecting me lately. It's been quite a while since I shared a post opening up about my mental health; my last one was all about what it's like for me living with obsessive compulsive disorder. Although many people still undermine the severity of OCD, and see it as being overly cleanly or strict when it comes to organisation, there is still a lot of information about it available online. However, when it comes to a particular symptom of depression (and many other MH conditions), the symptom that my post today is about, not many people know too much about it and there definitely isn't all that much information out there. I wanted to do my little bit to change that, to share with you all about numbness, what it really means and how it impacts my life. My hope is that this post helps others who can relate to what I've written, and also that it lets people know about something they may have never heard of before reading my post 

Depression & Emotional Numbness

So you may be thinking... what do you mean by numbness? And to be honest, it's a little hard for me to put into words that really explain how tough this symptom can be.

What I basically mean is emotional numbness. The inability to process emotions, a feeling of being empty, being void of emotional response to things that used to make you feel something. When people have heard of this, it's usually focused on a situation of grief, on lost or heartbreak or deep sadness. Which is definitely part of it, but what some people might not know is that it has an effect on all of your emotions... happiness, anger, excitement. Emotional numbness can make them feel muted, like your feelings somehow don't work anymore. 'Some people describe the emotional numbness as feeling unfocused or ungrounded' - the healthline. It is a very distressing thing to live with, and it makes it tough to challenge the other symptoms of your mental health condition because you just can't seem to regain your emotions. 

It can also impact anxiety, which is just double the stress if also struggle with anxiety alongside your depression. You may be constantly worried about how your emotional reactions are viewed by others, or that they will think you are being ungrateful or cold or intentionally being awkward about something. I know that this is something that I personally get nervous about. As well as affecting your anxiety, emotional numbness can cause you to experience a serious lack of motivation, because well, your enthusiasm for things that you used to love doing may have dissolved. Where you once felt excited to get up and go do something like a much-loved hobby, you might now not be bothered about whether you do it or not. One of the most common ways in which depression affects people is by making them not enjoy things they used to love to the same degree anymore, and when this is coupled with emotional numbness, it can make everything feel like there's not much point to it anymore. 

Depression & Emotional Numbness

How has emotional numbness affected my life? 

I have always been an over-emotional, very sensitive person. I am the one who sobs their heart out at movies and TV shows. Someone who's default emotional response to any feeling is to cry, whether I feel mad or upset or really joyful. I tear up if I see something that's really adorable because I can't cope with how cute it is! Yeah, I'm that emotional, haha! Or so, I used to be... then emotional numbness came along and took ahold of my feelings. It's really strange how it progressed, like the symptom just creeped up on me and I didn't even realise how much it was affecting me for ages. At first, I was just not as excited anymore, about most things that used to fill me with happiness. This was starting to really be a problem since I had little things that would still help to cheer me up when I was having a particularly bad depression day, when my intrusive thoughts wouldn't go away, but these self care practices started being less and less effective. This left me at a loss on what to do to improve my mood. 

I've briefly mentioned a few times on my blog that I have been going through some family problems and other stressful situations over the past few months, and I noticed a difference in the way I responded emotionally to those things too. Originally, they were a challenge to cope with, but over time I started to feel numb about them, like I felt nothing at all anymore. As a result, my anxiety was heightened because I began worrying about why I wasn't bothered. I was getting all sorts of unwanted thoughts about myself because of it. This is when things started being a huge problem, and I feel embarrassed talking about how feeling emotional numbness started to make me behave :( 

I started to get into a very self-destructive mind set, in an attempt to make me feel something. I tried other things at first to try to help with the numbness, such as listening to songs that have always made me have an emotional response, you know the kinds of songs that belong on a break-up playlist. I also watched a few movies that would always be my go-to when I needed a good cry. None of these things really did much to help me, even though I did tear up to a few of them, they didn't do anything to get me out of the headspace that I was in. There are many self-destructive symptoms when it comes to depression, one of them I have already talked about on here before and its probably the first one to pop into your mind when you think about the topic. However, there are plenty of others.. for me, I would try to make myself upset. I would start thinking about triggering moments from my past or I would go over and over something in my mind that I thought would make me react. I feel really anxious sharing this online, almost ashamed at myself *insert 26 shy-faced monkey emojis*, but I just feel like it might be helpful to me to say it aloud like this, and hopefully make someone feel not so alone in their own struggles. But yeah, none of these behaviours where doing much, other than making me stressed at myself that I kept putting myself through those things. 

Another thing that my feelings of numbness seem to be causing me to do is to lose track of my days. It's not that I forget the day of the week or whatever, but there doesn't feel like there's a clear margin between each day. I don't even know if that makes sense. It's like my days are an endless blur, like one constant day filled with the same old stuff. Fellow spoonies, have any of you ever felt like this? That's another thing that is impacting me... I just feel so alone in this feeling. I know that there's people out there experiencing the same things as me, but at the time that I'm stressing about what I'm going through, I feel so isolated, like no one would understand if I tried to explain. 

Depression & Emotional Numbness

I wanted to conclude today's post with some advice, but I'm not sure I can give much because I'm still dealing with emotional numbness and I don't yet know how to help improve things for my mental wellbeing. All I can say is that I am putting in a lot of effort to stop myself getting into the habit of using self-destructive behaviours, because in the long run this might have a horrid effect on me. I might be building up all of these negative emotions that all decide to come to light when I do start to feel more again. This has already been happening a little. I've started to feel something, and then it becomes very overwhelming. I'm getting there though guys! Apologies if this post has been a miserable one to read. On a positive note, a piece of beneficial advice that I can give is to keep doing things that used to make you happy, don't give up trying to make yourself feel good, even if at the moment it may seem pointless. Just keep at it and eventually you might feel awesome :)

Also talking to someone, a mental health professional, might be something that helps you. It is believed that emotional numbness can be caused because you've endured a lot of tough things and have bottled it all up inside, so being able to express your feelings might make a big difference to how you feel. You can talk to your GP to get referred to your local mental health services. It's worth a try, even if you don't think it will have any effect, it might surprise you. Look after yourself guys!

Thankyou for reading! 

Have you ever experienced anything similar to what I've mentioned today?
Or had a loved one go through similar things?

If you have any thoughts or advice, please share them in the comments :) 


1 comment

Blog Design Created by pipdig